A few months ago I found myself looking for a new pair of bluetooth headphones for running.
Some I purchased, some I got sent and you can read my findings here.
The five headsets I chose were the Plantronics Backbeat Fit, the JLab Epic 2, the Jaybird X2, the Mpow Shell and a pair that didn’t really look like the others: the 66 Audio BTS.
While all the other contenders were earbuds that go in the ear, the BTS was the only over-the-ear headsets I tried.
The 66 Audio BTS – What I thought of the previous model
The original BTS weighted at a hefty 72 grams, roughly 3 to 4 times the average weight of the other headsets I tried.
While that didn’t sound promising on paper, during my testing the extra weight did not bother me at all. Actually I found the ease of use (just put them on and they stay put) and the ridiculously long battery life more than made up for the added weight – and during runs of all lengths, the weight never actually bothered me.
Audio was good – better than the earbuds – and the fact that they are not in your ear canal means that you can get still great sound and boomy bass without having to be completely isolated from the outside world, which I both don’t like and it’s not safe.
The only issue I had was some skipping of the tracks but I never can really say if it’s the headsets, my phone or Spotify.
Enter the PRO
A couple of weeks ago I hear from 66 Audio. They inform me they released a new, improved version of the BTS and asked me if I was willing to test them.
Of course I was.
So – the PRO version costs $129, which is considerably more than the $59 for the standard version. The PRO version better bring something to the table!
Some of the things that have changed is upgrading from Bluetooth 4.0 to Bluetooth 4.2. I don’t really know what that means for the end user though. I did some reading and I am still a bit puzzled about what advantages the 4.2 really brings.
Battery life has improved. From the 25 hours continuous playback of the BTS, to 40 hours of the PRO.
What it means is – you never HAVE to charge them. Although they obviously do run out of battery, it just never happened to me. Once in a while I’ll plug the cable and leave it for a couple of hours and the battery is charged.
It’s incredible to me how fast technology changes. I was very proud of making device selection that was consistent in regards to cables. My phone (Galaxy Edge S6) had a micro-USB, my Kindle, my LG tablet.. and I needed my wireless headphones to be micro-USB too. Do I really want to bring an extra cable with me?
Well, this year everything is changed. My phone (Galaxy S8) has a USB type C and my new laptop charges with a USB C too. Guess what ?
The BTS PRO also get charged with a USB type C. This is amazing to me. The same charger will charge my laptop, my phone and my headphones. For somebody who works out of coffeshops a lot, this is the perfect combination.
To continue with the tech specs, 66 Audio developed their own codecs which promise to deliver the full range of frequencies the human ear can hear without any distortion or saturation.
I am no audio engineer and have no way to measure or verify these claims in any way – but the audio is indeed spectacular. I have listened to a bit of everything – from Rage Against the Machine to Skrillex and many many podcasts. The audio is simply superb.
Now – to the running.
66 Audio BTS PRO – Running with them
All the tech specs and audio quality mean nothing, if the BTS PRO are not comfortable to wear while running.
The weight has increased (from 72 grams to 83) which is not great I guess, but it’s not really a factor in real life. What has decreased is the “bulk” that the previous version had.
66 Audio somehow managed to reduce the depth of the “speaker” by almost half. And it’s a big deal. I really liked my BTS, but I really disliked the way they looked on my ears. The PRO is still a hefty device, but much not as much so, by a long shot.
This said, the run.
They slip around your ears and feel very comfortable thanks to memory foam pads. Once you have them on, they stay put. No need to constantly shove them in your ears, adjust the cord or any other shenanigan. This is actually one of my favorite parts while using them as a device for running.
They are big, they are there around your ear. They are comfortable for runs up to one hour, but my ears start to feel some heat for longer than that.
I use them at the gym a lot too – I actually use them now as my main listening device almost anywhere – but this is where the rigid cord bothers me a little. While laying on a floormat or on a bench they will get out of position. It’s not a deal breaker though, otherwise I’d just use one of the other many pairs I own.
Sweat or rain (got abundance of both) didn’t seem to hinder performance or ruin/deform them at all.
In summary, if you get a pair of BTS PRO what you are getting is:
- amazing audio;
- infinite battery life (if you pardon this hyperbole);
- easy to access play controls (volume, skip, rewind etc);
- comfortable, worry-free fit
They are not cheap, but rest assured you’re buying a quality product that will sneak its way through a lot of occasions, rather than just for running or exercising.
We thank 66 Audio for sending a pair of BTS PRO to test. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after using them extensively for the past few weeks