In this review, we’re covering two styles of earbuds in the current Back Bay Brand lineup: the Runner 60 and Tempo 30. One trip to the Back Bay website and it’s clear: the goal is to bring you the best in workout audio. Runner 60 and Tempo 30 have appeared on many ‘Best of’ lists for affordable earbuds or fitness accessories. But after experiencing how good they are, it seems a shame to pigeonhole them into any one category.
Table of contents
Overview of Runner 60 and Tempo 30
Back Bay earbuds are an incredible deal, and I think, in some way, that’s hurting them. The Tempo 30s are constantly referred to as “great for under $50,” when in actuality, they’re just great, period.
The Back Bay Runner 60 earbuds can give you an impressive 80 hours of listening. The earbuds themselves hold as much as an eight hour charge, and you can get up to another 72 from the case. The lightweight plastic construction includes an ear hook, and the case is wireless Qi charging capable.
Back Bay Brand’s Tempo 30 earbuds are some of the smallest on the market. They are truly wireless and come with six different size eartips for a guaranteed fit; their case is also one of the smallest you’ll find. The earbuds can play for as long as eight hours on a single charge, and their tiny case is capable of providing enough charge for more than 24 hours of playtime.
Back Bay Runner 60 and Tempo 30 specs
|Runner 60||Tempo 30|
|Wireless range:||30 feet||30 feet|
MEMS, omni directional
|Environmental Noise Cancellation, omni directional|
Can be submerged up to 1m for 30 minutes
Can be submerged up to 1m for 30 minutes
|8 hours||8 hours|
w/ Charging Case:
|80 hours||32 hours|
|Recharge time:||~ 1.5 Hours||~ 1.5 Hours|
|Charging port:||USB-C, Wireless Qi Charging||USB-C|
|Fit:||Flexible ear hooks, 6 eartip sizes||6 eartip sizes|
Wearing the Runner 60
There isn’t anything groundbreaking about the way the Runner 60s look – it’s what most well-fitting ear hooked earbuds look like. Since the ear hooks don’t have any wire and the buds have no buttons or switches, the Runner 60s feel extremely lightweight compared to others.
I appreciated the Runner 60s ear hook at first because I was too suspect to trust the Tempo 30s to stay in during my workouts. The ear hook on the Runner 60s does not have any wire in it, like Beats. For me, the absence of wire made them ‘glasses friendly.’ I didn’t feel like the earbuds and glasses were competing for space behind my ears.
Runner 60s come with six different size eartips to choose from. The sizes aren’t all same scale, and you’ll find a variety of depths. The mesh that covers the opening into the earbuds is well protected, and removing the eartips poses no threat to it ripping or detaching.
Controlling your audio via the Runner 60 earbuds relies completely on taps. Back Bay went the extra mile to give you almost full control, but being limited to taps, this can get confusing. You can play and pause, control volume, initiate voice assist, turn on and off Bass Mode, navigate songs, and power on and off. All those commands are done with a combination of taps and holds, on specific sided earbuds.
These earbuds can get extremely loud. I didn’t even get close to maxing them out, but as loud as I did go, the sound was never distorted. The sound quality is excellent, and I think anyone shy of audiophile rank would agree. Back Bay’s signature Bass Mode is subtle, but definitely adds some dimension to your music.
The microphone quality seems to be ‘good enough.’ I would get through a phone call without being asked to repeat myself, but if I asked the person how I sounded, they’d let me know it wasn’t great. The calls sounded good on my end.
Case and battery
Back Bay claims the Runner 60 earbuds can give the user eight hours of playback on a full charge and that the case can supply up to another 72 hours. I found this to be pretty dead on. I wasn’t able to test battery life in regards to talk time because the microphone didn’t perform well enough to put it through its paces.
The plug is very easy to attach to the case for charging, and wireless charging worked as expected. One thing I appreciate here is when you return the Runner 60s to the case, if you get it in there a little sloppy, when you close the case, they’ll be pushed into correct position for charging.
Wearing the Tempo 30
The Tempo 30 earbuds are seriously small. Aside from being small, their shape is very compact, which helps them stay in place without any hooks or wings. The shape and weight distribution on earbuds like AirPods and Sony WF-1000XM3 sometimes cause them to shift and ultimately fall out for me.
Like the Runner 60s, the Tempo 30s come with six different size eartips to choose from. Between all the eartips and without any outer ear hooks or inside wings, these earbuds offer a very universal fit.
Both the Runner 60s and the Tempo 30s are the most comfortable earbuds I have ever worn. The Tempo 30 stayed in my ears much better than I expected. They are light and in an ideal compact shape.
Both sets of earbuds tout impressive water resistance. When sweat started streaming down my face, the Tempo 30s got pretty slick, and I would feel movement in my ears, but they did not fall out. However, wet fingers did seem to confuse my control taps a few times.
Tempo 30 has all of the control options of the Runner 60s, plus an option to turn on and off No-Lag Mode when watching videos. Relying completely on taps, the controls get confusing. Imagine how creative the engineers at Back Bay had to get putting together combinations of taps and holds to control all audio functions.
Maybe it’s because the Tempo 30s are so small, so you don’t expect it, but their sound is nothing shy of impressive. They have the ability to get louder than I could handle in testing. The sound quality is excellent, in part I believe because they fit so well into the ear.
The Tempo 30s do not have ANC (active noice cancelling), but with such a supreme fit inside the ear, they block out a lot of noise. This could be good and bad. With no way to “turn off” this type of noise blocking, if you’re in an area where you need to hear what’s going on, that could pose a problem. But if you’re in an area where you can be completely tune in to what’s in your earbuds, then this is a dream.
The microphone is no better than the ‘good enough’ one on the Runner 60s.
Case and battery
There’s another big claim from Back Bay for the Tempo 30s. They say the earbuds provide eight hours of playback on a full charge and that the tiny, little case can supply up to another 24 hours. It took me awhile to measure this, but when I did, I got to around these same times.
Like the Runner 60s, the plug is very easy to attach to the case for charging. But my biggest issue with the Tempo 30s has got to be the case. On more than one occasion, I would return the earbuds to the case and come to find out later, they weren’t securely in there. This is the first set of earbuds I’ve had where the buds could be incorrectly in the case and the case still close. I would expect the case to be unable to close unless the buds were securely in their cradles.
Another issue for me with the Tempo 30 case is retrieving the earbuds. I found it very difficult. So much so, I had my wife try, sure she’d have at least some issue. To my surprise, she had absolutely no issues getting them out. Meaning, it must be a ‘big fingers’ problem, but it was a problem for me, nonetheless.
Connect the Watts’ Take
By Back Bay’s own admission, Tempo 30s and Runner 60s are marketed as workout accessories, but I think that’s a big miss. I found these to be great anytime, all-the-time earbuds.
The microphone on both earbuds are better than trash, but nothing I would rely on for phone calls of any importance. I imagine Back Bay put such focus on these being superior workout accessories that they didn’t give much attention to the microphone. Or maybe better tech there would push them into a higher price tier.
The materials of the earbuds don’t feel very durable, but this is also what keeps them so lightweight. And as far as their water resistance, something their advertising seems to always mention, I wouldn’t knowingly enter the splash zone with either of them on. Although, it is nice to know they can still function if you were to find yourself there.
Both the Runner 60s and the Tempo 30s absolutely, and let me get technical here, bump. I couldn’t even get close to their max volume in my ears. And at any volume, the sound quality remained. Bass Mode, which seems to be the pride of Back Bay, was a very subtle change, but it sounded good.
The biggest issue I had while using both the Tempo 30s and the Runners 60s was navigating the tap and hold controls. This is in part because these earbuds each have so many different controls, and in part because I’m just used to my other earbuds. Back Bay tap and hold combinations for the controls are reminiscent of video game cheat codes. If a person commits to one of these as their earbuds of choice, this would eventually become a non-issue, as you’d memorize the controls.
Overall, I think these are great earbuds. Even better that they’re so well priced. I can’t forsake all other earbuds because, inevitably, I will have a need for a good microphone. The Tempo 30s are definitely making their way into my gym kit and the Runner 60s will be my faithful outdoor fitness companion.
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