Now, right off the bat, I’d be the first to admit that even as a self-described audio junkie, I didn’t realize that Adidas even made audio devices. At least not prior to this review of the company’s Adidas FWD-01 earbuds. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot since there are hundreds of brands to keep tabs on.
Needless to say, when I was offered Adidas FWD-01 for review, I jumped at the opportunity. Put simply, these earbuds impressed me right out of the box on the hardware front. And they really didn’t stop impressing me throughout my test process with just one or two caveats.
S0, without further ado, let’s dig in and see how they did.
Adidas FWD-01 hardware showcases a new take on an old design
In terms of hardware aesthetics and design, Adidas FWD-01 comes in three colors — the company sent its “Night Grey” variation for review. The other colors are “Light Grey” and the multi-toned blue, coral pink, and grey “Signal Coral.”
But the most noteworthy thing about this design may be that it’s an older style with a completely new take. Adidas started with the reliable earbud layout, two earbud housings linked by a covered wire that connects wirelessly to a source. And then it turned that on its head by including a braided fabric cover and thick rubberized covers on the buds themselves. That, as shown in the images here, is a gradient from dark to light.
The fabric also covers the button housing found in both the left- and right-hand lines. And there are textures on the earbuds themselves too, though that only makes them more comfortable to grip for placing in or taking out. There are no buttons at all on the earbuds. The only interactive element there is the embedded USB-C port.
In terms of the earbuds, those bear a hooked rubber design. With the silicone tip and wing being completely replaceable for differing ear sizes.
The whole thing, summarily, has an incredibly premium feel. That carries through to the buttons and USB-C port too. Although there is some deliberate jostle in the buttons — they are, after all, embedded under the braided fabric — they don’t feel loose. In fact, they are incredibly and satisfactorily clicky and feel solid when pressed. The port is the same way. Although the plug on the included charging cable doesn’t slip in entirely up to the plastic.
The earbuds and wire strap, conversely, are additionally incredibly comfortable to wear. There are magnets in the earbuds and, when connected, the earbuds stop playing music. With the caveat of the music needing to be started again via the on-device buttons or source device once stopped. But, regardless, they hang around the neck almost weightlessly thanks to the premium materials used here. There’s no discomfort, even when worn for a long time.
The earbuds themselves are the same way. There was just enough flex in the ear tip wing to keep the earbuds in place without putting too much pressure on the outer ear. Meanwhile, the earbud tips are squishy and comfortable too. So wearing this in-ear all day didn’t present any trouble either.
Finally, Adidas includes a fold-to-close carry case. Adidas made that from a mesh material and even added a slot specifically for the charging cable. But it’s also small enough that the accessories just barely fit without being difficult to place inside. So, unlike many other companies’ included carry cases, this one from Adidas doesn’t take up much more extra room than the earbuds themselves would.
The IPX4-rated design for sweat-proofing and water resistance is just icing on the cake.
Battery life from these earbuds is sure to impress
Now, the one caveat with Adidas FWD-01 on the battery front, at least for my review, is the result of the charging cable. Included in the box, the accessory is just over a few inches long. That meant charging was only possible for me since my plugs are typically behind furniture, from a laptop or charging bank.
That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. But, since I really don’t want to rely on a battery bank — which itself will need to continuously be recharged — or a laptop port, it very nearly felt like one. Although I could just as easily buy or use one of my other USB-C charging cables, the inclusion of such a short cable is a real letdown.
Otherwise, the battery in Adidas FWD-01 lasts even longer than the company claimed. And that’s under conditions that would drain most devices over a far shorter period than is claimed. And that’s bearing in mind that conditions such as distance from a source device, volume, media type, and other factors drastically change battery life from user to user. I listened at 90-percent volume from a distance averaging 20-feet. So my use was more intensive than most users’ will be.
Adidas claims that these earbuds should last over 16-hours. My usage saw around 16-hours and 20-minutes.
In similarly impressive fashion, Adidas FWD-01 charged incredibly quickly under review. Despite lasting over 16-hours, they took just under 45-minutes to charge and attained more than half-charge at just 15-minutes.
Audio from Adidas FWD-01 is bass-heavy but clarity and sound separation make up for that
Now, on the audio front, if you don’t love bass, these are not the headphones to buy. And that’s because Adidas FWD-01 is among the more bass-heavy earbuds I’ve had the opportunity to review. In songs where the lowest tones are typically drowned out by highs and mids, these held through. In effect, they offered all the rumble and head-shaking low that was intended.
Of course, that means they aren’t necessarily going to be the most audiophile-friendly headphones on the market. But they certainly aren’t the worst either. Especially if you keep the volume below 70-percent of the maximum. Above around 80-percent, the bass does tend to overpower. But under that, the frequency separation and distinction are actually very good. If not the best.
Balance, accuracy, clarity, and sound placement, conversely, are all right where I’d want them to be for the money. And at the ongoing sale price of just $99.99, they feel like a great value.
All of that, it goes without saying, means that these are going to be just about perfect for a high-energy workout. Whether running, lifting, or just about anything else.
Connectivity and special features are, summarily, on-point
Now, Adidas FWD-01 is part of the company’s “Running” line of wireless earbuds. And, as such, it isn’t necessarily the best option if you happen to need to put a lot of distance between yourself and your smartphone. In fact, compared to other earbuds I’ve had the opportunity to review, Adidas FWD-01 performed among the worst I’ve tested on range.
Bluetooth 5.0 should, by most accounts and in most cases, see a range of well over 30-feet. But, although I tested these for the battery life segment at around 20-feet, they did cut out from time to time. Especially with objects between myself and the source device.
Setting that caveat aside, under that range, these earbuds had no trouble connecting. And since I did my cycling — I’m not much for running — with my phone in a bike mount, these earbuds stayed connected with near-lossless audio throughout.
For extra features, Adidas also has a dedicated app which I used during my review of FWD-01. That app helps optimize audio, for the most part, but also delivers more accurate readouts for the battery level. And, best of all, the app includes customizations for the multi-function button attached to these earbuds.
I found the real-world functionality associated with that to be somewhat limited though. I couldn’t get any of my media apps except for Spotify to show up in the app. But that can be set up so that a Spotify playlist starts at the click, double-click, or triple-click of a single button. Or for quick access to your source device’s on-device AI voice assistant.
Adidas includes other buttons too, in the band, for volume, playback controls, and more. That rounded out my review of Adidas FWD-01 with a great run of features that most wireless earbuds are missing.
Are these worth the money?
Adidas FWD-01 are, summarily, great for a workout whether that’s running, lifting, or just about anything. That’s so long as you don’t try to go swimming with these wearables since they aren’t quite waterproof. And that’s because they offer great balance, audio placement, and frequency coverage. But with enough extra bass to keep you pumped up throughout.
That doesn’t mean they’re perfect though. Some users are not going to appreciate the extra bass, just for starters. Especially those who identify as audiophiles. And for those that don’t use on-source AI assistant or Spotify, the app and customized buttons — aside from equalization features — are going to feel useless. As are the buds themselves if you need more range or don’t have or want to buy an extra USB-C charging cable. Since the latter inclusion is so short.
Having said all of that, they are going to be perfect for the intended audience in just about every case. The level of volume and power is more than just on-point. For under $100, at the current sale price, and even at the full cost, these are impressive. And that’s without consideration for the battery life or rapid charging.
In short, if you’re looking for a pair of earbuds for your workout, Adidas has some that are almost certainly going to work for you with its FWD-01.