ISOtunes sent over a pair of their FREE wireless hearing protection earplugs for review, and I’ve formed an early opinion of them that I’m confident in sharing.
This isn’t a full review, but if you have any questions I’ll give it my best effort to answer them.
The first thing you must know about ISOtunes’ FREE wireless earplugs is that they’re fairly comfortable to use. They fit in my ears comfortably and securely.
The next most important aspect, at least in my opinion, is that they’re easy to use and pair to. They pair to each other and then to your smartphone or other Bluetooth-connected device. One of the earbuds emitted a connection or pairing failure warning, but everything has been working nicely and as intended, and so I don’t know what that was about.
The earbuds are available in black, safety green, or safety yellow.
The “safety yellow” version is limited to 79 dB of audio output.
The level of hearing protection they offer is fair, at 22 dB. I like greater noise reduction rating much of the time, but these are suitable for a broad range of tasks and applications, just not when a maximum NRR is desired.
The ISOtunes FREE come with different sizes of tips to fit your ears, 3 pairs of foam tips, and 3 pairs of double-flanged silicone tips. I have only used the medium foam tips so far.
Note: The silicone tips have NOT been tested for noise reduction. ISOtunes recommends that the silicone double-flange tips only be used for when hearing protection is not required.
You are supposed to get 7+ hours of battery life from a single battery charge, and the case should get you up to 3 full charges for 21 hours of use before needing to be recharged, which is impressive, especially compared to Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro.
ISOtunes engineered the FREE Bluetooth hearing protector with Bluetooth 5.0 technology and IP45-rated construction.
There’s a noise-cancellation microphone that suppresses background noise when you’re on a call in loud environments.
A built-in volume limiter means that you can’t dial up your tunes past 85 dB, and I have no problem with that.
Here’s something I know a lot of you will be glad to hear – the ISOtunes FREE earbuds case, which charges up the devices, is recharged via USB C. You get a compatible cord with the package, but not a wall plug, which I’m sure most people already have at home or work.
Sound quality is decent, and better than I had anticipated.
When switching back and forth between the ISOtunes FREE and pricier earbuds (a gift card recently allowed me to splurge on Apple AirPod Pro’s), these don’t sound quite as rich. A few minutes in, and you’ll forget all about that.
The ISOtunes does have a slight white background noise. I can very barely detect it when listening to music, but it is very apparent when interacting with my smartphone. When the phone is idle and the screen off, the noise floor is low. But when I’m interacting in my phone, say conducting a search and not listening to music, there’s a low frequency hum.
I figure this is part of the microphone’s noise cancellation feature. If you’re not interacting with your phone, you’re either off your phone and there’s no noise, or otherwise listening to music or other audio source that drowns it out.
Perhaps not everyone experiences the same, and I’m hearing this in the environment I’ve been listening in, but either way it’s something to be aware of but a non-issue in my opinion.
Besides, you’ll be working with these earbuds on, right? The noise of tools or power tools will drown out what I would simply describe as background white noise.
My sample pair is green and black, and so far so good. The green color is easier to find if you put these down anywhere, but the mate black version looks decent too.
I still have to test the earbuds in a very noisy environment. Calls with lower ambient noise levels, where hearing protection usually isn’t needed, results in a slightly tinny sound on my end, but others haven’t complained about how I sound.
Summary (So Far)
- Comfortably snug
- Medium-level of hearing protection
- Problem-free Bluetooth connectivity
- Decent audio
- IP45 rating: sweat, water, dust resistant
- Good, even great quality music
- Fair call quality
Overall, I feel that the ISOtunes FREE offers a strong balance between hearing protection, ease of use, and sound quality. It could do better in the hearing protection department, as far as the on-paper noise reduction rating goes, and it could do better with regard to music and phone audio quality, but at what cost?
I’ve become a fan of wireless ear buds. These are small and comfortable, and overall quite acceptable.
Some online user reviews complain about the low volume. In my opinion, user satisfaction will be tied to the usage environment. If you require hearing protection the entire time, due to your work being consistently loud, these might not be for you. If you need hearing protection from intermittent loud noises, you’re probably going to have a better and more satisfying experience.
(I can’t say I see where the complaints are coming from – of course music is going to sound lower when background noise is a lot higher. Wouldn’t being able to crank up the volume to hearing-damaging levels defeats the purpose of hearing protectors?)
As long as you understand what you’re getting, you might be happy. Expect these to sound like much pricier Bluetooth headphones or ones that don’t offer hearing protection, and you might be disappointed.
I would be remiss to recommend these unconditionally. But if you were to say you’re looking for completely wireless Bluetooth-compatible earbuds that sound decent, offer hearing protection, and are effortless to setup and use, I’d give the ISOtunes FREE two thumbs up. I feel that there will be many more satisfied users among those that take the time to learn what they’re getting and what they’re not.
I think that ISOtunes did a great job with the FREE.
(At the time of this posting Amazon has a 10% clickable coupon on the matte black version.)
Lastly, kudos to ISOtunes for including a useful user manual, here it is (PDF).
Thank you to ISOtunes for providing the review sample.