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Headphone Review: Back Bay Audio Tempo 30 ($50)

By Rebecca Trachsel

I have been running with music since I was in grade school. I’ll go ahead and age myself here. I made mixtapes (they were awesome) and ran with my 5-pound Sony Walkman back then. Oh, how we have evolved in terms of music listening devices. I am now 48 years old and admittedly do not have a favorite pair of headphones. Meaning, I haven’t found that perfect mix of quality, sound, fit and so on in one single brand. And so begins my quest. Over the next few months I will test out as many different kinds of headphones as I can. I currently own at least six different types and potentially more (she says as she goes to check her bags and pockets). I have run at least 50 miles with each pair that I review. I will keep it short and sweet in my reviews. Here’s what I like. Here’s what I don’t. Granted, we all have different things we look for in a good set of headphones, so you’ll have to take it all with a grain of salt. I should also come right out and tell you that I have toddler-sized ears. So that’s an important factor for me.  Beyond that, though, I hope to share some valuable information so that if you, too, are looking for the perfect pair, these reviews will help you make an informed decision. And so we begin.  

QUALITY: These are sleek and lightweight, but feel solid both in the case and when you’re holding them. They are also waterproof, which is huge for me. It’s a must-have feature. They have an 8-hour battery life and noise-canceling technology, which I also like. I really can’t hear anything else when I’ve got the volume up. The case itself is small and smooth; easy to throw in a pocket, and allows for 32 additional hours of charging. 

SOUND: The sound is great. I won’t pretend I’m very picky in this category.  I’m not. I just want my music to play loud and not to hear my breathing. But I do pick up the bass pretty well in these, which I don’t notice as much in others. So that’s probably something you might like to know. Apparently there is a button for the bass which I clearly pressed without realizing it because I noticed the change. I should probably read up on that. If I’ve got these on at full blast, I can’t hear ambient noise. The only way I can hear outside noise and traffic around me is to listen at a lower volume. For that reason, I try to run on bike paths and away from traffic so I can turn it up and stay safe.

CONNECTION: The Bluetooth connection isn’t stellar as it cuts out pretty quickly when you separate the headphones from your device. However if you are running or listening with your device in hand or nearby this clearly isn’t an issue. Calls sound fine. Not great. Not bad. But I’m not taking a 3-hour call on my long run so this doesn’t impact the overall grade for me.  They work for calls. End of story.

FIT: These earbuds seem to fit small ears like mine really well. They are snug and comfortable. I literally took them out of the box and put them in with no issues. That is rare for me. They also come with six different rubber tips that vary in size and depth which I’ve never seen before in other models. I’ve worn them for all types of runs including fast work and trail running and they stay in nicely regardless of effort. My only minor problem with them is that the left bud (and only the left) sometimes feels like it’s getting loose and might fall out of my ear.  A gentle push solves this problem but that can get annoying on a long run or during a race. 

PRICE: At $49.99, they are definitely a very solid bang for your buck.  If you don’t need all the bells and whistles offered by other brands, it’s hard not to justify purchasing these over most others. 



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