By Matthew Rutledge, Ultra Runner RunJunkEes Ambassador
Gear review – 66 Audio BTS Sport
Disclaimer 1: Using music while you run can distract you from your surroundings and become a safety issue. Be an adult and be responsible for your own actions.
Disclaimer 2: I am not an audiophile. I do not often use music when I run.
That being said, sometimes, I do indeed like to jam out a bit (while running or otherwise). I’ve been using in the ear ear-buds for much longer than I should admit. But I think I remember having one of the early pairs that came with a Sony Walkman. We’ll just leave it there. The arrival of my test set of 66 Audio BTS Sport headphones was timed perfectly. I had just taken a good fall trail running and had destroyed my iPhone 5. The replacement was an iPhone 7. That’s right, the one without the headphone jack.
(Official site here: http://www.66audio.com/bts-bluetooth-sports-headphones )
What I got was a case, a USB cable to charge, and the headphones themselves. Having a reasonable understanding of the way things worked, I elected to try and pair things on my own with no guidance. It worked the first try and has been flawless since. I slapped them on my ears and hit the trail.
First impressions were really good. The ear pieces were comfortable. The over the ear design didn’t bother me at all. It fit well with my trucker hat, and didn’t interfere with my sunglasses. The first run was short – 3-ish miles because that’s what I had time for. I made a point to come back sort of along the road to check some things out. I could hear the music while the cars came by, AND I could hear the cars. I think that’s a good thing. You know, just in case. Complaints – 0.
Remember when I said I wasn’t an audiophile? This is where I start talking about music quality. Please don’t laugh. My playlist is a bit… eclectic. The classical songs sounded great. I could hear all the important parts just fine. The acoustic jams were also great, as were the rock jams. The hip-hop… Well, the bass isn’t *quite* what I have come to expect. I think this is inherent to the design. It isn’t bad, just different. I can clearly hear the vocal bass of Uptown Funk. I can hear, but not feel, the bass when Fort Minor is rapping about Remember the Name. I was surprised how good the bass sounded when Snoop was telling me to drop it like it’s hot. The bass track to the intro of Big Boi’s The Way You Move was difficult to discern while running, but acceptable in the house. But if we’re honest, that intro really only sounds good with some good subs pumping. So it isn’t bad, just not as good as some of the in-the-ear models. Overall, a good first impression.
The second run was a good trail 10k that ends with a solid 2 miles of gentle, fast downhill. The slog up produced lots of sweat. I was expecting the ear pieces to get slimy and slide all over my ear on the descent. Guess what? It never happened. They were solidly in place even as I bombed/jumped down the last technical drop. What a great surprise!
If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably noticed that I almost always run with some sort of glasses on my face – either prescription or sunglasses. When wearing my prescription glasses, there is some initial interference between the glasses and the over-the-ear component. The first time I tried this combo, I was a bit dejected. But it really only took a couple seconds of wiggling things around to get them to settle. As a bonus, the 66 Audio BTS actually seems to lock my glasses in place a bit and they don’t bounce or slip as much as usual. Total win! After wearing the 66 Audio BTS for a bit I have only one suggestion for improvement: The connector behind the neck rides pretty low. This makes it difficult to look up, especially when wearing glasses. I think this design is part of the reason the headphones are so solid on my head – when you put them on, they twist a bit to lock onto the ear. It’s an interesting engineering challenge for sure. It isn’t all that often I have to look up at the sky when I’m running, so I can make this work.
The 66audio.com website claims the battery life on a single charge is about 25 hours. I forgot to actually time how many hours I’ve used these things, but between running in them and wearing them around the house for the better part of two weeks, I haven’t had to charge them yet. Most the other wireless units I’ve looked at had a battery life in the 4-8 hour range. So far, I’m very impressed.
The 66 Audio BTS supports connecting to two Bluetooth devices at one time. Say, you wanted to stream music from your iPad, and use the headphones as wireless devices for your iPhone. The pairing works, much as you think it should, with the addition of needing to manually connect one of the devices. (I think this is an apple/IOS thing, but I’m not sure.) If you know it’s there, it isn’t difficult at all to get working. I had some trouble answering calls in this configuration, but that’s likely because, as my kids say, I’m old. Honestly, I don’t get many calls, so I didn’t have much chance to get that figured out, but I’m pretty sure it’s user error. (And honestly, it’s kind of a weird feature. I’m not sure how often I would use it.)
The on-ear controls are a great touch. The ear-bud models I’ve used in the past have all had that single button microphone that I could never really get to work right. The 66 Audio BTS has some pretty clear buttons on the right ear that allow you to adjust volume and skip around the tracks. The controls are pretty easy to remember and operate – volume up: top front, skip track: bottom front, volume down: top back, Previous/restart track: bottom front. I’m not coordinated enough to manage these buttons while bombing down trails, but that’s because I’m me, not because of the design.
Call quality of Bluetooth devices has always been a bit sketchy. The call quality here seemed to be good quality. The phone operation is pretty basic – one touch answer/drop, and then the volume controls still work for the headphones. I didn’t know the 66 Audio BTS had a microphone for the phone function until I read the documentation. I was thinking it would be a nice touch. Seems the engineers thought of that too.
Overall conclusion - With the 25-hour battery life, the overall comfort, the lack of bounce and movement, and the ease of use, I’ll add these to a list of “must buy” gear.
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