Review : 9 wireless earbuds

Comparison Review: 9 wireless earbuds

Good quality wireless earbuds and with long battery life must no longer cost an arm and a leg.

Just a few years ago, you had to cough up a lot of money if you wanted to have wireless headphones, and still get great quality. Last year we found a number of very good reasonably priced earbuds. And it is now actually possible to go further down in price, and still get something that sounds pleasant. Surprisingly enough, this does not seem to have been at the expense of battery life. The first generation of batteries only lasted for five hours. Last year, eight hours seemed to be the norm, and in this test 12 hours is not extreme.

What do you lose when you lower the price tag? The somewhat more expensive earbuds are often slightly better built. It is composite and metal instead of plastic, and the fasteners last longer. You get more accessories, such as cases that protect the earbuds while you travel. The comfort may be affected because they are heavier, are not weighted correctly so they risk falling out of the ears, or the shape of the earbuds is less suited for the ear canal. The cheaper earbuds often have a sculpted sound that is intended to be impressive, but you lose the details and dynamics that earbuds with better drivers give you.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Buying advice for earbuds

It is very important that they sit well in your ears. Partly because they must be comfortable to wear over a longer period of time, partly because the silicone pad must seal the ear canal if you want a good bass rendition. We will therefore indicate how many different extras tips are included. If you do not like silicone, try a pair of Comply foam pads that can be purchased as an optional accessory.

You should note both battery life and how long it takes to charge them. If you’re just using them on the bus on the way to work and perhaps at the gym afterwards, most will last. On the other hand, if you listen all day at work or go on a long flight, they either need a long battery life or the ability to be recharged quickly.

Buy earbuds that suit your taste in music and how you listen to it. For shorter travels, it might be cool with really engaging earbuds. Same goes for when you exercise and want to bring up the energy. However, the same earbuds may tire your ears during longer trips. The high-frequency energy is actually a strain for the eardrum and the inner ear.

(Photo: Manufacturer)
Urbanears Jakan

Uncomfortable and boxy

Even though everything else was perfect, the uncomfortable shape tipped the scales.

Our verdict

Available in five sober colours. Decorative around the neck. Good battery life.
Large ear pieces that are unpleasant in the ear. Mediocre sound quality.
Element: not provided

Bluetooth: 4.1

Frequency range: not provided

Battery life: 12 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: –

Weight: 18.9 grams

Website: urbanears.com

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Price 800 £

Urbanears is famous for nice and colourful headphones at a decent price. Jakan is no exception and can be obtained in five sober colours. The ear pieces can be buttoned together with magnetic plates, turning it into what looks like a necklace. The remote control is smart, and has a small joystick instead of all the buttons that the competitors have. There is also a connection for charging that in two and a half hours gives 12 hours of listening. You don’t need silicone tips since the pieces sit shallow in the ears.

The ear pieces are the biggest we’ve ever seen, and it poses a problem for the comfort level. You get sore ears with just 15 minutes of listening. If you are still interested, we recommend you try them first at the shop. The cords goes through the ear pieces, and the clamp that is formed is supposed to help keep them in place in the ear. It is a weird solution that does not work particularly well, in our opinion.

The problem of shallow fitting earbuds is that you do not get any seal in the ear canal, taking away a lot of the bass rendition. Jakan goes deep down in range, but loses energy on the way. They also have a slightly sharp treble. The big problem is actually the mid range. It provides no sense of presence. It’s like keeping the earbuds a centimetre from your ear. You never get the feeling that the music is playing inside your head, but rather outside of it.

Available in five sober colours.

Conclusion

With its headphones, Urbanears has successfully found a good balance between design, price and sound quality. This recipe has not worked with the wireless Jakan ear pieces. There is nothing wrong with the price and appearance in itself, and they hang very decoratively around your neck, snapped together with magnetic locks. But the sound is tame and not engaging. However, the biggest problem is that the huge ear pieces are not comfortable to have in your ears. No matter what, that is a minimum requirement.

More sporty and affordable

The low budget alternative to the award-winning Nitro-X is better for workouts and still sounds good.

Our verdict

Good battery life and rapid charging. Robust. Excellent sound quality.
Not as comfortable as its predecessor.
Element: 9 mm

Bluetooth: yes, AAC

Frequency range: 16 Hz–22 kHz

Battery life: 12 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: Shock and sweat-proof

Weight: 12.5 grams

Website: soundbysweden.com

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Price 800 £

When we tested the more expensive wireless earbuds last year, Supra’s first wireless model Nitro-X was voted as the best buy. Now they are they back with an even cheaper Nero-X. The construction is a little different. The battery is moved to the centre of the cord, but thanks to the slip-resistant surface the earbuds remain in place. A clip keeps them in place even during exercise. Supra namely marketed Nero-X as workout earbuds. This is because they tolerate sweat and have Kevlar reinforced wires as before.

Two sizes of “wings” kept them in place in the ears, while four sizes of silicone tips ensure the fit. However, they do not sit as comfortable as if they had been angled like Nitro-X. A convenient carry bag is also included. Battery life is excellent and can be charged in two hours.

Smaller earbuds and lower budget have naturally made it difficult for Supra to retain the level of sound quality. But they have succeeded surprisingly well. Before recording, they sound a little harsh, but it loosens up after a few hours. The bass is not as hard, but it is still a pleasure to listen to all kinds of genres. Above all, they impress in picking up the details of the music, and that they’re controlled and sound so effortless.

Nero-X can withstand sweat and have Kevlar reinforced wires.

Conclusion

If you think last year’s award-winning Nitro-X is a little too expensive, you can very well compromise and choose Nero-X instead. It doesn’t provide the same comfortable fit and hard-hitting bass, but on the other hand you get smaller earbuds more suitable for workout. They can still tolerate sweat and rough treatment. It also has a long battery life and the convenient option of rapid charging. The sound quality does not reach the same high level, but is actually among the best in this price range.

Sol Republic Shadow Wireless

Entertaining bass cannon

If you want the right heavy bass without completely destroying the music, Shadow is the answer.

Our verdict

Practical and lightweight earbuds. Easy handling. Powerful, but not indiscriminate bass.
Unrefined sound for acoustic music. Battery life is mediocre. No storage bag.
Element: not provided

Bluetooth: 4.0

Frequency range: not provided

Battery life: 8 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: “Sweat-proof”

Weight: 32 grams

Website: isolda.no

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Price 1000 £

Sol Republic is a slightly forgotten brand in Scandinavia, which is a pity. For this price range, they are a set of really nice headphones for a youthful target market. Considering the target market, the black model looks slightly subdued, but the blue is considerably more flashy. They feel a bit like plastic, but are still very well built. They do not have certified protection, but are supposedly sweat-proof so that you can use them during your workout. Unfortunately, it comes with few accessories. A carrying bag would have been nice, but at least you have four sizes to choose the best fit from.

The neck band is really light, and you hardly notice it around your neck. Because it has a slip-free surface, it stays put even if you happen to tug the earbuds a bit. The earbuds are very light and the cord is smooth, so they’re comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.

It must be said right away that Shadow is not some neutral pair of earbuds, so those interested in hi-fi should choose something else. The sound is sculpted with a clearly amplified bass. The earbuds are not completely unrefined, however, so you do not actually drown in the bass of all music. Where it exists though, it gets an extra boost. However, the headphones have problems retaining the details in the background. It is often only the dominant instruments that can be heard, and this excludes certain refined genres of music.

The earbuds are lightweight and comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.

Conclusion

Sol Republic Shadow Wireless is not suited for everyone. They are clearly targeting a younger audience, and the sound is adapted for hip hop and electronic music. The bass has decent amplification so that it will sound impressive and cool. But this is not done completely without any insight, so it is possible to play other music too. However, the sound is slightly too unrefined for more finely tuned music. If that’s all right, then Shadow is a pair of practical earbuds with no major flaws.

 

Sony MDR-XB70BT

Cumbersome and thunderous

Impractical design and excessive bass rendition make them uninteresting for most people.

Our verdict

Impressive bass for its size. The actual earbuds are light and comfortable.
Cumbersome and heavy design. Bass is too intrusive.
Element: 12 mm

Bluetooth: yes, NFC

Frequency range: 4 Hz–24 kHz

Battery life: 9 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certified: –

Weight: 43 grams

Website: sony.no

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Price 950 £

Compared to the other earbuds in the test that also have a collar, you cannot help but notice how big the XB70B is. The battery and electronics boxes at the ends of the neck collar are twice the size of certain competitors. Despite this, the battery life is not better, quite the opposite. It also makes the neck collar thick so it is quite noticeable that you have something around your neck. The cords of the earbuds are long, and they hang far down when not being used.

Thanks to NFC capability you can easily connect them with your phone. However, the handling is not as easy, since the buttons on the collar are hard to find with your fingers. The earbuds are quite lightweight though, and thanks to the angled shape they sit comfortably in the ear. The silicone tips come in four sizes, but some form of storage for transport is not included.

This model is part of Sony’s “Extra Bass” assortment, and it is therefore no surprise that they have a thundering bass. It’s certainly entertaining when listening to certain genres, but it dominates so much that other genres almost become annoying to listen to. It’s too bad, because the sound is otherwise warm, appealing and quite charming. If you listen at a low volume, you notice a rather prominent background noise that might become irritating.

Sony’s earbuds can be obtained in multiple colours.

Conclusion

We tend to associate Sony with smart solutions, neat designs and the latest technology. We almost wondered if XB70BT was really made by someone else. The earbuds are large and cumbersome, and gives the impression of anything but elegance. Despite this, battery time is far from the best. The last straw is nonetheless the sound, with the thundering bass drowning out nearly everything, making sure that only real bass buffs will be interested. But even then there are options with better sound.

 

RHA MA650 Wireless

Neat and appealing

Practical earbuds where the sound is as attractive as the luxurious exterior.

Our verdict

Comfortable thanks to the selection of ear tips. Nice and sturdy. Clear sound.
A little harsh in the upper range. A certain amount of listening fatigue may occur.
Bluetooth: yes, aptX, AAC, NFC

Frequency range: 16 Hz–22 kHz

Battery life: 12 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certified: IPX4

Weight: 33 grams

Website: mono.no

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Price 1000 £

Despite the price, RHA MA650 feels luxurious thanks to the nice aluminium details. They feel solid, and the impression is amplified by the dust and water protection, according to IPX4. The electronics sit at the ends of the neck band, and the generous battery life provides a long listening time. Thanks to the USB-C connector, they charge fairly quickly. Their weight keeps the hoop in place, and the slip resistant material ensures that they do not move about. Not only is a practical cloth bag included, you also get a whopping seven pairs of pads of different sizes, finishes and material.

It is therefore easy to get the perfect fit and a good seal. The earbuds are quite small and light, but they do not sit as securely as the MA750 Wireless, which has a hoop placed over the ear. It would certainly have helped if they had an angle that follows the ear canal instead of being perfectly straight.

MA650 does not sound as neutral as MA750, but has the same lovely, open clarity. You can easily hear the light detail that tends to drown in the mix on less refined earbuds. It is therefore a pleasure to listen to acoustic music and jazz. RHA has lifted up the high mid range, which can make voices stand out, but sounds slightly harsh. Due to this, the ears  can get a little tired during prolonged listening. The bass goes deep down and also makes rougher music compelling.

 

A generous selection of accessories and earbuds in various designs.

Conclusion

RHA MA650 Wireless is not only a pair of very neat earbuds, they are also more robust than you might think. Because the weight is well distributed and the neckband is slip resistant, they sit securely in place. An unusually generous selection of ear tips allows you to easily find a perfect fit. They have long battery life and charge fast with USB-C. The sound is appealing and works great with everything from acoustic music to rock. However, we experience that the sound can be a little harsh.

Jays A-six Wireless

Large bass in small packaging

For the bass buff, they are a bargain, but they are less suited for a varied music taste.

Our verdict

Excellent battery life. Lightweight and comfortable to wear. Surprisingly precise and heavy bass.
Bulky battery on the wire. The bass dominates in slower music.
Element: 6 mm

Bluetooth: 4.1

Frequency range: 20 Hz–20 kHz

Battery life: 12 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: –

Weight: 14 grams

Website: jaysheadphones.com

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Price 800 £

As usual, Jays sticks to a simple Scandinavian design, without any luminous logos or screaming colours. The remote may feel a little plastic, but the earbuds are made of metal and our first impression is that this is of a generally good quality. Also, the cords do not tangle if you shove them in your pocket.

The Jays A-Six Wireless comes with a short USB cable for charging, as well as a generous five different sizes of silicone pads. Finding a pair that both remain in place and provide a tight seal in the ear canal won’t be a problem. Thanks to the small and light earbuds, they sit comfortably in the ear, even over longer periods. However, the large battery pack on the cord makes them difficult to place safely around the neck. Magnetic earbuds would have solved that problem. However, the battery pack has an exceptionally good battery life of 12 hours.

Acoustic recordings sound good, with a good sense of presence. But thanks to the aluminium housing with bass ports in steel, a technique taken from q-Jays, it is the bass that impresses. The bass line in Silent Shout by The Knife has never been so thunderous in a couple of cheap earbuds. But it can become too rich. In Becks Say Goodbye, the background bass is lifted up so much that it overpowers the other instruments. An app with EQ would have solved the problem.

The steel bass port is taken from the premium earbuds q-Jays.

Conclusion

If you love bass heavy music and wants to have a pair of wireless headphones at a reasonable price range, there is nothing to talk about — you must have Jays a-Six Wireless. Rarely have we heard such a precise and very deep bass from such small and light earbuds. Thanks to their size, they’re comfortable too, and the selection of Silicone pads makes them stay in place. However, if you let them hang around your neck, the heavy battery may cause them to come off. On the other hand, the battery pack allows for the very generous battery life.

Marley Uplift 2 Wireless

Environmentally friendly but dull

An alternative for the one who wants to sit back with light music and a good conscience.

Our verdict

Manufactured from environmentally friendly materials. Good battery life. Balanced sound without exaggerations.
Bulky positioning of the battery. Tame bass and unengaging sound.
Element: Not provided

Bluetooth: 4.1

Frequency range: 20 Hz–20 kHz

Battery life: 10 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: –

Weight: 24 grams

Website: isolda.no

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Price 800 £

House of Marley has an interesting approach to environmentally friendly products. In this case it means that Uplift 2 Wireless is manufactured with recycled materials and environmentally certified wood, with degradable packaging. Also, a tree is planted for each sold product. The earbuds are neat with their wooden details and nylon reinforced tangle-free cords. A cloth bag is provided for transport as well as silicone pads in three sizes.

The earbuds are angled and sit comfortably in the ear. Unfortunately, the battery and electronics sit in the middle of the cord so they end up behind the neck. It can easily slide down and pull the earbuds out of the ear. A magnet lock in the front tries to solve this, but it feels like an emergency solution.

The sound is relatively balanced, without amplification of any frequency ranges, which is otherwise common in this price range. But it feels a little bit distant without any engaging sense of presence. If you push them, the treble becomes somewhat harsh. The bass goes quite deep, but it lacks pressure. Quite simply, it sounds a little tame and boring. Acoustic music and pop may work fine, but they are less appropriate for rock music, electronic music and ironically enough reggae.

 

Neat wooden details and nylon reinforced tangle-free cords.

Conclusion

If you are concerned about your environmental footprint when buying home electronics, the products of House of Marley can ease your conscience. Uplift 2 Wireless is built by environmentally certified, recycled and degradable materials. Despite this, they feel well-built, look good and have some practical features and accessories. The earbuds sit comfortably, but unfortunately, the battery pack sits in the neck, where it can slide down and pull out the earbuds. The sound is balanced, but a tad dull.

Audiofly AF45W

Nice and bass heavy

Gorgeous earbuds with rock-hard bass, but disappointing battery life and treble.

Our verdict

Splash proof according to IPX4. Potent bass reproduction. Exclusive look and good accessories.
Short battery life. Harsh treble and sculpted sound.
Drivers: 11 mm

Bluetooth: 4.1 aptX

Frequency range: 18 Hz–20 kHz

Battery life: 5 hours

Remote control/microphone: yes/yes

Certification: IPX4

Weight: 80 grams

Website: solipi.no

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Price 700 £

Compared with Audioflys high-end-models, AF45W is almost free. The budget can unfortunately be noticed in the battery pack and remote control, which are made of plastic and have sharp edges. However, the buttons are clear and easy to find with your finger. The wire is fortunately nylon clad, and the plugs actually look exclusive. They are also splash proof so that you do not have to be afraid of rain showers.

The leather case is neat and practical. There are also four sizes of silicone pads. Unfortunately, the earbuds sit all the way in the ear, which can be a little uncomfortable. A pair of angled earbuds would have given a better seal in the ear canal and made sure that they fit better.

The soundscape is open and acoustic music gets a good sense of presence. Thanks to the big drivers, the bass really goes deep and has a great pressure. Electronic music really comes into its own with these. However, the treble and the upper mid range are sharp, making the sibilants and cymbals feel rather harsh. The sound is also sculpted, allowing instruments to be unexpectedly lifted up from the mix, or that the background is hidden behind an audio mat.

The earbuds look exclusive and are splash proof.

Conclusion

With the exception of the plastic remote control, the earbuds and the luxurious leather case gives a clear impression that Audiofly makes pro earbuds. The cord is tangle free, and the earbuds are splash proof. However, the earbuds could have been angled for a better fit and insulation. The sound is open and the bass is really heavy. The earbuds might sound a little harsh in the upper range, and they sometimes place the tonal weight on the wrong instrument in the mix, which sounds weird.

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