RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds Review Highlights
RBH has a new set of earbuds available, the RBH EP-SB, and unlike the excellent EP2 in-ears I previously reviewed, these are wireless. They use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to compatible devices like most smart phones. Once connected, wander up to 30 feet from the source enjoying a clear midrange and crisp, detailed highs.
RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds Highlights Summary
- Excellent sound quality, even up against wired in-ears
- Freedom of wireless movement
- Stay in place during active movement
- Rain and sweat proof
- Good battery life
Introduction to the RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds Review
While a short cable from your ears to your listening device may not seem like a big deal, once you go wireless it’s hard to go back. Disconnecting my ears from the wired connection to a phone is more freeing than I expected. To be clear, this is not a completely wireless design as there is cable connecting the left and right earbud. This allows the pair to work off the same electronics and be charged simultaneously. This cable wraps neatly behind your head, under your hair if happens to be long enough, and essentially disappears.
RBH EP-SB BLUETOOTH EARPHONES REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Wireless (Bluetooth) Earbuds
- Wireless Spec: Bluetooth V4.0
- Operating Distance: 33 feet
- Music Time: 5 hours
- Talk Time: 5.5 hours
- Charge Time: 2 hours
- Weight: 0.41 Oz (11.7g)
- Price: $179 USD
- SECRETS Tags: RBH, RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds, Secrets 2015 Headphone Reviews, Bluetooth
Design, Setup, In Use, and Rating of the RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds
The RBH EP-SB are designed for the active user. When running, working out, or even just walking, a cable can be quite a nuisance. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen phones or iPods go flying off a treadmill thanks to a messy encounter between the user and headphone cable. RBH has incorporated several key design features that make the EP-SB an excellent choice for active users.
First and foremost is the elimination of that pesky cable. This is achieved thanks to Bluetooth technology and a built in battery for the power source. Fortunately the small drivers in earphones take very little power to drive, so a small rechargeable battery gets the job done. The EP-SB is rated at approximately 5 hours of music time and depending on volume levels, I usually got between 4.5 and 6.5 hours before needing to recharge. I found an hour of charge time plugged into a computer via USB was enough under normal use to get the EP-SB back to full charge.
Another key component for the active user is fit, both in terms of comfort and the earphone’s ability to stay in place. RBH has solved this issue in a couple ways. One, the earbuds themselves are very light at 11.7 grams. This puts the RBH EP-SB at an advantage over the effects of gravity. Second, the EP-SB come with optional stabilizers that slide around the ear buds and hook into ear for added grip.
Lastly, RBH includes a selection of ear tips for optimal fit. This includes a selection of small, medium, and large silicone tips, and 3 sets of Comply foam tips. My preference is the Comply Sport tips in the large size, also included is a medium pair. They look cool in blue and perform wonderfully both in terms of sound quality and ability to stay put. The memory foam has a grip to it that helps the EP-SB stay in place even while jogging.
The third set of Comply tips is from their Isolation line and offers the best audio performance and sound isolation. It was all too easy to ignore my coworkers with the EP-SB as all the talk and clatter of the office was eliminated with the Comply Isolation tips.
The RBH EP-SB features inline controls which are straightforward and easy to use. Simply hold the middle button down to power on and off, or pause and play music with a tap. Change tracks or adjust volume with the up down buttons.
I went running, walking, and to the gym with the RBH EP-SB and they are hands down the best sounding workout earphone I have used. I never realized how much of a nuisance a cable can be until I didn’t have to deal with one. I could place my phone in the cup holder of a treadmill and never worry about snagging the cable and sending it flying. I could even step off and walk to the water fountain while still listening to my music.
It may seem silly, but it is a great feeling. Sweat is a common byproduct of working out so the EP-SB are IPX4 rated for protection against rain sweat and dust. Although there are better fitting workout headphones available, that are better at staying locked to your ears, they do not sound remotely as good as the EP-SB.
Charging the RBH EP-SB is as simple as plugging a micro USB cable into the back of the right earbud and into a USB port either on a computer or a wall charger. RBH also sells a micro-usb charger in the shape of a fuel can that can fully recharge the earphones. It’s small, lightweight and easy to carry around and more than triples the usage time of the EP-SB.
Approximately an hour of charge time was all I usually needed to get the EP-SB back to full capacity, although I often did not drain them all the way.
The RBH EP-SB support the Bluetooth aptX CODEC for higher quality playback, but unfortunately iPhone’s do not support this. If your device supports aptX then the EP-SB will take advantage of that. Pairing the EP-SB to my iPhone was a breeze and these earphones even support NFC pairing for even easier connecting.
The sound quality on the RBH EP-SB is excellent, even when compared to similarly priced wired earbuds like the RBH EP2. While the EP2 have a fuller, richer sound, I enjoyed the detail and soundstaging more on the EP-SB. The EP2 have a strong low end with loads bass, but the EP-SB are more balanced for my tastes. Midrange clarity is excellent on the EP-SB as the vocals on a Sara Bareilles cover of the Sia track “Chandelier” are a pure joy to listen to. Even with the extra detail present via the EP-SB’s, I did not encounter any harsh sibilance.
The rich tone of Ray LaMontagne on “Trouble” comes through wonderfully via the RBH EP-SB. Guitar strums sound natural, not too hot or overly rigid. As with any earbud, a tight seal is critical for ideal bass response. I never experienced an issue with low end response when using the Comply tips. Bass on a few tracks from Radiohead’s Kid A album sound full, tight and responsive via the EP-SB earphones.
The RBH EP-SB made me a believer in wireless earphones. It is not necessary to sacrifice sound quality for comfort and convenience as the EP-SB offer excellent sound performance. Running and working out with the RBH EP-SB is a much more pleasurable experience than with traditional wired earphones. Both sound isolation and comfort are top notch with the Comply foam tips. At $179 the EP-SB are not cheap, but they do offer solid build quality and performance along with wireless technology.
If you are engaging in an intense workout with a lot of movement these probably won’t cling to your ears enough, but then again, you should be focusing on your workout then and not the music. For running and casual activity, the EP-SB worked beautifully. Highly recommended.