SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Review: Bluetooth Sport Earbuds

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If you need a solid pair of earbuds to get your blood pumping at the gym, the SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport will entice you. These wireless earphones deliver powerful bass and good overall sound. Plus, these $129 buds are affordable. I took them to the gym for a few sweaty sessions to see how they held up.


The SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds are connected by a long flat cable, a pretty standard design for wireless buds. 

The buds have a torpedolike shape, with flexible inserts that fill your ear's opening and seal out most background noise. Each bud has a "stay-fit" wing that helps it remain in place while you work out. On my review unit, these wings, along with the inside of the ear inserts and the flat cord, were a hot pink; you can also get the headphones in electric blue, bright orange and neon yellow.

Inline controls let you adjust volume and skip songs, and SMS Audio's Multi-Function button can be used to turn the headphones on and off, pair them to a Bluetooth device, and answer calls. A a small silicone tab protects the microUSB port on the left bud, used for charging.

Overall, the SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds feel just as secure as the similarly designed $149 Sony MDR-AS800BT Active Sports Bluetooth Headset. Also like the Sony Active Sports, these buds are water resistant enough to be protected from sweat and splashes.

Comfort and Fit

The ear inserts on the SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport are flexible, comfortable and sturdy, and never popped out, even during my most intense workout sessions. I barely felt the ear wings hugging the outside of my ears while I had the buds in for hours on end.

In fact, the buds were so secure that they didn't want to come out of my ear. A couple of times the left ear insert stuck in my ear when I took the buds out. After a mini panic attack, I plucked out the insert and slipped it back on the buds. Hey, at least these buds aren't going anywhere. 

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The cord connecting both buds is meant to be worn around the back of your neck. I found that they weighed my left side down due to the placement of the inline remote, so I had to frequently readjust it in order to turn my head without jerking the buds out of my ears.

The included cord grip helps with this, as you can double up the center of the cord to make it shorter. This makes it lay closer to the neck and eliminates the need for pesky, frequent readjustments.

Audio Quality

Like most SMS Audio products, the SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds provide thumping bass and good overall sound quality, with a few caveats. Across different music genres, the headphones pumped out clear vocals at medium volume, but audio suffered when I cranked things up. 

Luke Bryan's typically melodious and slightly twangy voice in "She Get Me High" got a little too sharp when I raised the volume to the maximum. However, it did sound slightly better than the Sony MDR-AS800BT Active Sports Bluetooth Headset, which played the same song with shakier vocals and harsher background instruments.

Thanks to the secure seal of the earbuds, I enjoyed a bubble of sound when I took the SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds for a walk in New York City's Flatiron District. I had a similar experience at the gym; falling dumbbells and the boisterous loudspeaker couldn't penetrate these earbuds when I had the volume set at 60 percent.

The SMS earbuds performed best when playing music with slower tempos; R&B songs like Ne-Yo's "Integrity" sounded smooth and seamless, with deep bass and clear, sexy vocals at maximum volume. 

However, at high volume, high-energy songs like Fall Out Boy's "Novocaine" were jarring experiences with clashing guitars and scratchy vocals. Michael Jackson's "Slave to the Rhythm" suffered the same fate, with the King of Pop's high-pitched vocals coming off harsh and the drums in the track sounding tinny and weak.

The Sony Active Sports experienced similar harshness at their loudest volume as well. Fortunately, like with the SMS buds, I only had to have them at around 60 percent of max volume to block out all external sounds.

Also, occasionally the sound cut out and skipped at the beginning of tracks. There was a slight delay, and then the song would start with the first few words skipped. SMS Audio sent me a new pair of SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds to test and those worked better; I only experienced sound cutting out one time. 

Battery Life

The SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds offer up to 8 hours of listening time on a charge. That's better than the promised 4.5 hours of battery life on the Sony MDR-AS800BT Active Sports Bluetooth Headset.

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After two days of use during workouts and my commute to and from work (about 6 hours total, mostly at medium to high volume), the battery on my pair of SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds was only down to about 75 percent. I could easily check the battery life by glancing at the Bluetooth icon on my iPhone 6.

Bottom Line

The SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds provide good overall audio quality in a compact and durable wireless design. These earbuds easily sync via Bluetooth to your smartphone and, with 8 hours of battery life, will last through several workouts. While the sound can get harsh at max volume, the $129 SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Bluetooth Sport earbuds can power you through even the most extreme exercise sessions.

Valentina Palladino

Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech.