I reviewed the IsoTunes Pro Bluetooth hearing protection earbuds back in August. There have been a few updates to the product line, and an amendment to my opinion since then. First we’ll look at the new offerings from IsoTunes.
Evidently, some people didn’t like the orange and black color scheme of the original IsoTunes Pro earbuds, so they started offering the earbuds in all-black. They are the same $89 as the original pair and have all the same specs. You can see the new earbuds above.
Buy Now (Black earbuds via Amazon)
The second new offering from IsoTunes is the ability to order replacement eartips. This is timely, as I have ripped one of mine to shreds. It’s not that my ears are that rough, I just think the memory foam can only take so much manipulation before it starts to degrade. Maybe it’s constant exposure to earwax?
For $18 you can now buy a three pack of a single size (small, medium, or large) replacement foam eartips for the IsoTunes Pro. You can also pick up replacement triple flange rubber eartips for $4. They also offer replacements tips for the lower cost Isotunes earbuds too.
Buy Now (Eartips via IsoTunes)
Finally, I’ve been having problems with the audio cutting out — sometimes to the point where it becomes unintelligible. I’ve tried to hone in on the situations where I experience issues and found it’s more likely to happen outside, using electric tools, and when I’m perspiring. I don’t need every one of those conditions to be true to have problems, but I’m far less likely to have problems when none of those conditions are met.
Take Sunday for example. I was listening to some tunes on the earbuds while I was vacuuming the house. I spent 30 minutes and did not have a single audio problem.
Later in my shop, I was removing the finish from a door frame with a random orbital sander hooked up to a shop vac. For a while I didn’t have any problems, but about 10 minutes in, the audio started skipping a bit. To solve the issue, I took the phone out of my pocket and put it over on a table 5 feet away.
After that, I mowed the lawn with the earbuds in and the phone in my pocket. I had a few cutouts, but I was able to mow the whole lawn without major issues. Then I started weed whacking with a Ryobi 18V trimmer. I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but at this point I’m sweating and my pockets are sticking a bit. The audio was cutting out more, but it was still bearable.
Finally, I started blowing off the driveway, street, and sidewalk with a Milwaukee M18 Fuel blower. The audio was fine for about 30 seconds and then it became unlistenable. So I grabbed the phone and put it near my ear as I was blowing, and it worked fine. Then I put it back in my pocket and it took thirty seconds or so before it started cutting out again.
It’s funny, because sometimes I’ll just clean off the driveway when I go outside first thing in the morning, and I won’t have any issues listening to music at all. That’s why I’m suspecting sweating being part of the problem, but not the entire problem because I’m definitely sweating while mowing the lawn and the gas lawnmower doesn’t give me nearly as many problems as the electric blower.
Here’s another counter example: On Monday, I wore the IsoTunes Pro earbuds for over 3 hours while I was repairing some flooring in our hallway. I was walking up and down stairs, running two different circular saws, a miter saw, table saw, and several vacuums. I never had one audio cutout.
In short, I don’t know what’s changed between when I did the review and now. I continue to use other Bluetooth earphones without issue, so I don’t believe it’s my phone. Then again I’m not able to use them in the more extreme situations that I can use my IsoTunes Pro earbuds.
The only thing I can say is that at this point I really can’t recommend the IsoTunes Pro earbuds if you are going to be moving around outside.
Is it possible that the high powered battery tools are producing electronic noise that’s interfering with the bluetooth signal?
mine cut out all the time. its so annoying. on my second pair and they still do not work properly
I’ve heard quite a few reports of bluetooth sensors and computers suffering interference from PWM on bike headlights in close proximity. Any chance something like that is contributing to the audio issues? Not sure how noisy or elaborate the speed controls are on some of these power tools.
I was sort of wondering if its PWM issues too.
cordless so DC power – and in some of those cases a brushless motor.
question though – why can’t you test the same situation with another bt headphone/earbud? maybe put a set of ear muffs over them?
Because I can’t hear my other BT headphones (Motorola S305) when I’m vacuuming, mowing, or blowing. My solution for audio when I needed hearing protection, my BT adapter/worktunes combination, broke (both jack and plug).
I purchased the Isotunes because I needed something and I hadn’t really seen anybody do a followup after their initial unboxing, so I figured I’d give them a try and review them.
I really didn’t want to go technical in the article, but here’s what I believe the problem is:
Inside, the Bluetooth signal can bounce off walls, ceiling , floor, etc and find a path. Outside, you can get too far away from walls and there is no ceiling, so the only paths you have are direct through your body (which can be affected by sweat), and off the ground. Add some good noise in there from a motor and all of a sudden you can’t get enough valid packets to the headphones (or back to the phone) and the audio stutters or cuts out.
My LG Bluetooth headphones have zero issues where my isotunes crap out. When mowing its the worst. If i have me phone in my pocket they cut out consistently. My LGs (hbs730), work fine while mowing. Zero issues. I like the hearing protection offered by the iso’s but damn its annoying when the tunes keep cutting out!!
I’m not saying this’ll help the dropouts, but even though they’re painfully expensive, the bone conduction headphones have several advantages, not the least of which you don’t have stuff shoved in your ears so you get both the music/podcasts, and better situational awareness.
This company’s main claim to fame is that their headphones are also approved as hearing protection. While bone conduction is cool, you would still need to shove something in your ears for hearing protection in the scenarios he described in the article
I’ve got a set of bone conducing headphones. They are alright…but if your mowing…or using any fairly large motor machine ….the vibrations from the machine over power the speakers.
Koko the Talking Ape
This is the reason I still prefer wired earbuds. They don’t need batteries, they don’t drop out, and some sound great, and for less money than the equivalent BT versions.
If the cord is a hassle, I just thread it under my shirt.
Yeah, I still do this sometimes, but I’ve snapped the cord on two different pairs of earbuds because the cord became untucked (probably because I pulled my phone out) and snagged on something.
It’s definitely a trade-off: the freedom of not having a cord vs BlueTooth or dead battery problems. Although I’ve had really good battery life with the IsoTunes Pros.
I don’t find this issue confined to a single pair of Bluetooth headphones. My problems arise when my phone is in a holster or pocket and my arm comes in between the phone and headphones, that’s when they cut out and more so when I’m in an open space. In a hallway or room it seems as if the signal bounces and works better. Just my .02
Thank you for your review and update.
Regarding the replacement tips, seems like it is made by a separate company (Comply), and they offer replacement tips for practically every company. I think I will just order those (from Amazon) for my LG hb 750.
Interesting, I didn’t even notice they were Comply. I think I found the Comply replacements for the Isotunes Pro earbuds: https://www.amazon.com/Comply-Foam-Premium-Earphone-Tips/dp/B00RRD7XJE
About the same price, but out of stock at Amazon.
Comply foam eventually loses its spring and needs replacement, just like foam earplugs.
When driving home and listening to a downloaded podcast from my phone via my trucks bluetooth headset there is ONE bridge i drive under and my audio cuts out. Everytime…. i wonder what they have passing thru that bridge, whatever it is disrupts my bluetooth for a second when im traveling 75mph. Pretty annoying.
I’m not a Bluetooth expert, but like I commented in your original post, I just don’t think the radio in the ISOTunes isn’t as powerful as it could/should be. I do not have near the issues with my other BT audio devices that I do with these. That said, I still use them the most because they are convenient.
I’ve noticed that holding my arm between the receiver and my phone is enough to make it cut out. I also noticed when mowing one of our lots that my buds would jitter the music every time I got to the same spot. It was just after I mowed a small incline. I figured that when I would lean a certain direction on the mower to counteract the incline my body would get slightly in between the receiver and my phone. Then a second or two later when I wasn’t leaning it would cut out. I really don’t know if it’s a buffer thing or not, but when I stopped leaning on the incline the music wouldn’t cut out on the flat anymore.
Things got a lot better when I started wearing them with the wire around the front of my neck instead of the back. It took a little getting used to, but it definitely helped. I know that BT is inherently low power, but I feel the ISOTunes fall on the low end of the spectrum. If they came out with another set with a more powerful radio or bigger antenna (even if it made the control portion larger) I would likely purchase it. I came from using the original Jaybird Freedoms years ago for landscaping and yardwork and I was happy to see Bluetooth hearing protection with the ISOTunes.
thanks for reporting this issue. I just put these on my “wish list” last night… and have now taken them off. I need something for hearing protection and love the idea of also getting some wireless tunes too, but if its going to cut out that would be really annoying. Trying to find the right pair that will actually get used. Guess the search continues…
If you don’t mind mind earmuff style hearing protection, the latest version of 3M Worktunes BT wireless hearing protection ( 90543-4DC) from Lowe’s for $39 (thru 11/30) or a bit more from Amazon :
While the prior version that had the antenna, it reminded me of the AM/FM headphones from the 80’s with the goofy antenna even the BT with Radio look goofy with the bright safety yellow and antenna, they have been a holiday special at both HD/Lowe’s the past few years except not with a BT connection. Pic here
Hav’nt had a chance to use it with OPE yet, but I think it will be fine for listening with all my equipment except perhaps with the Chainsaw. I do like the updated version in black with a thin yellow trim, even ball cap friendly with a cutout for the cap button on top. USB rechargeable, no Radio but, has a mic for phone phone calls, and you can move forward/back a track with the single button.
After going thru 2 pairs of LG’s (730/750), a pair of Anker soundbuds lites and a pair of Mpow wireless around the neck BT, in 2017 it was getting spendy. While they offered some NRR with a good fitting silicone earbud, I had resisted using earmuffs, over the earbuds at the recommendation of the hearing specialist at my last hearing test. This might be a happy medium, while the sound quality is below the LG Tone’s, its an acceptable compromise. I think they might be perfect for air travel (other than the esthetics) – but the drone and noise depending on the airframe and you seating location in relation to wing mounted jets can be untenable.
Two other issues that I was concerned about 1st was overall long term comfort, I’ve found a lot of earmuffs uncomfortable after as little as 5 min, been wearing them the last 90 minutes without issue, and little things like tags in shirts and even poor seam stitching on t-shirts annoy me to no end ( it’s an ADD thing).
The other positive note, I’ve had no dropout of BT signal even 25-30′ from my S8+ so it has a reasonable strong BT receiver, I’ve not been able to locate the BT ver, nor an estimated play time per charge. Decent, high’s, mid’s and low reproduction, after tweaking the settings my in my Phones EQ, btw the volume is controlled from the device and not the headphone, only a single button that controls 5-6 functions on/off, pairing, call accept/reject and hang up, and pause/play track forward/back.
Quite pleased with it overall and an excellent value at this price point