This year there have been a tsunami of true wireless earbuds coming onto the market. Many of these earbuds offer premium features like active noise cancelling or customised hearing profiles, but what if you just want a pair of true wireless earbuds at a super-affordable price. How would you know if those budget pair of earbuds from a little-known brand can deliver the goods?
To answer this question, I thought I’d test a pair of true wireless budget earbuds from Aukey, a brand that sells affordable tech products in plain brown boxes, mostly on Amazon. Aukey doesn’t spend spend money on fancy marketing or slick packaging; instead, it focuses on delivering value-centric and reliable tech products at sensible prices. So, let’s see if the brown-label goods can deliver a decent performance.
The first pair I tested were the Aukey EP-T21. These earpod-style earbuds come in a dinky little charging case and they feel very well made. There’s a Micro USB port at the rear of the charging case for topping up the lithium batteries. Green LEDs on the front of the case flash while the case is charging and then turns off after around two hours when the battery is full. There’s no indicator to show the remaining charge in the case.
Flip open the lid of the charging case and you’ll see both earbuds laying in their charging cradles. Each earbud has an LED that flashes either green or red, depending on whether the earbud batteries are fully charged or not. The earbuds can play for up to five hours on one charge and there’s a total of 25 hours of playing time available with the charging case battery. That’s a very respectable figure, especially given the small size of the case.
The EP-T21 come with three pairs of silicone ear-tips in small, medium and large sizes, as well as a short Micro USB cable for charging the case. The ear-tips provide a good passive ear seal and that helps with the sound. Pairing to a smartphone is simple and the Bluetooth connection is automatically renewed each time the earbuds are taken out of their charging case.
The audio codecs supported by the Aukey EP-T21 are quoted as SBC but I managed to connect using AAC on my iMac and iPhone, so that makes them ideal for iOS and Android devices. Each earbud includes a touch control for pausing music, skipping tracks, accepting or rejecting calls, and ending a conversation. The touch controls can’t be used to adjust volume levels. Each earbud includes a built-in MEMs microphone for picking up the user’s voice when making phone calls and the call quality is surprisingly good.
The sound of the EP-T21 is forward and strong in the midrange as well as being clear in the treble range, and that adds lots of detail to the music. The bass response of the EP-T21 is a little less convincing. The bass is there but just not as forward in the mix as the rest of the frequencies. However, overall the sound is good and whether you like it will depend on the type of music you enjoy. If thumping bass is your thing, the EP-T21 may not be the earbuds for you. That aside, the volume levels are excellent and the sound is excellent for the money.
Verdict: The Aukey EP-T21 have to be one of the best budget pairs of earbuds for the money. They aren’t the best earbuds and they’ll never match the sound quality of a premium pair of earbuds, but for this price they are an absolute steal and brilliant value for money. If you’re sick of losing earbuds on your daily commute or you don’t want to take an expensive pair with you on your travels, you can’t really do much better than the Aukey EP-T21 true wireless earbuds.
Pricing: $29.99 / £19.99 / €29.99.
More info: www.aukey.com
- Model: EP-T21
- Technology: BT 5, A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5
- Audio Codecs: SBC and AAC
- Driver: 1x 6mm / 0.24” speaker driver
- Operating Range: Up to 10m / 33ft
- Battery Life: Up to 5 hours
- Input: DC 5V
- Charging Time: 2 hours
- Battery Type: Li-Polymer (2 x 40mAh)
- Weight: 9g / 0.32oz
- Charging Case: Li-Polymer (380mAh)
- Number of Earbuds Recharges: 4 times (pair)