I normally advise people to avoid unknown brands as I can’t possibly review them all and in the absence of trusted reviews, it’s difficult to know what sort of quality you’re going to get. However, some unknown brands of true wireless earphones can be exceptionally good and offer exceptionally good value for money when compared with tried and trusted names like Sony or Sennheiser.
The market for true wireless earphones is on fire right now with lots of businesses piling in with something close to gold-rush fever. There are so many true wireless earphones on the market it’s difficult to know which ones are worth buying and which are just unknown brands leaping on the bandwagon.
A case in point is the Sabbat E16 true wireless earphones that have just turned up on my desk for review. Sabbat isn’t a brand I’ve ever come across before, but I thought I’d give the E16 a try as the specs sounded good and the price seemed reasonable for what is on offer.
The Sabbat E16 earbuds are available in a choice of four fetching colors: Aurora, Neon, Galaxy and Mystic featuring a pleasant metallic lacquer that looks very stylish. The earpieces are stored in a beautifully made charging case that has a rechargeable battery on board that can provide three complete charges to the earbuds. The E16 can play for up to six hours before they need recharging. The storage case battery takes about an hour to recharge using the supplied USB-C cable or a Qi-compatible charging mat.
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At the heart of the E16, there is a Qualcomm chipset running Bluetooth version 5.2. The chipset supports both apt-X and AAC codecs and has a low latency gaming and video mode that can be easily accessed by clicking the control buttons four times. Thanks to the support of apt-X and AAC codecs, the E16 caters to Android and iOS users when it comes to high-quality audio.
The Qualcomm chipset feeds a BM (balanced membrane) driver in each earpiece. The driver is two drivers and combines a tweeter and a woofer just like a good quality loudspeaker. One section of the driver handles the bass and mid-range frequencies, while the other takes care of the treble. By opting for this balanced membrane driver, Sabbat says it’s more robust than a balanced armature driver that might normally be used for the treble in a pair of hybrid earbuds.
Both the design and fit of the E16 earbuds are excellent. The case and the earpieces are beautifully molded and the earbuds sit comfortably in the bowl of the ear. Sabbat includes two sets of ear tips made from silicone and memory foam. Each set of earbuds comes in three different sizes. Any manufacturer that offers both silicone and memory foam ear tips must be serious about music.
Pairing the earpieces to a smartphone using Bluetooth is an easy process and only needs to be done once. From then on it will automatically connect every time the case lid is flipped open. The earpieces slip easily into the ear but it’s essential to ensure the right size of ear tip is fitted as it makes a huge difference to the sound. Each earbud has a clickable control button for pausing music, skipping and repeating tracks, plus altering volume levels. I much prefer clickable buttons as there’s no danger of accidentally pausing the music every time the earbuds need adjusting.
The earbuds can be used in mono mode so that taking one earbud out of the charging case will still connect to the music and enable the user to make and take phone calls. Speaking of phone calls, the E16 have built-in microphones with Qualcomm’s cVc 8.1 noise-canceling effect for making clearer calls even when there is considerable background noise. While most earbuds are never quite as good for making calls as a traditional headset with a boom microphone, the Sabbat E16 are surprisingly clear when making calls, possibly thanks to Qualcomm’s cVc 8.1. I auditioned the Sabbat E16 by streaming a rather splendid Brazilian Jazz Breeze playlist from TIDAL. There’s nothing like a laid-back selection of bossa nova tracks on a sunny day to lift the mood. The sound created by the E16 is nothing short of magnificent. The use of the BM dynamic driver works, giving the sound a superbly detailed soundstage that never sounds harsh or grating on the ears.
The mid-range and bass are both warm and powerful and complement the upper frequencies perfectly. The E16 can articulate music with precision but they also have a fabulous sense of rhythm and low distortion which means they can be used for hours without tiring the listener’s ears. I like the sound of these earbuds and I’d put them on a par with the superb Lypertek PurePlay Z3 that I reviewed last month. When the price is taken into consideration, the Sabbat E16 represent exceptional value for money. However, unlike the Lypertek PurePlay Z3, there’s no smartphone app available for updating the firmware or adjusting EQ and control settings. That’s not such a bid deal but some people like to have an app in case they want to shape the sound using a graphic equalizer. Frankly, I think the sound of the E16 is so well-tuned, it doesn’t need any tweaking.
Verdict: The Sabbat E16 are a great pair of earbuds for the money. With their hybrid driver arrangement and excellent tuning, they sound far more expensive than they are. The build quality is excellent while the battery life is acceptable at six hours. The use of a BM driver ensures a detailed and powerful sound that suits most genres of music. The earbuds have a waterproof rating of IPX5 but there’s no smartphone app or ANC (active noise canceling) function on offer. Frankly, the lack of ANC in a pair of earbuds is a plus. If you want ANC, then over-the-ear headphones are much better suited to canceling noise. I enjoyed auditioning the Sabbat E16. They are well-balanced pair of earphones and offer great value for money. Highly Recommended. Pricing and Availability:
More info: Tech Specs:
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