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Earfun Free Pro 3 review: they’re not perfect, but they’re cheap and cheery
7:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

Earfun Free Pro 3: Two-minute review

The Earfun Free Pro 3 buds in a hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The Earfun Free Pro 3 stand out in the world of sub-$100 /£100 earbuds. The affordable earbud market can be a tricky one, rife with knockoffs and sketchy buds from unknown companies, but amongst the mess are a few gems, and the Free Pro 3 definitely counts.

At just $79.99 / £79.99 (no Australian release at the time of writing), these buds have prices to rival the newest Samsung, Sony and JBL models, but a few perks that might make you pick them over the competition.

The Free Pro 3 sound great. they’ve got pronounced bass and distinct treble, which means that music sounds great. There's no mealy audio with these buds – in fact, the audio rivals some of the best headphones, which is no small compliment.

Another great aspect of the buds is that the carry case is one of the smallest on the market, so it can really easily slip into a pocket and be left out of sight, out of mind. Despite their small form, the Earfun’s battery life is great, outlasting many big-name rivals like the AirPods Pro.

Not everything works perfectly though. Most importantly, the fit of the earbuds was unreliable, and in the testing period, they fell out a fair few times. This problem will depend on your ear size, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t flag it.

The earbud controls aren’t exactly stellar either, making it a little tricky to skip songs or change volume just by tapping them mid-song. It’s much easier to simply pick up your phone than start hammering on your head, hoping something will happen. That’s a small loss though, and is pretty easy to overlook given the great package you’re getting overall.

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Price and release date

The Earfun Free Pro 3 buds with the case in the background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in October 2023
  • Officially priced at $79.99 / £79.99 (roughly AU$125)

The Earfun Free Pro 3 were unveiled in October 2023, and were put on sale on the 30th of the month. These are fairly affordable earbuds, costing $79.99 / £79.99 (roughly AU$125, but at the time of writing it’s not available in Australia). 

That’s a good price point for affordability, but not a great one for competition, with many big-name rivals also sitting at the high-two-figure-end of the spectrum. The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE, Sony WF-C700N, JBL Tune Flex and many, many more all sit within $20/£20 of the Free Pro 3, so these Earfun buds really need to impress.

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Specs

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Features

The Earfun Free Pro 3 in a man's ear.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Total battery life of up to 33 hours
  • EarFun Audio app brings audio customization
  • Nice and simple pairing

According to Earfun, the Free Pro 3 buds have a 7.5 hour battery life each, with the case’s battery bringing the set’s entire charge time to 33 hours. You can charge the battery via the USB-C port on the case. This is a great battery life in theory – in tests, the buds seemed to nearly reach this figure, though by turning on some of the features you’ll lose some time.

What features, you ask? Well the EarFun Audio app brings a few extra tricks that are pretty commonplace in headphones at this price tier. The Earfun Free Pro 3 work perfectly well without you downloading the tie-in app onto your phone, a strategy I wish other audio makers would embrace, but if you turn on the app you get some extra tricks.

This includes a noise cancellation mode as well as an ‘Ambient Sound’ tool to vary how much AMC is in use, an equalizer function, and a ‘Game Mode’ which improves latency for when you’re gaming. The earbuds would have worked fine without these features, but they’re neat extras for people who care about their sound.

You can also use the app to connect multiple devices to the earbuds, so you can easily switch between them. This is a handy feature for people who own multiple devices that you frequently use. Pairing the buds to a phone was easy and convenient, both for the initial set-up and for subsequent listening sessions.

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Design

The Earfun Free Pro 3 case with one earbud.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very small carry case
  • Earbuds have awkward fit
  • Touch controls aren't perfect

A lovely aspect of the Earfun Free Pro 3 is that their carry case is one of the smallest on the market. The case measures just 67 x 50 x 31mm, and weighs in at a lightweight 41.5g. 

In fact, it was so slender that it could fit into the watch pocket of trousers (you know, that tiny pocket inside the main pockets of many pairs of trousers). This portability made the Earfun a lot easier for me to carry around than some rival buds I’ve tested with much larger carry cases. There’s not much to the case – just space for the buds, and a USB-C charging port, but it’s still big enough to pack a fairly large battery, as you’ve already read about.

The buds themselves are equally lightweight, so you don’t feel like they’re dragging down your lobes every time you’re listening to tunes. Atop the buds are small rubber loops, seemingly designed to ensure they stay firmly lodged in your ear – unfortunately this doesn’t work very well. I found the Free Pro 3s to feel rather loose in my ear, and on several occasions when I moved my head too fast or didn’t lodge them in properly, they fell out, which wasn’t exactly ideal.

The Earfuns have on-board touch control, so in theory you can just tap once, twice, thrice or tap and hold for functions that you map out in the app. Unfortunately these proved incredibly temperamental in testing, so much so that I just ignored the feature after the tests. The buds also have an IPX5 rating against small particles but not water, so try not to get them wet.

  • Design score: 2.5/5

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Sound quality

The Earfun Free Pro 3 case in a hand.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Fantastic for bass and treble
  • Less good for everything in between

When you’re paying this much for some wireless earbuds, audio quality isn’t something you can guarantee. That’s no dig at headphone makers – battery life, features and handy design can be even more important than sound for many users.

This isn’t an issue for the Earfun Free Pro 3 though because they sound surprisingly good, exceeding their price tag and then some. The buds surpass most rival earbuds (and even some headphones) for their meaty bass, with low-frequency sounds pronounced and clear. That’s not at the expense of treble though, resulting in music having a wonderful sound stage. 

The maximum volume on the Free Pro 3 is surprisingly high, in that I can imagine it could be quite damaging if used for a long period of time, but that means no one can complain about it not being loud enough! At higher volumes, the sound can get a little tinny though.

The Earfuns have noise canceling that reaches up to 43dB, removing lots of ambient background sound and improving the listening experience. As previously stated you have some control in how prevalent the ANC is, and can get rid of it if you want to stay aware of your surroundings.

  • Sound quality: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Earfun Free Pro 3?

The Earfun Free Pro 3 in their case, on a window.

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Earfun Free Pro 3 review: Also consider

  • First reviewed in November 2023
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review: wireless earbuds with scarily good immersive audio
12:02 pm | October 27, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

To save you the bother of checking, you are indeed reading about the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, Bose's newest and Ultra-suffixed set of buds. But yes, they do look remarkably similar to the 2022-issue best noise cancelling earbuds in the business, the now-outgoing QuietComfort Earbuds 2.

Given that fact, you might be thinking 'Well, that's good, surely! Five stars back then, five stars now, right?'

The thing is, this race isn't getting any easier to win. If you were expecting a design overhaul to warrant a new Pro iteration only a year after the older model launched, you'd be disappointed. Aside from the outer-facing surface of the stems, which is now shinier, a few tweaks of the four-mics-per-bud array to promote better calls (they are indeed clearer and better this time around) and a massage of the silicone stability bands, which are now a lot easier to fit thanks to new grooves on the earbuds, there's little to write home about physically. 

For most of us, these earbuds will fit fairly well (you get three stability bands around the driver housing and three separate tips to choose from), but I do agree with TR's Sharmishta Sarkar in that I too wish Bose could have come up with an alternative to wedging 'buds in with stability bands because these silicone accessories wear out and thus, the seal is compromised. 

But physical design is only half the story. Under the hood, Bose's trump card and reason for the Pro moniker is its own all-new Immersive Audio technology. And that means truly device-agnostic, head-turning, belly-laughter-inducing joy where musical strands within tracks present themselves either all around you, or slightly in front of your temples, depending on which Mode you select. 

Thanks to the Snapdragon Sound Suite, you now get aptX Adaptive support on the menu too. Sonically, they're the same vigorous and engaging listen as the QCE II they supersede, and although we might have hoped for an extra ounce of dynamic nuance and detail in our music, the active noise cancellation is still top of the heap. 

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds on a coffee table, with the case

It's not the smallest case on the market, but it's pocketable (Image credit: Future)

All glowing praise, so why the very good rather than excellent verdict? A few reasons. When the QCE II launched in September 2022, we'd yet to meet the Technics EAH-AZ80, which arrived in May 2023 offering very clear calls, a poised and revealing sound plus multipoint connectivity to three devices. Yes, three. How many devices can the new flagship Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds connect to simultaneously? One. While it may seem a small issue, anyone familiar with the ease multipoint connectivity brings to your working day (answering your phone, back to your laptop for a Zoom call, reverting to the WhatsApp audio message on your phone – all without manually altering your earbuds' source) will miss it sorely here. 

Then, there's the omission of wireless charging on the spec sheet. Both the Technics and the July 2023-issue Sony WF-1000XM5 can charge wirelessly from the box. Now, Bose can sell you a cover for the case (which will also work for the QCE II) to allow it to charge wirelessly, but at $49 / £49 / AU$79 it rather ups the asking price to get a similarly specified proposition, no? 

A little on Bose's new Immersive Audio and the Modes tab then, (because these can be a little confusing in an otherwise very intuitive app experience): if you simply select 'Quiet' under the Modes menu, you'll get maximum ANC but Immersive Audio will switch off. Same with 'Aware' – and that's a shame because this little setup can do so much more. The 'Immersion' mode sets ANC to its highest and also plays immersive audio in the Motion setting  – so, the three-dimensional presentation moves with you as you turn your head, rather than fixing your source device as a reference point.

But my favorite Mode by far is entitled (perhaps bizarrely) 'Work' – although you can set up your own Modes too – because here, you get the Holy Grail: a ten-increment ANC slider and the option to have Immersive Audio either Off, Still (fixed) or in Motion (moving with you). Deploy this, set Immersive Audio to 'Still' and I promise you'll think you're not wearing earbuds. You'll also think your laptop just got much better at playing music. 

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds app three screens, showing the Immersive Audio and Modes

The immersive audio and modes are great fun to experiment with, but note that not all can't be used at the same time, in some Modes (Image credit: Future)

Finally, (and let me be clear, the noise cancellation here is the most effective you'll find in a set of earbuds; top of the class) the sound quality is marginally beaten for detail and dynamic rise and fall by the Sony and Technics options. That's not to say the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are a bad listen, far from it, but competition is fierce at this level and for that extra ounce of dynamic build through the leading edges of notes, they've been bettered. 

I heard new backing vocals being brought forward to my left ear in Hootie & the Blowfish's Hold My Hand as I turned my head. Across the course of my listening, I also heard a lovely, lively, and zealous mix in Jackson Browne's The Pretender. It's only during songs such as Rod Stewart's Sailing that you notice it; so energetic is the Bose QCUE's performance, it doesn't start out quietly and delicately enough, nor does the mix build as pensively as it should. 

Then again, near-audiophile quality music doesn't have to be your top priority here. Perhaps you take regular flights and want something portable that creates a near bubble of silence around you, plus music? That's what you'll get here. Note that although the QCUE's battery life can suffer for it (and you're only getting six hours in a best-case scenario anyway, before the case is required) the noise cancellation here is excellent; emphatically your best bet for nixing cabin noise and keeping your carry-on baggage to a minimum.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review: Price & release date

  • Officially priced $299 / £299 / AU$449
  • Launched September 2023

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds will officially set you back $299 / £299 / AU$449 and they became available in mid-October, having launched on September 14, 2023. 

This pricing is pretty close to Sony's 2023 flagship WF-1000XM5, depending on where you're buying ($299.99 / £259 / AU$499) and the excellent Technics EAH-AZ80 (which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality we've ever experienced, also at $299 / £259 / AU$499). 

Remember though, if you want wireless charging, you'll need to shell out an extra $49 / £49 / AU$79 for a cover to slip over your Bose QCUE case – so it's starting to add up to a typically Bose price tag. 

Bose has kept it simple with a tried and tested launch price, releasing the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds with the same MSRP as the five-star, September 2022-issue Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, ($299 / £279 / AU$429), but given the standard of the competition in 2023 – and the few key omissions on the spec sheet – is it a gamble? 

Yes and no. The aces up Bose's sleeve are the exemplary levels of ANC and Immersive Audio – but it's impossible to ignore the basic battery life and connectivity omissions, which makes things start to look a little disappointing in direct comparison. 

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbud held in a hand, on grassy background

Not the tiniest earbud, but they're secure and the extra fins and tips help (Image credit: Future)

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review: Specs

Should you buy the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds?

Buy them if...

You want the best ANC earbuds on the market
For noise-nixing alone, you've found them. Select 'Work', tweak that ANC slider, set the Immersive to either 'Still' or 'Motion' and enjoy.

You want head-tracked Spatial Audio on Android
As well as aptX Adaptive, these earbuds don't care about your source device or streaming service, they'll give you fantastic spatial audio that stays put or comes with you. 

You like earbuds with tails
Some users with smaller ears may find these buds a little bulky – but if you know you like to feel the gravitational pull of the tails securing them in your ears, these buds may well be for you.

Don't buy them if...

You love multipoint connectivity
No dice here sadly. There's a tab in the app for your previously connected devices, but it's strictly a one-in, one-out policy here. 

You need Qi wireless charging
You can get this from Bose, but you'll have to shell out more for a cover to put over the case, whereas Sony and Technics will sell you a set of buds for the same money that does it straight from the box.

You really like smaller earbuds
At a time when every manufacturer is shaving a few grams off its earbuds with each fresh iteration, these buds do feel a touch bulky.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review: Also consider

How I tested the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds in case, open, held in a hand, on a coffee table

It's sort of 'family-size box of dental floss' big, but the earpieces are nice and secure inside (Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for 10 days, listened against the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Technics EAH-AZ80 and Sony WF-1000XM5
  • Used at work (commuting on the train; in the office; walking through London) and on the blustery Dorset seafront
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music Lossless tracks and Spotify on an iPhone 12, Sony Xperia 1 IV and a MacBook Pro

When testing earbuds or headphones, devotion to the task is key. The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds have been my musical companions for ten days solid – after a thorough 48-hour run-in period. 

To better test the comfort levels (and battery life claims), I wore them throughout the working day in a busy office and on the noisy London Underground network. I also wore them in a quieter pilates class, to check the fit and security. 

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds accompanied me to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and on a particularly blustery day on a secret Dorset beach searching for sea glass – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to myriad playlists (spanning everything from house-pop to classical) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube clips (mostly about mudlarking on the Thames foreshore, if you want to know) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years now. As a classical dancer, aerialist, and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit, and user experience have always taken priority for me personally – and having heard how wonderful ANC can be when done well, I know where the bar is.

OpenRock Pro review: air conduction sport earbuds that feel great to wear
6:25 pm | October 25, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets | Comments: Off

OpenRock Pro: One minute review

In the competitive world of fitness headphones, one of the problems many manufacturers are trying to solve is how you can listen to music but be aware of your surroundings; while the likes of the Shokz OpenRun Pro offer bone conduction and the AirPods Pro 2 offer Transparency mode, OneOdio has opted for a different option with its OpenRock Pro sports earphones.

The OpenRock Pro uses what is known as ‘Air Conduction’, which takes an open-ear design (in which the earbud sits above, but not in, your ear) but uses tech to channel the sound into your ear – OneOdio here goes for its own TubeBass solution to boost the bass, ostensibly giving better audio quality compared to other equivalent solutions.

So, does it work? Well, partly; while the overall audio experience isn’t perfect, OneOdio has managed to make some of the best earbuds for sports users thanks to all the features on offer and their fantastic design.

The OpenRock Pro are some of the most comfortable workout earbuds we’ve tested: they’re lightweight and fit well, so it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them, yet there’s no risk of them flying out mid-run, stretch or cycle.

The battery life is staggering. The buds alone will last 19 hours before needing to be charged, and the case for them bumps that figure up to 46 hours. Given that many rival headphones have 9-hour battery lives, the OpenRock Pro might be some of the only real options for people who want to do long-distance hikes, ultramarathons, or other lengthy undertakings.

Plus, OneOdio has priced these buds very competitively, with the rough $119/£119 (around AU$185) price tag undercutting lots of big-name fitness rivals from brands like Apple, JBL, Jaybird, and Jlab.

So what’s not to love? Well, the audio quality for one – while these sound fine for open-ear earphones, the audio quality just doesn’t compare to other workout buds you might be looking at that use over-ear or in-ear options.

Audio can sound quite tinny, with bass definitely lost in the mix given OneOdio’s focus on bass. Sure, you can’t expect fully balanced audio in headphones like this, but at the end of the day, fitness fans don’t actually have to consider air-conduction buds.

Overall, though, these are fantastic sports earphones that deliver across a range of activities, including cycling, running, and working out, so they’re well worth considering if you need new fitness friends.

OpenRock Pro review: Specifications

OpenRock Pro review: Price and availability

The OpenRock Pro hanging from a bike brake

(Image credit: Future)
  • Cost $129.99 / £119.99 (roughly AU$185)
  • Worth shopping around to find value options
  • Fairly affordable compared to similar-tech rivals

The OpenRock Pro was unveiled in January 2023 and was available to buy shortly afterward.

You could buy the buds for launch at $129.99 / £119.99, but at least in the UK, that price varies a lot by where you look. At the time of writing Amazon UK still sells it for that price, but OneOdio offers it for a little less and the OpenRock website has it for £164! So shop around before you buy. In the US, the price seems to be more consistent.

At that price, the OpenRock Pro are fairly affordable for what they offer. They’re priced similarly to the Shokz OpenRun bone conduction buds, though if you look outside of the conduction sphere of exercise audio solutions, you’ll find that many alternatives from JBL, Jaybird, or Samsung are a little pricier.

Even similar air conduction buds like the Shokz OpenFit cost more, as that similar rival will set you back $179.95 / £179.99 / AU$289. Of course, you can find much cheaper alternatives (both air conduction and standard workout buds) on Amazon if you want but don’t expect a good fit or half-decent audio quality if you opt for those.

  •  Value score: 3.5/5

OpenRock Pro review: Design

The OpenRock Pro on a user's ear.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Comfortable and sturdy fit for sports
  • Handy button for mid-workout controls
  • Long-haired users may find hair pulling

The OpenRock Pro are True Wireless Earbuds, which means they are two individual buds that aren’t connected to each other or your phone by any kind of wire. The earphones have hooked designs, like many other sports earbuds, to loop around your ear for a comfortable fit.

And the fit certainly is comfortable – the OpenRock Pro are perhaps some of the best sports earbuds we’ve tested in terms of wear. At only 13g apiece they’re light enough that you can barely feel them attached to your body, yet the fit is sturdy enough that the buds don’t wobble or shake, no matter what kind of workout you’re doing, while the material of the hook ensures it doesn’t create a painful rub on your ear. 

We frequently forgot that we were wearing the buds in the first place, which is something you can rarely say about the majority of tight or grippy sports headphones. That was even true in rain, which can cause even the sturdiest buds to slip and slide.

The solid fit is doubly important for air conduction tech, as the buds don’t actually sit in your ear – they instead position the speaker over it, for reasons we’ve already explained. The buds are very easy to adjust in a variety of ways too, so you should be able to find the ideal fit regardless of your ear shape.

The OpenRock Pro case with buds in

(Image credit: Future)

Each bud has a button on it, and you can use these to answer calls, pause or skip around songs for music or change volume, with long presses or double (or triple) taps giving you a wide range of options. These controls at your fingertips can take a while to get used to, but if you’re picky about music (or receive plenty of calls) you’ll quickly become a master.

The buds themselves are IPX5 rated, and that means that they’re protected from water streams – they’re therefore totally sweat-proof, though you may not want to take them for a dip in a pool. 

One minor issue we had with the buds was that they each had a silver bump surrounded by an ingress at the end of each hook, and this frequently caught our hair when we were putting on or taking off the buds. Frequently, we removed them to find that they’d pulled a hair or two out – this issue was mitigated when we had a haircut midway through the testing process, but it’s something to bear in mind for people with medium or long hair.

When you’re not using the OpenRock Pro, you’ll house them in their case, which is a large egg-shaped construct that you also use for charging. This is huge due to the size of the battery in it, which could lead to it being unwieldy, but luckily you don’t need to take it with you when you’re working out with the buds.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

OpenRock Pro review: Features

The OpenRock Pro buds laying on a bench

(Image credit: Future)
  • Air conduction tech works fairly well
  • Wind can ruin your listening experience
  • Absolutely massive battery life

The OpenRock Pro uses air conduction technology – if you’re not up on your fitness audio terms, and haven't read the introduction to this review, it basically means that the buds hang a speaker just over your ear canal, and channel the audio so that it’s delivered straight into your ears.

The purpose of this is that it lets you enjoy your audio without drowning out background noises, a useful function for runners or cyclists on the road or in potentially hazardous environments.

For the best part, this works well – when testing the buds we could easily hear vehicles behind us, honking horns, sirens from emergency vehicles and beeps from pedestrian crossings. Other people’s conversations didn’t quite make it through, so you’ll miss out on spoken words from nearby people, but if they raise their voices you’ll catch what they say.

The buds also do very little to cut out the sound of weather like rain or wind, so if you’re in a gusty or stormy area – or simply just run or cycle quickly – you’ll sometimes struggle to hear a podcast or call over the sounds.

At least in calls, your conversation partner can hear better – the OpenRock has noise cancellation for speech, ensuring that others can’t hear background noise around you during a call.

The OpenRock Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The OpenRock Pro’s battery life makes it a must-have for fans of long-distance or endurance exercises. According to OneOdio, the buds themselves will last for 19 hours of use before needing to be recharged, and the case itself can hold up to 46 hours of listening. Although we imagine the vast majority of people don’t need to listen to music for two straight days between charges, this ensures that you’ll be able to keep listening to tunes for multiple days on an expedition without needing to worry about power.

Powering is done via a USB-C port in the OpenRock Pro’s case. It’s quick to charge, with OneOdio stating that 5 minutes of power will give you 60 minutes of listening time. A full charge will take you around four hours.

The buds are fairly easy to pair with your phone, thanks to the control button on the Pro’s case – upon initial pairing, you simply press this when scanning for Bluetooth connections on your chosen device to pair. After that, simply removing the OpenRock Pro from its charging case connects it to your device, in a process that’s simple and smooth and, during the testing period, never failed.

That solid connection occurred for the most part during our tests – occasionally audio dropped from one earbud for a couple of seconds, but it quickly reconnected and we rarely lost both channels.

  •  Features score: 4/5

OpenRock Pro review: Performance

The OpenRock Pro case's charging port

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great sound for open-ear design
  • Comfortable once you get the fit right
  • 7 hours of battery in the buds and 28 hours with the case

 We’ve got to write a seemingly contradictory statement here: the OpenRock Pro has some of the best audio we’ve heard from air conduction headphones, but also some of the worst we’ve heard from fitness headphones at this price point.

By virtue of the way air conduction works, with the buds hanging over your ear canals instead of sitting in or over them, sound quality is never going to be as good as with in-ear or over-ear solutions.

The vast majority of three-figure-price-tag fitness headphones or earbuds on the market sound better than these buds, however, the OpenRock Pro do sound better than most other air-conduction headphones we’ve tested from other brands. So if you really want to use headphones with this tech, the OpenRock Pro should be your first port of call. 

OneOdio’s TubeBass ostensibly improves the bass sound quality, and while this does offset one issue of air conduction, it just highlights that there's a very limited sound stage here. Treble and bass are both palpable, but they sit so close together that you can't always work out which is which.

The OpenRock Pro on a user's ear

(Image credit: Future)

The max volume isn't too high either, and while this protects your ears (and saves on sound leaking), it does mean that in areas with lots of traffic or background noise, you might struggle to catch words in an audiobook or podcast.

These issues won't matter to people who just want some tunes while they work out, or hardy headphones to play audiobooks on long trips, but we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that non-air-conduction buds will provide you with better sound quality.

An unavoidable side-effect of air conduction is sound leaking – people around you will be able to catch what you’re listening to. So bear that in mind before blasting your guilty pleasures playlist in the gym.

The OpenRock Pro doesn’t come with a tie-in phone app, so there’s no way of adjusting the sound profile to fit different types of music or audio (podcasts, radio, etc).

  •  Performance score: 3.5/5 

OpenRock Pro review: scorecard

OpenRock Pro: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested

I wore the OpenRock Pro sports earbuds multiple times per day for two weeks, testing them in various environments and ways.

I used them for running, walking, cycling and also while working (as opposed to working out). These tests included outdoors in different types of environments as well as rooms of varying sizes and involved music of different genres as well as podcasts, audiobooks, streaming video and voice messages.

The buds were paired to a Xiaomi Mi Note 10 smartphone for most of the testing, with Spotify the main app used, but I also tested them with a Microsoft Surface laptop to play Netflix and some other streaming services.

I've tested plenty of workout tech for TechRadar over several years, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, software and of course headphones and earbuds.  I also used to write a running column for the site which involved lots of fitness tech testing.

Denon PerL Pro review: wireless earbuds with excellent sonic profiles and spatial audio, but a bulky design
4:56 pm | October 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Tags: | Comments: Off

If the Denon PerL Pro earbuds look suspiciously familiar, that is because they are. But don't be disheartened! They offer something no other current earbuds can – not even the best noise cancelling earbuds

First, let's get the business bit out of the way: friendly Australian earphone startup Nura has been secured by much-bigger-brand Denon and now, a product that looks very much like Nura's flagship summer 2022-issue earbuds, the NuraTrue Pro, has been released by Denon under the moniker PerL Pro. There's also a non-suffixed PerL too, which may or may not be closer to Nura's slightly older NuraTrue; we haven't tested this. I think it's a very positive merge for all involved. 

You see, Denon spotted that Nura's particular otoacoustic testing is unique in consumer earbuds – and done well, it's very good indeed. Backtracking just a little: the chief issue of earbud designs from a listening perspective is the shape of the ear canal they have to sit in and project into; those echo-chamber-like cavities, twists and arcs within it. These make all of us hear frequencies differently. Denon's tests help fix it, then give you the option to nix noise, add spatial audio, bring in immersion or make ambient sound more prominent. And all of this is excellent. 

Denon PerL Pro earbuds held in a woman's hand, with the case behind.

The Denon PerL Pro are good, but quite a daunting proposition for the smaller ear. (Image credit: Future)

I should note that there is similar tech out there: Nothing's Ear (2) personalized hearing tests were a hit when I tried them, but these tests require active input; you have to tap out when you can't hear a tone (with all of the associated "Wait, could I hear it?" self-doubt). Denon's is a completely passive experience where all one is required to do is wear them, initiate the test and sit for about 30 seconds in a quiet environment as special sonic tones do their good work.

I had two quite different results across two tests and you know what? Both were a vast improvement on the default sound from the box – and you can save up to four anyway in the excellent Denon Headphones companion app. After the test, listening to a neutral profile versus your freshly-curated optimized one is the aural equivalent of backgrounds coming to focus or colors appearing crisper on an OLED TV, altering the tone or focus slightly so that you feel closer to it. It's heady stuff. And you can amp up the immersion levels to feel that admirable bass clout – which never muddies or bloats across the course of my listening, even with grime and hip-hop heavy playlists. 

Add to this Bluetooth 5.3 with Dirac Virtuo support (like the OnePlus Nord Buds 2) with aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive (to provide a streaming experience similar to listening to a CD) and the PerL Pro are bordering on something an audiophile looking to try wireless audio may consider. To clarify, aptX Lossless is a top-tier codec since it boasts a bitrate of between 1.1Mbps and 1.2Mbps (1,100 and 1,200kbps) while aptX Adaptive's maximum bitrate is 420kbps, the older aptX HD can stream at 576kbps, and Sony's LDAC maxes out at 990kbps. 

Denon PerL Pro hearing tests, two side by side, app screengrabs

Interesting how my two tests on the Denon PerL Pro, taken four days apart, vary so much. (Image credit: Future)

Also, you're getting a perfectly acceptable eight-hour battery in the buds, with an extra 24 in the case, wireless charging, IPX4 sweat resistance and a total of eight mics for top call-handling.

The thing is, there are a few downsides. At $349 / £299 / AU$549 they aren't cheap, are they? If you're going to go in around the same level as the flagship Sony WF-1000XM5 ($299 / £259 / AU$499) things really ought to be perfect in terms of design, and I do not think they are. 

The buds were uncomfortable in my concha (the bowl bit of your outer ear) over a period of time, because the driver housing of the Denon earpiece is quite large – and the top plate is larger still. Each weighs 8.6g and if that doesn't sound like much, note that the older Sony WF-100XM4 weighed 7.3g and Sony tried very hard to shave a lot off that for the XM5, which come in at 5.9g. 

Now, a larger earpiece doesn't always mean discomfort (Shure's Aonic Free are huge and comfortable) but here, the lip of the driver housing did tend to rub on my ear uncomfortably, where it rests. I realize that fit is arguably as personal as my hearing itself (Denon's otoacoustic process makes sure they fit well in the ear before starting the testing proper), but it's my job to notice. If you have bijou ears, I'd avoid. 

Also, the case is a tad too bulky for a pocket and although the ANC profile is good (creating a hard-to-penetrate bubble in the office) it isn't tweakable any further than on or off – and the ambient toggle is oddly far less effective. After deploying it, I still struggled to hear my other half talking to me from across our very small kitchen. 

Do you care, given the sonic prowess – and are you supremely confident in the size of your ears? That's your business and for the right user, these earbuds are stone cold winners. But not for everyone.

Denon PerL Pro review: Price & release date

Denon PerL Pro earbud held in a hand, with the case in the background on a black table

It's not just the Denon PerL Pro's top plate that is a little large; the driver housing proper is also substantial and features a rubberized lip. (Image credit: Future)
  • $349 / £299 / AU$549
  • Released June 2023

As mentioned briefly above, this pricing is more expensive than Sony's 2023 flagship WF-1000XM5 ($299.99 / £259 / AU$499) and the excellent Technics EAH-AZ80 (which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality we've ever experienced – and are also $299 / £259 / AU$499), plus of course the five-star Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, ($299 / £279 / AU$429) which are some the best earbuds for noise cancellation we've ever had the pleasure of testing.

Yes, the Denon PerL Pro offer a uniquely tailored listening experience. It's still tough company to keep. 

Denon PerL Pro review: Specs

Should you buy the Denon PerL Pro?

Buy them if...

You want to dip your toes into otoacoustic audio tests
This is the single most compelling reason to buy these buds – and the hearing test results it won't disappoint you. 

You need the best wireless codec support
Bluetooth 5.3, Dirac Virtuo for spatial audio, aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive aka the top dogs in high resolution Bluetooth audio. 

You're all about that bass
Set up your personalized ProEQ profile. Deploy spatial audio beside the toggle. Now, ramp up the immersive slider beneath that. Feel the talented, boot-shaking, low-level clout. 

Don't buy them if...

You have a smaller ear and want small earbuds
No dice here sadly. They're big, they're bold, and while to some they may be beautiful, to others they could be a heavy or uncomfortable. 

You need top Ambient passthrough/awareness modes
There is a 'social mode' here, but in my tests it just, well, didn't allow me to be that social. 

You want head-tracked spatial audio
Don't get me wrong, the spatial audio here is excellent, but it is not head-tracked. For dynamic audio that darts between each ear as you turn your head away from your source device, look to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or LG Tone Free T90Q on Android, or Apple's AirPods Pro 2 with an Apple device, of course. 

Denon PerL Pro review: Also consider

How I tested the Denon PerL Pro

A woman in profile wearing the Denon PerL Pro outside, in a garden

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for two weeks, listened against the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Technics EAH-AZ80 and Sony WF-1000XM5
  • Used at work (commuting on the train; in the office; walking through London) and on the blustery Dorset seafront
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music Lossless tracks and Spotify on an iPhone 12, Sony Xperia 1 IV and a MacBook Pro

When testing earbuds or headphones, investment is key. And thus, the Denon PerL Pro have been my musical companions for over two weeks – after a thorough 48-hour run-in period. 

To better test the comfort levels (and battery life claims), I wore them throughout the working day in a busy office and on the noisy London Underground network. I also wore them in a quieter online yoga class, to check the fit and security. 

The Denon PerL Pro accompanied me to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and on a particularly blustery day on a secret Dorset beach – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to a plethora playlists (spanning everything from grime to free jazz) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube tutorials (mostly about drying flowers to make confetti, since you ask) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but having heard how wonderful ANC can be when done well, I know what to listen for.

JLab JBuds Mini review: Teeny tiny earbuds that are super convenient
2:00 pm | October 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

How on earth are the JLab JBuds Mini so small? Seriously, the earbuds are 30% smaller than the Go Air Pop before them and the case is 50% smaller. Next to any other earbud I can think of, they're teeny. Potentially the smallest around, it's safe to say storage isn't an issue, unless you're worried about losing them given their slight and non-existent heft. JLab has thought of that though by adding a keyring to the side so you can easily attach them to your keys ensuring you'll never miss out on having earbuds on your person. 

None of this would matter if the JLab JBuds Mini were pretty ropey but they're actually great for the price. Costing just $39.99 / £39.99, they'll suit every budget. Cheap and tiny, the JLab JBuds Mini still pack a fair bit in. While codec support is a little limited, there's Bluetooth Multipoint connectivity, the JLab app to help you tweak some settings, and a Be Aware mode that makes up for the lack of true ANC. 

They're IP55 rated which will be handy for those sweaty days. A quick charge function could be better with 15 minutes giving back only an hour of play, but with 20 hours overall via the (did we mention it's tiny?) charging case means that'll rarely be an issue.

The JLab JBuds Mini are really quite cute yet potent, easily vying for a place among the best budget wireless earbuds. They fit in your ears perfectly and all we could really hope for is options that would match skin tone accurately, as no one would notice you wearing them if so. 

JLab JBuds Mini review: price and release date

The JLab JBuds Mini inside their case

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in September 2023
  • Priced at $39.99 / £39.99

The JLab JBuds Mini was released in September 2023 for $39.99/£39.99. Currently available across Europe, the UK and the USA, they're affordable across the board.

The earphones are available in five colors – black, aqua teal, pink, mint green and sage gray. Count on the fairly ordinary looking black to be first to see a discount. 

JLab is competing among itself for rivals with the JLab Go Air Pop hanging around at just $20 / £20 but being a little older and a little bigger than the JLab JBuds Mini. There's always the pricier EarFun Air Pro 3 too if you need ANC although the buds are certainly a lot bulkier.

JLab JBuds Mini review: specs

JLab JBuds Mini review: features

The control app for JLab Jbuds Mini

(Image credit: Future)
  • Multipoint support 
  • Great app
  • Be Aware mode 

The JLab JBuds Mini are so small that you'd almost expect them to have nothing going for them. However, JLab has squeezed a fair amount in for cheap earbuds. Notably, it's always good to see Multipoint support so you can connect two devices at once – something that pricier earbuds can still lack. 

At all times, it's simple to just keep to using one earbud if you prefer, while the Be Aware mode provides you with a bit more of an ability to hear what's going on around you, such as if you need to listen out for traffic. There's no ANC here but the passive noise isolation is better than you'd think for earbuds of this size and price, presumably because they're such a nice and snug fit in your ear. 

Via the JLab app, you can make some adjustments to the EQ with a choice of presets as well as the option to make changes for yourself. Out of the box, you won't instantly find yourself in need but we'll get into that later.

With no issue with connectivity, it always felt like the JLab JBuds Mini were ready even when I just need one earbud by my metaphorical side. It's those little things that mean you're more likely to grab the JLab JBuds Mini, even when there are alternatives nearby.

Features score: 4 / 5

JLab JBuds Mini review: battery life

A close up of the charging port on the JLab JBuds Mini

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 5.5 hours through the earbuds and up to 20 hours including the case
  • 15 minutes charge gives back an hour  

The JLab JBuds Mini is pretty typical for your average pair of earbuds but that means it's better than you'd think for the size. You'll get about 5.5 hours from one charge with 20 once you factor in the charging case.

There's also quick charge support although it's a little weak. A 15 minute charge gives back an hour. That's ok but it's far from special even if it could get you out of a jam.

Battery life score: 4 / 5

JLab JBuds Mini review: sound quality

A hand holds one of the JLab JBuds Mini in their hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Adjustable EQ
  • Strong noise isolation 
  • Vibrant beats

The JLab JBuds Mini block out sound far better than you'd anticipate given their size and price. While you'll still hear traffic as you walk past, it isn't as all encompassing as with other weaker earbuds. There's still room to enjoy your music with the JLab JBuds Mini being suitably vibrant at all times. 

There's the app's EQ for getting things just how you like them but out of the box, the JLab JBuds Mini sound pretty good. While bass could be stronger in an ideal world, it's all still pretty lively with a wider soundstage than anyone could have seen coming here. 

The JLab JBuds Mini use standard codecs so it's all good for your usual streaming services, but there's no aptX or LDAC support. 

Still, vocals are clear at all times while there's a reasonable crisp quality to ballads like Harry Styles' Sign of the Times. It's a weaker story when switching to something dance heavy like I'm Good (Blue) by David Guetta and Bebe Rexha, but you'll still enjoy it. 

Sound quality score: 4 /5 

JLab JBuds Mini review: design

A hand holds the left bud of the jLab Jbuds Mini

(Image credit: Future)
  • So small 
  • Keyring accessory 
  • Touch-sensitive surface on buds

We've mentioned it a lot but the JLab JBuds Mini are supremely small. They come with a keyring attachment and the case is a perfect fit next to your keys. As someone who hates to forget their earbuds, this is ideal for avoiding the peskiness of hearing my surrounding environment when I don't want to.

The earbuds are small too, of course, but not so small that you'll worry. They fit snugly in your ears and even during a run, there was no wobble factor here. The earbuds are sufficiently comfy that your ears won't ache during extended periods of use either.

Controls are a little tetchy. With not much room on the bud, it's very easy to accidentally mistap when adjusting them in one's ear. On the other hand, no one likes to have awkward controls so this is a tricky one to complain about or applaud too. 

Design score: 4 /5 

JLab JBuds Mini review: value

The JLab JBuds Mini inside their case next to flowers

(Image credit: Future)
  • Well priced 
  • Plenty of good features 

The JLab JBuds Mini might have a plasticky case but it suits their style. More importantly, they're cheap yet have many of the key features you could want. 

The main competition comes from JLab's previous small earbuds – the Go Air Pop with most other rivals like the EarFun Air Pro 3 and the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 proving much bulkier.

Value score: 4 /5 

Should I buy the JLab JBuds Mini?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

JLab JBuds Mini review: also consider

How I tested the JLab JBuds Mini

The JLab JBuds Mini being held inside a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for one week 
  • Used outside and around the home, in both noisy and quiet environments
  • 10 years of audio reviewing experience 

Swapping my regular earbuds for the JLab JBuds Mini, I solely used them for a period of just over a week. They were part of my daily morning walk where I walked among quiet areas and noisier traffic-filled parts of suburbia. I also used them while running to check the fit was snug and correct.

Around the house, I used them while completing housework and also for quieter times in the evening to relax.

I listened to a mixture of modern and older music, as well as many podcasts. These were all through Apple Music, Apple Podcasts or Spotify. I also watched a few YouTube videos thanks to the JLab JBuds Mini's multipoint feature simplifying the process.

Over the past ten years, I've reviewed dozens of speakers, headphones, and earbuds. These have covered a wide range of price ranges and I'm always pleasantly surprised when cheap can defeat expensive options.

Tranya Nova review: solid budget buds that will please most people
12:00 pm | October 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

Tranya is a relatively new audio tech brand that has brought out several different types of true wireless and sports earbuds over the years. Its latest flagship buds are the Tranya Nova, a budget pair of noise-cancelling earbuds that promise an exceptional and immersive listening experience.  

During testing, I found they delivered on that claim. They’re certainly not audiophile-grade, and are light on features compared to higher-priced rivals. But for your money, you’ll get a pair of buds I would go as far to describe as reliable because you’ve got all the basics. The sound here is good, the ANC is impressive for the price, the fit is comfortable, the battery life is better than most rivals, and the buds themselves may look a little cheap but they’re minimal and unobtrusive. 

The problem is that the Tranya Nova enter a crowded marketplace. Not just because there are so many of the best true wireless earbuds to choose from these days, but because there are lots catering to this specific price point that sits somewhere between budget and mid-range. 

This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Tranya Nova are a solid choice if you’re looking for an affordable pair of true wireless earbuds, but it does mean you’ll find plenty of other options that may have several better features, slightly improved specs and even a cheaper price tag. 

Tranya Nova review: price and release date

The Tranya Nova earbuds

The Tranya Nova earbuds don't look premium but at a budget price point that's not to be expected.  (Image credit: Future)
  • Released in June 2023
  • Available to buy at $79.99 / £79.99

The Tranya Nova earbuds were released in June 2023 and cost $79.99 / £79.99. On the Tranya website, the official price is $99 (there’s no pricing for other territories, as far as we can tell) but you’ll find the $79.99 / £79.99 price on Amazon, which seems to be consistent. 

At under $80 / £80, we’d class the Tranya Nova as a pair of budget true wireless earbuds, inching into the mid-range category. In this same price bracket there’s a lot of competition. In our best budget wireless earbuds guide, there are similar buds, like the EarFun Air Pro 3, which are also available for $79 / £79. 

There are also much cheaper buds, like the JLab Go Air Pop at $20 / £20, but they do deliver less accomplished audio. In comparison, at the higher end of the budget category there’s the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus costing $139.95 / £119.95, although we did rate the audio on offer from those buds incredibly highly. 

They’re just several examples, but the upshot here is that competition is fierce in this category of the best earbuds and you usually have to sacrifice a certain feature or sound quality if you want a more affordable price. 

Tranya Nova review: specs

Tranya Nova review: features

The Tranya Nova earbuds inside their case

Tranya has valued simplicity with the Novas, instead of packing them full of features.   (Image credit: Future)
  • Multi-point pairing
  • Nice EQ in the app
  • Good battery life

The Tranya Nova earbuds aren’t packed with features, but you’ve got everything here you’d want from a budget pair of buds. 

This includes an easy-to-use app with settings you can tweak, like an EQ with presets as well as a custom profile you can create. As well as touch controls on the buds themselves that you can customize, too, choosing from a range of taps and different functions, like play-pause, volume up/down, previous/next track, voice assistant, game mode and ANC mode.

It’s in the app that you can check on the battery levels of the buds, select from three ANC modes (on, off and ambient sound), as well as switch on a game mode, which brings you 40ms low-latency. 

A nice feature that we wouldn’t always expect from budget buds is multi-point pairing, allowing you to connect the Tranya Nova to two different audio source devices. I found this worked well during my testing, allowing me to move between playing audio from my laptop and then from my iPhone. 

Battery life here is impressive compared to most other buds in this category. You’ll get 36 hours of playtime in total from the charging case and nine hours from the buds themselves. 

To add a bit of context, the JBL Live Pro 2, which I think they’re most similar to, have 10 hours in the buds and 30 in the case. But most other budget buds, like the Sony WF-C700N, offer seven and a half hours from the buds and only 15 hours from the case, which seems to be the norm at this level. 

Features score: 4/5

Tranya Nova review: sound quality

Tranya Nova

Despite the lack of hi-fi audio features, the Tranya Novas deliver decent bass for their size.  (Image credit: Future)
  • Good bass 
  • Call quality is decent 
  • An expansive and enjoyable listen

I keep my expectations low when I’m testing a budget pair of buds, but I was generally impressed with the performance of the Tranya Nova earbuds – at least for this price.  

The bass was decent, if a little fuzzy at times with particularly bass-heavy tracks. I really enjoyed listening to No One Loves Me and Neither Do I from Them Crooked Vultures, a track with some meaty bass that these buds just about did justice to. As well as vocals and highs that sounded crisp rather than tinny – a common complaint with similar buds. 

There’s a decent balance across the whole range here and a soundstage that, again, I’d say is broad for the price – although with the volume turned up high things started to get just a little muddy. Audiophiles will be looking for more clarity, detail and richness, but you’ll likely only find that with higher-priced buds or buds a little more expensive with standout audio performance, like the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus. Having said all that, the majority of people will be happy with these buds, especially considering you can tweak the EQ a little in the app if you really want to. 

Considering these are budget buds, the noise-cancelling was pretty impressive. I think this is both a testament to the buds and the fact I got a really great fit from the ear tips (more on that soon). It’s the kind of noise-cancellation that didn’t block out the sound of a barking dog in the street or loud laughter next to me in a cafe, but did wipe out ambient traffic sounds and the low hum of a fan – the level I’d expect at this price. 

Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Tranya Nova review: design

The Tranya Novas outside their case

(Image credit: Future)
  • A light, plasticky feel to them
  • Comfortable 
  • IPX5 rating

The Tranya Nova earbuds are plain and minimal. They have the stem design that’s become the norm since Apple released its AirPods. In the past I’ve found some stem earbuds stick out from my ears too much, but these were an ideal length. 

They’re made from plastic and have quite a cheap feel to them, but I like that as it means they’re light. Unlike a lot of other buds, they don’t come in black but a deep blue that Tranya calls ‘midnight’. 

They come with three different ear tips. Maybe I got lucky with the way the smallest tips fit my ears, but I found them incredibly comfortable and they created a great seal for the ANC to perform its magic. Like most buds at this price point, I did start to feel them a little after an hour or so of wear – they’re certainly not the most comfortable buds I’ve tried – but that’s to be expected. 

There’s IPX5 waterproofing here, which means they’ll withstand the most sweaty workout. This is good news considering they’re comfortable and stable buds, they fared well when I took them jogging in very windy conditions. 

They come with a small, shiny charging case with a pill box design that’s pretty typical. However, the high shine finish on the outside was prone to fingerprint smudging, although that’s hardly a dealbreaker. 

Design score: 4/5

Tranya Nova review: Value

A hand holding a Tranya Nova bud

(Image credit: Future)
  • Good value for the range of specs and features
  • Competitively priced compared to rivals
  • Not special, but a solid pair of budget buds

For the range of specs and features on offer and the solid performance and battery life, these are great value buds and I enjoyed using them. 

Yes, there’s a lot of competition and several other buds from different brands perform just as well at a similar price. But that shouldn’t distract from the fact these are a solid pair of buds that should keep most people happy – especially anyone on a budget, those trying true wireless buds for the first time or anyone not fussed about the highest quality sound.

Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Tranya Nova?

A hand holding the Tranya Nova buds

(Image credit: Future)

Buy them if...

Don’t buy them if…

Tranya Nova review: Also consider

The Tranya Novas in a hand

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Tranya Nova

A hand holding the Tranya Nova

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over two weeks
  • With an iPhone 14 Pro
  • A mix of Spotify and Tidal with some movies on my too

I tested the Tranya Nova earbuds over the course of two weeks in a range of environments, including working at a busy coffee shop and in a silent library, as I took a walk along the beach and through a crowded city and everywhere in-between. This gave me a great opportunity to put the ANC and comfort of the buds to the ultimate test. 

I used an iPhone 14 Pro with the earbuds for the most part, switching between Spotify and Tidal as my streaming services of choice. I also paired the buds with my MacBook Air while I was catching up on Apple TV’s Foundation series. 

I’ve had more than 12 years experience testing tech, especially devices you wear, from health and fitness trackers to VR headsets. Over the past few years I’ve been particularly focusing on audio tech, especially devices that fall into the same affordable but accomplished category as the Tranya Novas, so I have a lot of experience with similar buds to inform this review. 

1More Penta Driver P50 review: wired earbuds with premium components and materials
1:00 pm | September 24, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

1More Penta Driver P50 review: two minute review

Wireless earbuds are incredibly popular, but plenty of people still rate the listening experience of wired headphones, like the 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds. That’s why those looking for the best sonic sound tend to choose wired options.

They are a premium version of the brand’s Triple Drivers. They’re wired earbuds that fit into your ears, but they have an unusual over-ear design. It takes some getting used to, but the payoff is worth it. Thanks to the design and a range of eartips, these buds are comfortable, stay secure and offer great noise isolation. 

They sound impressive, too. Each earbud is packed with five drivers – this isn’t unheard of, but rivals like the Sennheiser IE 300 only have one – and the audio quality is balanced, powerful and impressive at this price. 

As well as a range of foam and rubber eartips to choose from, you get a USB-C adapter (sorry iPhone users, you’ll need to buy a lightning adapter yourself), as well as a carry case – although I didn’t use it much during testing because it didn’t seem convenient. 

The cable that the buds are attached to can be replaced, which is good news if it breaks or you simply prefer switching it out for something else. There’s also an in-line remote for the basics, which has a built-in mic. 

The 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds aren’t going to appeal to anyone who’s tempted by true wireless. You also won’t find a dedicated app or fancy features here. But if you want a dependable, comfortable and unique-looking pair of buds that sound far better than they should for this price, they’re well worth considering.  

If you want the best wired headphones in an earbud design, there are only a handful of great-sounding choices. The Sennheiser IE 300 buds are our top picks, and we’ve long sung the praises of the budget 1More Triple Driver earphones so the Penta Driver P50 earbuds are a great new entry to the lineup. 

1More Penta Driver P50 review: price and release date

The 1More Penta Driver P50 with a case

(Image credit: 1More )
  • Released in August 2023
  • Available for $169.99 / £169.99 / AU$326.75

The 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds were released in late summer 2023 and cost $169.99/£169.99, which works out at around AU$326.75. At this price, these buds are far from budget. But for the quality of the sound and the design, we think they’re good value. 

Compared to 1More’s other great wired earbuds, the 1More Triple Driver earbuds at $89.99/£89.99, they’re significantly more expensive. But they’re meant to be a premium offering, so the step up in price makes sense. 

Instead, it might be more accurate to compare the 1More Penta Driver P50 buds to rivals like the Sennheiser IE 300, which cost $299 / £259 / AU$479. These are cabled in-ear monitors (IEMs) that offer a solid entry into the hi-fi world at a reasonable price for the category.

The 1More Penta Driver P50 might not sound quite as refined as Sennheiser’s offering, but if $299 / £259 / AU$479 sounds way out of your budget and yet you still want power and hi-res performance, they’re a more affordable choice.

Then again, the Sennheiser IE 300 only have one driver and the 1More Penta Driver P50 boast five. Although more drivers doesn’t necessarily mean better sound (it’s a little more complex than that), compared to rivals with the same amount, like the Westone Audio Pro X50 IEM Earphones ($649.99/about £524), they’re much more affordable.

1More Penta Driver P50 review: specs

1More Penta Driver P50 review: features

  • 1.25m cable
  • MMCX connectors
  • Comes with a USB-C adapter

A hand holds the 1More Penta Driver P50

(Image credit: Future)

Because the 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds are wired and have a fairly simple offering, you won’t find the high-end or fancy features here you might expect from a pair of the best true wireless earbuds, like an app or customizable settings. But what you do get in the box with the buds is pretty impressive. 

A 1.25m cable attaches the buds to your audio source device. 1More says that this is made from silver-plated and oxygen-free copper with durable rubber on the exterior. Despite the materials here being premium, I thought it felt a little cheap. I’d have preferred a fabric or braided option. Then again, there are gold-plated MMCX connectors here that enable you to switch it out if it breaks or you’d just prefer to replace it with another. 

Attached to the cable there’s an in-line remote with three buttons. So you can play/pause, skip tracks and change volume with it. That’s also where a built-in mic lives, which we found works well on calls. At the end of the cable there’s a gold-plated 3.5mm headphone connector, but there’s a USB-C adapter included – sorry iPhone owners, you’ll need to get a lightning cable adapter. 

The headphones also come with a small, fabric carrying pouch but I didn’t find it very useful and wasn’t keen on the shiny material either. 

Features score: 4/5

1More Penta Driver P50 review: sound quality

The 1More Penta Driver P50

(Image credit: 1More)
  • 1 dynamic driver and 4 planar units
  • Solid bass and lots of clarity
  • Certified for High-res

It’s no wonder the 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds deliver excellent sound because specs-wise they’re impressive. In each bud there’s a a diamond-like carbon (DLC) dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers (planar diaphragm units). The buds cater to the 20Hz to 40kHz frequency range. They’re also certified for High-res, which means with the right track they perform incredibly well. I could hear every shred of detail during testing with Tidal Masters. 

Overall, I’d describe the sound on offer here as impressively detailed. There’s an expansive soundstage, too, which feels quite immersive, as if it’s coming at my ears from all directions. This was probably helped by the secure fit, which meant there was solid noise isolation. I noticed a good balance across the range and was most impressed that the same clarity continued across the highs – tracks never sounded too tinny or sharp. 

I wasn’t expecting to be so pleased by the bass, these are small in-ears after all. I listened to several of my favorite thumping tracks, like Black Orchid by The White Stripes, and the bass was noticeable to the point of sounding boosted. Purists might not like that, but for me it made an enjoyable listen. 

For the best possible listen, I’d definitely recommend pairing them with one of the best portable DACs or best hi-res audio players.

Sound quality score: 4.5/5

1More Penta Driver P50 review: design

The 1More Penta Driver P50 headphones with ear caps

(Image credit: 1More)
  • Unusual over-ear design
  • Great selection of ear tips
  • Very comfortable once you get the hang of them

The 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds have a unique design. It’s a little like the earhook-style of buds like the Beats Powerbeats Pro, but there’s no moulded hook. Instead, you put the buds into your ears, then the cable goes over and behind your ear. This tucks the wire out of the way and means there’s better weight distribution and less likelihood they’ll come loose or fall out. 

However, as much as I got on with this design, it did take some getting used to. For the first few days of testing I had to fiddle with them when I wanted to use them, but I’m glad I persevered.

There’s a great selection of ear tips on offer. Some are made from a soft rubber, others from a soft silicone. I chose the smaller foam options and found they fit my ears perfectly, providing that all-important noise isolation.

The buds are made from aluminium and have a shiny, glittering exterior and a little 1More logo on them. These small touches and the unusual design contribute to these being a stylish-looking pair of buds. Although they’re not the smallest earbuds, at 21g they’re surprisingly dinky, especially when you learn they’re packed with five drivers.

Design score: 4/5

1More Penta Driver P50 review: value

The 1More Penta Driver P50 in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Solid built that will last
  • Secure and comfortable fit
  • Sound better than they should at this price

With great sound, a solid build, secure design and powerful performance, the 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds are good value. I particularly like the fact the cable is replaceable, meaning there’s likely going to be a longer lifespan here compared to rivals.

If you want high quality audio and don’t want to worry about battery life, or just prefer wired headphones for whatever reason, the 1More Penta Driver P50 are a solid option in our books. Especially considering you’d have to pay significantly more for the same sound, comfort and amount of drivers. Yes, there are much cheaper buds on the market, but none that tick all of the boxes like these do.

Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the 1More Penta Driver P50?

The 1More Penta Driver P50 on a textured background

(Image credit: Future)

Buy them if…

Don’t buy them if…

1More Penta Driver P50 review: also consider

How I tested the 1More Penta Driver P50

The 1More Penta Driver P50 in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Used the 1More Penta Driver P50 for two weeks
  • Tested with an iPhone 14 Pro
  • Used a mixture of Spotify and Tidal

I used the 1More Penta Driver P50 earbuds for two weeks across a range of scenarios, from working quietly at home to working out at the gym to taking an international flight. This was a good opportunity to put both comfort and stability, as well as noise isolation to the test. I’m happy to say they performed incredibly well on all fronts – much better than I was expecting.

I used an iPhone 14 Pro for testing and often used Spotify given I know it’s such a popular music streaming service. However, I tested with Tidal too in order to ensure these buds performed as well as I was expecting with HiRes FLAC tracks. 

How we test: Read TechRadar's reviews guarantee

First reviewed: September 2023