This story was originally published and last updated .
When it comes to wireless earbuds, you might not care about the point to point upgrades going on with Bluetooth. After all, everything's backwards-compatible, so anything works with everything and there isn't much to worry about, right? Well, Tribit's FlyBuds C1 run with the latest Bluetooth 5.2 which offers big upgrades just for TWEs and they cost less than $100. But do these buds bring out the best of what the new tech has to offer?
|Listening||The aptX and LC3 codecs deliver on great wireless sound.|
|Bluetooth 5.2||Desync glitches get nailed down and the LC3 codec should squeeze more detail out of compression.|
|Battery||With a fully-charged pair of buds and the case, you'll be able to last a week or more off the wall.|
|Calls||They're not so great at handling background noise and the pickup quality is just sad.|
|Battery again||While they last a long time, they don't go as long as the company says they should.|
|Value||These Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds are relatively high up the price chain.|
Design, hardware, what's in the box
The design (and the marketing) of these earbuds are heavily centered on the capabilities of Qualcomm's QCC3040 Bluetooth audio chipset. Each bud is equipped with two microphones —one at each end of the stem — for calls and ambient noise cancellation, and a button for controlling media, taking calls, and beckoning your digital assistant.
I got used to the buttons fairly quick. It's one press to pause and play, two presses on the left or right bud to skip forward or back, and three taps for me to get Google Assistant. Holding a button for a few seconds while something is playing will adjust the volume.
The stumpy charging case comes with a four-LED battery level indicator, a button that can be used to reset the FlyBuds, and a USB-C port. You get a dinky little USB-C to full USB cable for convenience's sake. The case design also makes it difficult to put the buds back in: you have to stick the stems into silos in a very specific way and the black-on-black color combination makes that task even harder in the dark. TWEs are already easy to lose and having to fuss about putting them in the case just makes it worse.
Major brownie points to Tribit for including not just three pairs of silicone tips, but a total of six. Out of the box, the FlyBuds fit me with a decent seal and I can wear them for hours at a time.
Sound quality, features, and battery life
The fancy new chipset means the FlyBuds C1 support the all-new Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3) as a replacement for the antiquated SBC. LC3 drives up compression and decompression efficiencies to higher levels which should mean great audio at lower data and power consumption rates. Another big advantage with Bluetooth 5.2 is the advent of Isochronous Channels which improves sync management between devices.
For all of those points, the FlyBuds turn out clear, detailed sound with a decent emphasis on bass that's typical of most consumer-grade audio gear. If you prefer otherwise, that's nothing a little EQ tinkering can't fix. The occasional desynchronization glitch is typical for TWEs, but the FlyBuds resolve them within a fraction of a second, every time. Qualcomm's cVc noise cancellation technology for calls is apparently available on these earbuds, and while reception came in crystal clear, I felt like I had to speak louder than I would with other earbuds to be heard over moderate background noise. Entry-tier wireless mic pickup is a crapshoot, though.
Whether the power savings amounted up to anything is questionable. Tribit advertises up to 12 hours of battery life for a single session and a top of 50 hours including the case. Paired to a Bluetooth 5.2 phone, I was only able to achieve 8.5 hours in one go and shy of 40 hours over a week and a half. To be sure, you'll definitely cruise through most days (maybe even weeks) with fuel to spare, but the company's boast doesn't quite match reality.
Should you buy it?
Look for alternatives before you buy. There's a decent selection of affordable Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds on Amazon at the moment and Tribit manages to land at the top of that price spectrum. Many alternatives are promoted to also be built around the QCC3040 chipset, so a lot of the experiences I've written about here should apply to them, too. Battery life would be the main exception, but that seems to be a hit-or-miss spec line across the board.
On brass tacks, earbuds should feel comfortable enough to wear for hours — maybe the extra silicone tips will tilt these in your favor. I like the FlyBuds C1, but if I was sure that I could get the same experience for $20 less, I'd take that instead. At least we've all got options.
Buy it if...
- You're looking for inexpensive wireless earbuds with Bluetooth 5.2
- You always forget to charge your accessories
Don't buy it if...
- You can find other Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds for less
- You make a lot of phone calls with them
Where to buy
One month later
The FlyBuds have been just as reliable as they were during my main review period. Whenever I needed a break from my over-the-ear daily drivers, these were my go-tos for commuting to and sitting at coffee shops — for me, wireless stuff is really meant for mobile settings.
They might not last as long as Tribit says they do, but they last long enough for a couple days, maybe even three. Even at $70, I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with the mileage these earbuds can pull. But my recommendation remains: myriad options await you on Amazon, and a lot of them can go just as far on a tighter budget.