The Adidas FWD-02 Sport true wireless headphones ($169.99) are designed with fitness in mind, and they do feature a snug fit and a water-resistant construction. Although the companion app’s EQ allows you to control their bass-forward sound profile, they don’t offer any remarkable features or specs for the rather high price, especially when compared to similarly priced competitors. For an extra $30, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds, for example, have a greater waterproof certification, active noise cancellation, and far better on-ear controls, making them a better buy and a winner of the Editors’ Choice award.
- With deep bass, this is a powerful audio performance
- Design that is resistant to water
- In-app EQ adjustment
- Bluetooth codecs AAC and AptX are supported
- It’s difficult to use on-ear controls
- The audio signature isn’t particularly precise
ADIDAS FWD-02 SPORT SPECS
|Active Noise Cancellation||No|
Controls are mediocre, but the fit is secure.
The FWD-02 Sport earphones come in two colors: light gray and dark gray (nearly black). The big earpieces rely on earfins for support and fit securely against your ear; even during vigorous exercise, they should not fall free. Four pairs of oval silicone eartips in varying sizes, as well as five pairs of earfins that snap into the earphones, are included in the box.
Dynamic drivers have a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz and an impedance of 16 ohms on the inside. The AAC, AptX, and SBC codecs are supported by the Bluetooth 5.2-compatible earbuds.
Because the on-ear controls are pressure-sensitive, you’ll have to push the earbuds into your ear to for them to operate, which may be uncomfortable. Surprisingly, these controls provide no tactile feedback, simply an audible prompt (a beep plays when you pause music, for example).
On both sides, the controls are the same: A single push controls playing and call management, while a double press skips ahead a track and a triple press navigates backward. To put the earpieces in Ambient Aware monitoring mode and halt the music, press and hold. To exit Ambient mode and restart playing, press again. In testing, the earbuds began to play a different music when we tried to exit the Ambient mode. It’s possible that this was due to user error, however it does highlight the fact that the buttons aren’t extremely responsive.
The earpieces have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which indicates they can tolerate water jets of moderate pressure from any direction, but not faucet-like pressure or submersion. An exercise-focused pair of true wireless headphones should ideally have an IPX7 rating, and the Elite 7 Active ($179.99) and Jabra Elite 7 Pro ($199.99) both have comparable IP57 ratings.
Because it must hold both the earphones and the fins, the flip-top charging case is quite large. The two cutouts above the earpieces, which are made of a thin mesh-like textile material, are a unique design element. The cuts are sporty and chic, but we’re concerned about how an abrasion in the material would impair the case’s IPX4 rating. That rating only applies to the outside of the case when the lid is closed, so make sure the earpieces are completely dry before docking them for charge.
The earphones’ battery life is estimated to be around six hours, with the case providing an extra 19 hours of power. These figures will, of course, be influenced by your regular volume levels.
Toggle the Ambient Aware mode and personalize some controls and actions with the Adidas Headphones app (available for Android and iOS). You can set up a shortcut to open a Spotify playlist, for example. You can also use the app to update the firmware and tweak the EQ.
Audio that has been meticulously sculpted
The earbuds give tremendous bass response that doesn’t distort at high, unwise listening levels on tunes with intense sub-bass material, such as The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” The lows remain forceful even at lower volumes.
The pair’s bright and bass-forward tendencies are further revealed on Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with significantly less deep bass in the mix. This track’s drums sound thundering, as if they’ve been heavily boosted. Callahan’s vocals have a lot of low-mid richness, but there’s also a lot of high-mid presence.
The kick drum loop on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” has enough high-mid presence to keep its attack sharp, but it’s the extra thud that stands out—the loop sounds considerably heavier than usual. Even at moderate volumes, the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat sound massive. The vinyl crackle and hiss are also amplified, implying that the higher frequencies require just as much sculpting (though not so much in the high-mids). The voices on this tune seem clear, but paying a little more attention to the high-mids might help retain them in the mix.
Orchestral tracks, such as the opening scene of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound unnatural because the lower-register instrumentation is overused. Brass, strings, and vocals in the higher registers preserve detail, but lower-register notes usually throw the mix off balance. The low-frequency response can be adjusted in the EQ, so this default profile isn’t a deal breaker.
The microphone performs admirably and reduces Bluetooth audio distortions to a minimum. A Voice Memos test recording on an iPhone had no issue interpreting every word. Although the signal is a little weak, call clarity should not be a problem.
It’s Expensive for What You Get
The Adidas FWD-02 Sport earphones produce loud, booming sound, and we appreciate their snug fit and water-resistant design, but for approximately the same price, there are more tempting options available. For example, Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active both include active noise cancelling, stronger water resistant ratings, and more useful on-ear controls. Meanwhile, the sub-$50 Tribit Flybuds 3, which have a totally waterproof design and sound fairly decent for the price, are another option.
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