There’s a bare minimum requirement that’s often overlooked on sport headphones until they’re out of the package: a comfortable and secure fit. The Hoop in-ear headphones by Coloud offer a semi-custom fit, plus some bonus design features aimed at athletes, and manage to keep the price under $30.
The Hoop’s earbuds are designed so the cord forms a loop along the top of the bud. Once you tuck the earbud in, the loop holds it in place against the interior of your ear. All you have to do is pull the cord to adjust the size of the loop. It’s a surprisingly simple way to get a custom fit.
Active listeners — you know, people who don’t turn into statues once they put their headphones on — appreciate it when the slightest jostle doesn’t dislodge the buds. The Hoops do come with an extra pair of rubber covers, but they’re more for cosmetic purposes, rather than for sizing. The only time you ever end up replacing those things on regular earbuds is because one fell off and you don’t want cold, hard, unyielding plastic in your ear. The Hoop’s soft covering stays secure, since the loop keeps the buds in place.
That’s not the only feature designed to make athletes’ lives a little easier. A reflective stripe runs the full length of the cord, which is great for extra visibility during night runs or rides. If you’re not the super-active type, a little reflectivity makes these easier to find at the bottom of a drawer or bag, or in the backseat of a darkened cab. The cording itself is flat, to prevent crimping and coiling, and tougher than most. The Hoop has resisted getting caught in a bike wheel, and survived a few accidental and unfortunate tugs when they snagged on door handles.
Of course, the Hoop headphones wouldn’t be worth it if the sound was sub-par, but the specs speak for themselves. A 40mm dynamic driver, with 100mV@1khz=101cB SPL sensitivity, 32ohm impedance in the common 20Hz-20kHz frequency range — it all translates to balanced sound for the price. Don’t expect booming base, but it is smooth and the highs don’t scream.
The controls worked well — no spastic tapping required. One tap pauses music, answers, or hangs up incoming calls; two taps skip to the next track in music apps or rejects the call; three taps rewinds one track. The Hoops work with those familiar patterns, including the long press to open the voice command system. If you want something more complex, you can try an app to program your headset, like JAYS headset control.
If you’re not an obsessive audiophile ready to drop a ton of cash on a set of headphones, Coloud’s Hoop earbuds are a great option for their unique fitting system, reflective stripe, and rugged design.