Scosche’s SportclipAIR ($100) is a wireless Bluetooth headphone that aims to tick all the boxes — ultra lightweight, comfortable, adjustable, sweatproof, affordable, and packing premium sound. We found that in each of these categories, Scosche has nearly delivered. The Sportclip AIR makes an excellent first impression. These headphones are extremely light, and yet are barely larger than wired in-ear headphones. When we used the included clips to clean up cable slack, these headphones all but disappeared on our heads. Pairing was quick and easy, and the Sportclip AIR’s battery level is displayed on the iPhone’s screen. With an IPX4 water resistance rating, they had no problem with sweat during exercise, and seemed to be less susceptible to wind noise than the otherwise excellent Jaybird X2. Call quality was acceptable, and battery life was in line with the claimed 7 hours.
We experienced brief moments of button confusion when we first used SportclipAIR. A complete set of controls are available via three buttons on the SportclipAIR, including play/pause, track forward/back, volume up/down, and Siri. However, the lower two buttons are reversed compared to those of the familiar Apple EarPods. We got used to this change quickly enough, but not before muscle memory had us activating Siri and lowering the volume by accident.
With so much good to say about the SportclipAIR, we were heartbroken to find that we simply couldn’t get them to sit right in our ears.
While Scosche markets SportclipAIR as earbuds, it’s actually a pair of in-ear monitor headphones, also known as IEMs. Unlike earbuds, they’re inserted into your ear canal using a soft silicone tip. A well-fitting IEM will block outside noise and allow you to listen at lower volumes. However, this effect only works if you are able to achieve a proper seal. If the tip is too small for your ears, outside noise will leak in and bass will be all but absent. If the tip is too large for your ears, the tip’s port may become obstructed, muffling the music. Most manufacturers include at least three different sizes of tips; when we test IEMs, we try each size to ensure that we’re listening under the best conditions possible.
If Scosche failed in any way with the design of the SportclipAIR, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. In addition to a charging cable and carry case, Scosche included four different sizes of silicone tips. For the sake of this review, we’ll call them large, medium, small, and extra small. We found that the small and extra small provided virtually no seal in our ears. The medium came close but still could not properly seal, leaking sound and leaving the music thin and lifeless. The large were simply too big, choking off the sound and feeling generally comfortable.
After countless re-insertions, tip switching, and fiddling with the otherwise-useful moldable over-ear cable guides, we were still unable to achieve a good seal and position of SportclipAIR in our ears unless we held them in place with both hands. We passed them onto another user, who eventually found a better fit after some fiddling, but was rightly concerned about how secure the tips would remain during active use.
These fit issues were all the more frustrating because when we did hold the SportclipAIR in a proper position, we had no real complaints about the sound. Clarity, tone, and bass response are all pleasing at reasonable volumes. Since our only real problem with the SportclipAIR could be attributable to individual anatomy (instead of the headphones’ design), you might have better luck than we did. There are some definite positive attributes here, but it’s hard to deny the fit issues; SportclipAIR earns our limited recommendation.
Company and Price
Compatible: Bluetooth-enabled iPads, iPhones, iPods