Completely wireless headphones are becoming more affordable: now even relatively inexpensive models are not far behind the Apple AirPods Pro. For example, they support active noise cancellation and connect to two sound sources simultaneously. Here is a rating of the best headphones in the budget segment.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 came out in 2021, but they have managed to get noticeably cheaper. So now it is the best choice in the economy class of TWS headphones.
First, the Galaxy Buds 2 doesn’t sound bad. Each headphone has two drivers: a tweeter and a woofer. The first one is responsible for the mid and high frequencies, and the second one – for the rich bass. Two or three times more expensive headphones sound better, but for me the difference in price makes up for the disadvantages.
Active noise canceling works great. Three microphones and machine learning technology are used to combat external sounds, which helps the headphones “recognize” certain noises and suppress them more effectively with AI. In its segment, Galaxy Buds 2 has virtually no competitors in terms of noise cancellation quality.
The Buds 2 are good not only for games, like those at https://www.playamo.com/en-NZ/games/roulette-games but also for communication. Neural networks cut off unnecessary sounds during conversations and amplify the voice. In windy weather the speaker will still be uncomfortable, but in the office or at home, the speech quality is excellent.
One charge lasts for about 7 hours of music at medium volume with noise reduction turned off, and with the occasional recharging in the case – 29 hours. There is wireless charging, which is a rarity in the budget headphones segment.
Realme Buds Air 3
Realme Buds Air 3 fit perfectly in your ears and won’t fall out during running and gym activities. Because of their diminutive size, they barely feel in your ears and can be worn all day without discomfort.
The charging case is made of matte plastic and has a pebble shape with no sharp corners. The lid of the case is well sprung, easy to open with one hand, and the headphones themselves are easy to insert and remove.
The headphones play energetically, with tangible bass. The treble and midrange frequencies are well balanced and do not tire you during long listening, but in comparison to more expensive models they lack clarity and elaboration. At the same time, even at full volume the audio is clear, without unpleasant rattle.
There is a good active noise cancellation – although not as powerful as in Xiaomi or Samsung. But it will be enough to isolate the sounds of the office or muffle the rumble of the train in the subway. Microphones are decent: the interlocutors did not complain about the voice during phone conversations.
Without active noise cancellation Realme Buds Air 3 can last about 7 hours. The case extends the battery life to about 30 hours.
Huawei Freebuds 4
Earmuffs don’t have a rubber nozzle, which must be inserted deep into the ear. The shortcoming is that the headphones let external sounds in freely. On the plus side, Huawei Freebuds 4 are comfortable to use all day long.
It’s convenient to use them when jogging or riding a bicycle, so you don’t lose contact with your surroundings. But listening to music in the subway and other noisy places is not as comfortable as wearing vacuum plugs because the rumble of the cars interrupts the tracks.
This problem is partly solved by active noise reduction. It cannot completely remove all external sounds, but it turns them into an indecipherable hum, which is less distracting from the music.
The sound is voluminous and rich, with deep bass. The frequency balance is adjusted adequately: the vocals are not relegated to the background, the tops and the middle are in place. The volume reserve is large, so there will be no problems with listening to tracks in a noisy bus even with ANC off. At maximum power, the sound doesn’t blend into mush, as it often happens in budget models.
The microphones clearly pick up the user’s voice and cut off unnecessary sounds. Freebuds 4 work 4 hours with active noise cancellation turned off. With a rechargeable battery in the case, you can expect 22 hours of use.
Xiaomi Buds 3
Xiaomi Buds 3 is a classic TWS headset with a long, thin stem that has three microphones per earpiece.
Thanks to the long stem, the speaking microphones are closer to your mouth than the Galaxy Buds 2 or other models in the selection. Speech quality in Xiaomi Buds 3 is the best among the tested devices: even in windy weather and in a noisy environment, the headset cuts off unnecessary sounds.
The sound is well balanced: there is no bass bias, frequencies are evenly distributed. Vocals sound natural, middle frequencies are also good. Except that the volume isn’t high – for some people it might not be enough.
Noise cancellation in Xiaomi Buds 3 – one of the best in the selection. The option works in three modes: the first is balanced, the second lets some of the noise through, and the third muffles everything and is useful for the subway or the plane.
The fit is good, the headset fits snugly and does not fall out during a brisk walk or run. The model is also rated IP55 – it isn’t afraid of dust and splashes, you can listen to music in light rain.
Switching a track by accidental touch will not work. However, it lacks tactile feedback, as on the headset from Apple: it isn’t always clear that the desired function is activated.
At medium volume without ANC, headphones play music for about 7 hours without recharging. And with the case, you can listen to tracks for 32 hours. There is Qi wireless charging.
Honor Choice CE 79
The Honor Choice developers saved money on active noise cancellation and high-quality microphones. You can comfortably talk on the phone in the headset only in a quiet room.
The sound is neutral: no excessive bass or squealing tops, as in models twice as expensive. You can feel the bass, the vocals are also okay: it isn’t overshadowed and sounds quite natural. The volume level is high, there is no wheezing at maximum power.
All is well with ergonomics: the headphones fit comfortably and do not fall out when jogging. With prolonged use your ears don’t get tired, it’s comfortable to listen to music. There are touchpads on the feet for control – but they don’t work perfectly, often you have to repeat pressing to make Honor Choice wake up.