I want to make sure that I don’t mislead anyone with this review. So I’ll take this opportunity to make it perfectly clear; I loved the Tsumbay headphones. Loved them. Despite the fact that I am a man known across the globe for my sarcasm, there is none of that here. Not even a trace of irony or even any trivial mockery, I promise. Just to underline the point once again in case anyone is confused: I think the Tsumbay wireless headphones are BRILLIANT.
However it must also be said that as functioning headphones they are also absolutely dreadful. At best they are not bad and at worst totally rubbish but I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to explain, there is so much more to them than these simple descriptions.
So lets get on with it; I don’t know why but recently I seem to have been on some kind of headphone press release bulletin board because not only did we get the opportunity to look at the worlds only Lightning port powered, noise reducing headphones from Pioneer and the more heavy duty offer from Bose for the more hard-core commuter, but we have also been sent these sports cans from Tsumbay.
At first glance they fit nicely into the mix, they are light (which was a problem with both the Pioneer and Bose), they fit comfortably with multiple bud options and are relatively discrete but let’s go through the checklist of features and their relevant effectiveness shall we?
Sound quality – rubbish, vocals are fuzzy, the backing is quiet and indistinct.
Audio range – rubbish, top and bottom distort at high volumes and the mid range is clearer but only as the best of a bad job.
Bass level – rubbish, not much of it and what there is isn’t exactly overwhelming.
Treble control – rubbish, indistinct under normal use or metallic and sharp when pushed too loud.
Build quality and aesthetics – OK, it’s not going to win any design prizes but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it.
Microphone – rubbish, it picks up almost every other sound other than your voice and it doesn’t do that very clearly either.
BUT NONE OF THIS MATTERS.
I’ll say that again; I don’t care about any of that. I honestly couldn’t care less because for what I’ve used them for they have been a 1st class, grade A, 100% fabulous piece of kit. In my use of these wireless over ear headphones over the past few weeks, I can attest that they can take a serious pavement pounding, are super easy to set up and use with a battery that lasts two weeks between charges (at least it has until now, maybe that will degrade after a while) and that is what I want from headphones that I need to just grab and go.
There are other positives too, the waterproofing is pretty good (they’ll take a run through the rain but don’t take them in the shower with you), the control system is through a single button and two volume buttons which would be tricky if you need to do more than on/off or answer/hang up. But that’s exactly the point, why would you want to do anything other than that? If you are the sort of person that takes multiple conference calls during your treadmill sessions then a) I pity you and b) I’m quite sure that you would never lower yourself to be seen wearing anything that costs less than the price of the average car anyway, then I’m quite sure that these are not the headphones for you; it’s true that the Tsumbay headphones have limited usefulness but within those limits perform perfectly.
Why do I need to be able to pick out the pin sharp choral overtones featured in Shane Wards seminal work That’s My Goal? Why should my work out session be any less than perfectly adequate if I can’t distinguish between the twin vocals of Shaznay and Melanie of All Saints so perfectly featured in I know Where’s At (Album edit) while I concentrate on achieving my next personal best? I think not.
The point is that when I’m sweating like a sinner in church and pushing my body well beyond what feels like it’s mortal limits, I just don’t care. I don’t care if I am suffering through a perfectly average audio experience rather than one that can impress other people with how tiny the bass driver is or how much money you would like other people to know you spent on it. I care about the fact that they haven’t fallen out of my ears after three minutes. I care about the sweat that is currently dripping into my eyes and blinding me with salty regret hasn’t stopped them from working or prevented me from turning up the volume on the next 70’s disco classic.
So the truth is there are so many things that many of you won’t like about these headphones. In fact I know several people who have read this and probably already blocked me from Facebook for the offensive views I have expressed here. But let me tell you this, I haven’t yet had as reasonable an experience from a device in the same price bracket as this, ever.
The Tsumbay headphones are 20 quid.
Twenty English pounds? WHAT? That’s right my friends, for not much hard earned cash you get the headphones, a charging cable, a nasty faux-leatherette bag to keep everything in and a lifetime of self-satisfaction. I see no downside in this transaction, none. True, the product itself is average at best and I won’t lie that you get what you pay for here. But that’s a positive message that just goes to show just how far technology has come in developing consumer products for the mass market. People, splash out on your Pioneers and your Bose to bring some much needed sparkle to your commuter miseries by all means, but get your self a pair of these as well and let me know which one you use the most. I think you’ll be surprised.
Thanks to Tsumbay for sending me these to review, you gave me the Christmas present I didn’t know I wanted, you can find them on amazon here.