Aukey's £18.99 EP-B4 Bluetooth Earphones pack Bluetooth 4.1, AptX, a hands-free mic built into the earpiece for calls and come in a lurid green colour just to be super-sure you don't lose them. We're big fans of our wired earbuds... so how do these measure up?
In the box (a typically recyclable brown cardboard affair), you'll find the earphones themselves, a USB to microUSB cable (for charging), 2 alternative sizes of hear hooks, 2 alternative sizes of tips, a felt drawstring carry case and a user manual.
The earphones have a definite 'sports' feel about them (which figures I guess, given their design - the ear hooks are designed to keep them in your ears when you're doing 'active stuff'). The main bodies are black, with light green highlights for the buttons, charging flap, mic hole and the flat cable between the two earpieces. Of course, even though they are wireless headphones (no wires to the source), they are still connected together with a flat cable that you'd generally run behind your neck.
There are three buttons on the device - plus and minus buttons for the volume and a 'multi function' button. The earphones are charged via microUSB, which lives behind a somewhat fiddly little flap, which also obstructs the port a little for some cables - this could probably be better designed.
The earphones are turned on by pressing the multi function button for 8 seconds, after which it is announced in your ear that the headphones are on. Nice. The button is pretty easy to locate by touch if you want to do it when they're in your ear. The LED behind the button goes blue when the earphones are on, and flashes blue and red when in pairing mode, entered by holding the power button for a further 6 seconds when powering on. Pairing mode too is announced, making the process super-slick and easy.
With AptX support, the EP-B4s have support for the highest quality Bluetooth audio sound around at the moment, which is a definite plus.
When listening to music from your device, there are a number of controls. The volume buttons, when listening to music, can be held to skip track forwards or backwards. Tapping the multi function button pauses or resumes the current track. Simple. I found the controls very responsive, with minimal delay between pressing the button and the device responding, which is refreshing.
As well as listening to music, the EP-B4s can be used to make calls. The multi function button performs a multitude of functions here - a single press answers or ends a call, a double press can either reject an incoming call or dial the last number and pressing and holding the button mutes and resumes a call. Calls are announced via voice as they come in.
When the earphones arrived, I gave them a full charge and use them continuously until the battery ran flat, which came in at just under two and a half hours. For subsequent charges however, battery life is much improved at around 4 hours. The earphones are quite slow to charge, which is somewhat strange.
Sound quality - Music
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, which means the proof of the earphones is in the listening. So what do they sound like? Good!
First up I paired the EP-B4s with my Honor 7 and played some high quality self-ripped music. I found the sound quality OK, but not really up to the quality of my beloved pistons, mainly due to excessive bass. Concerned, I next paired them with my iMac - what a difference! A far better overall sound. Finally, I paired the earphones with my LG G4. Again, great quality sound... I suspect the Honor 7 has an EQ that isn't making the most of the EP-B4s.
The earphones do a great job of blocking out sound from outside.
Sound quality - Calls
Unfortunately, while the EP-B4s were great for music, they weren't so great for calls. Performance was perfectly fine in quiet environments, but in noisier settings - unsurprisingly given the mic positioning - background noise was a problem.
Pros and cons
- Decent sound
- Excellent price
- Comfortable fit (for me, good range of alternative fitments included)
- Good battery life
- Carry case included
We don't like...
- Somewhat garish in design
- Fiddly charging socket
Weirdly, Bluetooth headphones seem to be about £15 or over £100 and rarely somewhere in between, which makes buying a bit of a minefield if you don't want to spend a fortune. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the EP-B4s, both in sound and comfort. Now, if I could just have them in a different colour...
Aukey's Ep-B4 earbuds can be purchased from Amazon UK.