Wireless headphones have been getting increasingly popular with each passing day (blame it on the rumored demise of the 3.5 mm audio jack) and it is no surprise that more and more manufacturers are now getting in the wireless headphone zone. And the latest to join the Bluetooth bandwagon in India is the US-based audio brand, LSTN. The company has recently launched its products in India and has introduced LSTN Bolt wireless earbuds, priced at Rs. 6,990. But do the LSTN Bolt offer a great LSTN-ing experience (lame pun intended)?
Metallic, magnetic…with some silicon
Aimed at workout enthusiasts, the LSTN Bolt is pretty neat and compact when it comes to design. Made of anodized aluminum, the earbuds can be paired with different silicon wings and ear tips that come in the box. There are three sizes (S/M/L) of ear tips and two sizes (S/M) of silicon wings to choose from. You can mix and match the ear tips and silicon wings to find the ideal size for your ears – we easily found a fit for ours. The bullet-like earbuds have a silver finish on the edges and have the LSTN logo on the back. The earbuds also come with magnets on the back which helps in holding the earbuds together and keeps the wire from tangling.
The two earbuds are connected to each other by a short flat wire which has a small volume and playback control panel. It has “+” and “-“ buttons for increasing and decreasing volume and comes with a circular button in the middle of the two which allows you to play and pause music and connect and disconnect phone calls. Between the circular button and the “-“ buttons, there is a small LED indicator which lights up in red or blue color indicating connectivity and charging. The control panel also houses a micro USB port for charging on the side which is covered with a plastic flap to keep it safe from sweat and water. The back of the panel comes with the brand name on it.
Overall, the earphones are light, slim and pretty good looking. Apart from the earbuds, which are metallic, the wire of the Bolt earphones is silicon, and the control panel feels like plastic. That said, the earphones do not feel inexpensive.
Low on audio fireworks, high on utility
The LSTN Bolt earphones may have passed the design and look department with flying colors but are a mixed bag in the performance zone. When it comes to basic audio (interviews, conversations, that sort), the Bolt performs well. The audio quality is clear and loud. Calls were handled easily, and people had no problems hearing us when we were using these.
But do not expect fireworks in your ears with LSTN Bolt inside them. Do not get us wrong, the sound produced in terms of detail is pretty neat. You get to hear the little notes and beats, but the audio quality lacks a bit of drama and seems pretty flat. And because there is no app for the earphones, you cannot really customize or change the settings according to your taste. The only variable aspect with the Bolt is the volume. So, what you hear is pretty much all you get. Along with no customization, the earphones also do not provide any noise cancellation or noise isolation features which is a negative for the audiophiles out there, but we did not really miss the features, as the earphones kept external sounds out pretty effectively, thanks to the well-designed silicon buds and wings.
In terms of connectivity, the LSTN Bolt comes with Bluetooth 4.1. The pairing process is simple. You have to press the circular button long until the small LED indicator starts blinking in blue and red color. Once you connect your phone with the earbuds, the LED light will blink in blue color. To turn the headphones off, you again have to press the circular button long, and once the blue light stops blinking, your earphones will turn off. Connecting and disconnecting the earbuds from your device may get confusing at times because there is just no way of knowing how “long” the long press has to be. So, pressing it for a while and then leaving it, may lead you nowhere at times.
That said, there are several voice alerts to help you get over the confusing bit. Once you turn your headset on, a voice alert says, “power on” and once you connect it with your phone, the voice alert says, “your headset is connected” and another voice alert tells you when your headphone turns off. There are voice alerts for battery status as well, but unfortunately, they only tell you that the battery levels are high, medium or low which is not as detailed as a percentage indication.
As the LSTN Bolt are aimed at workout junkies, the headphones are sweat and water resistant, but you cannot take them for a swim. Another problem with many wireless earphones is many of them fall out of ears when you take them out for a gym session or a run but you will not have this problem with the LSTN Bolt as they get jammed in pretty well and do not fall out accidentally ever (those wings do hold them securely in place). A small negative- the LSTN Bolt might hurt a little when used over a prolonged period of time – our ears started hurting just a little after a couple of hours of listening, but we consider that a small price to pay for keeping those earbuds securely in place.
When it comes to battery, the company claims that the earphones can last up to 8 hours on single charge, but our review unit often ran out of juice in 5-6 hours of use at a stretch. The LSTN Bolt come with micro USB port for charging which we think is a huge plus, as you do not have to carry separate chargers (most phones still use micro USB chargers) and a replacing the charger is not a headache as well – just as well, because we could not find a charger in our box. Also, a huge thumbs up to the company for making a vegan leather case for the earphones, which can easily fit in any pocket and looks good as well.