Thump Bluetooth Headphones – Review

I visited the Thump Booth at the expo for the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon. There, I had the opportunity to meet the CEO of Thump, Todd Beetcher. His company originally named QAK was a start-up founded in 2011 as mentioned in the 2012 Denver Post article Headphones making noise, and Colorado companies join the party. It is a real treat to be able to speak to the owner of a company about his product. And Todd the “Thump-meister” is excited about his products.

Thump has four models of headphones starting with the entry level wired Thump Rap. Their mid-tier headphone is the Thump Blu — this was the one that founded the company. There is an advanced version of bluetooth headphones with the Thump XTreme. And they also have the Thump Fin which is a self contained mp3 player and headphone set for swimmers.

I am a major music, podcast, and audiobook addict so I bought a pair of Thump Blu to try out. I already have used several types of Bluetooth headphones with the Motorola SD-11 HD Flex being my current gold standard, so I will use them for comparisons.

The headphones come in a very nice reinforced Thump Case, which can be purchased separately. It is very solid, but light and pleasing to handle. It definitely will protect the headphones along with a couple other items.

As can be seen below, there is not a lot of excess packaging. Just the headphones, a quick start card, and the power supply. But not much more is needed. Just press the Phone button and hold until the blue and red LEDs are alternating and then open the Bluetooth settings on your phone. I tested with an iPhone 5s and it worked fine. It should work well with any modern smartphone that supports Bluetooth A2DP. Essentially most smart phones within the past 5 years should support.

The headphones themselves are very light which is good and don’t really draw a lot of attention to themselves. They also are designed to wear either above or below the ear, which is really unique. This enables them to be worn when laying back, dealing with a headrest and they can fit under a bike helmet. I successfully wore them under a bike helmet over the ear and didn’t have a need to try them the other way. I do prefer the sound when they are over my ears.

The sound of the headphones is very good. It is nicely balanced with a full spacious tone. They are not as bass driven as some headphones, but that is not a bad thing. They still sound rich and have good clarity.

One nice feature of the headphones that really like over the Motorola S10s, S11s, or even some Plantronics Backbeat 903+ that I have is the control functions. With all of my bluetooth headphones, I find it difficult to work the volume while wearing them.

I find it so difficult that I actually am in the habit of turning up the volume all the way and then using the volume on the side of the phone to control levels. This is not the case with the Thump BLU. It has discreet volume buttons that are easy to find and manipulate. This is a huge feature for convenience. Another usability feature involves moving forward and backward through tracks.

On the Motorola units, I have to double-tap a button to advance and triple-tap to reverse. I usually can advance fine, but reversing often involves multiple attempts. When running, this is difficult. The Plantronics were so hard for me to manipulate, I forgot how to even do it with them.

The last feature of the phone is a really good battery life. It advertises 7 hours off of a 1 hour charge and I feel it delivers on this. I do find it odd that it uses a USB Mini cable instead of the more commonly used USB micro. Also, while it delivers and excellent battery life, how do you know when the battery is dead? […] Yep. Silence. It’s little disconcerting. You hit play a couple times when the music stops before you realize that the battery is just dead. There is no warning.

The headphones are sweat resistant, but not waterproof. Keep this in mind. If you are planning to run in a heavy downpour, This is the statement on the Website:

Built for active people, Thump Blu is designed to be sweat resistant. We have a lot of runners who ask about rain. The simple answer is put it away. Thump Blu is not designed to be a water resistant device.

Also note, if you are a heavy sweater like I have been in the high heat and humidity lately, you might have troubles. I was running and sweating like mad on tempo run and one of the earpieces stop emitting sound. I thought I might have burned it up. But when I blew on it, some weak sound came out. Later, when I was in the light, I was able to see that within the earpiece is very fine screen. This screen can capture the sweat, which in turn acts like a film and obstructs the sound.

Also, note that the Thump Blu should not be worn in the front of the body in the belt buckle region. Due to the electronic placement, you will likely experience clipping (where sound cuts out for short periods). This is because your body is a giant bag of water and that can obstruct the signal. This is very common with bluetooth headphones and something I have suffered with all of them but the Motorola S10 and S11 series.

Overall, the Thump BLU is a solid product and a good entry level headset in the world of bluetooth headphones. It has a reasonable price in an area where $100+ is the typical starting point and sounds very good.

They can be ordered at http://thumpu.com or at Amazon using my affiliate link below:

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Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.
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  • Steve Watanabe

    I purchased a Thump Xtreme at a Rock n Roll marathon expo. I previously used the LG LBS-730 but found that the ear plugs on the LG block out all external sound which isn’t good when running on the street. I thus bought the Thump Xtreme as it provided a looser fit. I had never heard of Thump so bought them on the basis of trying them at the expo. I’ve found that when running they tend to “cut out” at times even though my iPhone is only two feet away (the iPhone is in a flipbelt).

    I notified the manufacturer (previously qakgear.com) and they said…”We are very sorry you are experiencing this.” and “We have included Todd in this email for advice in regards to your clipping issue that is occurring from two feet away from the headphones.”

    After a month I hadn’t heard anything further so I sent:

    It’s been a month and I haven’t received any further emails. The Thump Extreme still suffers from “clipping”. I’ve found that it is usable if the iPhone is on my back (I use a flip belt to do so). Anyways, I believe I either have a defective unit or this is a systemic design flaw.

    to which I received this response:

    “The Thump Xtreme is a bluetooth headphone.
    Bluetooth is a wave between items.
    If there is not a clear line of sight between the headset and pairing item clipping can occur.
    Clipping will occur more often when you are in the open.
    The bluetooth wave needs to bounce off objects to then pair with your headset.
    The design flaw is with bluetooth.
    It probably works better when it is on your back or arm wrap.”

    So far I’m living with the “clipping” as I can position the iPhone on my back and not move my head too far forward which seems to break the signal.

    Also, the blue/red light is very dim and hard to see in lighted areas. You can hold the on/off button for five seconds and the unit will turn on/off even if you can’t see the light change.

    The sound quality is good while allowing external sound to be heard (e.g. cars).

    • hamptonrunner

      Hi Steve, I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you are having. I have run into that with a lot of Bluetooth headphones. I actually was reviewing the ThumpBLU, not the Xtreme (The Xtreme did not fit me well), so I can’t speak to it directly. I have found that shifting around to my hip will work often with different units. Which side depends on where the antenna is placed. I know it is aggravating and I feel your pain. I think that many of the Bluetooth manufacturers hope that people will use an armband with their smartphones, but I personally can’t stand them.

  • Ted Smith

    I purchased Thump headphones at a running expo and they died after a couple of uses. I asked for a refund and they said no. They told me the owner would call me. He never did. After a lot of debate, I returned my Thumps for repair and they lost them. They send me the Thump Xtreme. I went for a run with them and they will not stay in my ears. Once again, I called customer service and told them it would be easier to refund my money so I could get something that would work. They said no and that I would have to use swimmer’s wax in my ears to keep them in. They make a very poor product that I would not recommend to anyone. Very poor customer service too.

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