“LSTN’s products are not only made using sustainable materials but for every purchase, the company contributes a sum to the Starke Hearing Foundation”
The concept of corporate philanthropy isn’t unheard of in the tech space and over the years, many other brands have stepped up to give back to the community. Apple’s Product Red initiative for example, contributes towards the global fund to fight AIDS. Recently, I got a chance to review the Troubadour Wireless headphones from LSTN, a company whose products are not only made using sustainable materials, but for every purchase, the company contributes a sum to the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Clearly, the company’s heart is at the right place, but is its product fit for your ears? Stay with me to find out.
Design and Comfort
Unlike most headphones in the market, you can easily spot a pair of LSTN Troubadours in the wild because of how unique it looks. The headphones come in an on-the-ear configuration and feature triangular-shaped earcups which have partly been constructed out of wood, giving it a distinctive character. I got the Matte Black Maple unit of the headphone to review which looks minimalistic, but you can also opt for a Zebra Wood variant in case you want something with a bit more panache. Regardless of which style you opt for, your LSTN headphones will be one of a kind since the wooden housings are handcrafted and therefore, no two units will bear the same design. The rest of the headphones have been constructed out of aluminium, and the striking contrast between metal and wood makes the LSTN Troubadour a head turner, to say the least.
You’d be forgiven to think that the LSTN Troubadours are a pair of bulky headphones. After all, the combination of wood and metal rarely ever makes for a lightweight product. Thankfully, the Troubadour are an exception to this case and the company has managed to cut some weight off the headphones by opting for a rather slim headband. While this does raise some concerns about the unit’s durability, the band still offers plenty of structural integrity and won’t break even if you apply a lot of force. Trust me, I tried. My only gripe with the design of the LSTN Troubadour is that the headphones cannot be folded and therefore, carrying them around is a bit of a hassle.
The LSTN Troubadour are wireless headphones and therefore, there are a bunch of controls present on the earcups, so let me familiarise you with those. At the bottom of the left earcup, you’ll find the power button, the volume keys, an AUX port as well as an LED indicator. You can long-press the power button to put the headphones in pairing mode, and a single tap of the button will either play or pause your music. On the other hand, long-pressing the volume buttons will increase/decrease the volume whereas a single tap will take you forwards / back a song. The buttons have a good tactile feedback and make a satisfying ‘click’ sound when you press them. A micro-USB port to charge the headphones can be found at below the right earcup.
Despite the lack of padding on the headband, the headphones are supremely comfortable and can be easily worn for hours on end. With that said, since the headphones sport an on-ear configuration, some music will slip out of the earcups at higher volumes. Moreover, the headphones struggle with passively isolating your ears from environmental disturbances too.
Sound and Performance
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the headphone’s audio performance, let me walk you through some technical specifications first. The LSTN Troubadour are backed by a 40mm Neodymium driver inside each earcup and can operate across a frequency range of 18Hz-20KHz. The headphones carry an impedance of 32 ohms and therefore, any smartphone will be able to power these headphones just fine.
The LSTN Troubadour boast a typical U-shaped sound signature and pack a mighty punch in the low-end. Unfortunately, where the headphones make up for quantity, they lose out on quality and there’s significant bass-bleed when you turn up the volume. Furthermore, the bass output isn’t as articulate as I would’ve liked it to be and therefore, you won’t enjoy songs like Ritviz’s Udd Gaye as much on the Troubadours, which feature a lot of chaotic beats. On the flip side, the headphones deliver quality mids and in any song, the voice of the singer stands out, floating above the instruments. River by Bishop Briggs illustrates this very well and even during the chorus of the song, the vocals sound distinctively clear and loud. For the most part, the highs are represented well too. You won’t notice any harshness at higher volumes associated with instruments like an electric guitar. Moreover, the headphones aren’t sibilant either and at peak volume and frequencies, the Troubadour won’t bite your eardrums.
Sound-staging could be better from the get-go, though you can improve it by plugging the headphones into an external source. I used the FiiO X3 Mark III music player and upon relaying FLACs through the LSTN Troubadour, there was a noticeable change in the headphones’ performance.
In addition to using the headphones in wired mode, buyers also get the option of using them wirelessly and stream their music via Bluetooth. Pairing the headphones is a straight-forward process and once linked to my smartphone, the headphones rarely ever dropped connection. What’s even better is that since the headphones feature a built-in microphone, you also get the option of answering your phone calls wirelessly too. Bear in mind that the call quality over a Bluetooth connection is average at best and you’ll get much better results by using the bundled 3.5mm cable, which features an in-line mic as well.
While LSTN doesn’t mention the battery capacity of the headphones, I managed to get about seven hours of music playback before my unit of the Troubadour Wireless required another charge. The headphones take around two hours to reach full charge once you’ve completely drained them.
In conclusion, those looking for a pair of well-built on-ear wireless headphones should definitely check out the LSTN Troubadour. For its asking price of Rs 11,999, the LSTN Troubadour sound good for the most part and boast impressive battery life too, which should see you through some long commutes. It also helps that the company’s business pitch isn’t all about reaping profits either and that the brand is actively trying to better the lives of those with hearing problems. All in all, I have enjoyed my time with the LSTN Troubadour Wireless headphones and can’t wait for an over-the-ear offering from the company.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Good performance in the mids and highs
- Rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity
- Room for improvement in the low-end
- Cannot be folded