ISOtunes LITE IT-20 Review In Ear Defenders with Bluetooth

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Perfect mix of headphones and ear defenders, the ISOtunes LITE are a comfortable pair of hearing protection earphones with 26 decibels of noise reduction achived passively without any active noise cancellation circuitry. The LITE earphones (model IT-20) have a bullet style body shell made of metal alloy with a plastic threaded nozzle designed to prevent the eartips from falling out.

The included Trilogy foam ear tips look pretty big and they are indeed - much bigger and longer (4cm total) than the PRO Aware foam eartips. They stick out a lot more, which is worth taking into account if you plan to wear the LITE earphones under ear protection muffs. The LITE foam cone tips are inserted in the ear similarly to regular earplugs by squishing them before inserting. The cone shape design should accommodate most ears, although including a smaller set of cone foam tips would have been a good idea to guarantee a better fit.

The ISOtunes LITE earphones recharge via micro USB connection. The charging port is protected by a hard plastic pop-up cover with a hinge attached to it that allows you to swivel the cover out of the way (without bending it) when inserting a charging cable. The hinge cover design is much better than the charging port cover on the PRO Aware earphones, which can deform under the stress of the charging cable.

In terms of specs and functionality, the ISOtunes LITE are similar to the ISOtunes PRO Aware version. They are both certified by the NRR (US standard) and SNR (european/UK standard) hearing protection standards to reduce noise by at least 26 dB as per NRR standard and 36dB by the SNR standard - similar to ISOTunes Link Aware. This means, if you're exposed to 90 dB of noise, the LITE earphones should be able to reduce it down to around 64 dB, which is well below NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit of 85 dBA. An important note to make about the SNR/NRR rating is that it is based on constant noise (e.g. machinery) and not impulse noise (e.g. gunfire, explosions, etc). For environments where you maybe exposed to impulse noises, it is best going for the PRO AWARE as they integrate external microphones that will cut/cancel out burst of noises.

The wearing style is noticeably different. The ISOtunes LITE earphones look like bullet shell casings,while the ISOtunes PRO Aware look like small pebbles and are much more secure to wear, thanks to the ear hooks. The LITE uses wingtips to anchor the earphones in the ears, which isn't as secure but has the advantage of being detachable, making the LITE earphones more versatile and comfortable to wear for hours-on-end with minimal ear discomfort.

In terms of weight, the LITE earphones weigh 17 grams so, they're 5 grams lighter in weight than the PRO Aware model (20 grams). The weight difference isn't huge, which is surprising since the LITE earphones only integrate a single box inline the cable. The foam eartips alone weigh 1 gram each, while the included silicone (double flange) eartips weigh 1 gram between the two.

The LITE earphones charging time is 3 hours, which provides 10 hours of battery life at 100% volume. There is no quick charge support and you cannot use them whilst charging. The LITE earphones audio cable is made of a standard round rubber sheath and measures 60cm long, which is a lot longer than the cable in the PRO Aware earphones. Strangely, the LITE earphones cable doesn't integrate a cable cinch to manage the cable excess, which would have been useful.

As far as audio, the volume output has been limited to 85dB on the LITE earphones so, they're a bit louder sounding than the PRO Aware model (75dB). The audio quality isn't overly compromised, thanks to the exceptional passive noise isolation of the foam tips, which allows a decent level of volume and quite a bit of bass response too. Wireless connectivity is carried out via bluetooth 5.0 connection, which supports multipoint dual connectivity for multiple devices, as well as SBC and AAC. There is no aptX codec support like on the PRO Aware model.

The LITE earphones have a magnetic backing, which is useful for securely locking both earbuds while wearing them around neck. The magnetic feature also has a second purpose - auto play/pause audio and answer/end calls- similarly to in-ear detection, which is convenient.

The LITE inline remote is made entirely of plastic. It measures 4cm long, 9cm wide and 0.6cm thick and, it's located 8cm down the cable (dangles at neck level). The inline remote buttons have a clicky/hard-press actuation, requiring some force to activate. The buttons are plastic, well separated and dome shaped, making them easy to identify without looking at the inline remote. You can control volume, tracks and calls. The microphone for calls works okay, although it doesn't seem to be as loud and noise suppressing as the PRO Aware microphone.

Along with the ISOtunes Trilogy foam tips, there are alsothree sets of different sizes silicone eartips. Durability-wise, the look and feel well made with thick rubber strain reliefs to reinforce the cable joints. They have IP67 rating for dust and sweat resistance. The LITE earphones are only available in lime green color, which seems to be the primary color used for most ISOtunes earphones. You can also get them in safety orange and all-black with the PRO 2.0 version. Perhaps ISOtunes may consider adding a high-viz yellow colorway to the ISOtunes line-up, which would look great too. You can buy the LITE hearing protection earphones from amazon. Check out the review of the Free 2.0 earbuds.

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