We all know about the headphone debate—everyone wants to listen to their own music, but lose situational awareness when they’re wearing headphones. Milwaukee RedLithium USB Jobsite Ear Buds might just be the solution to both problems. We’ve been using them to see if they can deliver the hearing protection and situational awareness you need with the sound quality to make the day less of a drudge.
- Full, pleasing sound quality
- Excellent call clarity
- Jobsite Aware mode lets low to mid-level noises through
- Passive hearing protection up to 25 NRR
- 6 sets of ear tips and 3 sets of ear wings to dial in the fit
- Excellent runtime
- Easy push-button controls are glove-friendly
- Case size is larger than most ear buds
- Ear bud physical size is larger than most
Milwaukee RedLithium USB Ear Buds Sound Quality
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The first thing we like to check on any jobsite sound device is the sound quality. Whether it’s the Packout Radio, an M12 Bluetooth Speaker, or headphones, we want to enjoy the sound of what we’re listening to.
Milwaukee describes the ear buds as having “a powerful and balanced audio experience.” We’d agree. The overall sound quality is well-balanced with the full range of lows, mids, and highs present. Better yet, the sound is more clear and crisp than you might expect from ear buds designed for hearing protection and situational awareness. While you shouldn’t expect audiophile quality, the sound is very pleasing.
The one thing that other brands have going for them is app compatibility to adjust the equalizer and dial in the sound profile you prefer. However, if you’re using Spotify or similar music apps, you can make some adjustments in your settings.
On phone calls, we were able to clearly hear the person on the other end without any trouble. The ear tips you choose make a difference, but by turning Jobsite Aware off, the ear buds block a lot of the environmental noise that can garble the conversation. The ambient noise can bleed into your ability to communicate from your end, though.
Milwaukee RedLithium USB Ear Buds Jobsite Aware
With the tap of the left button, you can toggle Jobsite Aware on and off. When it’s off, exterior noise is passively, and effectively, blocked by the ear tips. When it’s on, you gain situational awareness as low to moderate level sounds come through and loud ones are muted.
It’s really helpful, but keep in mind that your music volume can still get in the way. With the volume on your music all the way up, it’s hard to make out words at regular conversation levels, even though you can hear beeps, claps, whistles, shouts, and other noises that get your attention. However, we found that the passive noise cancellation is effective enough that we didn’t have to listen to music at high levels to hear it clearly. But if you just have to have the volume high, keep in mind you may need to pause the music to hear conversation.
Wearing Milwaukee RedLithium USB Ear Buds
Fit, Comfort, and Hearing Protection Ratings
These ear buds are physically larger than many that aren’t designed around hearing protection. However, we didn’t have any trouble finding a comfortable fit, and we didn’t have to fight to keep them in.
There are 6 sets of tips that come in the kit—three sizes each of foam and silicon. The foam tips offer the best hearing protection at 25 NRR. The silicon tips give you 22 NRR. I
have relatively small ear openings, so I found the two smallest sizes to be the most comfortable, finally settling on the small silicon tips as the best for longer wear. Which ones work best for you depends on the shape of your ears.
There are also 3 sets of ear wings that can help stabilize the ear buds while you’re wearing them. I haven’t had any issue with them in, so I use the set with no extended wing. Again, this boils down to what you’re most comfortable with.
The controls are easy to learn. The side of each ear bud is a button. While the physical size is larger than other styles, it does make them more glove-friendly to operate. Here’s the breakdown:
- Press once to active Jobsite Aware
- Press again to deactivate Jobsite Aware
Right Side (During Music Play)
- Press once to play/pause
- Double press to skip forward
- Triple press to skip back
Right Side (Call Functions)
- Press once to pick up an incoming call
- Press once to hang up on an active call
- Double press to reject an incoming call
Runtime and Charging
On a full charge, the ear buds can last up to 10 hours—enough for a full day of work. The RedLithium USB 3.0Ah battery in the case can charge them up to 7 times total, or 70 hours worth of operation.
The nice thing about the battery selection is that it’s replaceable. Unlike other systems that have integrated batteries, you don’t have to buy a whole new charging case when the battery reaches the end of its life.
The downside is that it creates a charging case that’s larger than most and doesn’t fit in your pocket as easily. Still, it’s small enough to ride along in your Packout stack without taking up much space.
Milwaukee RedLithium USB Ear Buds Price
Ready to give them a shot? You get everything you need for $179.99. The price includes the ear buds, 6 pairs of ear tips (3 sizes of silicon and 3 sizes of foam, 4 sets of ear wing sizes, the charging case, RedLithium USB 3.0Ah battery, and charging cable.
Milwaukee warranties the ear buds for 1 year and the battery for 2 years.
The Bottom Line
Milwaukee RedLithium Jobsite Ear Buds deliver on their promises. The sound quality is pleasing, the Jobsite Aware function enhances your situational awareness on site, and the runtime is excellent. The case size takes some adjustment if you’re used to carrying your ear buds in your pocket. Aside from that, it’s hard to find much to complain about.