Adidas RPD-01 Review: Good sound, few features

adidas rpd 01 review 5

Adidas RPD-01

“The RPD-01 fit well and sound good, but are outmatched in the features department.”
  • Workout-friendly design
  • Functional controls
  • Good sound quality
  • Lacks features versus competition
  • No storage case/pouch
MSRP $99.00

When I reviewed the Adidas RPT-01 a few months ago, I applauded them for being a functional pair of fitness-focused headphones in an on-ear class that frankly doesn’t have many other solid options.

With the RPD-01 – the wired, in-ear version of the RPT-01 – Adidas did succeed in creating another capable pair of workout wearables. However, unlike the relatively uncompetitive on-ear headphone genre, the $100 RPD-01 face far tougher rivals, most of which come from the feature-centric brand JLab Audio.

In other words, the RPD-01 have an uphill battle ahead of them.

What’s in the box?

From a sustainability standpoint, Adidas aces the packaging of the RPD-01. Nearly everything is composed of cardboard, and it has a rather compact footprint overall. There are three extra pairs of eartips and earfins, a very short USB-C charging cable, plus your standard literature. But beyond that, this box is nothing but sweet, sustainable cardboard.

Adidas RPD-01 earphones
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Setup is standard with the RPD-01, and if you’ve paired at least one Bluetooth-enabled product to your mobile device in the past, you know all you need to. Connecting to these wired buds is as easy as it should be, and you’ll be ready to put some work in with these in your ears in no time.

The RPD-01 have Bluetooth 5 technology built-in, and Adidas rates the buds as having a 10-meter range. While these workout earbuds may seldom be that far away from your mobile device, that range was accurate based on extensive testing, which is the term I’m generously using for the act of placing my phone in one remote corner of my house and traveling to the most opposite point of my property possible. The earbuds didn’t suffer any dropouts worth noting.

Design

I have not been quiet in the past about the general style of a pair of earbuds like the RPD-01. True wireless is just the far more popular design aesthetic than a setup where the buds are tethered together by a wire. Even if it’s old news by now, I won’t be shy about repeating it.

Adidas RPD-01 earphones
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Disclaimer aside, I am actually a big fan of the design of the RPD-01. At 23 grams, the RPD-01 are significantly heavier than the JLab Audio Epic Sport2, which weigh just 14.8 grams. But they don’t feel like a hefty burden, with the buds sitting comfortably in my ears and the flexible neckband resting around my neck. I did some swapping around with the different eartips and earfins available to me but landed on the setup the buds shipped with to achieve my preferred balance of security and comfort.

As a testament to that combination, I hopped on my bike over the weekend to see how the RPD-01 would handle a bumpy ride on some light trails and gravel roads. To make a long story short, what was supposed to be a weekend cruise spiraled into a 27-mile, three-hour trek that somehow spit me out into the next town over. Many things went wrong that afternoon, but the RPD-01 were one of the things that went right. I never had to adjust them, and my ears were one of the few unfatigued body parts left after the ride mercifully came to an end. So I have to drive the point home: The Adidas RPD-01 were both comfortable and secure for the duration of an extremely long, bumpy bike ride.

The RPD-01 – which come in three colors including night gray, light gray, and green tint – have a three-button system of controls for handling music, volume control, and answering or rejecting calls. On the other side of the neckband is an action button, which can be set to call up a voice assistant or a Spotify playlist through the Adidas headphones app. It’s rather basic, but it works well, which is more than I can say for some frustrating touch controls that I’ve dealt with recently.

The Adidas RPD-01 were both comfortable and secure for the duration of an extremely long, bumpy bike ride.

One downside of the RPD-01 is the distinct lack of a case, pouch, or even bag in which to store them. The JLab Audio Epic ANC have an included carrying pouch, and the JLab Audio Epic2 have a durable case as well. I know Adidas kept things minimal, and there are probably folks out there that would enjoy that approach, but the idea of protecting these earphones when they’re not in use is more appealing to me.

Features

Of the numerous wired neckband earbuds I’ve reviewed this year, the RPD-01 have the worst features. That doesn’t mean lacking these features is inherently bad, since the RPD-01 are still quite useful workout buds in my book, but it does mean that across the board, there are similarly styled options that possess better features in the same price range.

Adidas RPD-01 earphones
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

The JLab Audio Epic Sport2 are the obvious comparison here since they too are meant to be predominantly workout buds. While the RPD-01 has 12 hours of playback time and an IPX4 weather-resistance rating, the Epic Sport2 shatter those stats with 20 hours of playback and an IP66 rating.

The JLab Audio Epic ANC, while not focused on exercise, still have an IP54 weatherproof rating and 20 hours of battery with active noise cancellation off, plus 15 total hours when the feature is turned on. Even the 1More Dual Driver ANC have a better weather-resistance at an IPX5 rating, while mirroring the battery stats of the JLab Audio Epic ANC.

Of the numerous wired neckband earbuds I’ve reviewed this year, the RPD-01 have the worst features.

If the RPD-01 were the cheapest buds at the party, this discrepancy in features I could understand, but both JLab products cost less than the $100 RPD-01, which is a significant blow to the overall value of these buds. To be clear, 12 hours of battery life is still decent for wired buds, and an IPX4 rating should get you by at the gym. But when true wireless options like the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC (15 hours of life, IP66 rating) are beating out the RPD-01 for the exact same price, I start to wonder who exactly these earphones might make sense for.

Audio quality

The one clear advantage Adidas has over JLab Audio with the RPD-01 is in the realm of sound quality. While the audio quality of the Epic ANC is average, and the call quality of the Epic Sport2 is mediocre, the RPD-01 do a mostly commendable, and sometimes truly exceptional, job in both areas.

Adidas RPD-01
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

They don’t match the audio excellence of the 1More Dual Driver ANC, which remain the benchmark for sound in this form factor. That said, the 6mm Neodymium drivers built into the RPD-01 effectively handle the pair’s frequency range of 20 to 20,000 kHz. When auditioning my go-to playlist for these reviews, the RPD-01 moved through a diverse set of tracks without a hitch. Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road had its now-legendary bass hook intact just before Ed Sheeran’s acoustic cover of Candle in The Wind belted into my ears with impressive clarity.

When it comes to phone calls, multiple family members checked in during that brutal weekend bike ride, and while these earbuds didn’t have enough passive noise cancellation to block out the sounds on my end, I was pleased to report that the microphone picked up my voice clearly even as big rigs flew by on my journey along a major highway.

The takeaway here is the RPD-01 offer quality sound for $100. Is the sound so much better than either JLab products that I would give up objectively better features for it? Probably not. But if you’re hoping to approach 1More’s level of sound without paying the full $150, these would certainly get you closer than JLab’s alternatives.

Our take

The RPD-01 fit well and sound good, but unfortunately, they’re just outmatched by every single pair of neckband earbuds we’ve tested this year when it comes to the total number of features for the price. Especially when two of those pairs are cheaper, it doesn’t put Adidas in a favorable light, despite the functionality of these buds.

Are there better alternatives?

Both the $80 JLab Epic ANC and the $50 JLab Epic Sport2 have better features across the board, though they come with a noticeable difference in sound quality. The 1More Dual Driver ANC are closer to a complete package of audio and features, but they’re the more expensive option at $150.

How long will they last?

The RPD-01 are a flexible pair of buds with a decent weather-resistance rating, but they don’t have any storage case or pouch included, which exposes these buds to the elements, or even mouthy pets. If my phone charger and Xbox controller were recent indicators, nothing is safe when a puppy is teething.

Should you buy them?

No, unless you place a ton of value on having good sound quality instead of better features. If that’s not the case, both the JLab Epic ANC and Epic Sport2 are the better buys.

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