When it comes to top-of-the-line wireless earphones available in the market, the Apple AirPods and Bose SoundSport are easily the more popular options. Outside the U.S. however, a company called LiteXim is making a name for itself by offering wireless earbuds that provide good sound without breaking the bank.
The Chinese firm isn't actually new to the listening device segment. It has been in existence since 2006, and its range of products includes active noise-canceling and Bluetooth earphones. A few weeks ago, LiteXim sent me its latest product called the Aerobuds, a pair of completely wireless earphones that cost $60 on Amazon right now (down from $90). After a few weeks of using the earbuds, here are the high and low points of the product.
Inside the box
The product was shipped to me in a rectangular white box containing the earbuds, charging dock, user manual, quick guide, micro USB cable (USB Type A to Micro-USB B), and three pairs each of the ear and wing tips. The ear tips and wing tips come in various sizes to take into account those with different ear sizes.
Additionally, there is a printed QR code which can be used to download the complete user manual onto your mobile device. Unfortunately, the package does not include a USB charger adapter, which must be purchased separately.
|Standby time||Approximately 60 hours|
|Talk time||Approximately 3.5 hours|
|Non-stop audio play||4 hours|
|Total play time||16 hours|
|Battery capacity||2 x 50mAh|
|Battery dock capacity||500mAh|
Unlike the pricier earphones out there with a flashy design, the Aerobuds have a simple yet thoughtfully crafted look. There are no fancy contours, which would otherwise make the pair stand out from the crowd. The earphones are also sweat proof, which will definitely be a good catch for athletes or gym goers.
Made entirely of plastic, the earbuds are light to hold and include a multi-function button (MFB) that's positioned on the back of the earpieces. The button performs various tasks including switching on the earbuds, pausing a track, skipping songs, and answering/ending calls.
The three pairs of ear and wing tips are made of silicone rubber and are designed such that they fit comfortably and securely in the ear canal without falling out easily. Like the earbuds themselves, the tips come only in black, though it would have been nice if a different color accent had been thrown into the mix.
The charging case that comes with it looks a bit larger than other models on the market, but can still be put inside a pocket without bulging out. It can also be easily opened with a button latch on the front. In addition, closing the lid produces a clicking sound. The earbuds are charged by snapping them into their designated slots in the case.
Power is supplied to the earbuds through the metal connectors built into each earpiece and designed to magnetically hold them in place. When the earbuds are charging, the LEDs on the back of the case will keep on blinking red until fully juiced up, at which time the lights turn white.
Keep in mind that there are three indicator lights: one for each of the left and right earpieces, and a separate one for the power status of the case itself. When the indicator light for the case's power is blinking red, that means the charging case itself needs to be recharged using the USB cable provided. The earbuds inside the case are also charged in the process.
Features and performance
As mentioned above, the main operations of the earbuds are performed through the multi-function button. To get started, I turned both earpieces on by pressing and holding down each of their MFBs for approximately four seconds until a voice prompt indicates they are powered on and connected with each other. The indicator light on the right earpiece will then blink alternately in red and white while the left earpiece flashes only a white light. Once the earbuds are connected to a phone via Bluetooth (also announced by the voice prompt), both indicator lights will blink only in white.
The MFB provides a quick way to control music playback. A single press works to play/pause a song, while a double tap skips a song. An incoming call can also be accepted with a single press and rejected with a double tap, while an outgoing call can be ended with a single press.
However, I've encountered issues with these MFB capabilities multiple times. In one instance, after several minutes of playing a song, I would try to pause it to no avail. The same intermittent glitch also happens with the double-tap function, as it sometimes won't skip to the next song. It is worth pointing out, though, that the button works properly more often than not. Thankfully, I have had no trouble using the MFB for calling, save for the fact that many people I've called told me the mic sounded a bit muffled. That's understandable, since the built-in microphone is far away from my mouth.
While it's nice to be able to perform multiple tasks using the earbuds' MFB without having to reach for my phone, the button doesn't allow me to rewind a song or control the volume. That means I have to open my device and tap the repeat button on the media player if I wish to listen to the same song again. Likewise, I also need to squeeze the volume rockers for adjustments if the sound is too loud or low. These capabilities would be welcome additions to a future iteration of the Aerobuds.
When it comes to connectivity, the earbuds' Bluetooth function almost instantly connects to my phone once turned on. But here's the rub: the wireless connection is frequently plagued by dropouts when playing an audio file, though not so when watching a movie or when you're in a call. This occurs even without an obstruction, and the problem is accentuated when your handset is inside a pocket or placed in another room.
It should be pointed out that the random dropout occurs only when playing some music; phone calls via Bluetooth run smoothly without hiccups. What's odd though is that for some reason or another, phone calls are relayed only through the right earpiece.
It's also a pity that the Bluetooth connection range did not live up to LiteXim's claimed distance. The Aerobuds are supposed to maintain a Bluetooth connection within 24 meters (27 yards), but in my experience, it drops out just beyond seven meters or so, and doesn't reconnect unless I go back standing within the tolerable range.
In terms of longevity, the earbuds' batteries don't live up to expectations either, except when you make certain compromises. LiteXim claims the batteries can last up four hours for non-stop audio play; however, they barely reached three hours when I used the earphones multiple times to listen to music continuously. On average, the earbuds' batteries last 2.5 hours for uninterrupted playback at 80% volume and up. Reducing the volume to between 50% and 60% results in the buds lasting closer to the claimed four hours, though not quite reaching said number.
The charging case can also juice up the earbuds four times, 1.5 hours per charging session. That means the earbuds can only be used for about 10 hours of full-volume audio playback.
The moment I popped the earbuds into my ears, I was immediately captivated by the balance and richness of sound produced. While admittedly the mids and highs are not super impressive, the bass packs a punch. For what they cost, the Aerobuds nevertheless deliver a decent sound quality on the lower end of the price spectrum.
To test out audio quality with various music genres, I listened to Sheppard's Geronimo and it sounded just as it should be — rich and solid in the bass. Then I switched to James Bay's Let It Go and came away impressed by the rich and vibrant sound, though without the crispness I'm looking for in a premium listening device. However, sound distortion began to rear its ugly head when I tried to increase the volume from 85% to 100%, which is definitely a turn-off for real audiophiles.
On the passive noise-cancellation side of things, the Aerobuds definitely don't disappoint, aided in no small way by how the pair tightly, yet conveniently fits in the ears. It's like listening to a 3D surround sound system. I should also add that when I put on the earbuds without playing a song, all I could hear was my own breathing. It's certainly adept at isolating you from the outside noise.
The Aerobuds earphones are rated with IPX4, which means the earbuds can endure ordinary water splashing and sweat produced by a strenuous workout. A common pain point with most earbuds today is the strain they cause to the ear after long hours of wearing them, but LiteXim's earphones still feel comfortable even after at least two hours of non-stop use.
The Aerobuds don't sound great by any strict audiophile standards. While they're not the perfect choice for the aforementioned, pickier audio listeners, when it comes to sound quality the pair can still compete with its more costly counterparts. I've been using the earbuds for a couple of weeks now, and I must say the experience has been satisfactory, save for a few occasions when the Bluetooth connection suddenly comes to a momentary halt.
It may be true that these are not the best truly wireless earbuds you can purchase on a budget, but for $60, they're worth checking out. Although Jabra or Apple AirPods lovers may not come away impressed with LiteXim's offering, the Aerobuds still offer a good value for money.