Given the popularity of wireless earbuds, you might think it would be easy to find a good pair. And while it’s true that more people are wearing wireless buds than ever before, this is no guarantee of quality. Precisely because wireless buds are so popular, tons of manufacturers are trying their hand. This has led to uneven results. Some companies are either inexperienced or are only in it for a short-term cash grab. Others simply make shoddy products. To find the best buds for your needs, it helps if you stick with a reliable manufacturer. Aukey is one of the most established wireless earbud manufacturers around, with dozens of excellent models.
Things didn’t used to be this complicated. Before True Wireless Stereo (TWS) was invented, you avoided wireless earbuds except for hands-free calling. When TWS went mainstream, there were only two models: the AirPods and Everybody Else. In other words, it’s only in the past few years that manufacturers have been able to compete in this field. Hence, we have a slew of options flooding the market.
Today, we’ll be staying with Aukey, and reviewing the EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds. These compact buds are suitable for work or play, and have a slick black aesthetic. But that doesn’t tell us much about how they actually work. We wanted to know more about the battery life, and how they feel when you wear them. And, of course, we wanted to know how good the audio is. To find out, we needed to put these earbuds through their paces. Now, we’re going to tell you everything we’ve learned. Let’s get started!
The Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds have a compact design, and are made to sit securely in your ears. They’re both smaller than most “compact” earbuds and have a longer battery life. This is thanks to the AirPod-style battery studs which protrude outside your ears. The studs have a flat profile, and are the same matte black as the rest of the earbud shells. The external batteries aren’t just convenient because of their small size. Since they put the batteries lower than the bottoms of the earbuds, they make the buds bottom-heavy. This means they’re less likely to pop out of your ears during physical activity.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to worry about your earbuds popping out to begin with. If they’re properly fitted, they’ll be seated inside your ears and won’t go anywhere. This requires a tip that’s the right size for your ear canal. To help you out, Aukey includes three sets of extra silicone ear tips in the package. These tips are three different sizes, so don’t settle for a fit that’s too loose or too tight. Taking a few minutes to get the right fit on day one can pay big dividends down the road.
If a secure fit is the most important factor you need, consider the Aukey EP-T32 Wireless Earbuds. These buds sport a pair of large rubber hooks, which wrap around the backs of your ears. They hold tight, even when the ear tips slip loose. That said, the pairing feature is a bit twitchy, and sometimes the connection needs to be reset.
Returning to the EP-N7 earbuds, you’ll notice a pair of gloss black circles on the back. These are not the touch controls. The touch controls are actually located below these circles, so make sure you’re tapping in the right place. Once you’ve got that figured out, you’ll find that the controls actually work quite well. You can use them for a variety of functions, including adjusting the volume and skipping songs. You can also answer and end calls, and even bring up Siri or Google Assistant. From there, you can do anything your phone’s voice assistant can do hands-free.
These earbuds are water-resistant, with a rating of IPX5. This equates to a strong splash-proof rating, so the buds are safe to wear in rainy conditions. We wouldn’t take them in the shower, but they’re more than watertight enough for most other purposes.
Like most wireless buds, the EP-N7 earbuds come with a charging case. It’s matte black in color, matching the earbud shells. When you open the clamshell lid, you’ll see a pair of molded ear wells for the buds to drop into. These wells ensure that you don’t get the earbuds crossed, and that both will charge correctly. That said, the buds lay in place like a pair of parallel lines, and don’t make a good use of space. The result is a fairly beefy case that’s a big bulky for smaller pockets. It’s rounded for comfort, but we still would have liked to see a smaller profile.
On the front of the case, just under the front of the lid, you’ll notice a row of four LED lights. These indicate the current battery status, so you won’t get caught out by a dead battery. On the back of the case, there’s a USB Type-C port for charging the internal battery. A USB to USB Type-C cable is included in the package.
These are mid-priced earbuds, and might be more than you’re willing to spend. If you just want a pair of cheap buds, check out the Aukey EP-T31 Wireless Earbuds, which are more affordable. On the other hand, they don’t have the noise cancellation and voice isolation features of the more advanced EP-N7.
Battery and Connectivity
Battery life is another important measure of an earbud’s performance. In this regard, the EP-N7 is neither particularly exceptional nor particularly disappointing. The earbuds themselves are rated for five hours of playback per charge, which isn’t half bad. But keep in mind that manufacturer ratings are based on tests performed at half volume. If you play a lot of loud music, your battery life will be correspondingly less.
Other factors, such as cold weather, can also negatively impact your battery life. But under normal conditions, you can expect about four to five hours per charge. This can be extended by using the charging case, which has enough capacity for four recharges. This will net you a total of 20 to 25 hours’ battery life.
Recharging both the earbuds and the case is easy. To charge the buds, simply put them in the case for about 90 minutes. As long as the case has any juice left, the earbuds will charge automatically. Similarly, the case itself will charge in about 90 minutes via USB Type-C. This makes it quick and painless to top off your batteries. Unless you’re going deep in the wilderness for days on end, you’ll never run out of power.
The EP-N7 buds connect to your phone or MP3 player with the current Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth 5.0. This version of Bluetooth is a significant upgrade over earlier versions of the protocol. To begin with, Bluetooth 5.0 connections have far less latency than their earlier predecessors. This means that there won’t be any desynchronization between audio and video when gaming or watching a movie. Next, Bluetooth 5.0 allows for higher bitrates. If you want to listen to HD audio on your wireless buds, you’ll be able to enjoy the full quality. Finally, it offers a more stable connection, so your earbuds won’t randomly disconnect.
In addition, these earbuds are designed for both stereo and mono use. In stereo mode, you hear the audio as originally recorded, through both the left and the right channels. This is really the only way you’ll want to listen to music. That said, using just the right bud or just the left bud can have advantages of its own. Mainly, you can be aware of your surroundings, to avoid traffic and other hazards. Not only that, but you can extend your battery life by burning through only one at a time.
The heart and soul of the EP-N7 earbuds is their 8mm titanium drivers. These are around average-sized for a pair of compact buds, and the result is about what you’d expect. As is their tradition, Aukey provides a wide soundstage with plenty of separation between instruments. The audio is also clear and pleasant to listen to across all frequencies. However, the bass can’t quite keep up at higher volumes. Crank things up past about 75 percent, and the bass will be noticeably quieter than the rest of the mix. Still, you’re getting good audio for the size.
The hybrid ANC technology also works quite well. This system combines internal and external mics to provide the best noise cancellation available. The outside mics are able to capture noises earlier, while the inside mics can adjust for any errors in the ANC. In total, this system can reduce background noise by an impressive 35dB. Planes, trains, and crowded areas will not disturb your listening. There’s also an option for transparency mode. When this is activated, you’ll immediately hear more of your surroundings, not less. It’s a great way to have a quick conversation or listen for a flight announcement without removing your buds.
Call performance is also quite good. Each EP-N7 earbud has a pair of built-in microphones that will focus on your voice during a conversation. This helps to eliminate background noise, so other people can hear you more clearly. How well you can hear the other person will depend entirely on how good their equipment is.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds. Their only drawbacks are minor. The large case is forgivable, and the weak bass is a side effect of small drivers. These drivers, in turn, are as big as one could reasonably expect given the small size of the physical earbuds. The size, in turn, makes them comfortable to wear, as well as more discreet than some of the larger earbuds. Not only that, but the ANC is highly effective, and the call quality is excellent. These are excellent earbuds both for home and for travel.