Tronsmart Spunky Beat Review – A huge improvement in a small package
It’s been nearly four years since Apple ditched the headphone jack (yes, Moto did it first, no one cares). Many companies (including those who conveniently dropped the headphone jack from their own devices) have come out with wireless earbud and headphone options. We’re here to talk about one such option from one such company: the Spunky Beat from Tronsmart.
Now, before I get into this review, I just want to add a quick disclaimer here. Tronsmart actually sent these to me back in mid-November. It turns out my school’s post office just forgot the package existed, and I didn’t get them until a few weeks ago. That means they’ve been sitting in a box for a few months. I’ve experienced a few problems with them, which I’ll get into, but I can’t be sure that these aren’t just a side-effect of the accidental long-term storage.
With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Unboxing and First Impressions
The Tronsmart Spunky Beat come in a box that’s very similar to the one the Spunky Pro came in. It’s purple, orange, and white, and if you’re not looking closely, you might think it’s something from MetroPCS.
Opening the box, there’s cardboard and a couple of foam inserts that contain the earbuds, charging case, cable, and replacement tips. The user guide is at the bottom of the box. It’s all very organized and Tronsmart definitely gets points for presentation.
The charging case itself is also nice. It’s not quite as fun as the pop-up case that the Spunky Pro came in, but its clamshell design is definitely more practical. On the inside, there are two slots for each earbud. The outside is where things are more interesting.
On one side, there’s a faux-leather strap that doesn’t really fit with the matte-plastic design of the case itself. Moving to the front, there are some handy charge-indicator lights that tell you how much charge the case has left. On the back, just under the lid’s hinge, is a USB-C port for charging. With even expensive high-end accessories still shipping with micro-USB, I definitely appreciate Tronsmart opting for USB-C here. That’s not it, though.
In case you for some reason don’t have a USB-C cable on you, Tronsmart has you covered. On the bottom of the case there’s a short USB-A cable integrated into the body. I don’t really know why Tronsmart gives you two ways to charge the case, but it’s certainly not a negative.
Now, let’s talk setup. The Tronsmart Spunky Beat are pretty easy to set up (once you get them working; I’ll get to that). Turn them both on and they’ll connect to each other, then go into pairing mode. When you’re looking for them to connect to, you’ll actually see two “Tronsmart Spunky Beat” entries. It’s a little weird, but it’s explained in the instructions that, once you connect to one, the other will request to pair to your device. It’s a bit of a different process than usual, and we’ll get to the why later on.
Here’s the first problem I had: when I first charged mine up and tried to pair them, they wouldn’t connect to each other. I could pair them both separately, but could only play audio to one or the other. The instructions recommend factory resetting if this happens, but the method described in the paper guide didn’t work for me. Luckily, Tronsmart’s website has another process which did work. Once I successfully reset them, they connected and paired just fine. Because of the little shipping situation I had, I can’t tell you if this is an actual problem with these earbuds or not. Luckily, if it is common, it’s easy to fix.
Capacitive touch controls are all the rage with true-wireless earbuds mainly because of how small they tend to be. The Tronsmart Spunky Beat, unsurprisingly, have a touchpad on each earbud for controlling your audio and device.
Here’s a quick summary of the available controls:
Looking at the controls, you may have noticed that the actions assigned specifically to the left and right earbuds are backwards; that’s not a typo. For some reason, the left earbud goes to the next track, while the right does the opposite. Call me crazy, but it seems like a weird choice.
Even with the slightly confusing track and volume controls, I have to commend Tronsmart for just how many controls they put in here. If you’re on a call or listening to music, you don’t even need to look at your phone.
Now that I’ve mentioned all the different ways you can finger your earbuds, let’s move onto actual daily usage.
Ergonomics and Usage
I’m never a fan of earbuds that stick way out of your ears. Sure, it may allow for larger drivers (and theoretically better sound), or longer battery life, and those are good arguments. But lying down on your side can be uncomfortable, and big earbuds tend to just look weird.
Luckily, Tronsmart seems to share my opinion. The Spunky Beat are even thinner than the Pro, but that doesn’t mean they’re worse in either sound or battery life (in fact, they’re better, but I’ll get into that later). They aren’t uncomfortable lying down, and someone facing you might not even be able to see them in your ears.
Speaking of in your ears, the Tronsmart Spunky Beat are also pretty comfortable. I’ve had to adjust them a few times when I have them in, but never because they hurt. They’re also very lightweight, so you won’t have to worry about them falling out when running or if you tilt your head. Since each earbud is controlled with a touchpad, it is possible to accidentally tap it when you’re putting them in or adjusting them. However, it’s much harder to do that compared to the Spunky Pro.
If you’re a fan of listening to music while you exercise, what I said above is probably pretty appealing, but it doesn’t mean much if the earbuds can’t withstand a little water. Well, don’t worry. The Tronsmart Spunky Beat are rated IPX5 for water resistance, meaning they’ll have no trouble dealing with sweat and rain.
If you’re less into exercise and more into watching videos or listening to music with a friend, though, Tronsmart also has you covered. Each earbud can act independently of the other. This means two things: one, you can connect each earbud to different devices; and two, if you want to just listen from one ear, the Tronsmart Spunky Beat can automatically switch to mono sound, so you don’t miss anything.
One last thing for usage: just like the Spunky Pro, the Spunky Beat turn on automatically when removed from the charging case. I still don’t really like this behavior, even though I understand why it exists. There’s a practical reason it’s a problem with these earbuds, though, which I’ll get into later.
Battery and Charging
Tronsmart advertises up to 7 hours of playback on a single charge (at 50% volume). That’s a pretty big claim for relatively tiny earbuds. Does it hold up? Unfortunately not, at least for me. I can only really get about 4 hours of playback before they die on me, and my volume is usually below 50%. Now, there’s a really good chance that my unit’s 4-month extended stay in my school’s post office has something to do with this. But just be aware that there’s a possibility that if you buy these, you’re not going to get 7 hours.
Aside from that, though, for the size of these things, 4 hours of playback time really isn’t that bad. If you carry the charging case with you, they charge pretty quickly, so a few minutes of charging should get you an extra hour or so of playback time. If you need more endurance in terms of battery life, these earbuds probably aren’t for you. But if you need something for your morning run or another short activity, the Tronsmart Spunky Pro will serve you well, at least in the battery department.
As for charging, well, they charge. You’re not going to get 8 hours of playback after 10 minutes like OnePlus’ Bullets Wireless, but they should charge from empty to full in about an hour. In a perfect world, you’d just pop them into the charging case and forget about them while they charged. Sadly, we’re not in an ideal world. A problem I had with the Spunky Pro is back to haunt me.
The pins in the charging case don’t make contact with the earbuds as well as they should. This means that jostling the case carries the risk of one or both earbuds losing contact. Losing contact means they turn on and try to connect to whatever they were connected to last. If that device is in range, they’ll connect to it momentarily (possibly redirecting the current audio stream), then disconnect when they regain contact with the case. It happens fairly frequently and it’s fairly annoying. That’s not the worst part of this, though. When they turn on, they use battery power. So, when they reconnect to the charging pins, they, well, charge. It’s possible to completely drain the charging case without even using the earbuds because of this.
If you’re able to avoid moving the charging case while the earbuds are in it, this isn’t a problem. You could also just keep it plugged in all the time. That kind of defeats the purpose of a portable charging case, though, and I wish Tronsmart would work on fixing this. Luckily, this is the most major issue I’ve experienced with the Tronsmart Spunky Beat.
Since the Tronsmart Spunky Beat are earbuds, and literally the only thing earbuds do is make sound, you probably want that sound to be good. Well, good news. Compared to the Spunky Pro, the Spunky Beat’s audio quality is amazingly improved.
One of the problems I had with the Spunky Pro was the audio quality. To me, there was too much bass and everything ended up sounding somewhat muddy because of it. The Tronsmart Spunky Beat have a much more balanced audio profile. There’s still plenty of bass, but it’s actually possible to hear subtle mid- and high-range sounds. At least in my opinion, it all comes together to provide a much better listening experience for music and voice.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the sound is perfect. While it’s very balanced, the earbuds themselves are pretty small, and therefore, so are the drivers. Compared to the OPPO Enco Q1, they actually sound slightly tinny (ironically). It’s nothing major, and considering the price and form-factor difference, it’s certainly justified. But it is something to keep in mind.
In terms of volume, the Tronsmart Spunky Beat get plenty loud. If you want to go deaf using them, you probably can. And because these are noise-isolating (rubber-tipped) earbuds, you probably won’t even annoy the people around you doing so. The noise isolation itself on the Tronsmart Spunky Beat is pretty good. It’s no active noise cancellation, but combined with Qualcomm’s cVc, steady ambient noise is muffled pretty well.
The microphones are a different story. Each earbud has a microphone on it (probably so you can use either earbud in mono mode for calls). I tried a couple calls with the Tronsmart Spunky Beat and the people on the other end tended to have trouble hearing me. My phone’s internal microphone and the OPPO Enco Q1 worked fine for those same calls. Oddly, the microphones seem to work fine in Discord calls, so I’m not really sure what’s up. Yet again, I’m going to bring up my school’s post handling issues and use that as a possible reason here.
Aside from the microphone weirdness, I really can’t complain about the sound. It’s clear, it’s got plenty of range, and it gets loud if you need it.
Pricing and Availability
The Tronsmart Spunky Beat have a much wider availability compared to the Spunky Pro. You can officially buy them in the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Russia. Coronavirus willing, in every country but Russia, they’re available on Amazon with Prime 2-day shipping. For Russia, you can get them from AliExpress. For the rest of the world, they’re available on GeekBuying. The Tronsmart website has all the links.
As for pricing, the Tronsmart Spunky Beat are actually cheaper (sort of) than the Spunky Pro. While the Pro retailed for around $63 (although usually discounted to around $3), you can grab the Beat for around $30. That’s a pretty great price for some sleek-looking true-wireless earbuds with good sound.
Despite the negatives I mentioned above, I’m still pretty happy with the Tronsmart Spunky Beat. They come with plenty of controls for audio and calls, they look and feel good, the battery life is respectable, and, most importantly, the sound is good. Combine that with the price Tronsmart is asking, and they’re a pretty good deal. They’re definitely not perfect, but for less than $50, you’re getting low-profile, truly-wireless earbuds with plenty of features and good sound quality.