When working out nothing gets the blood pumping like some good times. While there are plenty of headset and earbud choices out there, they may not be the safest option depending on your work out. For runners and cyclists in particular, while drowning out your surroundings keeps you focused and in the zone, it could be dangerous at the same time. Our Zulu Audio review takes a look at a pair of wearable Bluetooth speakers that allow runners and cyclists to listen to their tunes while still being able to hear and pay attention to their surroundings. Read on to see how they perform in our full review!
The Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers have the following features and specifications:
- Two small 1.83″ x 0.75″ x 1.83″ Bluetooth speakers that attach to your shoulders for clear, enjoyable audio while on the move
- Uses small magnets to clip to your clothing to stay firmly in place while you are running, biking, etc.
- Bluetooth capable, pairs with Bluetooth enabled devices for wireless audio streaming
- Built-in USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery, with USB charging cable included with purchase
- Great while on the move, on the road, in the home, on the job, and anywhere else
- Bluetooth version: V4.1 Support: HSP / HFP / A2DP /AVRCP
- Range: Class 2, up to 16.4 ft. (5m)
- Frequency range: 2402-2480MHz
- Operating Temperature: -10℃~40℃
- Power Input: 5V 1A
- Rechargeable Battery: 200mAh
- Charging time: 2.5 hours
- Battery Life: up to 4 hours
- Total Power Output: 2Wx 2
- Frequency Response: 40Hz ~20kHz
- Water Resistance/Splash Resistance: IPX4
- Product Weight: 75 g (approximately)
- Product Dimensions: 1.83″W x 0.75″T x 25.68″L (approximately)
What’s in the box
- Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers
- Micro-USB to USB cable
- Cable tie
- 3x magnets
- Carrying Case
- Get Started Guide
- Instruction Manual
The Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers consist of a pair of disc-shaped speakers just under 2-inches in diameter and about 1/2-inch thick. The discs are connected to each other via a thicker plastic coated cable, as one would recognize on as being a staple on many wireless earbuds.
Each disc has the red Zulu Audio Z logo printed in the middle on the front. The rest of the front of the speakers has a dimple design, much like a golf ball. Five rows of these dimples, under the Z logo, are punched all the way through to allow the speaker sound to push out.
The right speaker has a power/multi-function button (MFB) located at the 3 o’clock position. The volume up/volume down buttons are located in the 10 and 11 o’clock positions with the Micro-USB charging port at the 8 o’clock position. Just above the volume buttons is a small LED light. Finally, the small pinhole microphone is located at the 9 o’clock position. On the other hand, the left speaker is devoid of buttons of any kind.
As for the back of the speakers, the are flat and come with a smaller disc attached to them. Just over 1 1/4-inches in diameter, this magnetic discs are used to attach the speakers to your clothing — more on that in a minute.
The cable which connects the speakers together also has a sturdy cable tie which can be slid up and down to shorten the cable for a proper fit.
The speakers also come with a small carrying case which is roughly 4 1/4-inches long, 3-inches wide, and about 1 1/4-inches thick. Fabric wrapped, it is fairly hard and the speakers fit inside nicely. On one side is a mesh pouch for storing the charging cable and extra magnet.
The Zulu Audio speakers are available in black or white.
Ease of Use
As with any pair of Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speakers, the Zulu Audio are super simple to set up. Simply turn it on and the speakers will start the pairing process. You can also press the MFB button for 6 seconds when the speaker is off to power them on and initiate the pairing process. When the LED light flashes blue and red, the speakers are ready to pair. Locate “Zulu Audio” in the list of Bluetooth devices on your smartphone, select it, and off you go.
Playback is just as simple. The MFB not only powers the speakers on or off, but it also allows you to play/pause tracks, answer/hang up a call, or redial the last call. The volume up/down buttons not only control the volume but pressing them for a couple of seconds will skip to the next or previous tracks.
Now for the wearable part. Remove the disc from the back of each speaker and place the speaker cable around your neck with the speakers dangling on either side. Next, reach up under your shirt or through the neck line and place the disc behind the speaker. When you get close, the speaker will actually pull towards the magnet and between the two, will hold in place. Repeat for the other speaker and you’re all set.
The magnets are quite strong and while cycling, I had no issues at all with the speakers staying in place. I’m not a runner but I did simulate some jogging in place on the deck as well as some bobbing and weaving and the speakers stayed in place where I’d set them.
The Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers are loud but there really is not much bass at all. On that note, they are clear and crisp and I do realize they are smaller speakers but I’ve heard some smartphones put out better sound than these. Not to say the sound quality is horrible, but it would be nice to have a more balanced soundstage with a bit more bass for those EDM and hip hop tracks.
Depending on where you’re using them it can be a bit hard to hear even at full volume. I used these while cycling and while on the sidewalks a short distance from the road, they sounded o.k. but while on the shoulder of the highway, they did become a bit harder to hear.
I did find that the closer to your ears, the better. After my second ride, I found I was wearing them almost up by my shoulders for maximum sound volume, especially on the aforementioned highway.
Again, like the sound quality, reception/call quality depends where you are. In a quiet location, the other party could hear me fine. While cycling down the highway and taking a call, I really had to speak up in order for the other party to hear me clearly.
With a stated battery life of 4 hours, I managed to get about 3 1/2 hours on each charge. I was also using these at maximum volume all the time, so that will cut into your battery life as well. Considering I have a 20-minute cycling commute to work, these lasted me 2 1/2 round trips to work and back before needing recharging. While that time is great for most workout sessions, you won’t be able to use them for an all-day bike ride without having a portable battery pack to recharge them during a break.
When the battery is low, the LED will flash red to indicate you need to recharge the speakers. When depleted, they take just over a couple of hours to fully recharge.
With an MSRP of US$99.99, the Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers are a bit more expensive than most wireless earbuds and some Bluetooth speakers as well.
That being said, even though they lack bass, they are pretty decent for letting you listen to your music while running or cycling while still allowing you to hear your surroundings. Sometimes, you can’t really put a price on safety and I definitely appreciated being able to hear vehicles approaching from behind, especially while on the highway, and not having to forgo listening to music on my daily commute.
If you’re a runner or cyclist who’s constantly near or on a road, the Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers allow you to listen to your music safely while letting you be aware of your surroundings.
*We were sent a sample of the Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth Speakers for the purposes of this review.
Zulu Audio Wearable Bluetooth SpeakersUS$99.99
Ease of Use9.5/10
- Magnets keep speakers in place
- Loud, crisp sound
- Safely listen to music while running or cycling
- Extra magnet, carrying case included
- Not much in the way of bass
- Others can hear your music as well
- Can be hard to hear depending on your surroundings
- Bit pricey for what you get