BlueAnt PUMP HD Sportsbuds
Water, dust and sweat resistant; won’t fall out; good overall sound quality
Bulky looking; limited Bluetooth range; sound quality drops at high levels
Released earlier this year by wireless audio company BlueAnt, the PUMP HD Sportsbuds promise to deliver “unrivalled audio for intense activity and extreme conditions”. And, despite a few hitches, these in-ear headphones go a long way to fulfilling their promise.
The earphones are made from ‘military-grade’ materials such as Kevlar from bullet-proof vests, and Teflon, which repels liquids. As a result, the earphones are highly resistant to elements such as water, dust and sweat. They can even be immersed in water for cleaning purposes – for up to 30 minutes. Expectedly, as a BlueAnt device, there is dedicated support to receive calls via the built-in microphone.
The over-the-ear design makes the PUMP HDs incredibly good at staying in place, being further aided by the detachable stabilisers.
I took the earphones on a fast, high-intensity 3.5km run across a track that included roads and footpaths where I had to often turn my head quickly to check for cars and pedestrians. The earphones did not once feel like they were going to fall out, and were in fact barely noticeable due to the lightweight design. This is despite the earphones’ somewhat bulky look.
After the run, I was able to rinse the earphones under the tap and they were then clean and ready to use again.
The earphones also come with three different sized earpiece tips, which block out most if not all outside noise. There is also one set of ‘awareness tips’, which allow outside noise to be heard much more easily – useful for people who cycle or run outdoors. The choice of size helps to keep the earphones in, and also allows a tighter fit, which achieves better sound quality.
The sound quality is actually quite good for a wireless earphone, especially if you have the correct-sized earpiece tip connected. The ‘Energize HD’ audio is quite clear, with some nice clarity among higher tones, and decent bass levels. When the volume level goes above halfway on an iPhone, however, the sound quality is reduced and eventually leads to near-distortion. But this is not a problem, as I found that the sound is quite loud right up to the halfway level, even while running outside with cars driving past on a highway.
The battery life is quite good, with eight hours achievable from a full two-hour charge, with the battery level visible on your iPhone when connected.
One problem appears to be the Bluetooth, which claims to have a 100-foot (33 metres) range. Bluetooth normally has approximately a 30-foot (nine-metre) range, so I decided to test it. Unfortunately, the PUMP HDs would start cutting out after about 10 metres, and I tested them both indoors and outdoors. So you definitely need your phone in your pocket or next to you while at the gym. Perhaps performance is better on newer phones, as I used an iPhone 4s and Galaxy S3 when testing.
Overall, I found these earphones performed very well for their purpose – rigorous exercise and exposure to the elements. If you find your earphones constantly letting you down during any exercise, sport or physical activity, then the PUMP HDs are definitely worth a try.