Long-term evaluation of the Aukey Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds: I’m getting on in years

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Long-term evaluation of the Aukey Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds: I’m getting on in years
Long-term evaluation of the Aukey Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds: I’m getting on in years

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The Long-term evaluation of the Aukey Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds: I’m getting on in years

No need to break the bank for a pair of true wireless active noise canceling earbuds. Hell, you probably don’t even need a whole Benjamin. Aukey’s Beyond ANC Hybrid earbuds, also known as the EP-N5, cost as little as $59 most days and can sometimes be found for much less. But can your ears live with it? Check out our attached update below. Connectivity Bluetooth 5 Codecs AAC, SBC Drivers 10 mm Buds battery 7 hours or 4.5 hours with ANC (60 mAh) Case battery 4 additional cycles (500 mAh), charges in 1.5-2 hours via USB-C IP Rating IPX5 (Spray Water) Price $59 THE GOOD Value True wireless earbuds with ANC available at this price? That is pushing boundaries. ANC Not bad at all for an entry-level product. THE NOT SO GOOD design Their clunkiness is native to the form factor, but the touch controls can get in the way. ANC, again Its effectiveness diminishes somewhere over time and needs to be reset. Design, hardware, what’s in the box The EP-N5 are voice earbuds – the same general shape as Apple’s AirPods. They can be controlled by touch capacitors on the top half of both stem and charged via Pogo pins on the stem end. The earbuds fit in a charging case with a glossy plastic interior and a matte rounded exterior, all in black. The tops rest in the housing with the stems in silos rather than lying flat in a recess, which can make it a little difficult to keep clean.

TWEs are tricky business already, but the dark look coupled with the port design makes it downright annoying – I find myself poking around the silos more often than I’d like. When you fill the box, you have a small full USB to USB-C cable and a pouch with the regular large and small bud tips — the media is installed by default. I’m far from the only one to find that these are practically universal tips (not Aukey here) aren’t great fits so it’s important to note that if you want to use alternative tops they have to be tips only — I tried a two-part solution with a base coat with a tip and couldn’t get them both in place.

sound quality, features, and battery life Right out of the case, the earbuds like to pair with something so they’re easy to find on your device. You can use both earbuds or just the right one if you like the call center life. No support for Bluetooth multipoint or anything like that features here, so they can only connect to one device at a time.

Tapping one of the buttons will pause, play, or answer a call, depending on the situation, of course. Double tapping the left button jumps back, while doing the same on the right moves forward. If you keep a finger on one of the buttons for two seconds, a will be terminated or rejected phone dial or turn ANC on (one beep) or off (two beeps). Double and triple tap recognition was extremely hit and miss for me, even if I was very conscious about how I was tapping. It was also no fun to rummage around the buds without accidentally touching the stem and causing a break or play.

The noise cancellation is said to create a 28dB dent in the ambient noise and – without measuring the output of my earbuds – Aukey seems to have achieved that goal, crushing low rumbles like from your air conditioner or car. It’s about as good as I can hope for with $60 TWEs.

However, with the good comes the bad. The lack of aptX bothers me a bit, but it’s expected for a budget item. There’s also the occasional glitch that disrupts the stereo sync between the knobs – it clears up with a few pause/play cycles and sometimes it just happens on its own, but it’s a nuisance nonetheless. Most damningly, I’ve found that the ANC stops working after a while. I can’t tell exactly when that will be, but between adjusting the knobs and removing and putting them back on, it usually takes about half an hour. When I toggle ANC on and off and it makes no discernible difference then I know I need to reset.

Each button has two microphones for recording speech and phasing out background noise. During conversations, my voice was considered satisfyingly clear while standing at a busy, windy intersection, but was overpowered in a cafe with music and conversations in the background at a moderate level.

It was a bit difficult to follow the power situation with these buttons. I wore the EP-N5s for four extended sessions of 2.5 to 5 hours over the course of a week, mostly with ANC on. They automatically turn off when placed in the case, so that’s where they stayed, although I didn’t plug the case in overnight to test. In total, I got about 15 hours of podcasts, music, and conversations in total before emptying the entire kit.

I also tried to get at least one non-ANC marathon session and got about 7 hours. That matches what Aukey advertises for maximum non-ANC battery life. With ANC on, the summit comes to 4.5 hours. Between the buttons and the case I should have gotten 22 hours for the week, but I suppose with the case constantly filling the charge of the buttons there would be significant loss there

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