Tronsmart reached out to me before with their T6 Plus Bluetooth speaker. This time I got my hands on Spunky Beat Bluetooth Earbuds. As I no longer hate the completely wireless headphones, I was more than happy to take a look at their somehow innovative take on the gadget. This courageous and determined (“spunky” definition) gadget tries to reach their audience with a couple of somehow clever tricks. What is so “special” this time around?
Spunky Beat, spunky experiments
Encouraged by a rather bold name I opened the box to find a fairly standard selection of items. Two black earbuds that come with pretty funky blue and red highlights, a charging case, USB cable and 2 pairs of rubber cushions for your ears in different sizes.
What’s sets apart Spunky Beat at first are a couple of small details. The charging case comes with an integrated USB-A plug. it sits at the bottom of the case in case you need it. I questioned the durability of this cable until I discovered that the charging case also comes with USB-C port for charging. Having a spare way to charge your case is really cool, and I’m no longer worried about the flimsy cable. This is clearly a backup option.
Next up, there is a leather strap, which you can use to secure the base somewhere. So far so good!
The case isn’t the smallest, but nice in shape and promises up to 24h of extra battery (350mAh) in 4h-7h increments depends on the volume levels. As much as I appreciated the Haylou GT1 (review) for their size and quality, the battery wasn’t near to what Spunky Beat offers.
Not just music
Equipped with a touch interface, Spunky Beat let you:
- single tap – toggle playback
- tap and hold on each earbud – skip/back
- triple tap on each bud – volume up/down
- tap and hold/double tap – assistant button
I appreciate the assistant and volume controls but trying to tap three times on a single earbud to increase the volume while you are moving around is a skill to master. I’d love to see better mapping options.
Another disadvantage of touch control is… touch. These earbuds will do absolutely anything they want once you pull them out of your ear and hold it in your palm. You will randomly change the song, stop the playback or turn the buds off. They are a little too sensitive for my liking.
Using voice prompts for pairing and connecting may seem smart at first but after the 10th prompt, it gets annoying. I’m yet to see a company that will put a cap, and introduce sounds after 10 pairing cycles. It’s my personal dislike, I understand it may help you to set up the Spunky Beat at first. Thankfully other commands are acknowledged with a gentle beep.
One of the features allows you to pair the earbuds independently. I guess there is one person out there who just can’t live without this, but I couldn’t care much for it? Have you ever used this feature? Let’s move on then!
It’s time to talk about the important bit. The sound! In my personal and probably extremely subjective view, Spunky Beat earplugs do sound as well as Haylou GT1.
The music feels dynamic, there is more beat (oh that pun) in the sound profile. I have a feeling that a very snug fit inside the ear assures that you will hear everything that this sound driver has to offer.
I felt no need to mess about with EQ playing the songs from my favourite playlist and listening to my recent favourite “Automatica” by Nigel Stanford, really brings out the electronic vibe. Overall, I have no complaints, I’m pleased with what I hear.
In case you missed the craze, TWS let you stream stereo sound to 2 devices at once (one channel to each device) providing you with a better stereo experience. Spunky Beat utilises TWS to stream the stereo this way, so in theory, you should experience the sound much better (all subject of the quality of the connection and source of the music). In practice, my hearing is not sensitive enough to pick up the difference of TWS or other stereo enabled protocols.
YouTube – yes
If you are not aware, Bluetooth protocol can introduce a significant latency to your audio stream. I had this issue with Soul’s Emotion earbuds, where YouTube sound would be a little bit behind, enough to see the desync between the lips and the voice in your ear.
Fortunately, this had been handled great and I was not able to see any issues with the stream. The audio and video were in sync.
Call me maybe?
I tested the headphones in a very loud environment (coffee shop – not on purpose) and I’m impressed with how the caller was coming across and the level of noise isolation Spunky Beat provide. Despite the noise, I had no complaints about my voice and I was understood well.
Looks like you don’t have to panic and look for that button to pass the call through the speaker and you can enjoy the conversation with the earbuds on.
Run – yes
I use a QuadLock system to keep my phone strapped to my shoulder (I don’t run when it’s raining). Despite my rather heavy step, Spunky Beat had no problem staying where it should. The only issue was the mapping. Adjusting volume will cause you to stop. There is no way I can hit the volume down (triple tap) without stopping. My attempts caused either the assistant to come up, or playback to be paused.
There is definitely an advantage to using buttons over touch interface.
Cycle – not so much yes
I was very keen on taking these with me. 4h playtime is what I consider a perfect playback time for cycling. Enough to cover 100km, with possible re-charge during a coffee break if I’d like to go further. The Spunky Beat earbuds do fit great inside the ear and due to its size they wouldn’t cause discomfort with any helmets, but they’re one big dealbreaker.
The earbuds would break up the stream each time I would turn my head when the phone was in the back pocket of my cycling jersey. I tested this with Xiaomi Mi9 and Google Pixel 3 – each phone was affected in the same way. The only viable way of listening to music during my cycling trip was to strap the phone to a shoulder or handlebars. It’s disappointing.
Here is the pickle I’m having with these earbuds. While very small and comfortable to wear they just don’t like to stay connected to anything that is in your back pocket. As it happens, this is where I keep my phone 80% of the time.
Because Haylou GT1 doesn’t suffer from the same issue, I suspect the fact that Spunky Beat sink more into your ear channels is responsible for this behaviour. Humans are very good at blocking wireless signals with their 70% water-based body composition.
You can operate the headphones with your gloves on, which is an added benefit, as it’s cold and I take my gloves with me from time to time (thin gloves tested).
Being courageous can pay off. Trying new things can attract customers even if the feature is an added extra rather than something groundbreaking. To succeed like this, Spunky Beat have to cover the basics first. There are 2 things I expect from wireless earbuds: to sound reasonably well and to maintain the connection regardless of where I keep my phone. Unfortunately, these earphones fail at the connection part. Everything else is really good. At around $30 give or take, it’s your call to make if you can live without keeping your phone in the back pocket.
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