I am not big on change; I optimise a situation and then stick with it until for some reason it doesn’t work as well anymore. When I found Yurbuds headphones (years and years ago when the dinosaurs still roamed the land), it was love at first run and I have stuck with them since and the love has never waned. However, as Apple decided to remove their headphone jacks from their new phones I started feeling stuck. Yes, I could just buy the converter and have all this kit dangling from my phone during a run or bite the bullet and buy bluetooth headphones – because I just LOVE having to remember to charge yet another gadget…
Over the past year I started half heartedly testing bluetooth headphones and when I say half heartedly I mean it. I only ever tried to run with one (TaoTronics if you must know) but found them constantly falling out of my ears and uncomfortable. However the TaoTronics are great for the gym, especially as they block the ambient noise pretty efficiently – they are also inexpensive. I can see that they have brought out a new model as well should you wish to give them a go.
Not having been able to find decent headphones is actually one of the reasons I am still with iPhone 6S but as this is starting to act up more and more I feel the timer is counting down (probably towards an iPhone X..).
After a good few hours of research with Dr. Google I stumbled upon a brand called Urbanears, and their Stadion headphones attracted my attention.
Here are the specs as per their own spiel:
“This light and flexible headset comes in a package you’ve never quite seen before—with a team of stretchy coils that wrap behind your neck for an on-target fit, and EarClick technology that secures the earbuds in place. Too fast for cords, Stadion is Bluetooth-ready for seamless listening and hands-free calls, with all the buttons you need around back. Reflective details give extra visibility at night. And the micro USB port lets you recharge between sessions like a pro.”
- Headphone type: In ear
- Compatible with: All devices
- Microphone & Remote: Yes
- Connection: Bluetooth 4.0
- Max SPL: 115dB
- THD: < 2% at 200Hz and 100db SPL (I have no idea what that means)
- Play time: Up to 7 hours
What is in the box
- 3 different sized earpieces
- pouch with a drawstring (a good size and well made)
- charger (micro USB / USB)
- Manual, brochure
I guess most bluetooth headphones come with the same kind of charger; micro USB dock on the headphones and USB at the other end. The charging point is in the big bit that goes behind your head and is protected by a silicone flap. This is the only bit I worry about as it is likely to get very sweaty, (especially at the back of my head when I am running) so I hope the seal is good enough to stop the moisture from getting inside.
The headphones have three buttons to skip tracks, adjust volume and pick up calls. The buttons are located in the thick bit which goes behind your head. Not the most convenient place but for me personally I don’t care as I never fiddle with the headphones as I am running anyway; if I need to skip songs I will just ask Siri on my Apple Watch. By having the controls at the back the upside is that the actual ear pieces are light and the headphones are not lopsidedly heavy by having the controls on one side as most headphones do. Once you get used to it I don’t see it being an issue at all even if you do want to use the buttons.
The Stadion come with three different sized ear pieces which claim to use “EarClick” technology to stay firmly in place inside your ears. A bit like “TwistLock” that Yurbuds uses. The headphones have two little pokey bits that ensure you are not as likely to lose the ear pieces which is reassuring. In addition to the earbud providing a snug fit, it helps to have the over-the-ear piece to ensure you won’t lose your headphones mid-run. If I am entirely honest, my expectations were pretty low as I didn’t think there was any way the earbuds would stay in. I actually tested the headphones at the gym first and went for the biggest loop which ended up sitting almost too snugly but bruising and hurting my ear. I have pretty tiny ears and the middle bit is just Goldilocks for me. Once the earbuds are in I actually found I couldn’t feel them at all – the fit was even better than Yurbuds which I’d have to adjust a few times during a run if they got too sweaty.
To help with the staying power of the headphones, the stretchy coils that connect the bulky “control centre” at the back of your head will pull on the earbuds slightly. This tension will depend on the size of your head and as mine is particularly child-sized, I need the help of my ponytail to make sure I get the angle and tension right. And a word of warning here – if your head is very small or very large then you might struggle with the fit.
If you are looking for noise cancelling headphones then the Stadion is not for you – nor does it claim to be. The Stadion is designed to allow ambient sound in so that you can run safely knowing that you will still hear cars (and the occasional rude shouter). That is a feature that I specifically wanted from my running headphones. For this reason though, the Stadion are not ideal for use at the gym, if you are trying to block the general noise out and focus on your own music. With headphones like this it isn’t really about the bass and whether you get all the nuances of the music but for me it’s about whether I can hear my music and notifications while still hearing the surrounding traffic and I found them perfect.
I have never before bought headphones that cost quite this much before but clearly I should have. Having tested them on a 23k run and actually forgetting I had headphones on because they were so incredibly light blew me away. It was freeing not to have the headphone cord bouncing and getting tangled on my hand every time I had to blow my nose (which was about every 30s). The sound quality was great and I could still hear the ambient noise of the traffic.
My worst nightmare is running out of charge in the middle of a long run so I will probably charge the headphones after every run rather than test the 7h claim but so far there was absolutely no issues with a 2 hour run (as one should expect).
Another feature I didn’t test is the mic – again it’s something I don’t really need on my running headphones.
All in all it’s a big thumbs up from me. Sometimes change is good! The downside is that now I have no excuse not to buy the iPhone X… Except for maybe the price tag.
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I sourced the Urbanears Stadion myself based on research and paid £75 on Amazon while they were running a promotion. All opinions are mine, even the ones you might not agree with.