If your gym is like 99.99% of the gyms in the US, they have shortwave FM transmitters hooked up to TV’s or jacks on the cardio equipment so you can get your ESPN highlights or Good Morning America forecast while grinding out a sprint workout on the dreadmill or an hour on the spin bike. You can also always bring the ubiquitous iPod or smartphone and jam out on the ‘mill, pumping iron or spinning to nowhere.
You could also bring your tunes on the road, but that not recommended for biking and some frown upon it for running since it makes you less aware of your surroundings.
Heck, these days you could even bring them to the pool with the latest waterproof gadgets and phone cases.
But, how do you get the sound from your device to your ears? There’s earbuds, sports headphones that have hooks to go around your ears and if you’re really daring, full on headphones. If you have used any of the like, then no doubt you have experienced a myriad of issues with keeping those darned earphones in place.
A short list might include;
Don’t fit in ear comfortably.
Whatever you have had issues with, we have, too. That’s why when we were approached by X-1 to put a set of their in-ear headphones to the test, we were a little skeptical.
Specifically, X-1 sent us the Momentum In-Ear Ultra Light Headphones to sweat on, twist up into a knotted wire ball and stuff in a gym bag for a few weeks. Did they take a lick and keep on ticking? Do they fall out of your ear at the first sign of movement and perspiration? Read on to find out.
Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing
When you find the X-1 Momentums on the shelf or get them in the mail, they come in a very professionally package/box with the ubiquitous picture of the likes of the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy sporting the earphones. There’s a shot of the actual earphones on the outside cover and it’s all a very nice presentation.
The nice aspect of the X-1 package is being able to flip open the cover and see the actual earphones and extra equipment in the box. The kit includes 4 ear tip sizes to provide a customizable fit.
Tearing open the box and breaking the earphones out for use takes only a matter of seconds and then you are off and running, literally.
The Momentums are designed to withstand heavy perspiration and in all types of weather and can be rinsed after use. They are rated at an IPX Rating of IP4. Upon initial inspection, the earphones, cords and ear pieces are all of solid construction and all parts and pieces fit with no open seams of sloppy finishes.
The cord is retro-reflective and labeled as tangle free. It should illuminate with light for extra visibility and safety while working out or running in low light. It has the consistency of braided wire, which stands out from the typical smooth wires most headphones come with. It actually aids in keeping the wires under control allowing easier maneuvering since you can get a better grip with the cords are wet and slippery.
In-line remote is iPod and iPhone compatible, allowing control of volume and playback, as well as placing or receiving calls and activating SIRI. It has 3 main buttons. No one wants a smartphone style option display on a headphone cord, so 3 large buttons is as far as should go. The remote is also an inline mic and doubles for controls that come with an Apple approved MFi chip to give you hands free access to some of the deeper features in your iPhone (sorry Android users).
Fashion / Appearance
If the black set we tested doesn’t float your boat, then try any of their dozens of color combinations to fit your needs. If matching your gear is an issue, X-1 has those bases covered. Variety is not an issue here.
The actual headphone part that connects to the earpiece is surprisingly smaller than most other earbuds we have used or tested. It’s sleek and compact to fit in an athlete’s ear better than other models.
When you look at the entire outfit, from ear piece to cord to jack, it all fits. No one piece looks like an odd man out. No one wants to see a spoiler on a 1985 Buick Regal. It just doesn’t look right. Not the issue with the Momentum headphones.
X-1 boasts that the Momentums provide
Give or Answer a Siri Command
The earbuds come with 4 different interchangeable ear tips, so you are bound to find one that fits snugly in your ear. Some triathletes have small ear canals and some have ears large enough to jam a corncob into. What? Yea. One size does not fit all and the Momentums know that.
After a couple of weeks of runs, spin rides and strength sessions, they still work. There’s no distortion from moisture and they work as good as day one. That’s even after being in my gym bag, pockets, and wadded up in tangled little balls.
The braided style of cord is unique in the fact that when you wad it up, loop it up to pack or whatever you can do with headphone cords, it is so easy to untangle. You can grip it and it seems to resist getting in knots that cannot be undone.
With the Momentums being so compact, within 2 to 5 seconds after putting them in your ears, you forget that they are there. They fit snug and make a secure lock into the ear canal to filter out background noise so you can jam to your tunes uninterrupted.
For the most part, the Momentums stayed put in the ear canal. It finally took a brick workout on the last 10 minutes of a 90 minute session with profuse sweating to make the earbud slip out. The issue was fixed with a simple wipe down of the ear and earbud and back to sprint intervals you go.
The only other time that they might slip out or get pulled out is when the cord didn’t provide enough length to get from jack to ear. The cord length is pretty standard and could use a little more length when using with a smartphone and a spin bike, but that’s being pretty picky. They do have a clip to attach to your shirt or collar to minimize pull and flapping around, so there’s that.
Sadly, since we didn’t have an iPhone for this review, we only were able to test the Momentums on treadmill audio jacks, laptops, Samsung smartphone and a Samsung tablet. We are sure the iPhone controls work, but we were unable to test them out.
They are a little more costly than your average Wal-Mart generic headphones. At $49.99 on X-1’s site, they are probably $20 more than the generic brands, but not outrageous. Honestly they are probably a little less costly with some elbow grease on the web, but we’ll leave that search up to you.
All in all, for water resistant headphones, they are right in the sweet spot for sport headphones and for the quality and longevity that we have seen, that’s money well spent.
When we were approached by X-1, we would be remiss in not revealing that we slightly rolled our eyes and said under our breathe, “ya right, another earbud that claims to not slide out at the first sign of sweat”.
Well, it took 4 weeks of wicked workouts to finally dislodge the Momentums and it was a quick 5 second fix to get them back in and keep them there. Profuse sweating will be an issue, but we challenge you to find any yearbud type headphone that would stay in longer.
These are way more comfortable than the headphones with hooks. The hooks may keep them on your ears, but the earbud to ear canal connection frankly stinks with most hook type headphones. The Momentums stay in just as well as the hooks and are more comfortable.
The sound is great and after getting raunchy sweat in them for weeks on end and rinsing on occasion, they still function great. For the money, they will last longer than buying cheap headphones and replacing when they die in the same amount of time.
X-1 Momentum’s get a thumbs up.
* Writer's note - X-1 provided the products for this review at no cost and did not influence this review.
Ryan Falkenrath is a married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. He writes the blog f alkeetriathlon.blogspot.com , Endurance Sports Examiner and runs the Man Vs Triathlon project while participating in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans (soon to be Ironman distance in 2013). Contact Ryan at: email@example.com or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan .