Q: I was reading your old columns and saw your recommendation for the BlueAnt Pump. I would like to have something like this, but $79 is a lot for earphones. Do you have any inexpensive recommendations?
A: The BlueAnt Pump can be found now for as little as $45. Even so, I have discovered better-sounding models for less. There are now a number of Bluetooth earphones that sell for under $30 on Amazon, some of which get quite positive reviews.
I mentioned some future products that Modern Portable showed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. They included inexpensive Bluetooth sport earphones that were promised to sound very satisfying with music, better than anything else at the price. They're now on the market.
But do they live up to all of the company's pre-release hype? To prove their point, Modern Portable recently sent me five sets of Bluetooth earphones — their new earphones and four competitors selling for under $30. But I didn't know which product was which. The earphones were in bags, with individual pairing instructions written on a sticker on each bag. I was told to try them all and then respond as to which one I thought sounded the best, along with any other comments I might have.
I compared the earphones over two days. One was downright bad, one was OK and two were pretty good. But one model stood out. Once I had them seated in my ear, the bass was detailed, natural and satisfyingly deep, with a clear midrange and crisp treble.
To confirm my impressions, I did the same comparison with four other people from ages 22 to 44, a mix of male and female. Everyone picked the same model I did as their favorite. When I told Modern Portable the winner, they confirmed that it was their new model, the HiFi Pro Sport, which will sell for $19.99 online. If you need more than one, there is also a two-for-$35 offer only at modernportable.com.
In addition to the sound, there are some other features that make them seem like a great value. They don't feel budget at all and are very easy to operate. The dongle with the microphone has three logically positioned buttons. The top button raises volume, the middle turns it off and on, answers calls and pairs the earphones, and the bottom button decreases volume. To pair them, you just hold in the middle button and the earphones say, "pairing." When they pair with your device they say, "connected," and when you max out the volume they say, "maximum volume." It's much easier than looking at blinking lights, trying to figure out what is going on.
The sound rates as hi-fi, if not quite high-end. Granted, they're not in the same class as the mind-boggling wired Focal Sphear earphones I recommended last week, but they're not in the same price range, either. Not everyone wants to spend $180 on earphones. Given that the Modern Portable HiFi Pro Sport sounds at least as good as any wired $20 earphone I have tried, getting Bluetooth and a six-hour battery life as part of the deal makes them a standout bargain.
Modern Portable realized that a lot of people would be skeptical that they can provide a good-sounding, well-made, reliable set of sport Bluetooth earphones with microphone for under $20. So the company is providing a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee. See them at modernportable.com or amazon.com.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadviceblog.com.