The water resistant, light-weight Tribit Xfree Color earphones are perfect for the gym, for travel, and for everyday use. For the price, you will not be disappointed.
I enjoy listening to music in the quiet, especially at the end of my day. One of my guilty pleasures is enjoying Holiday Classics, even after the Christmas season has ended. I love technology, but do not like the price tag of name branded gear. It is incredible to see smaller brands competing with the giants and providing a modern day David vs. Goliath experience. I research my gear before any purchase and look for the “bang for the buck.’ I want to have the best gear that I can get at a given dollar amount. Utilizing reviews (similar to this one) as well as micro-reviews from sites like Amazon, Walmart, etc., I want to know that I am getting the highest quality for the cheapest cost. The adage “You get what you pay for,” is often true, having to sacrifice some higher-end features for a less expensive device. The Tribit XFree Color earphones provide many of the features of the expensive gear but at a price that everyone can afford.
Within the Tribit Xfree Color box, you can expect to find the 0.5-ounce earphones, a short 7 1/4 inch USB-A to USB-micro cable, a small 2 3/4 inches wide by 3 5/8 inches tall black felt drawstring carry bag, an accessory tip bag, and a multi-lingual 20-panel instruction manual. The earphones were packaged in a white plastic shell, with the accessories resting beneath the earphones. The wired earphones are connected by a 20 1/2 inch cable, which is perfect for use in front of the neck or behind the neck. If needed, the included S clips can shorten the cable to decrease flopping during activity. The in-line controller is located 2 1/2 inches from the right earpiece and has three buttons and an indicator light: volume +, multifunction button (MFB) and volume -. Located along the side of the inline controller was the USB-micro charging port, covered with a plastic flap. The back of the earpiece has an iridescent bluish coloration, and Tribit conveniently included a magnetic backing into the earpieces. If not actively listening to music, you can place the earphones around your neck like a necklace.
Before the first use, it was recommended to charge the earphones in full. The indicator light will illuminate red while charging and will turn a solid blue once fully charged. Out of the box, the light changed from red to blue within 30 minutes. To power on and start the pairing process, hold the MFB button for about five seconds. You will hear a series of 4 ascending tones alerting you to the “on” state of the headphones. Additionally, the LED will alternate red/blue to inform you of the pairing state. Navigate to settings on your smart device, WiFi and select “Tribit Xfree Color” from the list. The indicator light will slowly flash blue every seven seconds once the process is completed. Even though the LED uses very little power, I feel that this is a waste of power.
Turning to Audiocheck.net, I wanted to run the Tribit Xfree earphones through the same gambit as previous earphones. I was impressed with the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz), hearing the telltale rumble at 30Hz. There was a high pitched whining noise from 20-40Hz that was somewhat annoying. However, for such a light pair of earphones, the bass was surprisingly full and well supported. The whining noise was only heard on the audiocheck site and was not present in any of my test tracks or Movies Anywhere/Amazon Prime movies. The bass proved to be more than sufficient for the Gladiator Soundtrack, CeeLo Green’s “Bright Lights Bigger City,” and for Dark Knight Joker Theme “Why So Serious.” Johnny Cash, Josh Turner, and the Gaither Vocal Band Quintet sounded great as well. The upper range seemed to be well balanced with the bass, providing a well-blended sound. Utilizing the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz), I was able to hear the pitch at 16kHz and my eight/six-year-old sons were able to hear at 18kHz. The upper range is typically less related to a hardware limitation than to the ability for the ear to hear. Unfortunately, as we age, our ability to hear higher sounds fades first. The stereo speakers passed the Left/Right Stereo Audio Test and the Stereo Perception and Sound Localization tests as well. We enjoyed listening to audible books, watching movies on Amazon Prime Video and Movies Anywhere.
The three-button in-line control proved to be very responsive. To increase the volume, you can short press the volume + button and to decrease the sound you can press the volume – button. Some headphones reverse the next/previous track and volume features, requiring a short press to change the track and a hold to change the volume. I appreciate the short click volume control, as this more accurately allows you to enjoy the perfect volume. I do feel that the next/previous track options were inverted in this case, however. To go to the previous track you hold the volume + button for two seconds and to go to next track you hold the volume – button for two seconds. To play/stop a song, simply press the MFB button. Hands-free calling proved to be acceptable and mediocre, similar to other devices, with the main limitation revolving around the microphone. To answer a call press the MFB button once; to redial last number press the MFB button twice. To end a call press the MFB button once and reject an incoming call by holding MFB button for two seconds. Interestingly, if you hold the Volume + and MFB button, for longer than a short press (about one second), you can activate Siri and use voice dialing/activities.
The accessory ear tips were incredibly convenient, allowing the earphones to reach a broader group of people. The installed tips and ear hooks worked well for me but were too big for my wife and 8-year-old son. Luckily, Tribit included a set of small ear tips and ear hooks, which worked well for them. It is very difficult to compare earphones at times as there are multiple factors that must be considered. There are people who will choose a pair of headphones/earphones/earbuds based on the company alone (Bose, Klipsch, Sennheiser, Bower, and Wilkins, etc.). I have tried many of the headphones from the brands listed above and agree that with more expensive products you will buy better sound/drivers, better fit and better comfort for longer usage. The Tribit headphones did not fit as securely into my ear canal as I would have liked. Even after changing to the small tips, they occasionally fell out of my ears. This was not a regular occurrence but was experienced none the less. The ear hooks helped, especially after exchanging from the medium to small ear hooks, leaving the medium ear tips. The kit is customizable, which did enhance the experience.
When the battery gets low, you will hear an oscillating beeping noise roughly every minute. The earphones did not have voice prompts but did alert you to the low battery with visual (red light flashing) and auditory (beeping) cues. Charging the headphones proved to be incredibly easy and rapid, taking just under 2 hours. I liked that the Tribit earphones had a power widget on the iPhone, providing another visual cue about remaining power. Using Bluetooth 4.1 technology with standard Bluetooth profiles (HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP), the power conservation is quite good for a device this size. I was able to utilize the headphones for 9 hours before having to recharge them. Much of the testing was done over the past one week while listening to music or watching movies on Movies Anywhere. The longest continuous playback was during a long 4-hour continuous commute. The 0.5 ounce (14gram) weight was negligible, and the headphones were quite comfortable, without much ear canal fatigue. They are IPX5 water resistant, allowing you to use them in the rain or while exercising but should not be used in shower/pool, etc.
Overall, we have to remember that these are a ~$30 pair of earphones. It is not truly fair to compare these with devices that start at ~$100. For the value, I found that the sound was very enjoyable, comfort was very enjoyable and fit overall was enjoyable. I had no issues pairing the device to my iPhone X, to my iPad Air 2, iPad Pro 10.5″, nor to my wife’s iPhone 7. To test an android device, I paired them with my eight-year-old’s Kindle Fire HD. The ten meter reported Bluetooth range did seem a bit overexaggerated as there was an occasional sound distortion/popping after about 10 feet. The instruction manual suggested a 10-hour life on a single charge (2 hours), and I was able to get very close to this level. I do not like using this style of earphone for phone calls as the microphone picks up ambient sounds. My wife also prefers that I use other styles of earphone, as it is difficult to communicate (like talking in a tunnel). I enjoyed the sound, the fit, the magnetic backing, the cord length, charge-to-use ratio and the price. I would rate the earphones at 4/5 stars and feel that they are a perfect take anywhere pair of earphones.
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