Today I’ll be taking a look at an affordable pair of Bluetooth Earphones from Aukey. The EP-B40 are priced at just under £25 and have some pretty interesting features. But can they stand out or are they just another set of wireless earphones?
In the box you get
- A carry pouch
- A set of S,M,L eartips
- A set of S,M,L earhooks
- A cable management clip
- A USB cable
- The documents
Design and build
The aesthetic is nothing really to write home about. Its All black, has some subtle branding on the housing and that is pretty much it. In terms of look they are kept clean and simple, perhaps even bordering on dull. I personally have no issue with the simple approach but some of you I’m sure will find the design bland.
The main housing is quite large and they do tend to stick out quite far from the sides of your ears. This could be because of the magnetic ends which make keeping them secure a little easier. You can wear them around your neck and not have to worry about them falling off. The other side of the housing sits the nozzle, this set at a slight angle and should make comfort a little better, but more on that later. This section is also where you would locate the ear hooks. Like mentioned you get three sets, so you’ll need to mix and match in order to get the best fit for you. They’re easy enough to remove and swap out as there is a small groove to help locate them easier.
Onto the cable now and there is a small left and right indicator on the top strain relief, this is quite easy to see and not too obtrusive. The cable again is black and its coated with a smooth rubberised texture. It feels nice, its quite thick too meaning it should be robust for long term durability. The cable also houses the three button with a LED indicator. This is used to power on the earphones as well as control
- The volume (Up and down)
- Track control (forward and back)
- Answering calls
Not only that but the remote features a USB port and a mic for hands free calls. The mic is average. Its okay for a quick call but you wouldn’t want to hold a important conversation with it.
Next up is the build now and they are quite well made for the low price point. The housing is made from a thick and robust plastic, I don’t see them breaking anytime soon and should survive quite well in a gym bag. The cable like mentioned is thick and feels durable. Cable strain relief is not great, there is none up top and a small amount around the remote. This doesn’t need much as the cable weight is mostly around your neck. The remote is again plastic but feels solid. There is no flex and it doesn’t sound hollow like most at this price point. The buttons are finished in silicone and feel quite tactile for the price.
All in all the design might be plain for some of you, but some of you might like it. I can’t deny though that they are well made for the price.
The EP-B40 are decent, the earhooks are quite comfortable and don’t cause me too much fatigue. The medium ones seem to fit me best, but that will be different for you. So make sure you try the available ones to find the best option for you. The hooks are silicone and they are a little stiff but they stay in your ears really well, so even if you go for a jog or run, they shouldn’t fall out. The silicone eartips are okay as well. They again are a little stiff but don’t cause too much discomfort. The angled nozzles also help them sit in your ears really nicely. Usually I’m not a fan of earphones as I don’t find them all that comfortable, these however are pretty good and although I couldn’t wear them all day, a few hours is fine. Another plus is the lack of weight, this means that they won’t tug on your ears or cause any issues by being too heavy. The cable also helps this as it rests on your neck and isn’t left dangling. Speaking of the cable it did act as a bit of an irritation when jogging as it kept rubbing the back of my neck, but other than that, they are quite nice to wear.
The EP-B40 are rocking Bluetooth 4.1 with a wide array of compatible options. These are A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP and Apt-X. The operating range is stated to be up to 10m (33ft) and that would be quite accurate, as long as you don’t throw too many walls and doors between them ans the source. Pairing the earphones is super simple. You make sure the earphones are switched off, press and hold the middle button for around 4 seconds until the LED flashes red and blue. You then switch on Blueooth on your device and search for the Aukey EP-B40. Once it shows up, select it and it should pair within 10 seconds. Once established the connection is solid and stays stable.
These are rocking two additional features that I have yet to mention and the first is an IPX-4 rating. This means that if you get them wet via rain or sweat they will still continue to work. The second is an EQ mode, this gives you three options to switch through. The options are
- Vocal – designed to lift and emphasize the vocals
- Treble – tuned to bring the treble region more into focus
- Bass – gives you a bass boost
You activate these modes by double pressing the main multi functional button. But I’ll discuss how these affect the sound in the sound section of the review.
The B40 houses two 60mAh batteries giving you a total of 120mAh. The stated battery life is up to 8 hours. I managed to get 10 hours 48 minutes at 60% volume. Its not the best I’ve ever experienced but its not too bad either. Also remember that battery life will vary depending on how you use them.
Charge time is quoted at 1.5 hours, the unit I have took 1 hour and 25 minutes to charge via the Anker PowerPort 5 hub I use. Obviously this will vary depending on what you are charging them with.
Noise isolation and leak
These earphones use a technology called cVc to help reduce noise. It does this by working in tandem with a pair of mics located on the housing, but how does it work in the real world?
Well the noise isolation is good and works good. As always I test these on public transport and honestly I wasn’t aware of any background noise creeping in at all. Usually you get a little bit but I didn’t notice any at all. Well, apart from switching between tracks, but when your music gets going again its back to only hearing your music. Keep in mind I listened to these at around 60% volume, so if you have them on quieter then you may experience a little bit more background sound creep. Even without music though they do a decent job. Obviously the volume of your music is a big factor, but even without it, its decent.
Leak next is again going to vary on how loud you listen to them. My preferred volume didn’t lead to too much leak as I don’t have my music overly loud. Also it will depend on how they fit you. These fit me very well and create a good seal, which does help prevent sound from escaping.
So again your experience will probably be different to mine, but what I experienced was good.
As there are three different sound modes, I gave them all a go and well here is what I found.
Vocal mode (VM): Is honestly not that great to be honest. The vocals do stand out, but not in a good way. They sound very thin and lifeless. There a little bit of harshness to it and the quality seems to diminish. The bass takes a big hit and it not that impressive at all, it loses its depth and completely lacks power. The mids also change a little bit, they become a little more prominent, but again just sound a bit flat and docile. This is probably my least favourite profile out of the three.
Treble mode (TM): Does highlight the mid quite nicely. Its gives them a decent boost and makes them more prominent. The detail seems to improve a little too, its still not impressive but its better than in vocal mode. Also the vocals actually sound better in this mode too. They are less hollow and brittle sounding, they have more body, warmth and just sound so much better. The highs are nicely prominent too, there aren’t overwhelming but you can actually pick them out a little easier. The bass is also improved over VM, its deeper and has more punch. Its still not as good as in bass mode but its so much better than in VM. For me its just about enough to provide a bit of body to the sound as well keep things interesting. The overall quality of this one is the best out of the three and for me provides the most enjoyable listening experience.
Bass mode (BM): Does what it says on the tin, it enhances the bass. The lower frequencies gain a little more potency and more depth. The drop is handled fairly well and the low extension is decent. Its not too overpowering to spoil the mids or highs and it does add a little excitement to the sound. So if you like your bass heavy genres, this is the profile to pick. The mids remain pretty much the same as in treble mode, with a slight loss in detail. The vocals also lose a tiny bit of there impact, but nothing major. Highs do become a little less prominent and harder to pick out. It was a touch choice to pick between this an TM as my top pick, but I prefer the extra detail in treble mode.
So in reality I’d either pick BM or TM as your options as they offer the best in terms out sound quality. Now all that sounded really positive right? Well you have to remember that £25 Bluetooth earphones, so the quality I was describing was for that price in mind. Yes they are good, but if you want outright quality get something like the Xiaomi Hybrid pro. They in my opinion sound much better and cost around the same. You do lose Bluetooth, but you gain so much more.
Now to my other issue, changing between the modes. This is a bit of pain as I constantly was pausing my music and it was becoming a little bit frustrating. This is made worse by my unit refusing to remember my chosen profile after unpairing from my phone. So its bit of a hassle and it could have been implemented a little better in my opinion.
To wrap this up, should you buy some. Well for £24.99 I would say yes, seriously consider them, I did mention the Hybrid pro sound better but they are lacking in the features department. These have loads of features, are quite comfortable, have decent battery life, are great for sports, sound good and are overall a good set of Bluetooth earphones. If you want better sound, get the Xiaomi, if you want a better overall package with all the benefits of Bluetooth then these should be the ones to buy. But like I always suggest shop around as there maybe better out there for around the same price.
Get some here: www.amazon.co.uk/aukey-epb40