So there’s a loved one who’s been putting on a bit of weight or getting out of shape, and you’re looking for a stylish, meaningful and useful gift this Christmas to motivate them to get back on their fitness game – perhaps in time for their New Years’ resolutions. Sudio Sweden’s new Sudio Tre is the brand’s latest venture into fitness audio, featuring a sleek, premium-feeling packaging and product that is sure to impress your beloved recipient.
Sudio sent a couple of units of the Sudio Tre to VR Zone, decked out in complete Christmas regalia, in preparation for our spate of Christmas Giveaways. We’ve unboxed one of them to let you know how they work out.
Packaging, to me, is the proverbial icing on the cake. It sure doesnt really matter, but it sure does affect how premium the product seems. In typical Swedish simplicity, the Sudio Tre was packaged attractively. The box proper came in an attractive Christmas exclusive gift box, complete with Sudio ribbon and branding. While that did give the surprise away just a little, I was still plenty excited unraveling the premium box that held Tre-sure within.
It came with two extra sizes of ear inserts, a leather carrying case and a short Micro-USB cable.
I chose the matte-black Tre (they come in white, black, navy blue and pink), bearing in mind the issues dark matte plastic finishes usually have with bodily oils, marring and fingerprints – all of which are very real concerns for the active weekend athlete or gym bug. The matte-black finish on the earbuds themselves and the double-sided control panels were satin-smooth and felt sturdy and solid despite their plastic exterior. I have to admit: I had reservations about Sudio products, having been accustomed to the audio performance, ergonomics and build quality of established audio industry figures like Shure, AKG and Sennheiser.
But surprises have occurred before, and surprise the Sudio Tre did.
Revealing the headphones, Sudio Tre’s characteristic minimalist Nordic design struck me. Immaculately finished surfaces complement its beautiful lines, leading to a very eye-pleasing aesthetic.
Ergonomics and build quality
Being sports earphones, the fit and finish of these earphones matter the most.
It came with three sizes of replaceable silicone earpad-retainer combinations that are shaped with a slight protrusion into the ear canal to provide slight sound isolation and to direct the sound the right way. A fin-like protrusion ensures impacts, shocks or tugs to the earbuds do not result in the Tre careening underneath a fellow jogger’s shoe or bicyclist’s wheel. I’ve got tiny ears, and I found the smallest set work great.
What struck me was that the immaculate fit of the earpieces – the fin was perfectly shaped to tuck itself comfortably in one of the inner lobes of cartilage in the ear, and the earbud directed audio straight into the canal.
Despite the aluminium three-button control panel residing only in the right box, Sudio opted to include a symmetrical box of similar weight dangling under the left ear. I could think of a few downsides to this design choice: the wearer looks like they’re wearing large, oblong ear accessories, and some inevitable fumbling has to happen while donning them on before the user is able to discern left from right earbud. However, for users of fitness earphones of similar configuration (right earbud – control panel – wire – left earbud), you would readily agree that these designs tend to end up severely imbalanced, with lots of slack on the heavier right cable.
The tangle-free cable connecting left and right earbuds has a delightfully smooth finish, sliding effortlessly across the nape of my sticky, sweaty neck as I quickly twist my head to glance down the road before continuing my run across it.
The audio is another story, though. Despite its snug, secure fit and immaculate finish, the Sudio does not particularly excel in the audio department. While those more used to in ear monitors (IEMs) might find the sound airy, I’ve used a fair share of earbud-style earphones in my time, and have heard some excellent examples for cheap. Though the audio quality wasn’t the most accurate or clear for some tracks, it did an absolutely fine job thumping away at my workout playlist as I ran or pumped out my last set at the gym.
They are, to me, a marked improvement from most typical earbuds (possibly the Airpods, too) and most equivalent pairs of earbuds. The Tre has a very decent midrange, but struggles with clarity and soundstage.
A huge caveat for an otherwise perfect sports earphone, but one that even I am willing to overlook. The noise of rushing blood and the thump from high impact activities drowns out most of the finer details, anyway. The lack of detail in the bass was barely noticed when used for what it was prescribed to do; the strong lower register indeed helped spur me on. I was motivated to take the long route back on my running trail while reviewing the Tre, extending the work out session almost twice as long.
For commuters, busses and trains might prove too noisy for the meagre isolation offered by the Tre, and should be given a miss.
While most work-out sessions should only last an hour or so, the Sudio Tre boasts an incredible 8 hours of power, perhaps due to the two boxes sported by the earphone.
From my experience, it was able to outlast a day’s worth of commuting, an hour-long run, and a two-hour gym session on a single charge, with plenty to spare.
Final Words & Recommendations
Surprisingly, the fit and finish of the Sudio Tre might be one of the best in the market right now, comparable or better than even some of the more premium options. However, since they are earbuds, they don’t offer much sound isolation. The sound quality declines noticeably in noisy environments like trains, busses, or crowded places. Despite this, its sports-oriented sound profile coupled with its excellent ergonomics (you barely notice it’s there) more than make up for it.
This one makes for a great Christmas (or otherwise) gift, with its design specifically targeting active users. With the decline of the 3.5mm jack, the Tre might be even more practical – just be aware of the limitations of noise isolation for earbuds.
Housing: Composite, Aluminum
Finish: High polished metal parts
Model: Earbud, Bluetooth 4.1
Bluetooth Range: 15 meters
Battery time: 9 hours (active), 10 days (standby)
Charging time: 10 minutes (quick), 120 minutes (full)
Type: 15.2 mm dynamic speaker
Sensitivity: 103 ± 3dB SPL @ 1 kHz 178mV
Impedance: 32 Ohm ± 15% @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz