We live in a world where it’s not uncommon to crave constant entertainment. From tablets to MP3 players to smartphones, we all seem to be linked to one device or another. Technology makes the world a bit smaller, lets us discover new TV shows, movies and music and gives us a way to stay in touch with one another. At one point, just being able to listen to music on an iPod was enough to dazzle just about anyone. The sound quality wasn’t as important as the fact that you could transport an entire music library in something that was the size of a candy bar.
However, nowadays, we’ve gotten a lot pickier. It isn’t enough to just be able to listen to music on the train or at the gym. We can easily tell the difference between a high-quality media platform and one that is cheap or poorly made. Our ears are more sensitive too, especially when it comes to earbuds and the kind of performance they’re capable of.
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When you think about it, a pair of earbuds is really as important as the device they’re hooked up to, because they have a huge impact on your listening experience. Not only are they important when it comes to sound quality, but considering that they’re the kind of thing that you wear all day, comfort is also a crucial factor.
Everyone has different needs for their personal audio gear, and finding something that works for you isn’t always easy. Are you someone who prefers a wireless set up? Do you put sound quality over comfort every time? Or maybe you’re the kind of person who’s looking for the perfect mix of both.
In this review we’re going to be taking a look at the Motorola Stream Sport True Wireless Earbuds. The Stream Sport Earbuds are a small, wireless device that appears to be geared toward those who lead an active lifestyle. Regardless, we’re going to examine their sound quality, comfort, design as well as their special features to see if they’re the kind of listening device that can deliver.
At first glance, the Stream Sport earbuds have the look of something right out of a sci-fi movie. They’re small, red and black, and have a soft, curved hook that go around the user’s ears. They only come in a red and black color scheme, which we felt was a little bit of a disappointment. Especially since they appear to be designed for athletes who may want to match them to their workout gear. We would have liked to see a blue and black color scheme, or even one that was just black. The red is definitely eye-catching, but for some may be a little too intense.
In general we felt that the overall shape and style of the device was sleek and comfortable. Each bud is made sturdy plastic, is clearly labeled for both right and left ears, and also has the Motorola logo printed on the outside. It was a nice touch, and gave the earbuds a look that immediately signaled that they were a high-performing device.
The earbuds are also incredibly lightweight and small, so much so that you won’t even remember that you have them on. They measure at 1.12 x 1.62 x 1.85 inches and only weigh 1.76 ounces. They are so lightweight that we almost worried about their durability, but the included snap-on earhooks added an extra element of robustness to the design that we appreciated. The buds themselves are incredibly tiny, and losing them was a concern, but as long as you use them with the earhooks, you shouldn’t have any problems keeping track of where they are.
That being said, we wondered why the earhooks were a separate component and weren’t just built right into the design from the beginning. You can use the earbuds by themselves, but they won’t be as secure in your ears, especially during periods of heavy activity, which made us wonder how useful this design choice really was. Further, the earbuds do need to be recharged in the included charging case, but there is no room for the earhooks. Either way, it just felt like too many loose pieces of gear for a device that is supposed to be portable.
The only accessory that the Stream Sport earbuds come with as a charge case, but it really is a dynamite addition. The case is equally as stylish as the earbuds themselves, with a black exterior with a diamond pattern on the top and the Motorola logo in the center. However, the most important part of the case is the fact that it functions as the charger for the earbuds. Inside you’ll find two charging ports: one for the left earbud, and one for the right. The case does have to be charged itself, bit once it is, it serves as a way to protect the earbuds as well as keep them powered up when you need them.
It’s not necessarily big or bulky either. To give you an idea of its size, it’s smaller than a case for sunglasses, but larger than a pack of gum, and could easily fit in your pocket, gym bag or purse. In a way, we felt that the charge case was essential, especially for a device that was so small. Our only criticism was that it didn’t have a place for the snap-on earhooks, meaning that you’ll run the risk of losing them if you choose to carry the earbuds inside the case.
First and foremost the Stream Sport earbuds are completely wireless. This is possibly their biggest selling point, especially for those who think they’ll be using them for trips to the gym or for any outdoor activity. Like most wireless earbuds they operate on Bluetooth 4.1, and syncing them to a compatible device is fast and easy.
All you have to do is turn them on, and find them in your device’s Bluetooth menu. Once we had them connected we found that the signal was strong and steady, and held up for a range of about 30 to 33 feet. Even though we figured these earbuds would be best suited for situations where you have your phone or tablet with you, the 33 foot range does open up other possibilities. For example, if you have a Bluetooth stereo in your home, you could easily wear these around the house if you wanted to while still staying connected.
The charge case takes about 2 hours to fully charge the earbuds, and from that charge time you’ll get about 6 hours of play time. We thought this was a pretty good ratio of charge to play time, but it really depends on whether or not you remember to charge the case.
This, at times, felt like an extra step in making sure the earbuds were ready for the day, but the convenience and durability of the case was enough to make the need to charge it worth it. However, there was no indication of a safe charging system that would prevent damage of the batteries in the event that they were overcharged. Most people charge their phones and tablets at night while they sleep without the risk of overcharging the battery, and the fact that this was sort of left ambiguous when it came to the earbuds had us a little worried.
The earbuds are also IP54 moisture and dust proof, which only added to their usability as a rugged device for active people. An electronic device’s IP rating indicates how well it can be protected from external factors like dust or water. A rating of IP54 means that the earbuds are fully protected against all dust, and can handle splashes of water. You won’t want to submerge them or spray them with a hose, but for sweat and light rain, the Stream Sport earbuds will hold up nicely against water damage.
Lastly, each earbud has its own built-in microphone, which makes them double as a hands-free device. This is pretty standard in a lot of wireless earbuds nowadays, but the fact that the mic was built into both the right and left earbuds was a cool addition that drastically improved clarity during phone calls. Also, due to the dual microphone setup as well as the Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, you can access Siri as well as Google Now completely wireless.
For a personal audio device at this price point, the Stream Sport earbuds can definitely deliver some great sound. Keep in mind, they are only earbuds and aren’t going to deliver the same fullness as a pair of over-the-ear, studio-quality earbuds, but for a workout or even a hike, they were able to deliver a fairly powerful, immersive level of audio.
There was some noticeable bass, especially at higher volumes, and the mids and trebles were also punchy, sharp and clear. The only real issue was that they didn’t eliminate environmental noise very well. Even at high volumes, we were able to hear people talking in the room as well as passing cars outside. This poses a problem for you if you’re the kind of person who works out at a busy health club that already plays its own music. You’ll have to really make sure the earbuds fit well in order to block out the noise around you, and even then, it won’t totally be eliminated.
However, in quieter situations like a hike or a walk around a residential neighborhood, the Stream Sport earbuds do yield an impressive, full sound that felt right for their cost and size. They are powerful, but you should know their limitations before considering them as your main personal audio device.
For us, one of the biggest drawbacks of the Stream Sport earbuds was their design, specifically the separation between the units themselves and the snap-on earhooks. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us to have these pieces separated, and it made us worry about parts getting lost. Considering that this is a pair of earbuds that appears meant to go with you outside of the home, it just felt like it would make more sense for the earhook to be built right onto the bud itself.
Of course, it would have required a bigger charge case to accommodate the larger earbud, but we felt that this was a fair trade-off. Also, without using the earhooks, the earbuds didn’t feel as secure which makes them a necessity, especially during sports or at the gym. Essentially, you’ll need the included earhooks, but you won’t exactly have an ideal way to take them with you when you’re on the move.
Our only other concern was the fact that it was unclear whether or not you could leave the earbuds plugged in all night to charge. In general, we felt that most people would want to use the earbuds during the day and charge them at night, but the possibility of overcharging them seemed like a risk. They only require two hours to charge in the case, which means you’ll have to charge them and then unplug them from the charge case before bed to avoid reducing the overall battery life over time. Many devices have smart charging technology built-in to avoid damage to the batteries, and we didn’t see any reason Motorola couldn’t install something similar in these earbuds.
Overall, we found the Motorola Stream Sport Wireless Earbuds to be a good choice for those looking for an affordable pair of truly wireless earbuds. There were some minor flaws in the design, but the sound quality was good enough to contend with other similar earbuds on the market.
Also, the included charge case was an excellent addition because of how convenient it made transporting the device. We also found the dual-microphone to be a huge plus because of how easy it made making calls or accessing certain voice-activated features on smart devices. Like any pair of earbuds, the Stream Sport have some limitations, but if you’re looking for something that isn’t too expensive to throw in your gym bag or take with you on a hike, they’re certainly worth a look.
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