I’ve been wanting to trade in my wired earphones for a Bluetooth model for the longest time — but finding one that could put up with the stress of my daily exercise routine hasn’t been easy. So I was glad to be able to get hold of YURBUDS’ Limited Edition Focus Sport Earphones, and not just because they work with Bluetooth.
The Focus have a unique “feel”: each earbud is attached to a bendable frame that goes around the ear and has a ridged shape for an easy gripping. The cord connecting the two has a “tangle-free” capability to it and is just long enough to bridge the distance between the two ‘buds’ when worn. The whole design seems well suited for use when the person wearing them is active, and as it turns out — this is true.
To pair the Focus, I pressed and held in on the extremely tiny button that lay on the inside stem of the left earbud. This brought up a blue LED light to indicate power was on. I then did the same to a button right above it, which now caused red/blue LEDs to flash. Going to my iPhone, I found the Bluetooth setting and tapped it. The blinking stopped and the pairing was over.
The Focus feature an exclusive “locking” device that keeps them in the ear. Basically this consists of the design of the enhancer inserts (medical-grade silicone and very soft but durable), which slips over the earbud speakers and seat themselves in the ear canal once given a twist. YURBUDS provides two sets; I was fine with the ones that were already attached. With it on, I reached up to the right ‘bud and found the small tab that lay against its outside wall. A tap started the music playing from my iPhone,with a second tap stopping it. The other choices include a double-tap for skipping a track and holding the tab in for a long second to go back one track.
The Focus are stated as being both sweat and water-resistant, so to really see if they were I headed out one Saturday AM in the midst of a (rare for SoCal) rainstorm (my iPhone secreted in a pocket inside of a waterproof case). 20 minutes later I could say that the Focus functioned efficiently the entire time I was running; they stayed in my ears and, once back, a quick toweling off with a soft cloth was all that was needed. I was also pleased that the earbuds didn’t completely cut me off from the “outside” world while I was running. Some ambient sound continued to make its way through and I saw this as a good thing — heavy noise-cancellation is fine when listening indoors or exercising in a gym, but not so when out amidst people, cars and bikes.
Later I decided to charge up the Focus — while it came already powered from the manufacturer, it was a partial charge. How I knew this was kind of cool — the Focus had put up a battery level on my iPhone and also had given me a verbal message that it had only about 30 minutes of power left (yes, the voice scared the heck out of me while I was running since I wasn’t expecting it). But getting back to charging — the micro-USB slot is covered by a rubber stopper that lies flush and is extremely difficult to pull out. Anyone with average sized fingers will find it difficult to open up without the use of a tool (in my case, the flat end of a micro jeweler’s screwdriver). Once opened, I connected the USB cable and left the Focus alone for 4 hours so it would have a full charge. YURBUDS says that the average charge gives you up to 6 hours of “use” time and I found this to be about right. Of course using the Focus to make/take phone calls will eat up the power too (the mic is obviously waterproofed also).
Now rating the sound quality of the Focus has to be somewhat subjective. I know firsthand that, in comparison to the rather expensive wired headphones I had used with my iPhone previously, the Focus provided just as good an audio play overall, along with a stable Bluetooth signal free of “noise” and other aural detriments. The quality also seemed a step up from the wired: audiobook dialogue seemed to have more “depth” in the male speaker’s voice. I also played some symphonic compositions — high resolution files of Joseph Haydn’s String Quartets, op. 77, 103 and 42 [tacet Real Surround Blu-ray disc series] — and was pleased with the response of the violins as the subtle frequencies of the mid-tone ranges were well presented. This was even more the case when I switched to tacet’s Serenade in B flat major (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart). Moving on to popular music, the Focus performed even more admirably, with good mid-range and bass response.
Bottom line: Sports-oriented Bluetooth earbuds advertise as being able to stand the strain of exercise, but rarely add any other features that stand out. YURBUDS’ Limited Edition Focus Sport Earphones wins the race: they can handle bad weather, stay in the ear and are comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. Oh, they sound good too. All this makes the $129.00 retail seem a bargain.
Tangle free Kevlar cord, Washable
Charging cover difficult to open
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.