Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pineapple Rumble KW Bone Conduction 100% Water Proof Headphone with Sonic-Vibe EX

I have received the new Pineapple Rumble KW 100% Water Proof Bone Conduction Headphones as well as the Pineapple Rumble K model from the manufacturer (Pineapple Electronics of California) for the purpose of reviewing them. The water-proof Rumble KW is a new model, which follows in the footsteps of the previous models that use the same Sonic-Vibe EX bone transmission technology: Pineapple Rumble X and Pineapple Rumble Z (featuring 3D motion sound and bone transmission sound).

The vast majority of all headphones work using air conduction. In other words, they create sound waves that spread through the air and hit you're the listener's drum, causing it to vibrate. If the volume is too high (causing high pressure and therefore high ear drum vibration amplitude) for too long, the hearing damage can occur.

The Pineapple Rumble KW (as well as other Pineapple Electronics' headphones) feature patented Sonic-Vibe EX bone conduction technology to prevent the hearing loss. In Rumble KW, the mid and high frequencies (treble) are produced and transmitted using air conduction, but the bass and mid frequencies are being transmitted through the skin and bones directly to the middle ear. Not only does this potentially reduce hearing damage from playing music too loud, it also creates a different sensation, most beneficial when playing computer games, watching movies and playing bass-heavy music. The Rumble KW features another, unusual for headphones, feature. The headphone is 100% percent water proof. Now you can take a bath or shower with the headphones on.

I had somewhat of a "collection" of inexpensive headphones that includes models such as Sennheiser HD201, Sennheiser HD202, Koss KSC75, Koss SparkPlug, Philips HS500, Creative EP-640, and some others. I have first tried the Rumble K and then this model. After a nonstop 50-hour burn-in in my iPod connected to the AC jack with a power adaptor, I tried the Pineapple Rumble KW in my living room. No bath or shower tests are planned, but I am sure the KW is usable there. A 10-year warranty is reassuring enough.

What Is Pineapple Rumble KW?

The Pineapple Rumble KW is a 100% water proof in-ear headphone with a Bone Conduction Transducer for bass and midrange combined with a conventional Air Conduction for the treble. The BCT unit is rather large and rests on the outside of the air canal, while the ear bud is placed in the ear canal. The hybrid silicone rubber ear buds provide a secure fit and good sound insulation.

The Rumble KW come with three sizes of replaceable ear buds (medium pre-installed on the headphone, large and small supplied in the box). The headphones look stylish and solidly built.

Some specs from the box: 50-20,000 Hz frequency response, impedance of 7 Ohms +/- 20% at 1 kHz, rated power of 5-12 mW, 25.6-inch +/-20% cord with a 3.5-mm gold-plated plug for use with portable gear. A leather carrying pouch and a 39.4-inch extension cord are included. The Rumble KW is covered by a 10-year warranty.


The solidly-built Rumble KW ships with medium ear buds pre-installed, which is what I used. The BCT (bone conduction transducer) unit is sitting against your ear canal opening and the ear bud is sealing the ear canal even better for excellent sound insulation and comfortable fit.

Just as with the Rumble K, I have played a variety of music through the Rumble KW, including classical, Euro-dance, pop, rock, electronic music and rap. I also listened to movie soundtracks. I used my iPod, a CD player and a laptop as well as my Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver's headphone out. For comparison purposes, I also alternated between this Rumble KW, the over-the-ear Koss KSC75 and the in-ear Creative EP-640 headphones.

Just as with the Rumble K, I noticed the low sensitivity of the Rumble KW. Generating enough vibration to vibrate the bone through the skin probably requires some significant electrical energy and I had to crank my iPod up to about 85-95% of its maximum volume, whereas I normally use 65-80% with my other headphones. The portable CD player I used at times required 100% of the volume (depending recorded volume of the CDs).

The Rumble KW sounded open, even though it is a sealed in-ear headphone. It sounded warm, produced good bass, midrange and lower treble, but somewhat limited upper treble. The Rumble K did not struggle with complex music, but exhibited a somewhat uneven frequency response, suppressing some instruments and accentuating some others. Percussion instruments sounded the best as well as the tuba.

The overall sound was similar to being in a club or at a rock concert. As such, the Rumble KW worked very well with rap, producing excellent bass that was not only heard but also felt. And I could crank up the volume without fear for my hearing, which is a definite plus, especially for someone who already has some hearing damage. For higher volume reproduction I had to use my Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver's headphone jack, since neither my portable CD player nor my iPod could play very loud with the Rumble KW. Which in itself could be a factor in limiting hearing damage.

I also tried the KW with movies, with excellent results. The powerful bass combined with bone conduction produced an almost 3-D effect. Machine gun fire, explosions and car chase scenes were the best ways to experience the bone conduction.

While alternating the headphones between this Pineapple Rumble KW, the Koss KSC75 and the Creative EP-640, I noticed that I preferred the Rumble KW when watching movies and sometimes for listening to rap. I would have probably preferred the KW had I played computer games, but I don't even own any (Nintendo Wii doesn't count!)

However, for general music listening at lower volumes, I prefer the Koss KSC75 (over the ear) overall and the Creative EP-640 (in-ear design) when I need sound insulation. Still, if I listened to loud music with a lot of bass, or had to use headphones while being on an airplane, the Pineapple Rumble KW would work very well because of its good insulation, powerful bass and vibrating BCT.

Reduced chance of the hearing damage is also appealing. Lots of bass with low ear drum pressure via the patented Sonic-Vibe EX technology cannot be beat in this application. Then, there are applications requiring the 100% water proof technology. In the past, I have used headphones I didn't care about damaging when taking a bath and had to be careful about having them stay above water. With the Rumble KW, you can submerge in the water or take a shower while listening to your music. Cool stuff! The Rumble KW comes with an impressive 10-year warranty.

Pros: Water proof, bone-conducting design reduces hearing damage chances, powerful bass
Cons: Uneven treble

Bottom Line 

The Pineapple Rumble KW with its hearing damage-protecting bone transmission technology provides powerful loud bass while reducing the chance of hearing damage. It is ideal for watching movies and playing computer games. It also works well for listening to rap or for listening to movies/music while traveling by plane. If your usage fits the above criteria and/or you already have some hearing damage from loud music I recommend the Pineapple Rumble KW. Just make sure your gear has enough power to drive it.

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