(This comprehensive review was provided care of NZ MTB Magazine)
The earSHOTS are designed as bluetooth earbuds, meaning the speaker sits at the entrance of your ear canal, versus in it, as in-ear headphones would, and feature a rubberised loop that goes over your ear and sits behind it. The speaker and the backing both feature magnets, which are strong enough to be attracted to one another through your ear, but not so strong that you can feel it. The magnet system is earSHOTS solution to the retention problem, and I can confirm it works a treat. Each earSHOT features a small button for pairing and powering-on, along with a small LED to give you the status of your unit.
In terms of performance, the earSHOTS are awesome. The earSHOTS are thin and flexible through the middle, so they’ll conform to the top of your ears and the rubber outer doesn’t feel uncomfortable against your skin. As the earSHOTS are an earbud design, there’s no pressure inside your ear and they don’t feel intrusive whatsoever. In terms of sound quality, the earSHOTS deliver a good, balanced sound. Out of the box, I found they sounded a little ‘hollow’ through the mid-range, with highs that were a little bit more pronounced then I’d like, but after a quick tweak of Spotify’s EQ I got them dialled in to a setting that I was stoked with. It is probably worth noting that I’m lucky enough to have owned some really nice guitar amps and speakers over my time, so I’m pretty picky when it comes to sound. If you were to compare them to a set of standard headphones that sell for the same price, the standard heaphones would win out in a battle of sound quality but that’s not to say the earSHOTS are bad by any stretch of the imagination, and ultimately the earSHOTS are designed to provide you with trouble-free listening in environments where other headphones would provide you with nothing but trouble, and that’s exactly what they do.
I wouldn’t say you forget the headphones are there once they’re in, but they don’t move around at all and are uncomfortable in any sense. It took me a minute to wrap my head around how to put them on the first time round, although as admitted earlier I oh-so-confidently skipped the tutorial videos, but once you’ve figured it out they’re a piece of cake to put on and despite my hardest efforts, I couldn’t get them to budge. They don’t interfere with my helmet or helmet straps at all, and because each earSHOT is a standalone unit, meaning no cable or bar to connect them like some wireless headphones, you’re free to move your head however you like without fear of earSHOT ejection. The magnetic retention system works perfectly, and you don’t feel the magnets attraction to one-another at all. After a little bro-science, I concluded that the magnets are strong enough to hang the headphones off your earlobe like a pair of over-priced, mildly deformed hoops, but not so strong that you could do much more than just sit there questioning why you’ve got two headphones hanging from your ears.
The question I’ve had the most with the earSHOTS is do they have a microphone to pick up noise from the environment around you. The answer is no, but the earSHOTS aren’t an in-ear headphone and they aren’t noise cancelling either, so you can still hear what’s going on around you, unless of course your music is cranked up so loud that you should be worrying about your hearing before anything else. Probably also worth noting that if you need to be able to hear what’s going on around you, chances are you probably shouldn’t be listening to music. After chatting with James, it is something they’re considering in the future and I think that’s one of the rad things about direct-to-consumer companies – the fact that us consumers can have these conversations with the people behind the product knowing that our feedback will get through to someone who can actually utilise it.
When all is said and done, if you’re wanting to ride and listen to music, I’m not aware of anything on the market that will do a better job than the earSHOTS. They’re comfy, they sound great and they’re easy to setup. It’s really cool to see a business establish purely around designing headphones for mountain biking and outdoor sports, as opposed to being an after thought on someone else’s product line, so if you want to keep your money within our sport, consider picking up a pair of earSHOTS.