If you want good quality sound, it used to be a rule of thumb that you should avoid wireless earbuds. This only made sense. As recently as 2014, wireless earbuds were, frankly, garbage. You could only listen to music at low bitrates. Moreover, you couldn’t even listen in stereo. Instead, you just got tinny, single-channel sound that sounded like a dollar-store speaker set. But all of this changed in 2015, with the invention of True Wireless Stereo (TWS). TWS allows you to enjoy high-bitrate, stereo-quality sound from a simple pair of wireless buds. Apple quickly jumped on board, and their iPhone 7 dropped support for wired buds altogether.
Fast forward a few years, and the market has been flooded with TWS earbuds. Some of these are high-quality, right up there with Apple’s AirPods. Others are less well-engineered, seeking to capitalize on the popularity of other wireless buds.
Today, we’ll be reviewing the KSOUND K01 True Wireless Earbuds. KSOUND is a relatively new manufacturer, and this is the first of their products that we’re going to review. The K01 is an affordably-priced set of earbuds, so we’ll be assessing them on that basis. That said, there are some minimum expectations that any set of earbuds should meet. For one thing, we’d like to see a basic modicum of sound quality. For another thing, comfort is a basic feature that we’d always like to see. Beyond that, we’d like to see a stable connection and all-around good engineering. So, do the K01 earbuds meet our expectations? Or should you pass them up for a better option? Let’s take a closer look, and see what we find out!
The KSOUND K01 True Wireless Earbuds are designed similarly to the Apple AirPods Pro. The main body of the buds is round, with a set of silicone ear tips that sit firmly in your ear canal. A stem extends downward from each earbud, housing the batteries. This is a tried and true design, so it’s no surprise that KSOUND adopted it. They’re constructed from a matte black ABS plastic, which won’t show fingerprints or dust easily. At the bottom of each stem, there’s a small stainless steel cap that provides a touch of flair. This is the only shine or color on the entire design, but it looks reasonably good all things considered.
Because the earbuds are designed to fit in your ears, a firm fit is key for security. It’s also important to ensure that you get the best possible sound quality. There’s no active noise cancelling on these buds, which is to be expected at this price point. Nevertheless, this necessitates a firm seal to block out outside noise. Thankfully, KSOUND includes three sets of extra ear tips in the kit. The first thing you should do when you receive your buds is find the set that works best for you. Taking a few minutes at this time will get you a much better experience down the road.
If you want an even more secure fit, you’re either going to want over-the-ear buds or buds with built-in ear wings. For example, the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 earbuds boast comfortable integrated silicone airwings. These provide a more secure fit, but can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive outer ears.
In addition to a comfortable, ergonomic fit, the K01 True Wireless Earbuds offer integrated soft touch controls. These controls aren’t really visible. They’re built into the flat backs of the earbuds. Still, they perform all the functions you’d expect from a set of earbud controls. You can use them to answer and end calls, play or pause music, adjust the volume, and skip tracks. You can even activate your phone’s voice assistant for hands-free calling and other functions.
One thing the K01 buds don’t offer is an IP rating. They claim to be “waterproof”, but we can’t find any other information on what that means. Are they sweat-proof? Splash proof? Can they withstand immersion? Can you wear them in the shower? We don’t know. Considering the fact that IP ratings are an industry standard, this was a bit disappointing.
The earbud case is constructed from a matte black plastic that matches the buds themselves. It measures just over 4 inches in width, and just over 2 inches in height and depth. This makes it just a tad large for carrying in your pocket. Still, you can manage it if you’re truly determined. At 4.23 ounces, it’s more than light enough for easy carrying. The shape of the case is oval, with rounded edges, so they won’t dig into your legs.
The case lid is spring-loaded, which means it will stay shut unless you apply significant pressure. You don’t have to worry about your earbuds falling out while they’re in your pocket. And when you do need to open the lid, it’s fairly easy. A small cutout under the front of the lid allows you to easily lift it with your thumb. Underneath, there’s a row of four white LED lights. These indicate the current battery status, so you always know where you stand.
The entire kit comes with an 18-month manufacturer’s warranty. This is sufficient to cover you for any type of defect or unexpected damage. Make sure to hang on to your receipt in order to take advantage of this warranty.
Battery & Connectivity
We’ve established that the KSOUND K01 True Wireless Earbuds are relatively well engineered. But how long do they last? When fully charged, the K01 earbuds will last for approximately five hours. To be clear, this is a manufacturer’s rating. It’s based on listening at moderate volumes and a standard 128k bitrate. As a result, your mileage may vary. If you like high volumes and high bitrates, your battery life will be shorter. Conversely, if you’re listening to lower-bitrate content like audiobooks, you’ll get better battery life. Still, no matter how you cut it, five hours isn’t bad for a single charge.
Moreover, the case functions as a portable charger. You can charge your earbuds up to five additional times, extending your battery life to up to 30 hours. This is good enough for just about any purpose. For instance, you can take your earbuds and case on a weekend trip without needing to top off. And when you do need to top off, the USB Type-C cable will get the job done in 1.5 hours.
Of course, not everybody needs the longest possible battery life. Instead, other features may be more important. Take the TOZO T12 Wireless Earbuds, for instance. They have a very short battery life. But they can withstand full immersion, so they’re a great choice for showering, or even swimming.
The KSOUND K01 earbuds connect to your phone or MP3 player via the Bluetooth 5.0 protocol. This is the latest version of the Bluetooth protocol, and it’s a significant upgrade over older versions. Perhaps the most important feature is the fact that there’s zero latency. This means you can enjoy movies or videos without any desynchronization between the video and the audio. You can also listen at higher bitrates, which means you can enjoy richer, deeper music. Finally, the signal is exceptionally stable. You don’t have to worry about dropped calls or missing the best part of your favorite song.
One other useful feature of the K01 buds is that you can pair them individually as well as in stereo. For music, this isn’t going to be terribly helpful. On the other hand, it’s a great choice for hands-free calling. You can use a single earbud while driving, or just while walking when you need situational awareness. As an added bonus, this will double your battery life by only draining a single earbud at once.
The KSOUND K01 earbuds feature 6mm titanium-coated drivers that are among the best in their class. Still, 6mm is slightly on the small side for a pair of wireless buds. Because of this small design, the bass quality is underwhelming, and lacks any amount of punch. If you prefer bass-heavy music, you’re going to be disappointed. That said, other frequencies respond quite well. Mids are clean and clear, and vocals sound rich and full. High frequencies also come through clearly, with plenty of shimmer.
Moreover, the K01 buds offer a wide soundstage. This refers to the amount of separation you’ll hear between different instruments. If you’re an audiophile, you’ll appreciate the ability to distinguish between each individual instrument. Provided you don’t need powerful bass, you’ll be very satisfied with the sound.
When it comes to call quality, the K01 earbuds perform adequately, but they’re not stellar. You’ll be able to hear the person on the other end just fine, provided they have good mics. On their end, they’re liable to hear a small amount of background noise. If you’re using both earbuds in tandem, this noise will be lessened somewhat, but not totally eliminated.
The KSOUND K01 True Wireless Earbuds have some excellent features, as well as a few glaring weaknesses. To begin with, you get good quality construction, with a comfortable, ergonomic fit. Choose the right ear tips, and you’ll be very comfortable. On the downside, there’s no official IP rating, and the bass response is a bit weak. These are some pretty significant faults, but not unexpected considering the low price point.
That said, the rest of the sound quality is excellent. The mids and highs are plenty clear, and the soundstage is nice and wide. For genres that don’t rely on a lot of bass, you’re looking at a solid set of buds. Not only that, but the batteries are powerful. With up to 5 hours of playtime from a single charge, you can listen for hours without any issues. The charging case is similarly robust, providing up to 25 hours of additional charge. If you’re looking for an affordable set of wireless buds, you’ve found a solid choice.