With flagship smartphones not having the stereo headphone jack these days, the choice of listening to your favourite tunes is now between using headphone adaptor to your Type-C USB port and plugging in with wireless headphones. With the number of brands offering Hi-Fi quality earbuds such as the Sony WF-1000XM3 (https://www.techgoondu.com/2019/08/10/goondu-review-sony-wf-1000xm3-wireless-earphones-score-high-for-usability-sound-quality/) are giving wired headsets a run for their money.
The FWD-01 is designed as a sports-centric device and it shows. Clad in fabric, the IPX4 rated headphone does not feel sticky and is especially welcome in this hot and humid weather in Singapore where perspiration can be felt even in an air-conditioned room. It also blends well with the sports attire image of Adidas. The bad news is that you cannot dunk the whole headphones into the water to wash it.
With runners in mind, the wire band that runs behind the neck is a bit shorter to prevent accidental snags during a run. Because it uses a flat cable, the neckband does not get tangled in your bag too.
Using rubber housing for the headphone’s drivers and electronics, the whole unit does look heavy and unwieldy. The FWD-01 does come with a Twist Fit System that comes with 3 pairs of ear tips and ear wings of different sizes so that you can mix and match to help fit the headphones to your ears. The bad news is that it is still not fitting well for me.
Other than the volume and play buttons that come with such headsets, the FWD-01 also has a customisable “action button” that you can link to any playlist in Spotify by fast clicking 2 or 3 times via the Adidas Headphones app for both iOS and Andriod. Of course, you have to dive into Spotify to build a couple of playlist before using the headphones.
This is an innovative feature not seen in other headphones and will be even better if it can support other music streaming services such as Deezer or Tidal.
The sound that comes out of the FWD-01 is bassy, not a surprise given that it is designed for gym workouts. I fired up some high tempo tracks when I was fast walking between meeting locations and was quite happy with the sound quality with a good treble response, clear vocals with some support from the mid. I did try to use the Adidas Headphones app to apply customised equalizer levels but was disappointed with the app’s rudimentary controls and I have to rely on the default setting.
What I do find is that the sound stage is quite constrained and some may find that a bit uncomfortable after prolonged use. As a consumer-level headphone, it performs but does not compare well with Hi-Fi quality wireless earphones like the Sennheiser Momentum or the B&O Beoplay E8.
If you are looking for a set of wireless headphones that can last a good 16 hour, sounds good and don’t look too campy with neon colours hanging around the neck, the Adidas FWD-01 may fit the bill and is now available at S$249.