Let’s be fair, any manufacturer releasing small in-ear wireless earbuds are going to have them compared to Apple’s AirPods or the Bose Sound Sport Free. The latest audio peripheral from Richbean will not be an exception to the rule. While the Richbean Boom Buds don’t have some of the gee-whizz touches of the AirPods, they do offer great noise isolation, a strong sound, and solid integration with both Android an iOS devices.
Inside the packaging you’ll find the earbuds, silicon ear tips, a cylindrical carrying case, and a micro-USB charging cable.
The carrying case is the unsung hero of the whole package. Slightly larger than your regular lighter, the carry case slides open with a gentle tug at the silicon strap provided on the side. You’ll find a sculpted space for each earbud, and they are held in place magnetically. So while you might jump across trees with the buds inside the case in your pocket, you can be assured that they’ll be getting charged.
The carrying case also charges the earbuds via two pogo pins in the case for each earbud. One connects to the body of the earbud, the other connects to the metal dust cap that protects the speaker cone. Complete this circuit and each earbud charges from the carrying case’s internal battery. So you charge the carry case over Micro-USB, and the carry case (which can hold around four full recharges) will charge the earbuds. Practically the earbuds will always be topped up when they go in the case.
The earbuds are expected to run for 2.5 hours before needing to be recharged in the case. I’ve been working on the assumption that they’ll go for thee entire 2.5 hours before needing to be removed, which gives me a little bit of room while out and about. Given the changeable nature of bluetooth radio signals, volume, audio content, and voice calls, the 2-2.5 hour window feels about right. And every time they go in the case they’re going to charge themselves up.
And to keep track of things you have 4 LEDs on the case, these can help you determine how much charge is left in the case. In fact, one can roughly assume that each LED indicator is equal to one charge that can be provided to your earbuds (So 4 in total, for those who do not like math). The LED indicators will stay lighted up while the earbuds are inside the case and charging. Once the light goes off, you know your Richbean Boom Buds are fully charged.
The earbuds will power on when you remove them from the case, and will look to pair with each other and the parent bluetooth device. In practice by the time I’ve taken them out of the case and have them in my ears, I’m already connected and ready to listen. If you usually use your ear buds with just one device, life is going to be easy peezy. In case you switch between devices, you have to disconnect from the first and then connect the other. It would have been great if the Richbean Boom Buds came with blueooth 5.0 instead of 4.2 as the former allows for multiple devices to connect to your earbuds simultaneously. Also, had the charging case used Type-C instead of MicroUSB, one would not have to carry 2 separate charging cables. Maybe we will see that in Boom Buds 2?
A very long press on either earbud’s button will power down the two earbuds if they are paired. It’s also possible to power up one earbud manually (again, with a very long press of the button) and use a single earbud for calls and audio. This can in fact increase the life of the bud. We figured using just one Boom Bud provided for around 4Hrs of playback.
Unlike Apple’s solution, there are no infrared sensors in the earbuds to determine if they are in your ear or have been removed. That means there’s no automatic switching to a single earpiece if one is removed, nor will the audio stop if you take out your earbuds.
Each earbud has a physical pressable button in the center, and it has become habit to ensure that these buttons are on the top of the earbud when in my ear. They’re easy to find by touch so it’s a simple matter to orientate these when putting the buds in my ear. The usual button controls are present here for play/pause on a atop, advancing tracks with a two quick presses, and previous track with a long 1 second press of the single button. There are no controls for volume and one has to control the same using their bluetooth device. The same operations are present for answering or rejecting calls.
It doesn’t feel futuristic in the way that the AirPods work with gentle taps on the casing triggering the accelerometers, and as noted there is no automatic ear detection, but the Richbean Boom Buds are practical and intuitive. Not to mention they are available for 1/5th the price of Apple’s AirPods. They also deliver a sound that is far more to my tastes than the more open to the audio environment that Apple has decided on.
As with most earbuds, the question is always ‘will they fit my ears’ and ‘will they stay in’. Following the accepted practice of bud manufacturers, the Richbean Boom Buds ship with extra silicon ear tips for each earbud. For me the standard size is a comfortable fit. They fit easily into the ear canal, and with just a tiny bit more pressure that ‘dropping’ them in will create a good seal. That’s good enough for walking around town, running for the bus, or spending time in the gym, and in all of those cases the sweat- and splash-resistance offered by the IPX5 rating is welcome.
Because they fill the ear canal and then have a silicon tip, there is a good seal that keeps music in and dampens external noise. It’s not a complete block on external noise (and there is no active noise-cancelling element in the buds) but it’s enough to keep the focus on the audio I’m playing, while leaving enough sound for ambient environmental noise from the outside world. There’s enough punch in the bass to satisfy me, and almost every smartphone these days will offer audio equalizer settings to tailor a sound. The hardware leaves plenty of room to do so, but by the small size you’re not going to get an incredibly wide dynamic range – essentially you can emphasize the bass line or the melody.
Audio wise when the bluetooth signal is strong the Richbean Boom Buds will match the quality of mid-range wired earbuds, which is good enough for me in a ‘daily driver’ choice of hardware. Bluetooth is not perfect, so I’ve experienced occasional drop-outs when three’s a lot of my body between the smartphone and the earbuds, but this isn’t unique to the Richbeaan Boom Buds and is something I have had the misfortune of experiencing on the Bose Sound Sport Free as well.
These aren’t the headphones I would use on a long journey – I’m always going to be using a set of custom wired in-ear monitors – but as my ‘day to day’ audio choice, there’s a lot to like about the Richbean Boom Buds. At around 5 grams each, the earbuds are almost unnoticeable in use, just the feeling of a slight pressure in my ear is the only physical sensation. With no wires or external casing hanging outside of the slim profile, the ‘true’ part of the naming becomes clear.
The small size is something to fret about – that’s the case with almost every wireless earbud solution – but in practice I’ve had a couple of ‘oh they’ve fallen’ moments, and these were early on in my use of them – an extra push when placing the earbuds into my ears took care of that, and my time with them has eased any worries about them going missing.
The whole package is well designed, the earbuds are comfortable in use, they charge quickly and offer a decent amount of audio on a single charge, and overall the package is nicely priced. I’d call that a success.