The OAK Thump Blu behind the neck headphones are light, wireless, comfortable, long playing, have good fidelity, and if the volume is kept to a reasonable level, you can hear environmental sounds with good acuity. The earphones are operated by six buttons, powered by an internal battery, and they wirelessly converse via Bluetooth to your phone or any Bluetooth-enabled device, allowing you to listen to music or have a hands-free headset. The Thump Blu comes with a USB cable, and is available in white, blue, green, pink, red and black colors and retails for $79.99.
Most of the headphones and earbuds on the market block out most of the exterior noise from the world, which is fine when you are in a safe environment and just want to immerse yourself in your music. In the world of sports, whether it’s running, hiking, walking, or biking, you need to pick up the ambient sounds and spatial cues in the world around you. For safety reasons, you want to be fully cognizant of your surroundings, so you can hear cars, traffic, dogs, wild animals, and other trail and road users. The design of the Thump Blu is sort of a cusp between open ear headphones and earbuds that just barely sit in your ear. The bend of the unit and the slight adhesion of the rubber tips of the ear pieces keep them in place, but it’s not enough to block out exterior sounds nor too hard for ear discomfort. Although you can crank the tunes up and really enjoy the music on a ride, if you want to be able to have a conversation and hear more subtle spacial environmental cues for safety reasons, then you need to keep the volume at a respectable level.
Left: QAK Thump Blu buttons are the previous, play/pause, next. Right: Buttons are volume up, on/off/answer, volume down.
The Thump Blu is comprised of the neck band with its attached ear pieces, a USB port, three LED indicators on the rear bottom, and six rubberized control buttons on the outside of the ear pieces. Once the unit was paired with the phone for Bluetooth communication, subsequent paring wasn’t required, and you only had to turn the unit on and start the music from the phone to begin operation. The buttons by each ear piece are hard to locate sometimes, especially with gloved fingers, but the difficulty was lessened with some practice. Once you have the button locations memorized, you can play, pause, choose the next or previous song, adjust the volume, and answer calls. The Play/Pause and Answer buttons were the easiest to locate since they sit in the middle and have a raised bump, so you can use their positions to find the other buttons.
QAK Thump Blu – showing the LED indicator lights and USB port.
I liked that it used the typical mini B USB connector on the device itself for charging, since you always have those laying around the house. It quickly charged in around an hour’s time, and the battery life was 6-8 hours, which gave me at least a couple of rides before it started to die.
The ear piece’s adjustable rubber tips were comfortable and worked well, even when I got sweaty, or they got rained on, and although the bend kept them firmly in place, it was never enough to feel pinched or wedged into the ears. The inside edge of the band is rubberized for comfort, and helps alleviate any irritation from head movement. They fit nicely over or under the straps of all the helmets I wore, and depending on what type of eyewear you were using; the headband might be slightly altered in position, and the bend force decreased. I have found it was easier to leave it sitting around your neck when not listening to music, instead of jamming it into a pack, and it was never bothersome wearing it in that manner.
I thought they had pretty good fidelity and acoustics for a small Bluetooth device, and I enjoyed listening to a variety of music, from bombastic Black Sabbath to mellow Patty Griffith. They had decent bass, good midrange and had a slight roll off at the higher frequencies. The hands-free feature was useful, but I found it sounded hollow and lacking clarity in both directions, so I only used it for short periods of time. They had good wind noise reduction due to the light seal of the ear pieces, unless you were going Mach 1, or it was extremely windy out. The earphones stayed in place and retained the same fidelity on really rough terrain, and even though they might bounce around occasionally, it was never bothersome.
QAK Thump Blu – showing the headphone being worn, note the ear piece, over the ear placement and rubber padding by neck.
I have really enjoyed my time with the Thump Blu behind the neck headphones. The lack of wires due to the Bluetooth connection is very beneficial for biking, especially when wearing a pack and dealing with rough terrain, or heavily wooded areas, since there is nothing to get snagged on. The Thump Blu has good fidelity, was light and comfortable, and stayed in place on any sort of terrain. Although the buttons were sometimes hard to locate, they provided the ability to play, pause, choose the next or previous song, adjust the volume, and answer calls. The hands-free feature was nice to have, but I found its quality somewhat lackluster. Its earphone design allows you to hear outside environmental cues, although you are most cognizant of things if the volume is kept to a respectable level. Of course, these suckers can crank if you want them to!
The QAK Thump Blu provides wireless Bluetooth connection to any capable device, has a quick charging battery with a long life, and it offers good fidelity and excellent comfort.
- Good fidelity with volume levels from ear bleeding to quiet
- Good battery life and quick charging
- Awareness of outside noises if volume is at a reasonable level
- Comfortable and light
- Stays in place on rough terrain
- Buttons can be hard to locate with gloved fingers
- Hands-free headset quality is lackluster
- Not quite high-end sound
4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
For more information, visit jointhumpnation.com/products/thump-blu.