Earbuds have come a long way. It used to be that if you could only own a single pair of headphones, you'd go for over-the-ear without even thinking about it. That day is gone, and HELM Audio is in the forefront of the current wave of bluetooth earbuds that deliver uncompromising sound quality in a tiny, stylish and comfortable package.
HELM's True Wireless TW5 earbuds are as high tech as they look, as you'd expect from the company that landed the most awards of any headphone brand at CES 2020. We used the playlist from Vlad Savov over at The Verge to test the TW5s and they excelled at everything from the variety of Bjork's Hunter to the monster bass on Acid Rain by Lorn to a band more in our wheelhouse, Rage Against the Machine and their up-and-at-'em anthem Killing in the Name Of. Rage has been on our minds lately as we watch the excellent HBO series Watchmen, a show that like good music evokes strong emotions. Speaking of strong, holy cow the bass on these things! The HELM TW5s will absolutely please all you bass-hawgs out there, whether you're into hip-hop or acoustic string bass.
The design matches the performance, always a nice symmetry. The TW5s come in a charging case that has a single flaw: it's a bear to open because it's hard to get any traction on the body of the case. Luckily there's a trick: just squeeze the sides on the long axis while pushing up on the lid with your thumb, and it pops right open. That single flaw aside, the case is uber-cool. It functions as a portable charger, good for up to five additional charges. With a run time of about six hours, that means the case can recharge the earbuds on a long flight so you can keep on listening. All the normal controls for managing volume, tracks and call connect/disconnect are available as well, and bluetooth connectivity and voice calls work flawlessly.
Beyond the case the TW5s include three spare different sized earbud covers. The default size worked well for us, and the little silicone hook kept them securely on our head through moderate exercise. One thing we could see being useful on earbuds like this is a lanyard hole to put a string through for activities like mountain biking or even running, where if an earbud were to pop out you wouldn't lose it. OK, so we don't actually like to block our ears during outdoor activity, but different strokes and all that. Bottom line: if you're looking for a great set of earbuds with a cool charging option in the case, check out HELM Audio, they have the goods.