BlueAnt Pump Air 2 Review: Fall Out Boys
Unless you get your kicks splitting hairs about audio codecs, driver materials, and equaliser options, the Pump Air 2 buds will satisfy your basic wireless audio needs. I think they’re a top sub-$100 choice if you or a loved one can’t be trusted with premium picks, like Apple AirPods or Sony WF-1000XM3.
But people with pickier tastes who need better battery life, or some semblance of noise cancellation will need to spend a little more.
In May 2005, the pop-punk band Fall Out Boy debuted its first studio album From Under the Cork Tree, spearheaded by the band’s first top 10 hit, Sugar, We’re Going Down. Pete Stump’s slurred, almost incomprehensible vocals and drummer Andy Hurley’s ride cymbal and rim clicks in the pre-chorus were a small bump of adrenaline for skinny-jeaned teens across the world. Long story short, the song slapped. Then the next single, Dance Dance, arrived and just as soon a Fall Out Boy’s success hit its stride, people started turning on it immediately.
In the space of weeks, my circle of spotty-faced mates were selling off stocks in Fall Out Boy faster than a WeWork investor. Opinions filtered down from print punk-rock magazines to Tool-obsessed older siblings, until, finally, the sour dregs sat on my friends’ pierced lips. It was official; Fall Out Boy was lame.
None of that mattered, though. Fall Out Boy was good enough for me. My knock-off Sony Walkman MP3 was good enough for me as were my dollar-store earbuds with frayed and exposed wires.
Just like Fall Out Boy, the BlueAnt Pump Air 2 true wireless earbuds aren’t going to impress any of the audio snobs in the room, but just like Fall Out Boy, they’ll be good enough for most.
Tuning in and dropping out
At the recommended retail price of $169 (and a fair few deals below $100), the BlueAnt Pump Air 2 aren’t ALDI-cheap, but they are cheap compared to most true wireless earbuds.
I think $169 is the most you should spend on a teenager, especially for a product that’s so easily misplaced. That’s no shade on teenagers, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a wallet-chain out of necessity, rather than an ill-informed style choice, at that age.
The price is right, whichever way you slice it.
The sound quality is mediocre on a good day (more on that in a moment), and I’ve experienced some severe dropouts while testing the BlueAnt Pump Air 2 earbuds.
Connecting to the Pump Air 2s isn’t the issue. Pairing the earbuds with my iPhone 11 has been relatively painless when compared with fancier brands. Interference is the biggest issue I’ve come across.
The Pump Air 2 buds don’t cope with disruptions very well, and disruptions are frequent. Passing cars, traffic lights, nearby Bluetooth devices; everything emitting a signal can throw them off-kilter. But that’s not the weirdest part. It’s when the buds attempt to recover that things get especially strange.
I’ve experienced three different behaviours when trying to reconnect. The first I noticed was where the left and right buds would fall slightly out of sync, resulting in a severe echo between the left and right buds. The second was an underwater effect that made listening to a podcast almost impossible. And lastly, there was one situation where the disruption kicked the audio back to my loudspeaker as I stood in line at Woolworths. It drew my fellow shoppers’ attention, but what do I care if they heard five seconds of the Binge Mode podcast? Now, if I’d been listening to an audiobook of my favourite erotic fiction, things might have been awkward.
Speaking of dropouts, I’ve also had trouble keeping the Pump Air 2 buds in my ears. I’ve tried just about every tip (of which there are seven), and while I’ve had no problem with overall comfort, these slippery suckers can’t seem to stick. Every visit to the loo is a high-risk activity.
This might not be an issue for you; maybe the BlueAnt Pump Air 2s are your ear’s glass slipper. If that’s the case, you’ll enjoy a super lightweight pair of buds that are discreet enough to go unnoticed.
Sound quality from the MySpace era
Without beating around the bush, it’s fair to say the sound quality of the Pump Air 2 is only as good as its low retail price. The Pump Air 2 buds deliver an acceptable standard of sound quality; there’s no scratchy feedback, and they can be quite punchy at max volume. But overall, the sound profile is muddier than the in-built stereo of my very first rust bucket (1995 Toyota Lexcen).
There’s no active noise cancellation, which you would expect, but even the passive noise isolation isn’t too crash hot. I struggle to listen to podcasts in crowded areas and, most of the time, I don’t even bother pausing what I’m listening to when I get caught in conversation.
Life’s too short
The downside to the compact size of these little baby buds is the limited battery capacity that comes with it. Overall, the charging case will get you 15 hours of continuous playback. That alone isn’t terrible, but each bud will only last 4 hours before needing to be sent back to its room (the compact charging case) to recharge.
There are plenty of pricer buds out there that will only last just as long or less (the otherwise excellent Sennheiser Momentum buds is one example). But there are sturdier options available, such as Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS5TW buds, that last a lot longer if battery life is a deal-breaker for you.
Made for moshing
The last little detail worth mentioning is the BlueAnt Pump Air 2s IP54 water resistance rating. That doesn’t mean they are watertight, and you should avoid sending them for a spin through the wash, but they will cop a bit of sweat.
If you’re throwing down in your living room, you might lose an earbud, but you won’t do any damage if you work up a serious sweat.