Excellent sound at an inexpensive price. Back Bay has delivered yet another true wireless of excellent value in the Tempo 30.
- Energetic, rich sound
- Good fit and seal
- Long battery life
- Appear to be restricted to SBC playback
- Bass can overwhelm
- Water-resistanceFully protected with IPX7 rating
- Bass modePump up the bass via taps on the earbud
- Ear-tip sizesRange of ear-tips to customise fit and sound
The Tempo 30 are true wireless earbuds at a truly affordable price. At $39.99 / £29.49, they undercut pairs from more established brands, and while they don’t boast smarts or premium features, they’re primed to appeal to anyone looking for headphones for casual and fitness use.
- Attractive appearance
- Good seal and comfortable fit
- Black and Rose Gold finishes
Previous headphones from Back Bay have only been available in a black finish. While black finishes are great for hiding dirt, they can be plain. Happily, Back Bay offers the Tempo 30 in a choice of Black or Rose Gold finishes.
The sample on review here is black, although the case it comes in is green. The look is attractive, presenting the Tempo 30 with a glossy, marble-like finish.
The smoothness of the housing doesn’t unduly affect the responsiveness of touch controls either, and I do like the path Back Bay has taken by assigning volume to a single tap, playback to a double-tap and skipping tracks to a hold. In my experience, when running or doing workouts, it’s more convenient to have quicker access to volume/track skipping than stop/start.
The fit is snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug, like the Duet 50 Pro, staying put throughout runs and workouts at the gym. The seal is consistently maintained, keeping external sounds at bay better than some fitness-focused earbuds with noise cancellation. The quality of the seal, and the fit and sound, can be influenced by your choice of ear-tips – and there are six types available.
The metal charging case is small – a slight surprise given the Boston brand’s predilection for big charging cases, but it ensures it is pocketable and easy to transport. Although its compact nature does make the interior LED indicator a little more difficult to discern.
The finish is smart, although susceptible to wear. Putting them in a bag resulted in scuff marks, so while the metal construction should mean they can withstand some misuse, the paint job isn’t as resistant.
- Substantial battery life
- Fully waterproof
- Bass mode
You won’t find the Herculean battery life of the Runner 60s here: 32 hours in total and 8 hours for each earbud – and all things considered, that’s an excellent battery haul. Compared to the Bose Sports Earbuds, it’s more than double their battery life. There’s no wireless or fast-charging support to count on, so you’ll have to power up the case in the traditional way via USB-C cable (90 minutes to full charge).
The Tempo 30 are completely waterproof and sweatproof with an IPX7 rating. Back Bay says it’s utilized a nano-coating to safeguard against any water/rain from infiltrating the buds. Despite that, these earbuds aren’t for swimming.
While there’s no app to allow for some fiddling of the earbuds’ EQ, there are a couple of audio modes. Three taps on right earbud activates Bass mode, which expands the soundstage and firms up the low-end. Four taps on either bud brings up the No-Lag mode – or ‘Movie mode’ or ‘Game mode’ – it seems to have several names. Whatever it’s called, it keeps voices in sync with the video/gaming. Does it make a difference? Not that I can tell, but the Tempo’s audio synching is on point without it anyway.
Bluetooth is version 5.0 with SBC and AAC codecs, although when paired with an Android smartphone it didn’t register as playing AAC. With a dual microphone set-up for calls and some environmental noise cancellation to keep unwanted external noise at bay, that is your lot for features.
- Ear-tips can affect the tone
- Energetic, dynamic playback
- Plenty of bass
As with previous Back Bay products, it’s worth experimenting with the ear-tip sizes on offer, since the impact of their tuning can be significant. The default and smaller options offer a crisp, sharp tone that’s detailed but less bass happy, while a switch to a different type brings out more weight and ‘fullness’ across the frequency range.
That’s the experience I prefer, and while your preference may differ, at least the Tempo 30 can cater for it. From my perspective the Back Bay deliver a flavour of audio that’s terrifically energetic, scrubbing up enough detail to describe instruments and voices, and delivering a size and scale that’s not always common at this price.
Bass extension and weight is the most prominent aspect of the Tempo 30’s performance, and while it can be a little overpowering at times – even more so with Bass Boost activated – the level of power and depth makes for an exciting and fun listen. The swells of the orchestra and energy in Small Sacrifice from the Ant-Man soundtrack are more characterful in their description.
Vocals are treated well, planted in the middle and clear enough to understand, with a slight warmth and no lack of smoothness. There’s an impressive level of dynamism evident, even at normal volume levels – the jumps in loudness with CHVRCHES’ The Mother We Share make it a toe-tapping party anthem – while Holst’s The Planets is winningly conveyed, the louder parts have great effect but only because the quieter moments are treated as such. Rhythmically, the Tempo buds convince; Push It To The Limit from Scarface will get your head bopping as soon as the track is queued up.
The Tempo 30 are fabulously expressive, instruments described with a natural flair. The soundstage features plenty of width and high-frequency notes in Cliff Martinez’s On the Beach ring true. There isn’t as much clarity or incisive sense of separation of the elements in a track as more expensive pairs, but what’s on offer here will not disappoint. These are a fabulously entertaining pair of buds – and a steal for the price.
Should you buy it?
If you’re after a cheap, good-sounding true wireless The Back Bay Tempo deliver a sound that’s rich and full of energy, at least if you pick the right ear-tips…
If you still want a more refined performance The Tempo 30 didn’t register AAC playback during tested, despite apparent support for it. So, while they sound very good, there’s some performance left on the table
Back Bay hasn’t made a bad pair of earbuds yet, and the Tempo don’t let the side down. Stylish in appearance, with a great fit and entertaining sound, the Tempo 30 hit the right notes at a price that you can’t argue with.
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested over several weeks
Tested with real world use
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No, there’s no wireless charging support for the Back Bay Tempo 30 earphones.