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A year ago the category “cheap true wireless earbuds” was virtually non-existent, but several companies have paved the way, allowing others like Aukey to try its hand at affordable truly wireless ‘buds. The Aukey EP-T16 is hardly feature-packed but the carrying case does charge via USB-C and the ~$60 price is very attractive.
Who is the Aukey EP-T16 for?
The included earbuds are both stylish and affordable, strategically hitting the sweet spot for general consumers. Its compact charging case is convenient and can be thrown into a bag or pocket without taking up much space. What’s more, the case charges via USB-C which serves as a convenience for users with current flagship smartphones.
Related: Best cheap true wireless earbuds
The case and earbuds take on an eerily similar form to the Soul Emotion true wireless earbuds. For the EP-T16, though, Aukey adds a slightly raised geometric design on the earbud panels, giving them a more distinguished look. Either earbud allows for call and playback controls but can’t access virtual assistants like Google or Siri.
The glossy housings are easy enough to grip, at least until your fingers get sweaty. A few times at the gym, I thought I had a secure grip on the earbuds only to watch them plop to the ground. Not that the Aukey EP-T16 should be taken to a gym or on a run anyway since the earbuds are neither IP-certified nor treated with a water-resistant coating. The charging case also features the same slick finish.
Call quality is passable and audio is only relayed through the left earpiece. While this isn’t unbearable, it’s annoying and disorienting. Fortunately, the MEMS microphone effectively relayed my voice during test calls; no one complained that it was difficult to hear me.
Battery life is disappointing. The 400mAh charging case requires two hours to complete a full charge cycle and provides an additional three charges to the Aukey EP-T16 earbuds. Standalone battery life for the ‘buds, each of which houses a small 55mAh li-ion battery, is 2.27 hours. Fortunately, it only takes one hour to fully charge them but they lack fast charging capabilities.
True wireless earbuds are no stranger to connectivity stutters, which are plenty present with the Aukey true wireless earbuds. Bluetooth 4.2 is in operation here as opposed to version 5.0; that in tandem with the lack of high-quality codec support is the likely culprit for poor connectivity. The 10-meter wireless range seems a stretch as skips occur when the earbuds are just five meters from a source device regardless of the environment.
Sound quality is just alright. The bass response is a bit heavy-handed while lacking clarity. Midrange frequencies, like most vocals, are underemphasized and easily overshadowed by a loud drum or bass line. Isolation, on the other hand, is pretty good with the included ear tips. If you’re having a hard time getting a good bass response, test out the alternate sizes; if that doesn’t work, third-party ear tips may be your best bet.
Lows, mids, and highs
In the song, Daft Punk Is Playing At My House by LCD Soundsystem, claps and cymbal hits are maintain a steady presence throughout but are overproduced by the EP-T16 drivers. This overemphasis translates into an irritating sound due to the 10kHz spike where harmonic resonances are heard.
Clear audio quality is not the EP-T16's strong suit as low frequency sounds easily mask vocals.
Conversely, vocals are surprisingly underwhelming: James Murphy’s inflections aren’t nearly as prominent as they should be. At 3:19, Murphy begins the verse with the lyrics, “everybody’s lined up at my house, my house.” His vocals are masked, however, by the bass guitar and syncopated cymbal hits.
Bass response, while handily exaggerated, lacks clarity. This makes for a much less engaging sound than something like the Under Armour True Wireless Flash by JBL, which also boast an extreme low-end.
With all the cons out of the way, in all fairness to Aukey, the sound quality is fine for most general consumers who just want noise to drown out the external din. The real frustration comes from unreliable connectivity rather than sub-par sound quality.
Should you get Aukey’s true wireless earbuds?
While USB-C charging is neat to see in low-priced true wireless earbuds, the fact remains that better deals exist for cheap true wireless earbuds. Of course, that’s not to completely dissuade you if you’re interested in the Aukey EP-T16: these are well-designed ‘buds for less. Just know that you’re stepping into a world of potential media dropout by investing in these.
If you’re wondering what the best affordable true wireless pick is, look into the JLab JBuds Air or Anker Liberty Air. The former is ideal for athletes while the latter makes for an excellent alternative to the AirPods.
Still looking? Read up on our list of the best AirPods alternatives