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Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: A cheap, stripped back AirPods Pro alternative
1:00 pm | February 25, 2024

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

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Two-minute review

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro are the definition of fine without ever quite being remarkable. Granted, they’re good value for what they offer but they’re not up there with the very best noise cancelling earbuds and there’s nothing about them that make you rush to tell your mates about something cool it does.

Despite that though, the Soundpeats Air4 Pro mostly sound pretty good. Bass is meaty and while there’s no nice technical detail in the mids or trebles, these are the kind of earbuds that are fine for putting in your ears before a walk, run, or workout session. For most people, that will be just fine. 

Notice the word fine featuring a lot? It’s the best word for the Soundpeats Air4 Pro. It does have key essentials like wear detection, which works flawlessly, and there’s a control app. The app isn’t the best or easiest to use but it does offer some core functionality like being able to switch between ANC and Transparency mode. 

The latter isn’t great but full ANC does a good job of blocking out irritants although occasionally lets some errant sounds in. Still, not bad at all for the price and Multipoint functionality will please many. 

Via the charging case, you get up to 26 hours of battery life, which is pretty good going. The 6.5 hours of charge at a time works out as more than good enough for most situations and the USB-C connection recharges quickly. 

At $90 / £80, the Soundpeats Air4 Pro are worth considering. They’re not as exciting as the best noise cancelling earbuds but they’re dependable at this price and I can only see them getting cheaper over time. 

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Price and release date

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in September 2023
  • Officially priced at $90 / £80 / AU$94

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro was released in September 2023 for $90 in the US, £80 in the UK and AU$94 in Australia. The earphones are available in the US and UK directly from Soundpeats as well as through third-party retailers like Amazon for those in Australia.

The earbuds are available in white and black, which are functional colors but not exactly exciting. The best budget wireless earbuds world is a packed field, with the Sony WF-C700N being a little more expensive than the Air4 Pro but not prohibitively so. Instead, the EarFun Air Pro 3 are more closely matched in more than just name. 

In terms of other close competitors at the Soundpeats Air4 Pro's price range, there’s always the earlier SoundPeats Air 3 Deluxe, which should see some discounts now it’s been overtaken.

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Specs

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Features

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 26 hours of battery life with ANC disabled
  • Companion app
  • aptX lossless sound 

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro has most of the core essentials you could want from a pair of earbuds. There’s Multipoint connectivity for when you want to connect two devices and switch between them like your laptop and your phone, which is increasingly vital for most people. 

Additionally, there’s SBC and aptX lossless sound – although don’t count on any other codecs to be supported here. Granted, as we’ll see shortly, sound quality isn’t exceptional but it’s solidly reliable at this price. Adding to the aural experience, there’s ANC. 

ANC is a slightly mixed bag here. With full ANC on enabled, the Soundpeats Air4 Pro block out surrounding sound well whether we’re talking traffic outside or a noisy dehumidifier in the room. However, it’s not quite as crisp as much pricier earbuds so don’t count on it being high-end. It feels almost rough and ready in how it blocks sound leaving you feeling like you can hear the inner workings. It sounds odd but you won’t complain.

Where complaints arise is with Transparency mode. It’s pretty ropey. I tried using Transparency mode while listening to a podcast on a windy day and could barely hear a thing. That’s quite the test for any pair of earbuds but it led to me checking it was even enabled. During quieter moments, Transparency mode switches to a lot of hissing although you can hear someone speak to you easily enough. 

Battery life promises about 26 hours of total playtime with 6.5 hours per single charge. That feels about right with the Soundpeats Air4 Pro lasting long enough that you won’t notice any discrepancies with this figure. There’s no wireless charging but at least there’s USB-C charging which is fairly speedy at a couple of hours for a full charge – something that you’ll likely top up rather than go all or nothing with.

Bluetooth 5.3 continues to ensure good things with the Soundpeats Air4 Pro never seeing any dropouts and nice, efficient running times. 

There’s also companion app support but it’s pretty ugly. The actual features are just fine with a simple toggle between noise cancellation modes and disabling wear detection, but don’t count on it looking stylish while you do it. Setting up adaptive EQ is a bit of hassle too.

Features score: 4 / 5

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Sound quality

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Good ANC
  • Weak Transparency mode
  • Strong bass

Temper your expectations based on the price and you’ll be delighted by the Soundpeats Air4 Pro’s sound quality compared to the best earbuds that cost many times more. 

Bass is the Soundpeats Air4 Pro’s strong point with a fairly smooth punch that was noticeable while I listened to Foo Fighters’ All My Life and Angel by Massive Attack. At louder volumes, things get distorted but I doubt it’s wise for your ears anyhow. 

Trebles and mids are weaker so don’t count on these earbuds for anything more technical or with more subtlety, but it’s unlikely you’re buying a pair of earbuds for less than $/£/AU$ 100 to kick back and relax at home with. Instead, these work well for walks, cleaning, running and your general busy lifestyle. 

Sound quality: 4 / 5 

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Design

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Straightforward cycle
  • Chunky case
  • Touch controls

I’m no fan of the Soundpeats Air4 Pro’s case. Its lightweight plasticky build feels cheap and it awkwardly manages to feel both smooth yet angular in places. More importantly, while it keeps your earbuds safe, said earbuds are at an unusual angle so you’ll never quite grab them as smoothly as you might like.

Sure, these are relatively small things but if you’re pulling the Soundpeats Air4 Pro out multiple times a day, you’ll notice it. The case also has no IP rating but the earbuds themselves are IPX4 so they can handle some sweat. 

The fit of the buds are pretty snug. There are different tip sizes included but I found the standard ones out of the box are just fine. Even when running, these won’t fall out which is always good news. They look a lot like AirPods Pro so at a glance, you can look like you’ve bought something pricier.

There are also touch-sensitive areas on the earbuds with the option to increase or decrease volume, as well as adjust playback. It’s incredibly easy to activate these by mistake so head over to the app and disable them for your sanity’s sake.

Design score: 3 / 5 

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Value

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Useful features 
  • About right for the price 

The only truly standout part about the Soundpeats Air4 Pro is its sound quality. It’s pretty good for the price and makes up for a temperamental ANC/Transparency combo. Other than that, there’s a cheapness here that reflects the price accurately. 

Against the Sony WF-C700N, this feels like dubious value but if you check out the EarFun Air Pro 3, the battle is a little fairer and more balanced.

Value score: 3.5 / 5

Should I buy the Soundpeats Air4 Pro?

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro on top of a table

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if...

Soundpeats Air4 Pro review: Also consider

How I tested the Soundpeats Air4 Pro

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro on top of a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over 10 days 
  • Compared to Apple AirPods (Pro 2 and 3rd Gen) and Final Audio UX2000
  • Listened to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube videos and Twitch 

Over the last 10 days, I’ve replaced my usual AirPods Pro 2 with the Soundpeats Air4 Pro. I previously used the AirPods 3rd Gen so I checked those out a few times to more adequately compare the quality of the Soundpeats Air4 Pro. 

I used them on my daily morning walks to see how they coped with the noise of the school run and commute. I also used them a few times on runs to see how good the fit was when I moved quickly (at least, quickly for me) and checked out how they handled running alongside a windy coastline. It was all a good test for the Soundpeats Air4 Pro’s ANC and Transparency modes, as well as adaptive EQ. 

For the most part, I listened to Apple Music and Spotify. Spotify was the home of all my podcasts while Apple Music was predominantly for listening to music. At home, I’d spend some time checking out YouTube videos of satire and Let’s Play videos before checking out live streams on Twitch. The iPhone 14 Pro provided everything to the Soundpeats Air4 Pro.

As always, my music taste is a bit all over the place. Some Harry Styles, John Legend, Holst’s The Planets, Linkin Park, and Sting all featured at various points here.

I’ve reviewed audio products for over 10 years. While my main drivers are on the pricier end of the scale these days, I regularly use cheap earphones and headphones for work purposes and am seemingly always asked for recommendations in this price range by friends.

  • First reviewed in February 2024
Final Audio UX2000 review: lacking in looks but extremely budget friendly
1:00 pm | January 28, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Final Audio UX2000 review: Two-minute review

At first grab, the Final Audio UX2000 feels pretty cheap and flimsy. It's when I folded them up for the first time that I started liking them. This mean they fit in your bag or on your desk well but even better? They are actually worth grabbing for more than just their portable design. 

These might not be some of the absolute best over-ear headphones but you could do a lot worse. Sound quality is the highlight here with a wide soundstage, strong bass, yet decently crisp mids too. During my testing, I listen to a lot of different genres and the Final Audio UX2000 didn’t let the side down with anything. 

However, the Final Audio UX2000 do lack some neat features. There's no wear detection, no app and the hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) system isn't adjustable. You get used to these omissions but it’s a reminder that the Final Audio UX2000 are pretty cheap for good ANC headphones so something’s got to give.

Said ANC does work well even if it’s technically hybrid rather than full. At times, you’ll have noise trickle through but for everyday use, it does the job well and easily rivals more famous competition. As for features, they have a strong battery life of up to 45 hours, which makes the Final Audio UX2000 an ideal pair of cans for your commute, whether you’re walking or resting. 

At $120 / £100 (around AU$180), the Final Audio UX2000 are tempting. Odds are you’ll still favor something more famous among the best over-ear headphones such as something from Sony or JBL, but you shouldn’t overlook the Final Audio UX2000. There are concessions to make but they’re understandable ones at the price. 

Final Audio UX2000 review: Price and release date

  • Released in December 2023
  • Officially priced at $120 / £100 

Final Audio UX2000 being held to the side

(Image credit: Future)

The Final Audio UX2000 was released in December 2023 for $120 / £100 (around AU$180). The headphones are currently available in the US and UK at popular third-party retailers like Amazon. 

Solely available in black, they aren’t a fashionista’s dream like some of the competition in this price range. Said competitors include cans like the JBL Tune 770NC in the UK and the ever popular Sony WH-CH720N, so the field is a fairly busy one. 

That’s not forgetting the Final Audio UX3000, which was released in August 2022 as the brand's first over-ear headphones. These are priced only slightly more ($30 / £20) than the Final Audio UX2000.

Final Audio UX2000 review: Specs

Final Audio UX2000 review: Features

A close up of the buttons on the Final Audio UX2000

(Image credit: Future)
  • Multipoint connection 
  • Hybrid ANC
  • No app support

The Final Audio UX2000 is a little thin on the ground when it comes to features. The standout is its multipoint support which is increasingly becoming an essential addition as we’re all juggling multiple devices these days. 

There’s also support for AAC and SBC codecs while there’s Final’s so-called hybrid ANC. It uses an stress-resistant driver to theoretically boost its ability to cancel out annoying background noise. It works fairly well, doing a great job of blocking out an ever-present dehumidifier and other environmental noise, but it’s not perfect. It’s nearer to ANC than not but I was curious about it being hybrid rather than full ANC. 

Using Bluetooth 5.3 means no need to worry about sound dropouts so all seems well... Until you remember there’s no app support. Final has a companion app but it doesn’t support the Final Audio UX2000 yet so hopefully that’s coming soon.

Features score: 3 / 5

Final Audio UX2000 review: Battery life

Final Audio UX2000 lying face down

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 55 hours 
  • USB-C charging 

The Final Audio UX2000 promises up to 45 hours of battery life even with hybrid ANC on, and in my time with it, that’s about right. Turn the volume down a little and you can eke out a few more hours, though.

Similarly, turn off ANC and that time extends. With mixed usage though, an average of 45 hours seems about right. USB-C charging is the order of the day here with a full charge taking just over two hours to achieve. It’s all fairly respectable if not exceptional.

Battery life score: 4 / 5

Final Audio UX2000 review: Sound quality

Final Audio UX2000 from the side

(Image credit: Future)
  • Surprisingly good hybrid ANC
  • Wide soundstage 
  • Strong bass

At $120 / £100, I’m not expecting the Final Audio UX2000 to be some of the best headphones around but these cans surprised me with how good they sounded. The instant highlight is how wide the soundstage feels. While some other headphones in this price range can leave music sounding a little distant, the UX2000 wrap sound around you well.

Alongside that, the UX2000 are pretty bassy and ideal for excitable and booming music. While the punch could be a little greater if I was going to be picky, it’s still perfectly respectable. I enjoyed the enthusiasm that came from my David Guetta playlist with the bass feeling suitably engaging.

Somehow, the UX2000 are also pretty crisp sounding when it comes to more subtle tracks like Queen’s Under Pressure. Is it as revelatory as something like the Sony WH-1000XM5? Of course not, but these cost a fraction of the cost and I still didn’t feel like I was missing out. 

Temper your expectations and you’ll be happy with how these sound. That goes for the ANC which is a hybrid system that uses two microphones on each ear cup to analyze sound to block out irritants. It’s not perfect but it mostly blocks out what you need to escape from. If only there was an app for setting up a transparency mode or tweaking the EQ.

Sound quality score: 4 / 5

Final Audio UX2000 review: Design

The Final Audio UX2000 folded up

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very plain style
  • Tactile buttons
  • Foldable design

Let’s get to the good bit – the Final Audio UX2000 fold and not enough headphones do this any more. That makes them easier to toss in your bag but also easier to find room on your desk for them. 

The UX2000 do feel a little cheap in your hands and aren’t anything exciting to show off to anyone, but it’s nice to see physical buttons over touch controls. Touch controls are cool but physical buttons tend to work more accurately and that’s the case with these.

At the bottom of one ear cup is the USB-C port while the other ear cup has room for a 3.5mm jack if you prefer to listen wired. Buttons are a simple matter of power, ANC, and volume so they take seconds to figure out.

Design score: 4 / 5

Final Audio UX2000 review: Value

The Final Audio UX2000 lying flat on a bench

(Image credit: Future)
  • Mediocre build
  • Good features

Because the UX2000 are from a lesser known brand, this likely means they don't feel like the headphones you’ll show off to your mates. Final Audio's build quality feels cheap too but inside that plasticky surface are decent drivers that ensure it sounds pretty good – and that’s ultimately where it counts with headphones. 

If you need more features, something like the Sony WH-CH520 offer app support and quick charge, but lack fantastic ANC, so it’s a trade-off of what’s most important to you.

Value score: 4 / 5 

Should I buy the Final Audio UX2000?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Final Audio UX2000 review: Also consider

How I tested the Final Audio UX2000

Final Audio UX2000 being held

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over 14 days in many different situations
  • Listened against the Apple AirPods Pro 2, Philips Fidelio L4 and JBL Tune 770NC
  • Listened to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube videos and Twitch

Over Christmas and New Year, I primarily used the Final Audio UX2000 as my main headphones. They took over from my usual Apple AirPods Pro 2 and recent regular use of the Philips Fidelio L4

I used them on my (nearly) daily morning walks to test them out among environmental noises like busy traffic. In the evenings, I relaxed by the Christmas tree checking out how my favorite playlists sounded through them. 

Busy rush hour traffic was a good challenge for the UX2000’s hybrid ANC along with neighbours using the break to hammer holes in their walls. 

Primarily, I listened to Apple Music and Spotify with occasional dips into Twitch streams to see how they sounded when dealing with conversations. A few podcasts were listened to via my iPhone 14 Pro.

My taste is varied so there was everything from Harry Styles to Jimi Hendrix depending on my mood. YouTube and Twitch time were mostly spent watching gaming videos.

I’ve reviewed audio products for over 10 years now and I’m increasingly picky about what sounds good and can spot the difference, while appreciating that $100 cans won’t usually compete with $400 ones.

vivo TWS 3e announced with ANC and up to 44-hours of playback
9:14 pm | December 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

The brand new vivo S18 series smartphones were announced earlier today in China and vivo also brought out a new version of its affordable wireless earbuds dubbed vivo TWS 3e. These bring Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, active noise cancelation and up to 11 hours of playback on a single charge. vivo TWS 3e The buds feature 11mm dynamic drivers and 3D panoramic sound mode for spatial audio playback. You also get multi-point pairing to two devices simultaneously and a 55ms low latency mode. TWS 3e are advertised to last up to 11 hours on a single charge whiel the charging case should...

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: A bargain pair of buds for what they offer
3:00 pm | December 10, 2023

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

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Three-minute review

Edifier might not be a household name but if the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are anything to go by, then the firm really needs to garner more attention. Available for £129.99 / $129.99 / AU$229.99, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are deceptively cheap for a feature set that includes active noise cancellation, hi-res audio support, Bluetooth 5.3, and a snazzy looking app and case. They must be fairly poor, right? Wrong. 

While the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 struggle with some very middling battery life that's bordering on not good enough, everything else about them is impressive. When it comes to ANC quality, I don't even mean impressive for the price, I mean good for any of the best noise cancelling earbuds

Walking along a busy road and barely hearing a thing is the dream. It's possible to hear that there is traffic flying past, but it's entirely background noise and doesn't detract from what you're listening to in the slightest.

Alongside that, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 sound great with the 10mm dynamic driver paired with a balanced armature driver ensuring they sound balanced. Crisp sounds as you listen to the latest from Taylor Swift right back to some soothing classical music all ensures the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are a delight.

App support means you can adjust things via the EQ which is nice but not necessary for anyone other than the most avid of audiophiles. If you want a little more punchiness though, you can't go wrong with the Dynamic Mode which worked well with Muse's back catalogue.

With ANC enabled, even with the charging case, you'll only be able to listen for about 16 hours at the absolute most which isn't great but that's a small bugbear for most people and one that I'm willing to accept at this price point.

Similarly, the look of the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 is a little Star Trek: The Next Generation ish rather than as sleek as some competitors like the Apple AirPods Pro 2, but these are still a bargain that richly deserve a place among the best wireless earbuds.

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Price and release date

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2 in case

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in August 2023
  • Officially priced at £129.99 / $129.99 / AU$229.99

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 was released in August 2023 for $129.99 in the US, £129.99 in the UK and AU$229.99 in Australia. The earbuds are currently available in the US, UK and Europe. 

Two color choices are available – either black or ivory. Fairly ordinary colors, either could end up discounted at some point but the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are very shrewdly priced already.

Outside of sales, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are roughly similarly priced to the Sony WF-C700N at $119 / £99 / AU$199 and the standard Apple AirPods with a wired charging case (although these are often discounted). Notably, the standard AirPods lack ANC although the Sony earbuds still offer it. 

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Specs

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Features

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2 case

(Image credit: Future)
  • Wear detection 
  • Great app 
  • No multipoint support 

The Edifier app is one of the best around with all the features you could want. That includes adjusting different levels of ANC to your liking, setting up head-tracking and tweaking the EQ. You can even change the color of the LED on the charging case which is a cute touch. 

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 also offer wear detection which is mostly very accurate. Once in a while, I found it not detect me removing the buds from my ears but for the most part, it was a delight to put them in and have music kick straight back in.

There isn't multipoint support so you can't connect two devices at once but the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 remain ideal for your commute or keeping permanently hooked up to your phone. There's also Bluetooth 5.3 support to ensure no dropouts.

Features score: 4/5

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Battery life

Edifier App

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 22 hours with ANC off/up to 16 hours with ANC on 
  • 15 minute quick-charge gives back 2 hours 

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are fine when it comes to battery life but a little weaker than some of the competition. There's up to 22 hours including the case when ANC is disabled led but you'll likely want it switched on. Enabled and with Hi-res audio kicking in, you can see just two to three hours of playback with four hours usually experienced with ANC on. 

Mileage will vary here and I didn't find it a dealbreaker as a pair of earbuds for the daily commute, but if you need to use them for extended periods, you may be disappointed by the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2's performance.

Battery life score: 3/5

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Sound quality

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2 charging port

(Image credit: Future)
  • Crisp audio 
  • Great ANC 
  • Adjustable EQ 

The most exceptional thing about the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 is how good the ANC is. Wireless earbuds are rarely competing with the best noise-cancelling headphones  given their design but I'd go so far as to say the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 felt class leading. Walking along a busy road, noise was easily cancelled out and reduced to being quiet background noise ensuring I could hear every moment of Taylor Swift belting out Bad Blood

Via the app, there are plenty of noise cancellation modes to choose from depending on the situation. I mostly lived with them on the strongest setting but it was useful to be able to switch to milder levels or an ambient mode to hear the key details going on around you. A wind reduction mode was particularly useful in this part of the country where the wind seems to never calm down.

Similarly, out of the box, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 sound good. The mids are crisp and the highs detailed with little issue here. Bass isn't booming but it feels smooth and punchy nonetheless. While bassheads may prefer an even louder response, it's a pretty balanced result here. Tracks like the reworking of Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift feel as exciting as it's meant to sound, making even the gloomiest of days feel a little livelier. Classics like God Only Knows have just the right amount of sparkle while feeling bright throughout.

There are adjustments that can be made via the app and they work well, particularly if you want to add more punchiness to your listening but mostly, there's no need to make any tweaks unless you truly feel in the mood.

The only minor issue comes from a soundstage that could maybe be a little wider but as detailed as it is, I'm not complaining. Add on the Hi-Res audio support with the latest LHDC 5.0 HD codec, and the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are packing some hefty weight for the price.

Sound quality score: 5/5

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Design

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Angular case 
  • Dated version of the future 
  • Touch sensitive controls 

Despite lacking the battery life of some earbuds, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 have a fairly sizeable case. Angular in design, it'll take up more room in your pocket than other earbuds like the Apple AirPods. Despite all that room, there's no wireless charging with charging solely via the USB-C port. 

There's also room for an LED light bar on the front with the app allowing you to choose from eight different colors. It's a little gimmicky but it pumps out more light than you'd expect, as I discovered while going for a dawn walk. Otherwise, the case isn't exactly good looking.

The earbuds themselves are fairly hefty too but that's beneficial as the tips ensure a balanced design that mean they fit snugly in your ears without ever feeling like they could drop out of your ears any time soon, even when running. It's not the most attractive of designs but it's certainly practical. 

On the earbuds are a touch area for light touches and long presses. Thanks to the effective wear detection, you may find you don't need these very often but they're great for taking calls.

Design score: 4/5

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Value

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2 design

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very competitively priced 
  • Premium features for less  

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are very shrewdly priced. The ANC is better than most along with other key features. Competition arises from the standard Apple AirPods which lack ANC or the Sony WF-C700N which are slightly cheaper.

Ultimately, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 is punching above its weight making it great value if you don't mind slightly lesser battery life and other minor issues.

Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2

Edifier Neobuds Pro 2 in charging case

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over 10 days in many different situations 
  • Listened against the Apple AirPods 3, Apple AirPods Pro 2, and Marshall Motif II 
  • Listened to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube videos and Twitch 

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 were my trusty companion over 10 days or so, replacing my usual earbuds. 

That meant they were with me during each of my morning walks amongst the busy rush hour commute. They were also used walking around even busier areas where, normally, I wouldn't have been able to hear what I was listening to. To make matters noisier, I also dealt with some fairly strong winds and storms so it was a strong test of the earbuds' ANC. 

Besides being worn for walks, I also used the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 on a couple of runs to check they fit snugly and securely. 

During my evenings, I used them to watch Twitch streams and YouTube videos, while the daytime was mostly spent with Apple Music and Spotify to try out different types of music. Genres ranged from pop, jazz, classical, soundtracks, to a friend's album which wasn't as heavily processed as others. 

I've been reviewing audio products for about 10 years now and am pretty picky with what sounds good as well as what feels right in my ears. It's always good to feel like you're rediscovering a favorite thanks to the earbuds you're using.

First reviewed in December 2023. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Great ANC and app but limited to Android devotees
3:00 pm | December 9, 2023

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

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Two-minute review

Think of the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE as the Samsung equivalent of the Apple AirPods and you're not far off. Keenly priced, they're immediately no good for iPhone owners due to the lack of iOS app. However, if you have a Samsung or other Android phone, things get more tempting for those on a budget.

The earbuds themselves are small and comfy to wear, albeit lacking potent protection from water or dust. While small, they have respectable battery life of up to nine hours with active noise cancellation switched off or about six with it switched on. Throw in the 21 hours from the charging case and these are some buds that won't need charging too often throughout the week, no matter how busy things get. That's fortunate given the lack of wireless charging is one that bothers you just a tiny bit more than it probably should.

Still, at $99 / £99, concessions need to be made and that's not a bad loss. Elsewhere, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE sound reasonably good for the price. They're able to rival the best budget wireless earbuds, thanks to their reasonably clear sound. There are occasional wobbles – for instance, they're not great for bass fans – but for a standard listening experience, you can't fault them.

The highlight is the ANC, which is great. Switch it on and the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE will block out all those pesky surrounding noises like a dehumidifier, neighbours doing construction work and so forth. Skip the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE if you're an Apple user but for everyone else, there's a decent amount of value to them. They look good, feel good, and they're simple to use.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Price and release date

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE case

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in September 2023
  • Price: $99 / £99 / AU$149

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE was released in September 2023 in the US, UK and Australia. Priced at $99 / £99 / AU$149, they've already seen price drops around Black Friday, bringing them down to $70 / £75 / AU$135. There's also no difference in price between the two colors available – white and graphite, with graphite being a fancy name for black. 

Such a price puts them alongside earbuds like the Sony WF-C700N in terms of value and slightly pricier than something like the EarFun Air Pro 3 – both of which we rate among the best noise cancelling earbuds. It's a busy field with many budget earbuds available around this price range.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Features

Samsung Wearables App

(Image credit: Future)
  • Patchy wear detection 
  • Useful Lost mode 
  • No iOS app 

The amount of features you get from the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE truly depends on your phone or tablet choice. There's no iOS app so iPhone and iPad owners need to give these a miss, no question about it. Without the app, there's no way to adjust the ANC, the equalizer, or benefit from voice assistant support. The ideal scenario is you having a Samsung Galaxy phone or tablet.

Have the right hardware and you'll be happy with the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE for the price. They lack some finer details. For instance, there's no true Multipoint. Also, wear detection is there but it's pretty patchy and temperamental. I never felt entirely confident when pulling the buds out that my music would pause.

However, the app is easy to use and allows you to switch between ANC, transparency and disabled. There are EQ options too although you can't adjust things to a custom setting. 

Another neat feature is the Lost mode that helps you track down your earbuds if they happen to go missing, as well as setting off an alarm if you make the mistake of wandering off without them. 

Features score: 3/5 

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Design

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE ear bud close up

(Image credit: Future)
  • Snug fit
  • Touch controls on earbud 
  • Small case 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE are pretty small in every way. With my small ears, they provided a neat and snug fit, never feeling like they'd fall out too easily. That goes for when I wore them while working out too seeing if a plethora of half-hearted burpees would ruin everything. It didn't. 

Similarly, the case is lovely and neat. It isn't as small as the JLab JBuds Mini (is anything?) but it's easily dainty enough for putting in your pocket without really noticing.

There's no wireless charging support, frustratingly, so you're dependent on the USB-C port on the pack. Also, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE have a barely worth mentioning IPX2 rating meaning you may get nervous during a rainy day. 

Still, they look and feel good with touch controls being easily accessible at all times.

Design score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Sound quality

Samsung Wearables App

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong ANC 
  • Reasonable quality 
  • Limited EQ options 

For tiny earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE offer some impressively good ANC, especially at this price. They fit snugly so that's sure to help matters but it's a relief to don them and feel the world vanish into the background. You might hear the odd sound but it's far more dampened down than with other earbuds in this price range and all the richer for it. 

Through the app, you can pick between transparency, ANC, or turning it off. Transparency mode isn't as ideal as some competitors like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 but remember the price? Exactly.

Listening to music is also reasonably good for the price. Working my way through a lively playlist, the Katy Perry back catalogue was vibrant enough before switching over to Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name Of and feeling a reasonable amount of punchiness. At times, there's a hint of distortion and not just at high volumes, but it's workable in this price range.

Frustratingly, there's an EQ within the app but one that doesn't allow for custom setups but it's worth experimenting and checking out modes like Bass Boost to find what suits your music taste. 

Ultimately, it's all about tempering your expectations at the $99 / £99 / AU$149 price point with the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE offering better ANC than most.

Sound quality score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE charging port

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 9 hours with ANC off or 6 hours with ANC on 
  • Extra 21 hours from the charging case 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE has respectable battery life. It's right in the middle of what's expected of ANC-based earbuds these days. Not too little and not so much that I'm excited at never needing to find a cable again. 

With mixed usage, I found they lasted about the length of time that Samsung states and there's the usual advantage of bunging them in the charging case to do their thing before you grab them once more. 

The only true downside is the lack of wireless charging which is understandable at this price but it's always good to not need to dig a cable out.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Value

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Discounted already 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE are relatively new but there are already discounts around, so we can only see these getting cheaper over time and potentially becoming part of our pick of the best cheap headphone sales

They're already cheaper than many rivals. When you consider these are basically the earbuds for Samsung owners, they're far more competitively priced than anything AirPods flavored for Apple users.

Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE?

Buy it if...

Don't buy them if...

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: Also consider

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

  • Tested for nine days 
  • With a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ and iPhone 14 Pro

Used in home office, on regular walks, while working out and running, and near busy traffic. Mostly tested with YouTube Music and Spotify on Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ with brief time on iPhone 14 Pro.

I swapped out my usual earbuds for the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE for nearly 10 days. I used them throughout the day via the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ listening to music as I worked. It wasn't quiet during these times with never ending construction work by my neighbours along with a loud dehumidifier running in the background. At other points, I'd listen to music while doing HIIT workouts to test their fit. At other times, I took them with me on walks and while hanging around waiting for someone amongst busy traffic. 

Mostly, I discovered that the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE can be worn for long periods without any issues. I mostly listened to energetic playlists on Spotify and YouTube Music but also switched to watching some YouTube videos and watching some Twitch streams too. There was a bit of gaming too with the latest Asphalt game for Android. 

I've been testing audio products for over 10 years. I love using them during my workouts and walks, but also for blocking out distracting noises. 

First reviewed in December 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.

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: glorious wireless headphones with top-end features and sound, but OK ANC
4:12 pm | September 29, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2: Two-minute review

Shure's Aonic 50 Gen 2 look the business. And not only that, they back up their not-here-to-mess-around aesthetic with Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound support, so aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, regular aptX and LDAC are all here – aka all of the current top-tier wireless audio coding. 

But there's more! The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's bid for inclusion in our best wireless headphones guide culminates in a special USB-C port not just for charging. It means hi-res USB audio is also on the menu (look over here, iPhone 15 and Apple Music users!) thus completing a veritable banquet of connectivity options, from wireless Bluetooth audio pinged from your phone, older sources in a more traditional wired hi-fi system, right up to USB-C audio from your MacBook Pro at work. If that sounds good to you, add these headphones to your list. 

However, the star feature of these hotly anticipated second-generation Shure cans (let's be clear here, the three years and five months since the originals is eons in the world of headphone iterations) is Shure’s new spatialized audio technology. The feature provides three distinct modes: Music, Cinema, and Podcast. And the good news is that these are a delight across the board, offering oodles of separation and crispness to vocals during movies and podcasts especially, but unearthing extra sonic articles in even your heavy-rotation music playlists too. 

To stake a claim for the best noise-cancelling headphones currently on the market, Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 feature advanced hybrid active noise cancellation. As you'd expect, mics inside and outside the earcup allow the Aonic 50 Gen 2 scope to fine-tune your auditory environment, but you can also help it along thanks to four selectable modes: Light, Moderate, Max, and MaxAware. 

For us, the performance here was just a shade under excellent. On the one hand, the clamping force is strong with this one (possibly even a little too forceful for those blessed with larger skulls) and levels of passive isolation are top-notch. But on occasion we found the more ambient-aware options (MaxAware aims to offer the best of both worlds – blocking unwanted noise and maintaining awareness of your surroundings) added warmth to our music and a marginal sweetness to the upper mids. Essentially, the overall efficacy of the noise-nixing here can be beaten by the class-leaders at the level. 

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's app, ShurePlus PLAY, three screens showing the features of the headphones, on gray background

Shure's ShurePlus PLAY app is one I'd go to battle for (Image credit: Future)

Picking up on the comfort, at 340g they feel just a tad heavy over longer listening sessions, despite the ample padding. For reference, the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 weigh 329g they're comfortable for all-day use. OK, Apple's AirPods Max weigh 44g more than the Shures at 384g, while Sony's WH-1000XM5 are quite a bit lighter at 249g – so depending on what you're used to, there may be an adjustment period here. 

When it comes to sonic performance, Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 is a set of over-ears for the EQ curious. There is very good sound to be had here, if you're prepared to work for it just a little. Those with neither the time nor the inclination to play with those presets might find the sound out of the box a little light on lower mids, treble-heavy and even a fraction cluttered timing-wise, albeit expansive and detailed. 

The ShurePlus Play app is your friend here and honestly, I'd go in to battle for this companion app – it is slick, easy to navigate and makes more sense than several offered by rival products. It'll even corral your music under one tab, for easy streaming across various services. Pairing is also a breeze and these headphones skip happily from one device to another thanks to multipoint connectivity that really works. 

In summary, the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 are solid all-rounders. If I'm nitpicking (and it is my job to do so), those who want perfect sound quality from the box may not have the patience for these headphones and the ANC is fine rather than fantastic – but those who love immersive spatial audio during movies, podcasts or playlists are well served here. And if you want USB-C hi-res headphones with the option to go wireless? They're an excellent choice. 

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones held in a hand on multi-color background

An understated build, but a quality one, to be sure. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Price & release date

  • Released in September 2023
  • Priced $349 / £349 / approx. AU$540

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 arrived in the third week of September 2023, having been announced on August 31.

They are priced aggressively for the elite over-ear headphones sector. To explain, that MSRP is actually cheaper than the launch price of the inaugural April 2020 Shure Aonic 50, which were aimed very much at the upper end of the consumer market and evaluated accordingly at $399 / £359, around AU$580.

This clever new pricing strategy from Shure undercuts the asking fee of some of the best and most notable over-ear headphones in the business by a tidy $50 – see the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399 / £380 / AU$649), the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 ($399 / £379 / approx. AU$575) and the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 ($399 / £330 / approx. AU$640) for starters.

The Illinois audio specialist has put the Aonic 50 Gen 2 right in the way of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless too, which will set you back $349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95 too. Smart – if the performance is good enough.

Shure Aonic 50 headphones held in a hand showing detail on the earcup

All physical buttons, all on the right earcup – and it works. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2: Specs

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 in their hard travel case, on a wicker chair

Note the 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for optional wired listening and USB-A to USB-C, for both charging and audio. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Features

  • Excellent spatial audio processing options
  • Very useful EQ presets
  • USB Audio supports up to 32-bit/384kHz

Firstly, stamina: 45 hours is very good (although not as good as the 80-hour staying power of the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, granted, but the comparison is skewed since the Edifier headphones are devoid of ANC) and I can confirm that this battery claim holds true.

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones are a walk in the park to pair, too. Multipoint? Easy – and once you get used to that fact that the physical buttons are all on the right earcup, altering volume, playback and ANC profiles works a charm. 

One lovely little perk here is PausePlus. Imagine you're listening to death metal at the office with Max ANC deployed and your boss approaches (just a random example, no reason). If PausePlus is toggled to on, simply pressing the multi-function button to pause the music also deploys ambient sound, so you can hold a polite conversation with your superior and pretend you were only listening to the latest episode of Revisionist History podcast.

Next up, Shure's Spatializer – no, nothing to do with turning vegetables into edible ribbons. In the app, under the device tab (see? It makes sense, it's a feature on the device) you can select spatial audio processing optimized for music, movies or a podcast. I found they brought all of these sources to life, adding depth, value and enjoyment to the whole testing process. 

The EQ presets are a similar story – in fact I suggest using both EQ and spatial audio liberally. There's a dedicated Equalizer tab, and although you can go manual if you want, Shure has sensibly opted to call its presets names such as Bass Cut, Bass Boost, Treble Cut and Vocal Boost. My particular favorite is Treble Cut for music, since I do find these headphones a little heavy-handed through the higher frequenciess, but the point is that Shure has bucked the trend of creating profiles for specific music genres (how often have you wondered whether 'jazz' is the correct preset for the acoustic mix you're listening to, or whether soft-rock is really the same as 'rock'?) and it's an excellent move. 

Now, ANC. It's acceptable. It isn't a complete bubble of silence. You deploy it by moving a physical slider all the way up on the right ear cup for ambient, or all the way down for ANC. But you can also open the app to select either the Environment Mode Level on a slider, or Light, Moderate, Max, or MaxAware ANC options. I was unable to perceive a lot of difference in the ANC options during the course of my testing save for MaxAware, which also filters in ambient noise. For softening the extraneous sounds of the office, they do a job – but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or Sony WH-1000XM5 still do that job a fair bit better. 

Call quality is aided by a "Hear myself on calls" toggle and it does exactly what it says on the tin, making calls feel a lot less like your head's stuck in a bucket as you speak. 

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 case, held in hand with a garden in the background

A svelte but durable hard-shell case with a useful strap. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Sound quality

  • Expansive and revealing separation and clarity 
  • Can come off treble-centric on occasion
  • Not the most musically cohesive listen

Kicking off with Ritchie Sacramento by Mogwai on Tidal (a FLAC file) with a wired USB-C connection to my Mac, the twinkling chimes and expansive ambient soundscape is pensive and more detailed than I remember it through lesser headphones. The driving beat underpins everything and as sonic articles jangle and dart between each ear, a rare talent for clarity through the mids is revealed.

Paolo Nutini's Loving You is a delight, with Nutini's textured voice held centrally among agile guitars and easy drums.

Switching to an Apple Music file on iPhone, Jamie T's Sticks 'n' Stones is energetic and immersive to the point that I feel Jamie and friends all congregating around me at Hampton Wick Station. It's here I notice the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's tendency to over-celebrate the treble though – and as a result, the mix can sound a touch disorganized and jumbled on occasion; the placement of each musical strand seems as if it relies on the frequency being played. Here, female backing vocal "ah"s come forward a little too readily when T's lyrics should be the star of the show, for example.

It's a relatively minor issue and one only noticeable in direct comparison against the likes of the Focal Bathys and Edifier Stax Spirit S3, but it's our job to notice. Otherwise, we're treated to a detailed mix with plenty of dynamic rise and fall through the mids and a decent serving of snappy bass weight. 

Deploying the Treble Cut EQ option is the panacea for the upper registers, but it really is worth switching out these profiles depending on your music. If you're someone who believes headphones should just sound good without having to lift a finger, you may not like this solution – and it's a fair point. 

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones detail with cups rotated to lie flat, on a wicker chair

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's cups glide silently to lie flat – but headband adjustments are a bit clicky. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Design

  • USB port on the right earcup, 3.5mm jack on the left
  • Design lies flat, but doesn't fold
  • Longer hair can get caught in the hinge points when fitting them

Do you miss foldable headphones – the kind that concertina up for easier portability? Well, you won't get them here. The large Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's earpieces here lie flat in the same way that the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Focal Bathys or newer Fairphone FairBuds XL do, and the hard-shell case is a little more svelte than the Focal's, but it'll still take up a bit of room in your bag – unless you want to use the strap to latch it to a carabiner on the outside of your backpack, perhaps. 

The build here is classy and the hinges rotate silently and at a glacial pace (be careful; the anchor point is towards the back of the headband and I caught my hair a few times) which is why it's a little strange that the headband itself is a little noisy if you need to alter the sizing. 

The padding on both the earcups and headband is ample and personally, I love that the physical buttons are all one earcup, since I'm right-handed, although those with larger fingers (or lefties) may find this a little fiddly. 

What is a little strange is the location of the cable ports, with one on each earpiece – but this is a relatively small issue. 

There's hardly any sound bleed; people on desks next to me couldn't hear my tracks at 50% volume in the office unless I lifted an earcup away from my head. On this, the clamping force is relatively strong; if you're running for a train you'll be glad of it, if you're relaxing in a comfy chair, perhaps not so much. There's no IP rating for water resistance here, so try not to wear them to the shower.

In summary, the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 are a handsome, sleek – if marginally heavy, at 340g – set of over-ears. They're not winning any design awards for originality, but the branding on each earcup is classy and if you prefer physical controls and sliders over touch capacitive functions (I do) you'll enjoy them. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Shure Aonic 30 Gen 2 on a black table, outside

In case you're wondering whether the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's headband is nicely padded, yes it is.  (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Value

  • Spatial audio is a high-end option
  • USB-C audio connection adds flexibility
  • The merely acceptable ANC may not be what you want

First off, these headphones are not particularly expensive given their features and the price of competitors. That said, if you want the best ANC over-ears money can buy, spend it elsewhere, on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless or the Sony WH-1000XM5. There is active noise cancellation here, and the presets are fine, but it isn't a class-leading experience. 

Buying headphones almost always involves a compromise somewhere (omission of a particular hi-res codec, poor call quality but great sound, lack of water resistance), but for the wealth of connectivity supported both with wires and without, the spatial audio profiles and the outstanding EQ tweaks, Shure's Aonic 50 Gen 2 are almost impossible to equal.

The battery level is more than sufficient at 45 hours, the build is classy, the companion app is excellent and the multipoint pairing experience has never let me down. 

The flies in the ointment? Occasionally the treble is a little forward in the mix and the ANC is a shade off excellent. Depending on your priorities, this either doesn't matter or is a deal-breaker. It's up to you. 

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 worn by TechRada'r's Becky Scarrott, in profile, in a garden

Wear headphones while the sun shines. (Image credit: Future)
  • Bulk of testing done using an iPhone 12, running ShurePlus PLAY app, firmware version 2.3.1.0
  • Tested over two weeks, listened against the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and Focal Bathys
  • Used on long walks on public streets, at work in a busy office, on a train, and at home
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music, Qobuz and Spotify on an iPhone 12, a Sony Xperia 1 V, and via USB-C connection on MacBook Pro

To test headphones is to invite them into your life – how the case fits in your bag is just as important as how they slip onto your head. These cans became my daily musical companion – after a thorough run-in period. And just as Shure is a trusted name in audio, I now trust these headphones to work every day, regardless of how you're connecting to your music source, without fail. 

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 accompanied me to work on busy weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and walking along the blustery seafront on the UK coastline – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

To check the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists across various music genres (spanning everything from grime to classical) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – plus of course YouTube tutorials (on how to change my car's brake light, mostly) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for over five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but portability, security and comfort come a close second. 

Bose showed me the QuietComfort Headphones Ultra and the ANC blew me away
3:00 pm | September 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Price and release date

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

When they hit the market, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones will cost £449.95 in the UK, $429 in the US and AU$649.95 in Australia, which puts them in line with the more premium options among the best headphones

Due to conversion rates and what is probably down to cheaper import costs, the headphones will cost $125 / £100 / AU$195 cheaper if bought in the States than in the UK. In Australia, it’s only a difference of about $10 / £8 / AU$15.

The Ultra cans will be available to buy in just two pretty boring colorways of black and 'white smoke' from early October, according to Bose. If you’re worried about missing out, you can pre-order them now from the brand’s official website.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Sound quality

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

While the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones might not have left me awestruck with their design refresh, it's in audio innovation where Bose truly shines.

The introduction of the firm’s Immersive Audio tech is what really sets this product apart. Bringing spatial audio to your ears, this feature creates a more expansive, multi-dimensional soundstage and in doing so offers a more rounded and realistic overall sound – almost like whatever you’re listening to is being played live in the room with you. The other great thing is that this works for any device you’re using, and doesn’t require any additional specific tech or subscriptions. 

It works so well that I can imagine this release will redefine the way audio companies make headphones. Mark my words: expect more spatial sound tech baked into other major audio companies’ headphones in the very near future. 

What's particularly impressive is the flexibility this immersive sound tech offers, with two modes to cater to different scenarios. Within the app, you can toggle the Immersive Audio from off to  'Still' mode, which keeps the soundstage fixed in front of you even when turning your head, to 'Motion' mode, which dynamically adapts to your movements so the soundstage follows you while on the go.

My overall first impressions of audio quality were that the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones didn't boast the same heavy, booming bass that Bose is renowned for. Instead, the music sounded remarkably clean, nicely balanced, and – thanks to that new audio tech – incredibly immersive. 

The headphones’ active noise cancelling (ANC) tech has also been given an upgrade in the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones over-ears and works seamlessly with the Immersive Audio tech to deliver an even richer listening experience with minimal interference. This comes in an all-new noise cancellation mode: Immersion, which Bose says is its most powerful ANC ever.

I was able to test just how good this ANC really is at blocking out external sounds during my hands-on time, where I pitted the headphones against various loud noises. In a demo, Bose blasted out loud recordings of everyday occurrences, such as train noises and the like while I listened to various tracks on an iPhone. The results were impressive: I couldn’t hear any of the external sounds over what I was listening to. Saying that, I would like to try this test again in the real world, outside an environment controlled by Bose, to see how well this new Immersion mode really performs.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Battery life

When it comes to battery life, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones promise up to 24 hours of power per charge while Bose Immersive Audio is turned off, and up to 18 hours when it’s switched on.

Since I was only able to get a short amount of time with the headphones at the launch event, I obviously wasn’t able to test these claims during my demo, but this will be something I can test thoroughly in a full-length review.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Design

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones

(Image credit: Future)

The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a completely reimagined version of their predecessor, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are ancient as far as gadgets go at over four years old. As you’d expect, the Ultras bring a slew of new design features, including refreshed proprietary signal processing, a new robust chipset, some advanced microphones and a whole new look.

While Bose maintains its trademark build quality, offering sturdy and visually appealing headphones with a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, I do think they’re missing that premium flair you’d expect from a pair of cans in this price range. They also feel a little chunkier compared to their predecessor, foregoing that sleek curved band shape that many loved about the 700s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still minimal in appearance, they just don’t have that luxe appeal I was hoping for.

Another niggle that I noticed – during my hands-on time – is that the headphones were prone to retaining fingerprints, with every touch leaving unsightly visible smudge marks. Not a great look.

So how do they feel on? The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are certainly comfort by name, comfort by nature. They’re a great fit, sliding over your ears to fully envelop them while leaving enough space to breathe. I can imagine you’ll be able to wear these over-ears for long periods of time without feeling like they’re clinging to your head too hard or causing a case of sweaty lugs like some headphones can.

The Ultras have also been given an improved set of physical controls, with Bose removing most of the capacitive touch controls found on the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. In this model, the right ear cup touts a power/Bluetooth pairing button, a one-off capacitive touch strip for volume control and shortcuts, and a multifunction button for managing listening modes, calls, and playback. 

On the opposite side, the left ear cup houses an LED indicator, a 2.5 mm jack, and a USB-C charging port, rounding out the functionality. Everything seemed to work well in my tests, responding to commands rapidly and feeling intuitive to the touch.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Early verdict

Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones next to phone

(Image credit: Future)

It's still early days, and we'll need more in-depth testing to truly gauge how impressive these headphones are, but one thing is sure – Bose has seriously stepped up its audio game with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. 

Bose was once all about excellent noise cancellation. And it still is. But now, it seems, there’s an additional focus: a level of immersive sound that makes any audio source come alive with more detail and realism. 

Bose certainly continues its tradition of innovation with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, and I can’t wait to hear how my favourite music sounds on them.

Anker Soundcore Space One review: a bargain Beats alternative with ANC
4:00 pm | September 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Two-minute review

Anker is that name you seek out when your budget is a little tighter than ideal but you still want something good quality with a few neat features. The Anker Soundcore Space One reflect that ethos perfectly. While they don't offer sound as meaty as the best headphones, they're clearly punching above their weight at just $100/£100. 

A quick glance instantly shows you that the Anker Soundcore Space One are trying to be like Beats. They have a very similar build and they're about the same kind of weight. Outside of people like us, most people wouldn't immediately notice the difference visually. Available in a few different colors, that attitude is even more obvious. While these are more on a par with the best cheap headphones, the Anker Soundcore Space One still offer some key features.

There's powerful ANC with easy to use options via the Soundcore app. Up to 40 hours of listening time is possible here with ANC enabled while a massive 55 hours can be achieved with it switched off. In our time, that proved accurate too. A quick five-minute charge gives back four hours working out a pretty useful backup.

The 40mm dynamic drivers aren't great out of the box but spend some time with the HearID function via the app and you'll soon get the Anker Soundcore Space One sounding just how you want them to. As is often the way with cheaper headphones, bass is the highlight here but sound on the whole is crisp and clear. 

LDA support is available for Android phones while there's Hi-Res audio certification for both wired and wireless use. All the key boxes are ticked here. The only main one that the Anker Soundcore Space One falters on is wear detection. 

During our time testing, it was very patchy. Sometimes it would work and other times, you'd realise too late that you'd missed a half a song to interact with the world. With a strong transparency mode, this is less relevant when talking to people but if you're pausing while relaxing at home, it's a bit of an irritant to not be able to rely on it.

Still, we'll let that one go a little bit as we eye up the price of the Anker Soundcore Space One and enjoy other options like Multi-point that you may not get elsewhere at this price. Overall, the Anker Soundcore Space One are a bit of a bargain. The kind of headphones to make you question spending hundreds on more premium brands, Anker's got things ticking along nicely here.

Anker Soundcore Space One review review: Price and release date

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released August 2023
  • $99 / £99

The Anker Soundcore Space One are shrewdly priced at $99 / £99. Currently available in the US, UK, and Europe, they're available direct from Soundcore as well as from third-party retailers. 

Colors wise, you have three options – black, blue, and a white that's more like cream. One of their nearest rivals is the Sony WH-CH520 at $59 / £50. There's no ANC though. 

For ANC, consider the JBL Tune 750BTNC at $99/£99. Battery life is way lower at 15 hours with ANC on and they're showing their age with Bluetooth 4.2 support, but they sound great. 

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Specs

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Features

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • ANC is good for the price
  • Hi-res audio support
  • Multi-point pairing 

The Anker Soundcore Space One is a veritable checklist of everything you'd likely need or want from headphones. There's Hi-res audio support along with LDAC for Android users -- something you don't always see in this price range. 

Alongside that, there's the Soundcore companion app that isn't overwhelming nor too basic. You'll need to dive in for a few minutes to set up HearID to get the most from these cans' audio but it's worth it. It's like an eye test for your ears with you simply choosing the option that sounds best for you before a new EQ is devised for your needs. 

Elsewhere in the app, you can adjust the ANC. For the most part, leaving it on adaptive ANC is the best move. It adjusts fairly well based on your surroundings but there's also a custom option for times when you need to crank it up even further. Transparency mode can also be enabled here allowing you to easily converse with others without taking them off. Delve further and you can use Easy Chat options to allow you to lower the volume at the touch of the ear cup for when you need to speak to someone, or even use speak to enable so no input is needed from you.

The latter is in beta and much like wear detection, it's not to be relied on. In our time of reviewing it, the Anker Soundcore Space One has already been updated to improve wear detection but more work needs to be done.

Wobble aside and the Anker Soundcore Space One smashes it out the park with its ANC. At this price, you rarely get ANC that feels much better than passive noise isolation but these are special. Whack ANC on and you won't hear conversations nearby you. You'll hear traffic as you walk but it's still blocked out sufficiently so that it doesn't disrupt your listening experience. While the Anker Soundcore Space One may not be perfect, they're more than good enough for blocking out all the most irritating sounds that life brings with it.

  • Features score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Sound quality

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong bass 
  • Hi-res support
  • Mostly crisp and clear

Dive into the Anker Soundcore Space One and expect the sound quality of a $350/£350 pair of cans and you'll be disappointed. When it comes to the finer touches like detailed mids and the right amount of treble, the Anker Soundcore Space One doesn't really hit the spot. It's fine but nothing special.

However, when it comes to a strong level of bass and a wide soundstage, you can't go wrong with these cans. Focusing on bass is a familiar concept for many budget headphones but when Daft Punk's Around the World kicked in on our 90s playlist, we were delighted at how thumping it felt and what a wide soundstage experience there was. 

For more vocal-heavy songs like John Legend's All of Me, you still get a crisp experience. Similarly, podcasts and other types of spoken word sound just fine and suitably clear.

If you're more of a nuanced music listener, the Anker Soundcore Space One won't hit the spot in quite the same way, but for cans to wear on your commute or walk, they're just right. 

There's always Hi-Res audio with LDAC support for Android users too if you want something a little richer.

One quick note – bear in mind that the sound quality is based on you spending the time setting up your HearID profile. Out of the box, the Soundcore Space One doesn't sound anywhere near as good so it makes a crucial difference. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Design

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Look a lot like Beats
  • Comfy headband
  • Folding design 

Glancing at the Anker Soundcore Space One next to a pair of Beats and it's surprisingly hard to tell the difference. They're clearly influenced by them right down to the logo on each earcup looking similar. They're not quite as stylish with fewer curved edges but there's not much in it.

Crucially, the Anker Soundcore Space One are well-padded. The ear cups get a bit warm when it's hot but they keep your ears comfy for however long you use them for. Similarly, the headband feels great with no clamping force wrecking your day. Extending the headband makes a kind of crunch noise but it doesn't sound worrying and it's simple enough to find the right fit for you. 

Both ear cups fold in so you can easily store these headphones without them taking up any more room than they have to. A small travel pouch is included for a bit of extra protection but solely in your bag folded should keep them safe. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Value

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very well-priced
  • Likely to be new leader
  • Always hope for more discounts 

The Anker Soundcore Space One are excellent value for what they offer. Better than the always tempting Sony WH-CH520 thanks to offering ANC, and far better than the ageing JBL Tune 750BTNC, there's not much out there at this price that could currently beat the Anker Soundcore Space One. 

To do so, you'd need to spend a lot more money to compete and that's hardly the point here, is it? 

The Anker Soundcore Space One's temperamental wear detection is an irritant but we're hopeful that future updates rectify it. You never know, that could be in time for a price cut too given Soundcore gear is often in sales.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Anker Soundcore Space One?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Also consider

How I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for two weeks
  • Compared against Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4
  • Listened to Apple Music and Spotify on an iPhone 14 Pro,and a MacBook Pro

I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One against the Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4. I used them in the home office, in my living room while others were busy doing things, and walking around my local area during busy and quiet times. 

I used the Anker Soundcore Space One just how I would use my regular pair of headphones – for everything! That meant using them on my morning walk alongside busy and noisy traffic, as well as quieter walks in more rural areas where I got to test transparency mode (and ANC) against sociable dog walkers saying hello. 

Besides those active times, I also used the Anker Soundcore Space One as my main headset when taking work calls, watching Twitch streams, YouTube videos, and even some cheeky lunchtime gaming on my MacBook Pro. 

When listening to music, I focused on different genres including classical, jazz, the latest hits, and my favorite 90s playlist. This was across both Apple Music and Spotify. I also listened to podcasts on Spotify. 

I've been testing and reviewing audio products for over 10 years now. If I placed all the headphones and earphones I've reviewed in one room, there wouldn't be much space for me. I'm a big fan of music and always having something to keep my ears distracted from environmental sounds like my neighbour's never-ending DIY projects. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: August 2023
Status Between 3ANC review: stunning and with solid ANC, but forget tailoring
1:00 pm | August 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Status Between 3ANC: Two-minute review

How to differentiate yourself in a sea of Apple AirPods impersonators? Create a bold, angular, wide-stemmed design in "bone", with easy on-ear volume that could never be mistaken for an Apple product – that's how. Then, pack the earpieces with three drivers per earbud (dual-balanced armature drivers; one 10mm dynamic driver) and add six mics in total, dotted around the striking design, to boast a whopping 38dB of active noise cancellation. 

It's a compelling proposition. That last claim alone makes these some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market. If all you want to know is whether that noise-nixing assertion holds water, we don't mind spilling the tea early: it does. You can only choose "on" or "off" mind, but when the ANC toggle is switched to on, the rest of the world all but melts away – yes, it's that good. Also, they're surprisingly comfortable and the sound quality is more than acceptable; big, expansive and zealous, although lacking an extra ounce of dynamic sensitivity. 

This New York outfit says it never compromises on the drivers within its products – and it shows. Battery life is also highly competitive, at eight hours with ANC switched on (the same as that offered by the new Sony WF-1000XM5) and 30 hours in the case (which betters the 24-hour total in Sony's latest progeny). Plus, it's nice to see wireless charging and an IPX5 water-resistance rating on the spec-sheet, too.

The thing is, gazing at this same spec sheet (and the companion app), you can't help but notice a few omissions. There are no fit or hearing tests; no branded, spatial audio side-sauce such as 360 Reality Audio, THX, Dolby or Dirac; no sound zones; no auto-off and no voice-enhancing sidetone or "Hear My Voice" tech during calls. 

Status Between 3ANC earbud held in hand

The bud may look an oddly sharp shape, but the Status are very comfortable (Image credit: Future)

Neither do you get LDAC, aptX Low Latency or, in fact, support for any of the higher-resolution Bluetooth codecs, which is a shame. However, you do get multi-point connectivity to two devices, which works well. 

All of this leaves us with a strange proposition. These are some of the best wireless headphones in certain aspects: specifically, active noise cancellation, in a unique design that's also comfortable and includes easy on-ear volume tweaks. In addition, sonically, the eight-band EQ customisation tab is one of the most responsive and useful I've ever tried. 

Build quality and security are spot on; I actually had compliments about them while out and about, which is a first. Also, even the shiny lower part of the stems refuses to collect fingerprints. The thing is, that excellent ANC isn't adaptable beyond "on" or "off", and neither is the Ambient profile – which certainly works, but does add a little warmth to your music. 

The wireless connection to our various devices never faltered, and when watching movies, we experienced very little lag, which makes these Status earbuds a perfectly viable and solid proposition. But Status has billed these flagship earbuds as "supreme triple-driver acoustics, now with ALL the bells & whistles" – but compared to the class-leaders at this level, a few extra accoutrements are missing. 

Whether or not you care when the ANC is this good is up to you, though… 

Status Between 3ANC earbuds in their case, on colorful background

The earbuds slip into their case easily, tails first, which feels reassuringly secure (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Price & release date

  • Released on April 12, 2023
  • $249 (approx. £249 / AU$399)  

The Status Between 3ANC earbuds arrived in April 2023 with a premium price tag of $249. This is a fair price hike over the April 2021 Status Between Pro they succeed, which launched at $169 / £120 (around AU$235).

At the time of writing, we're still waiting to hear when the Status Between 3ANC will be released in the UK and Australia. 

The keen-eyed will note that Sony's flagship WF-1000XM5 launched just after, priced just a little higher, at $299.99 / £259 / AU$499 – but there isn't a lot in it, and both parties know it. Status is trying to play with the big boys, over that there can be no mistake. 

At this level, other rivals include the excellent Technics EAH-AZ80 (which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality we've ever experienced) and, of course, the five-star Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, still sitting pretty as some of the best earbuds for active noise cancellation we've had the pleasure of testing. 

Status Between 3ANC earbuds out of their case, on colorful background

The neck may look long, but the buds sit securely – with no twisting or constant readjustments necessary (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Specs

Status Between 3ANC app, showing three screens

The app is uncluttered and the eight-band EQ tab is a joy, but it does seem a little feature-light compared to rivals (Image credit: Future / Status)

Status Between 3ANC review: Features

  • Solid, efficient; does-what-it-says-it-will ANC
  • Good call quality
  • No auto-off or scope for on-ear control tweaks 

It might be more prudent to list what you're not getting here. There's no support for higher-resolution codecs or special spatial audio sauce (Sony's Tidal upscaler, 360 Reality Audio – aka 24 object-based channels arranged in a 360-degree soundstage, is off the menu, for example), and so your Spotify tracks will be just that – as good as 320kbps can sound. 

Also, you'll find the Status app perfectly acceptable and clean, but devoid of tutorial, fit-test, auto-off, in-call vocal enhancements, or scope to alter the on-ear touch controls. In fact, said app is essentially just three pages: a homepage, Headphones page and a firmware update screen. The homepage provides a nice picture of your product along with battery status. There are two toggles for ANC or Ambient Sound Mode – and despite our eagerness to tell you how good the noise cancellation is when deployed, on or off is your lot in terms of tailoring. 

Under this, you'll see a Sound Mode tab. Click it and you're off two the second screen, to select between "Status Signature", "Status Audiophile", "Original Between Pro" (for fans of the older-generation model, presumably) or a custom EQ setting of your choosing. Of the presets, the third option is the warmest – and, for some, may feel just a tiny bit fuzzy around the lower registers. Audiophile and Signature will suit different ears and are genuinely fun to experiment with, although it would be nice to see a visual representation of them on the eight-band tab you get when choosing your own. 

The third screen is purely for firmware updates and will likely tell you you're all set. Hardly extensive and exhaustive, is it? 

Luckily, what the Status Between 3ANC do, they do very well indeed. There's a small physical button on the top of each earbud that switches between Ambient or ANC modes (switching both off is only possible via the app; it's announced vocally, too); but a tap of either bud's main upper stem, above the driver housing, easily plays or pauses your music. Double-tapping skips back or forward, depending on which bud you tap, and my favourite feature is a press-hold of either bud, which ups or lowers the volume. 

It may sound a simple feature, but the fact that volume tweaks are easy, reliable and don't require the mastering of four-tap morse code skills (Sony WF-1000XM5, I'm looking at you) to alter loudness is nothing short of joyous. I wish more brands would do this, over prioritising access to our voice assistants. I can't be alone in wanting to alter the volume of my favorite tracks without consulting my phone far more often than I ever want to ask Siri the price of cheese? 

Again, though, the most recent Sony proposition offers a choice of 20 increments of Ambient Aware, on a slider, whereas here it's just "on" or "off". And that doesn't really shout "all whistles and bells" to us, splendid although that ANC is. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Status Between 3ANC earbud held in hand, above their case

The two-tone top plate looks stylish in an 80s, Jem and the Holograms type of way – and you can adjust volume with a simple hold-press (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Sound quality

  • Meaty, immersive listen
  • Bass can sound fuzzy on occasion – but can be tweaked in the EQ tab
  • Detail and dynamic build can be bettered by Technics and Sony

As mentioned above, there aren't any higher-resolution codecs onboard here. Nevertheless, there's plenty of bite and excitement from the get-go in an expansive and nicely layered presentation.

It's a meaty and enthusiastic performance when streaming Sean Paul's Gimme the Light, with various additional vocals arriving at each ear in a cohesive performance.

Switch to Aerosmith's Water Song / Janie's Got a Gun, and it's a similar story – up to a point. The 10-second "Water Song" intro (involving a glass harmonica, wind gong and bull-roarers) is accurate across the frequencies, but doesn't build from barely perceptible to quiet and pensive, as it can through more dynamically agile earbuds. These buds are energetic almost to a fault. 

And there's a minor shortfall when it comes to the bass, which is a shade off excellent for depth through the leading edges of notes, which means it can come off a little lightweight or fuzzy (tubby would be an overstatement) without EQ adjustment. 

When streaming Amaarae's Fancy, the virtual placement of audio through the intro is divine, toying around our chin and throat; but when the beat drops, it's just a shade off excellent for a regimented low-end, until we up the bass through a custom EQ profile. This really does help, but bass-fiends may well need more – and here, the Status buds may fall short. 

In direct comparison, the Technics EAH-AZ80 are able to offer a little more clout and depth. For dynamic build (the rise and fall of each musical note) it's also a marginal win for Technics, although that's a more closely run race. That said, for me, the Status Between 3ANC earbuds are incredibly secure and easy to use – and possibly because I have such a great seal betwixt ear tip and ear canal here, the ANC offered by the Status edges it. 

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Status Between 3ANC earbuds in their case on colorful background

The case isn't the smallest you've ever seen, but it stands up, repels fingerprint smudges, and is of a decent quality (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Design

  • Striking earpieces – you may get compliments
  • On-ear volume control is a joy
  • Rock-solid connectivity

These earbuds fit me very well indeed – and they're striking. If you ever wanted to look like an extra on Jem and the Holograms, these are the buds for you. The smallest size of ear tips and silicone "fitwings" come pre-fitted, and they fit me perfectly; but  there's a medium and a large set to choose from, too. Also, because the fitwing (which covers the lower portion of the driver housing and makes it more bulbous if your ear needs that) and the ear tip aren't physically attached, they can be switched around independently as necessary. 

Note that these extras are a little tricky to fit, so it's best not to do it on your commute. However, once you get it right, I vouch for the security here. 

It's odd that while Status' earbuds are so distinctive, angular and design-conscious, the case is functional and – let's face it– pretty commonplace. Status' squiggle branding doesn't feature on the buds at all (of which I'm grateful), but it does make an appearance atop this box. That said, the case doesn't collect any greasy thumb-prints, it shuts with a reassuring snap, stands up so you can easily charge up wirelessly or using the USB-C port, and it does feature a useful line of three LEDs to denote battery left within it. Does Sony's WF-1000XM5 case look more expensive? No. But the Technics EAH-AZ80 case does. 

For me, the earbuds are a joy to wear and use. As mentioned above, but it bears repeating: while you'd have to master four quick taps to either up or lower the volume in Sony's newest flagship earbuds, here a simple hold-press does the job and without any registering tones invading your music. Although it's worth noting that there's no option to turn off the notifications that do feature (mostly where ANC and Ambient are concerned). 

The physical buttons on the top edge of each earbud make switching between ANC profiles a certainty rather than guesswork, but more than all of this, the Bluetooth connectivity is rock-solid. Calls? Yes, good. There was a little wind-noise intrusion on a blustery day by the sea, but for the office they'll certainly suffice. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Status Between 3ANC review: Value

  • ANC is solid – but cannot be tailored 
  • Design-conscious wearers will find value here
  • Rivals offer a more tailored experience

The simple truth here is that Technics' EAH-AZ80 earbuds, which can be yours for just a little more, will give you simultaneous connectivity to three devices, not two – and with a clean, comprehensive companion app to boot. Also, you'll get voice-isolating tech for calls, an extra mic per earbud, LDAC support, and the option to tailor both the ANC and Ambient levels and the on-ear controls to your heart's content. 

Does the Bose QCE II edge it for active noise cancellation in direct comparison? Actually, for me, no – but other members of the team have stuck resolutely to Bose's option because, again, these buds offer a slider to tweak the amount of noise you'll hear, which you won't get with these Status earbuds

The fit is excellent and the sound quality is good – I loved the separation, stereo-imaging and verve – but the bass weight does need a bit of help, and dynamically they're a shade off excellent. 

In the end, it comes down to your priorities. Are you prepared to forego fit tests, ANC tweaks, buds that know when you're talking and cut the music, and hearing tests to get solid, dependable noise cancellation in a striking build? Because toggle that ANC on and there's most definitely a fraction of a second where extraneous noise floats off into the ether, leaving you with your playlists. The answer, of course, is known only to each of us – and, luckily, we're all so very different. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Status Between 3ANC?

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Status Between 3ANC review: Also consider

How I tested the Status Between 3ANC

Status Between 3ANC earbuds worn by TechRadar's Becky Scarrott, outside

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

As always when testing earbuds or headphones, one has to invest time and energy. After a thorough 24-hour run-in period, the Status Between 3ANC became my commute and office companions, as well as my musical providers on a trip to the UK coastal town of Weymouth, Dorset. 

I wore them throughout the working day and on the busy (read: noisy) London overground train network. I also wore them in an aerial silks class to check what I like to call the "upside-down loss risk". 

The Status Between 3ANC came to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and for a particularly blustery walk on the Weymouth Dorset promenade – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists (spanning everything from reggaeton to prog-rock) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube tutorials (largely on harnessing the power of Chat GPT, if you were curious) 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 been a priority for me personally. I also know full well the benefits of powerful active noise cancellation when done well. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: August 2023
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