The gym friendly Hellas have a lot going for them, including good sound, a secure, comfortable fit, and a removable headband and ear pads you can stick in the wash.
Urbanears' Hellas, a lightweight on-ear wireless Bluetooth sports headphone that retails for $119 (£80, AU$179) and comes in multiple color options, has a few things going for it.
First, it sits on your head securely, making it suitable for running or gym use, and is fairly comfortable for an on-ear headphone though it's a good idea to work it in a bit so it doesn't clamp down on your ears too firmly (the material on the earpads is slightly rough out of the box). It also has touch controls on the right earcup that work well. With a swipe of your finger you can raise and lower volume, skip tracks forward and back, and pause and play your music as well answer and end calls -- yes, the headphone has a built-in microphone.
Another plus is that you can easily remove the earpads and headband and wash them by sticking them in the washing machine. A washing bag is included along with a USB charging cable, and battery life is good at 14 hours.
And finally, the sound is decent. I like their sound better than Urbanears Plattan Wireless, which looks similar but has a different headband design and costs $20 less.
I wouldn't say the Hellas sound great, but the sound is definitely a step up from an entry-level Bluetooth headphone. They sound fairly well balanced (the bass is ample but not over-accentuated) and offer a reasonable amount of clarity, though there's a touch of harshness in the treble. The on-ear design and cloth covered foam ear pads muffle ambient sound better than you'd think, but enough sounds leaks in for you to hear traffic if you're running or biking.
Where the headphone runs into a little trouble is with more complicated tracks -- particularly rock tracks -- where several instruments are playing at once. This is common problem with Bluetooth, which has gotten better in recent years but still compresses your music and has trouble handling a lot of frequencies thrown at it at once (things tend to get mushed up and sound distorted).
I compared it to the Gibson Trainer, another on-ear wireless sports headphone that retails for $250 but sells online for about $180 and frankly, is a bit overpriced. The Trainer is built more solidly but doesn't really sound any better or fit more comfortably or securely.
While people tend to demand less from sports headphones, I like to be able to use mine as everyday headphones -- and the Hellas are capable of that. Like all wireless Bluetooth headphones, you can also use this one as a headset to make calls. However, its performance as a headset is just OK but not great. I could hear people fine but some callers said my voice didn't sound quite loud enough.
I used the Hellas in the gym and on a couple of runs in New York and came away liking it; it's an appealing workout headphone. My only gripe is that is that it looks a little cheap -- and by that, I mean plastic-y. My first reaction upon seeing it was that it should cost less. But hopefully it'll settle in at an online price point closer to $100, which would make it a solid value for a headphone with touch controls and this performance level.