There's a reason top-tier manufacturer Erato decided to use a beefy boxer model to introduce its clever Rio 3. At least in my opinion. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Personally, I can't think of a sport that's as taxing as boxing on the mind and body.
My girlfriend agrees. She won't go to a fight, but she's not shy about her opinions. Especially since she began to tease me about falling in love with my Rio 3 headphones.
I write this as an endurance runner; an athlete who is used to being ground down physically and emotionally when I compete in long-distance events that make standard marathon distances look like days at the beach.
Did the image of this boxer favourably dispose me to this product? You bet. If sports headphones can stand up to the sweating, exertion and punishment endured by boxers, sign me up. Besides, at S$219 this wireless gem didn't cost me the proverbial arm and a leg!
The skinny on the Rio
Seeking the ultimate in wireless technology? This is it. Since there are no problematic cables getting in the way of my performance on the track or at the gym, I can't help but feel free and unencumbered. I don't have to worry about being disconnected either.
My boss wants me when he wants me, so Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity means my biggest task is regulating my breath if I'm lost in my workout so he can't tell where I'm spending my lunch hour. The Rio, in fact, supports advanced AAC, SBC, and aptX audio standards.
I'm a function addict. I want to be able to access my controls without having to stop in my tracks. The Rio 3 delivers that in spades: volume control, power control, play/pause control and I can listen to the next sound track in my queue or dial it back to re-play the tune that triggered a burst of power.
Those pesky calls? Some of them are from people I actually want to talk to, but I even get to control that thanks to the accept/reject function. And Siri comes along on my conditioning runs—whether she wants to or not.
Features and benefits
I talk to a lot of people who seem to have bought stock in their headsets because they're so passionate about the brand they bought, but I wear as a badge of pride my ability to out-brag them. Here are just a few of the features and benefits I heard about before I bought my Rio 3 and can verify that they're all as promised:
- Battery issues? Nope. The Rio 3 has extended battery life; up to 6 hours of playtime and 8 hours of talk time.
- Dropped signals no longer plague me. I can wander 30 feet from my mobile and keep the conversation going.
- The Rio meets every moisture challenge that comes my way from sweat to rain thanks to IPX waterproofing.
- Sound quality is the bomb. I like to play Meghan Trainer's "All About the Bass" when I work out.
- I was able to kiss slippage fears goodbye. My Rio 3s fit my ears so snugly, it feels like they were custom made just for me.
- Having worn my Rio 3 under all manner of adverse conditions, I get why the manufacturer says this headset was designed for performance and built to last.
- Waterproofing, battery and fit problems that have plagued me for years are now history.
- This product is manufactured with a driver that's double the size of traditional earphones, so I get power to spare with no wires mucking up my run.
- Even the directional microphone delivers superior transmission quality so nobody need ask me, "What did you say?"
- I don't much care about having colour options. As a guy, the cherry red, lightening green and turquoise units seem to me a waste of resources, but I can't speak for other guys who make like having five choices.
- Erato Audio is a new kid on the premium sound technology block, so if you are faithful to major brands and don't feel comfortable trying out a new product, even the price may not sell you on the Rio 3.
- You'll have to do your homework if you don't want to pay retail (S$219) for this Erato product.
- Runners may find this rig a little on the bulky side—especially those who are used to ear buds or headsets that are so lightweight, you forget you're wearing them.
- Some shoppers complain that the 30-feet distance between the headset and phone isn't always accurate, so if you can't keep your mobile close at hand, this could be a deal breaker.
If you're looking for earphone Nirvana, you've gotta lower your expectations because the perfect unit has yet to be invented. That said, in my opinion, the Erato Rio 3 is as close to heaven as it gets. Battery life makes up in large part for my glowing recommendations and since I always keep my mobile close, I've yet to experience the distance issues that plague others.
True, I was much more amenable to trying out a new product from a new manufacturer after I saw that I could snag these at a lower-than-retail price, but it took no time before they won me over. If asked to rate the Rio 3 on a scale of 1-to-5 stars, I'd award 4.5 stars simply because, in an ideal world, I'd like them to be lighter.
What started for me as affordable earphones with features galore turned into a relationship. My girlfriend jokes that she gets jealous when I rave about them. I'm fine with that. As long as she doesn't try to steal them from me!
What's the most enthusiastic you've ever become about a sports-related product? Did it impact your personal life? We'd love to read your wildest stories, so send them our way.
A true wireless sports earphone just for the fitness market, the Erato Rio 3 is available at online store TC Acoustic for S$219.