The SoundPeats enhanced bluetooth headphone (Model Q12) are another entry into the budget bluetooth earphones arena, but do they do enough to stand out?
In the box
We’re off to a good start and the Q12 come with a wide variety of accessories. These include
- Two line clamps
- Three pairs of interchangeable ear hooks (S,M,L)
- Four pair of ear tips (XS,S,M,L)
- Two line buckles
- One USB charging cable
- A carry pouch
- The documentation
This is pretty impressive as the Q12 come in at only £19. The accessories, as you’d understand aren’t the best quality but still it begs the question to why more expensive offerings can’t match the amount of accessories on offer here. But like mentioned the accessories aren’t the best quality, but with the number of them you’re bound to find a combination that makes the user experience even better.
Design and Build
The Q12 come in three different colour options, there is all Black, Black and Red as well as Black and Blue. So if you want a splash of colour there is at least those two offerings. I have the all Black which look stealthy but I do really like the Blue variant.
On the housing there is no real feature that defines these and they remain pretty plain. There is a lack of any branding which you may prefer, so there is no key feature that sets these apart, in terms of design at least. The housing is though solidly made and feels really sturdy, this is pretty surprising given their ultra low price point. I was expecting to get a hollow sounding shell but that was not the case.
Round the back there is a circular design pattern that houses a set of magnets, this is a real welcome addition as it gives that extra layer of security when wearing them around your neck.
The cable is a flat ribbon style and it feels decent, its not the thickest cable but for the price point its more than acceptable. There is no strain relief to be seen though which is a bit concerning for longevity, but if you look after them, these types of cables are less prone to break.
The cable also houses the controller, this is made from plastic but again its quality surpasses expectations. It feels decently put together and doesn’t feel too cheap or hollow. On the controller there is the buttons which are a touch small, the spacing is good though.
The buttons are volume up/skip forward, power/play/pause/pairing and the volume down/skip back. They aren’t the most tactile and feel a bit mushy, but to be honest they work perfectly fine.
There is also a side mounted micro USB port for charging, this has the fiddly style port cover which is a bit annoying when in use, but it does its job and keeps debris out of the port. The last part of the remote of the underside is the microphone and branding. The microphone isn’t great quality at all and sounds really robotic, tinny and not very clear. This is just one of the pitfalls of earphones at this price point.
As a whole the build quality is better than I thought, the design is pretty bland if you go for the all Black version, so if you want something a bit more appealing I’d opt for the other colour options.
The Q12 again did better than expected, I was expecting the quality of the accessories to impact the comfort but that was not the case. Yes like previously mentioned they aren’t the best quality but that didn’t really have an effect of comfort. The tips are flimsy but they are pretty pliant and didn’t cause any inner ear fatigue. The ear hooks are soft too, usually these cause me some discomfort but these didn’t. I actually think its because they are soft that they didn’t cause any discomfort. Plus they’re lightweight too and the little weight that there is gets distributed across your neck when wearing them.
I found that I can wear these easily for around 3 to 4 hours before needing a break from them. This maybe different for you, but with the nice selection of tips and hooks on offer you can easily mix and match to find the perfect setup for you. This does take some time but if you want to get the most from them, then this does help.
Like most earphones at this price point there are some issues and the first being usability. The culprit is the remote. The remote buttons to be more specific. The buttons are nicely spaced liked previously mentioned but they are quite small which makes them a little tricky to press during use. Walking is fine but when you begin to jog or run identifying the individual buttons is a little less easy. I found that I often had to slow down to accurately press the buttons and not accidentally pause my music. Even after plenty of use I still find myself doing this.
Another minor gripe is the amount of lint, dust and dirt the earphones pickup. The tips are bad but the hooks are really bad and get dirty really easily. So if you’re using them out and about be sure to take the pouch.
Bluetooth is decent with the Q12, they use the 4.1 version and for the most part its solid. If your phone is within 10m (straight line of sight) then you’re fine, but if you go beyond that or put some walls between then the signal does distort and eventually cut out. So these don’t have the best Bluetooth connection in terms of range. Stability isn’t too bad and I haven’t had any issues (within the actual working range). But if you often leave your phone behind and walk around with your earphones, you may get some cut outs and drops.
One good point for usability is the magnets, I’ve laready mentioned them previously but it makes such a big difference and adds that extra layer of security when not in use. If you for, example needed to take them out mid excercise, you could and they would stay securely around your neck after you continue. Its not a ground breaking feature, but its a very welcome addition.
The battery life of the Q12 is pretty great. Quoted time is up to 8 hours and I managed to achieve 7 hours 23 minutes at 65% volume. Considering the average at this price point is around 5 hours and this is pretty impressive. It’ll easy last you a fair few trips to the gym or a few long commutes.
Charge time was quoted at between 1 to 2 hours. In my testing they took 1 hour 39 minutes to charge fully. So that is pretty much in the range quoted and again pretty impressive for the life on offer. You also get a handy notification LED to let you know when the battery needs topping up. Usually it blinks Blue and this will turn to Red when you need to charge.
Noise isolation and leak
Isolation from the Q12 is I would say average. My testing revealed that their natural isolation was okay but I could still hear some background noise. My bus test did reveal that they let quite a fair amount of noise in when no music is on meaning their capabilities are limited and have to relay heavily on the volume of your music. Testing them at my usual 65% did show that the Q12 did still let in some more prominent noise, for example I could still hear the tyre roar and occasionally some engine notes too. So if you want some real isolation, these don’t seem to offer that, by no means did these fail but they weren’t that impressive.
Leak is again average at low volumes you can’t hear much but again around the 60% region they start to show some cracks. On public transport and other public where its fairly noisy you would probably be okay. In quieter places then you’d have to reign in the volume a little to prevent any noise leak. So again they don’t fail here, they just aren’t the best performers.
The first point to note is just how loud the Q12 gets, these are easily some of the loudest Bluetooth earphones I’ve tested. That isn’t all good though as pushing them does resort in some noticeable distortion. Keep them at around 60 to 75% and your good, any beyond that and they do struggle.
Bass is quite strong, punchy and thick maybe a little too thick so that its bordering on murky. There also seems to be a big drop off as the real low extension isn’t that great. They appear to lose steam around the 40Hz region and don’t go much beyond that. Its also a little one dimensional a wayward, it doesn’t creep so much its just lacking control. Maybe I am being a bit critical given their price point, but that is just what I’m experiencing. For just casual listening and for the gym it would be fine though.
The mids are pretty nondescript. This isn’t really a bad thing as such they just don’t really add to the sound. They are reasonably clear, detail is lacking though. The upper mids can be a bit brash and grating at times. Soundstage is very limited and quite claustrophobic, sound separation isn’t fantastic either.
Vocals are a little lacking in power and sound a bit lacklustre. Again clarity isn’t an issue, its just that they sound a bit limp. Tonal quality is okay, its not the most natural sounding and its a touch dull.
As a whole they are okay for the price, they’re a little generic sounding but I will say for just a quick trip on the bus or for a jog then the sound is fine. If you want to really enjoy your music then I’d look elsewhere.
Do the Q12 do enough to stand out, well, not really. Price wise they’ve got it right and for under £19 they are solid earphones. The design is a bit bland but they’re well made. The number of accessories is a big bonus, they are pretty comfortable and offer good battery life. They are let down by the average noise isolation and leak performance as well as the mediocre sound. But if you want a cheap set of earphones for the gym, these would be worth a look.
If you are willing to spend that bit more the SoundPeats Q30 are a better and offer all the Q12 does but with a nicer sound. Back to the Q12 and they are solid all rounders, if not the best at the price point.
Pick up a pair here via Amazon UK
SoundPEATS Q12 Bluetooth 4.1 aptX Earphones