The Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones appeal due to their low cost and comfortable fit, but the sound they output is only average.
|Affordable price point (from a known brand)||Tinny, average sound|
|Comfortable for longer wearing||Twitchy touch controls|
|Range of colour choices||Confusing app compatibility|
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Belkin’s largely known in Australia as a peripherals manufacturer – the brand you go to for cables and cases and the like.
It does sell a little broader than that, but still very much within its affordable price remit. That’s exactly where the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones sit; they’re set of wireless buds at a budget price point from a known brand name.
You for sure can get cheaper buds than this – believe me, I’ve tried, having tested out $2 wireless buds – but how do the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones stack up?
Spoiler: They’re pretty much exactly what you might think they are – a utility pair of buds with good comfort but quite average sound output.
Most cheaper buds don’t tend to do all that much in design terms, and first impressions of the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones certainly play to that trend.
The case is a simple egg type with a USB-C connector, and the buds themselves are lightweight affairs. In the packaging you’ll also find a set of sized tips and a simple USB-C charging cable – but no charger, though Belkin would undoubtedly be happy if you were to purchase one of theirs.
Where the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones do stand out is in the choice of colours. Most cheap buds come in just the one hue, or sometimes two if you’re lucky.
Belkin sells them in four different colours, with your choice of Black, White, Teal or Lavender.
It’s the latter that Belkin sent my way for testing. Both case and buds match your colour of choice, though I guess there shouldn’t be any issue if you had to charge from a different case as they’re all the same size anyway.
Another surprise here is that Belkin offers up a tested IP water resistance rating. Plenty of cheaper buds don’t, and while their IPX4 rating means that they’re basically sweat resistant, it’s still nice to see that they’ve been properly assessed this way.
Setup of the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones can be a little challenging, though it doesn’t actually have to be.
I recognise that’s a deeply confusing statement, so let me unpack it.
The tiny instruction manual you get uses pictograms to show the pairing process, but it wasn’t clear to me at first if they also had a companion app. So I went searching, and, lo and behold, there’s actually a couple. For iOS devices, there’s SoundForm and Belkin Soundform. On Android, there’s just Soundform.
So which app do you need to set up the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones?
Turns out it’s none of them, because the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones don’t actually have app support at the time of writing.
This is a straight Bluetooth pair-via-your-device-menu play, with the added slight annoyance of pairing being initiated via long presses on both earbuds when they’re out of the case. I far prefer pairing via an in-case button, because it’s considerably more direct.
They did pair perfectly well with the Bluetooth devices I had to hand, including a number of Android smartphones, an iPhone 15 Pro and a MacBook Air M2.
It’s generally a good idea to remove Bluetooth pairing profiles when trying to connect to a new device however, because it can get confusing if they’re trying to pair to an older device when you’re trying to send out audio from a newer one.
With no app to speak of, you’re stuck with the default audio output from the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones unless you use a music or sound app with its own equaliser.
The standard audio out of the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones is fair, but not great in any way, with notably weak bass tones.
Part of Belkin’s pitch here in Australia for the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones is that they’re for a younger audience, so that treble focus might sit well with some parents concerned about the impact of heavy thumping bass on the ears of their children. It’s also possible to use just a single bud at a time if you favour that throwback mono style.
Still, the effect has – to my older ears – more than a little of the taste of AM radio to it, whether I’m listening to music or podcasts, or watching video or playing games. It’s functional for sure, and certainly way better than those super-cheap buds I’ve previously tested, but it’s also not “good” in a way that would satisfy an audiophile. Then again, I doubt audiophiles are expecting much from $49.95 headphones.
It’s the same story on the microphone front, with mediocre pickup even in quieter locations. I could be heard on calls, but everyone who called me automatically assumed that I was on speakerphone due to the middling audio quality presented.
Bluetooth range was decent but again not best in class; moving around my home into different rooms I could get the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones to drop out fairly quickly in situations where other – generally more pricey – buds managed to maintain a connection.
Given the price point, active noise cancellation is out of the question, so all you get is the level of isolation that sticking anything in your ears presents you.
I tested the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones during my daily runs, and here they performed well. Not so much in an audio sense – they’re still deeply average – but for general comfort even when involved in direct physical exercise. It’s certainly feasible to wear the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones for a number of hours with minimal discomfort, something I can’t say for every set of buds.
The Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones use touch controls, and I’ve noted elsewhere that I’m not a big fan of this tappy-tappy-tap-tap approach to audio controls. I just always end up feeling like I’m trying to slam buds further down my ear canals when all I want to do is play or pause music.
Belkin rates the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones as being good for up to 28 hours of battery life, but before you get too excited, they’re playing the same trick that every headphone manufacturer does. The buds themselves are only rated for up to 9 hours, with two recharges coming from the case in optimal conditions.
Here the Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones did fairly well, typically hitting around seven hours in my tests; your precise volume and range needs can affect this, but they’re generally pretty good by the standards of cheaper buds in terms of battery life, and that is a definite plus.
Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones: Alex’s Verdict
The Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones are built to a price point, and it definitely shows. In terms of audio representation they’re only average at best, so those who want thumping sound or lots of personalisation will simply have to spend a little more to get it.
At the same time they’re affordable, the colours are nice and the battery life is good. You’re getting what you pay for here, and while there’s little more besides that, it’s well enough built to be potentially worthwhile — as long as you temper your expectations.
Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones: Pricing and availability
The Belkin SoundForm Bolt True Wireless Headphones retail in Australia for $49.95.
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