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Back Bay Runner 60 Review

Verdict

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If the PowerBeats Pro are too expensive then the Runner 60 are a great cheap alternative. Stamina is exceptional, fit is decent, and if you experiment with the ear-tip sizes then the sound quality can be very good, too. Considering the price and the feature set, these are first-rate running headphones.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Waterproof rating
  • Decent fit
  • Long battery life
  • Good sound (with the right ear-tip)

Cons

  • Default ear-tip seems rather lean and tinny
  • Bulky charging case

Key Features

  • Battery life80 hours in total
  • WaterproofIPX7 rating

There’s certainly something of the Beats PowerBeats Pro in the Back Bay Runner 60 headphones.

Like the Beats, these headphones have a fitness focus, coming with an ear-hook design for stability and water-resistance to cope with the sweatiest workouts.

The biggest differences between the two lie in the price and battery life. The Runner 60’s 80 hours is significant, three times that of the PowerBeats – and they cost four times less.

That’s a lot of multipliers. If you’re spying a pair of fitness- and value-focused wireless earbuds, the Runner 60 are here to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Availability

  • UKRRP: £35.99
  • USARRP: $54.99
  • EuropeRRP: €41.99
  • CanadaRRP: CA$61.99
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$64.99
  • Beats inspired
  • Over-ear hook design
  • Lots of ear-tip sizes
  • Good fit

There’s more than a hint of the PowerBeats Pro in the Runner 60. While the Beats’ design isn’t exclusive, of course, I can’t help but think how they might have inspired the Runner 60’s look. Even the ‘B’ for the Back Bay logo might fool you into thinking they’re from the PowerBeats range – but these aren’t clones.

Taking the ear-hook approach over the earbud (such as the Jaybird or Jabra), the stem fits over and down the back of the ear to keep the earbuds in place. They’re made out of plastic, which keeps the weight down, so they don’t become a persistent annoyance during exercise.

Back Bay Runner 60 earbuds

Touch controls are positioned on the Back Bay logo – and I’d always hit the ‘front’ part of the ear-hook before remembering where the controls actually were. They’re a bit sensitive, but responded fine to my taps during runs. I do wish the volume and track-skipping buttons were swapped round, though – it seems more intuitive to hold for volume and tap twice for skipping.

The fit was good once I found a position I was happy with, and having taken them on several runs, there have been only a few occasions where I’ve felt the need to reposition them. This was largely down to the selection of ear-tips – there’s a wide selection to choose from, ranging from small to big. The six ear-tips have a pronounced effect on sound and fit.

I chose one of the bigger options since that offered a tone I preferred, a better fit, and improved seal to ensure external noises weren’t infiltrating my headspace as much. In this sense, the noise-isolating design isn’t as good as more traditional true wireless units present. The number of ear-tips allocated is welcome, since it allows for flexibility, but I wish that the default option was better – more on that later.

Back Bay Runner 60 charging case

You can get the Runner 60 in every colour, as long as it’s black. Black means there’s little chance of them showing up dirt, but it makes the Runner 60 somewhat plain compared to the competition. The clamshell-like charging case is big – better suited to being stowed in a bag than a pocket. The LED indicators on the front represent 25% of battery life, with a USB-C charging port round the back.

  • Enduring battery life
  • Qi wireless charging support
  • AptX connectivity

While there’s plenty to say about how the design, the Runner 60’s feature list is rather brief. Happily so, I should add.

The Runner 60 come with an IPX7 rating, which means they’re waterproof to the point that they can survive submersion in a metre of water for 30 minutes.

Battery life – as typical with Back Bay – is super-generous. The Runner 60 quotes 80 hours altogether, with the earbuds having around 8 hours of charge. To put that into context, the total is more than three times that of the PowerBeats Pro. The bulky case supports Qi wireless charging, and if you don’t have a Qi mat then charging to full takes around 90 minutes.

Bluetooth connectivity is 5.0 and the Runner 60 factors in support for SBC, AAC and aptX codecs; the latter you don’t often see in true wireless that cost three times as much. There’s a built-in microphone for taking calls – and that’s your lot.

  • Worth playing with the ear-tips
  • Can sound lean and tinny with default ear-tip
  • Detailed, clear sound
  • Bass emphasis with bigger ear-tip options

The Runner 60’s audio quality is good, inasmuch as getting the right ear-tip and fit. It isn’t unlike the experience I had with the Duet 50 Pro, where the default ear-tip produces a bright, thin and slightly harsh tone. There was also a looser fit to contend with, as the wash of traffic filtered through.

I went for the bigger ear-tip option, which resulted in a fuller-sounding performance with more bass. If lots of bass isn’t to your liking, then the generous supply of ear-tips will help you to fine-tune the sound. It will also have an impact on the fit and, consequently, the effectiveness of the Runner 60’s seal.

Back Bay Runner 60 case open

The tone of the Runner 60’s 8mm drivers doesn’t diverge too much from the Duet 50 Pro’s 6mm drivers, although there are differences. For one, the mid-range sounds clearer, more detailed and better defined than the Duet 50 Pro playing the same tracks. The soundstage is also wider and more expansive, which allows the instruments in Brian Bennet’s Image more room.

There’s an enjoyable level of dynamism, too, sharply deployed in Planetarium from the La La Land soundtrack, or contributing to an effective sense of rise and fall in other tracks. Despite bumping up to the biggest earbud, there’s still a crispness to their tone, so the opening high notes in Rick Smith’s Bullet Cut have more presence than they did with the Duet 50 Pro.

Bass response is quite effective, adding a firm feel to tracks – although there are times where the low-frequency performance veers into a messy sense of organisation. Flying Lotus’ Parisian Goldfish has the thumping bass line, but other instruments become lost in the mix.

If you want more bass – and Runner 60 delivers plenty – then three taps on the right earbud engages Bass mode. The result is a thicker sound and bigger bass in The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die, but detail and separation aren’t as good.

It’s quite an upfront sound, just like the Duet 50 Pro – and by that I mean it has a presence and size. Vocals are smoothly defined and detailed, as well as avoiding sibilant tones, which makes the Runner 60 a good choice if you listen to a wide range of genres, especially R&B and hip-hop.

While using the default ear-tips results in a lean sound, playing with the options at hand brings the Runner 60’s better sonic characteristics into view. I’d rate them as better-sounding cheap headphones than the Duet 50 Pro, as tonally I think they’re judged a little better. The ear-tips play their part, but I think there’s a reasonable amount of room to find a tone that works for you.

The Back Bay Runner 60 are a snip for their price. If you’re someone who needs an inexpensive set of headphones for running and workouts, then they’re absolutely worth checking out. Battery life is lengthy, the fit is effective, and the sound quality is good – if you play around with the ear-tips.

Should you buy it?

You’re after cheap fitness-based headphones: Stable fit, water-resistant design, long battery, and good sound. The Runner 60 pretty much fulfil all you need from a pair fitness headphones

Having lots of ear-tip options is an issue: Lots of ear-tips is rarely an issue in my opinion, but it might be one here. The initial sound is a little tinny in tone, but a jump up to a bigger size improves things

Verdict

If the PowerBeats Pro are too expensive then the Runner 60 are a great cheap alternative. Stamina is exceptional, fit is decent, and if you experiment with the ear-tip sizes then the sound quality can be very good, too. Considering the price and the feature set, these are first-rate running headphones.

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FAQs

What codecs does the Runner 60 support?

The Runner 60 supports SBC, AAC and surprisingly for the price, the aptX Bluetooth codec

IP ratingIPX7
Driver8mm driver
Noise cancellationNo
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth codecsSBC, AAC, aptX
ColoursBlack
Frequency range20Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity 110dB
Voice assistant supportYes

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