Review: TBS Steele Earbud | FPV Headphone

by Oscar

I don’t normally fly FPV with audio on, but thanks to my friend Gianpa’s generous gift – I am going to check out the TBS Steele earbud and share my thoughts about this product.

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Why Fly FPV with Audio?

By putting a mic on your mini quad and hooking it up to your VTX, you can hear your quad wherever it is. People who love listening to motor noise during flight say it helps them feel more connected to the quad. When the pilot changes throttle, the motors change RPM as well as the volume and pitch of the noise.

I also find it very helpful to be able to hear the buzzer, e.g. low voltage alarm, which would have been impossible when the quad gets just 100 meters away.

You can use an external microphone on a quadcopter. Some FPV cameras and VTX even have the mic built-in, such as the Eagle 2 Pro and OBVTX. Check out my tutorial to learn more about using audio for FPV.

What Earphone Should I Get?

Because there is only 1 microphone on the quad, most FPV goggles have single-channel audio output. Although you can use any earphone or headphone, single earbuds designed specifically for FPV are preferred because there is no excess cable and you have the other ear open for your surrounding.

You can get the TBS Steele Earbud from:

There are other options, like this one with volume control But the Steele Earbud is only $7, it’s so cheap it’s hard to go wrong with it.

Audio during FPV flight:

TBS Steele Earbud

It’s a singular earbud combining both left and right channel into one.

The product description says: “… we have engineered from the ground up to favor sound quality from onboard microphones… Making an earphone that accurately highlights the important sounds (prop noise) coming from a quad…”

However I didn’t find the audio quality to be noticeably different from other FPV headphones I used in the past. Maybe I didn’t test it enough. Or maybe because I always cover the mic with foam/sponge which minimizes the amount of wind noise, I am not getting the claimed benefit.

Build quality is excellent for the low price.

When using earphones with FPV goggles, be very careful with the volume. DO NOT put it on until you have powered on the goggles and your quad, the static noise at the beginning is extremely loud, it left my ear ringing a few times.

There is no volume control on the earbud. To reduce volume you can use the control on your Fatshark Goggles. Alternatively you can add a resistor between the mic and VTX (audio input)(e.g. 330ohm). However that wouldn’t be possible if the mic is built into the camera or VTX, in that case you could you add a potentiometer in your earbud perhaps.

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John Daniels 26th August 2018 - 9:22 pm

I find the design of steels earbud keeps failing out of my ear very annoying so I made my own out of a broken pair of apple earphones to make one good one just be careful of left and right as the audio only caries one right or left normally left as into mono but simple to make .

Hypurr 21st August 2018 - 2:16 pm

Hi Oscar,

What VTX/mic combo are you using in the video above? Every VTX or camera with a mic built in that I have used has sounded so bad it was unusable.