August 8, 2018
I got tired of the Bluetooth headphones where the earbuds are connected to each other by a wire, as the wire constantly snagged on something (like my shirt), or an earbud would fall out anytime I moved my head. I tried different wings, and different silicone tips, but I could never quite get the right fit.
In search of new wireless headphones, I considered purchasing the Jabra Elite 65t, as it has received glowing reviews as an alternative to Apple Airpods (while I own an iPhone, I never got a good fit with the standard earpods, I did not like how the Airpods looked, and I wanted more sound isolation, i.e., in-ear earbuds). However, I was a little hesitant because of the $170 price.
In searching Amazon, I stumbled across three truly wireless headphones: the one made by Tranya, along with the EnacFire E18 and E19, three truly wireless headphones that had the most reviews, and which overall received positive reviews (all three had an average rating of 4 stars and up). All three cost $50, less than 1/3 the price of the Jabras (the Tranyas were $40 since I purchased them from Amazon Warehouse). Since I could not make up my mind which earphones to buy, I purchased all three, figuring I would keep the one pair that I liked best.
First, what is the difference between the E18 and E19? From what I see, the E19 has an updated charging case, which is more oval in shape, versus the rectangular shaped charging case of the E18. Also, the right earbud is the master on the E19, whereas the left earbud is the master on the E18. Last, the E19 is all black, whereas the multi-function button of the E18 is silver/shiny. Other than that, both earphones sound the same.
Second, all three earphones have a similar shape and size. The only difference I noted was that the silicone tips on the Tranya seemed longer/deeper than the ones on either Enacfire earbuds, but that had no effect on the fit. I suspect they are all manufactured by the same company (or are based on the same design), but are sold by different distributors.
Here are my impressions:
FEATURES: all come in sleek and minimalistic packaging, w/ minimal instructions that contained numerous grammatical errors, suggesting the instructions were written by someone who did not have a strong grasp of the English language (the instructions are also written, in the alternative, in Japanese). They also all came with a short USB charging cable (the charging cases for all three charge via micro-USB), a charging case, and multiple sets of replacement silicone tips.
The E18 and Tranya both came with 2 sets of extra tips – 1 large, 1 small. The E19’s actually came with 5 sets of extra tips – 2 large, 2 small, and 1 medium (along with the medium tips already on the earbuds themselves).
Of the charging cases, I liked the ones for the E18 the best – it felt the smallest of the three, yet it felt more solid than the one for the E19 or the Tranya. Specifically, the Tranya and E19 cases felt like they were constructed completely from plastic, while the E18 felt like it had some metal to it, or it at least had some sort of finish that made it feel metallic.
NOTE: in the attached photo, the E19 case is on the left, the Tranya is in the center, and the E18 is on the right.
Of the earbuds, I aesthetically liked both the E18 and E19, as their design was the most conservative. I personally did not care for the alien-looking logo of the Tranya’s.
Also, the item description for Tranya earbuds state they are sweat proof, but it’s unclear what sort of water and/or dust protection they have (IP 54, 55, 56, 67, etc.) The Enacfires are not advertised as sweat proof, but according to some of the Q & A’s and reviews, people seem to gotten theirs wet, and they have continued to work. However, I didn’t plan on testing this out.
Last, all three include charging cases that, according to the products’ descriptions, can recharge your earbuds 4-5 extra times. According to the product description for the E18, its charging case can fast charge to 80% within the first 30 minutes, and then trickle charge in order to prolong the life of both the case and the earbuds. I haven’t taken the time to see whether all three earbud charging cases do this, but I have found the earbuds charge from empty to full within an hour.
FIT: this is a hard one to review, as everyone has different ears. In the past, I’ve had issues w/ getting in-ear headphones to fit, as the silicone tips always tended to be too small (poor seal or earbud refusing to stay inside the ear), or too large (pain in the ear canal after a short period of time). I’ve usually had to revert to Comply foam tips, which provide a great fit, but which are expensive and need to be replaced regularly, i.e., the costs add up quickly. With these three earbuds, the medium sized silicone tips work well for my right ear, but my left ear is somewhere between the small and the medium. I use the medium tips and, while I sometimes experience discomfort in my ear canal, it’s pretty minor and tolerable.
The earbuds themselves are pretty small, and I like how they stay in place (even when I walk, run, or shake my head), and they do not extend out from my ear much. In short, they are extremely discrete and seem to stay in place (for my head). On a number of occasions, people tried speaking to me, not realizing I had earbuds in my ear.
SOUND QUALITY: first, I am not an audiophile. To me, all three sound acceptable – pretty neutral sounding, not mind-blowingingly impressive, but also not offensive. For example, it does not sound like I’m listening to an AM station. However, I was listening to some jazz, and some of the piano music sounded distorted/harsh/lacked detail (sorry, I don’t know how to better describe the sound).
In addition, and contrary to some of the many reviews I read, I personally felt the bass was weak, if non-existent, whether I used the small, medium or large silicone tips, but that was okay with me. If you’re really into music, you might be disappointed. If you’re just an average joe looking for decent sounding earbuds while you’re studying, working, or working out (I use these while working), I personally thought these sounded fine, particularly at this price point, and given how small and discrete they are.
CONNECTION: all three earbuds have BT 5, but my iPhone 6S Plus only supports BT 4.2. I noticed I would occasionally (and momentarily) lose connection to the slave earbud (the left on the E19, but the right one on the E18 and the Tranya), but never for more than a split-second. This would happen randomly, and also sometimes if I turned my head away (typically if I turned the master earbud away from the phone, i.e., I placed my head in between the master earbud and my phone). I also walked with my phone in my front left pants pocket, and did not experience any connection issues. I did notice that, if I cupped my hand over the master earbud, I would lose the signal for the slave earbud until I removed my hand.
As far as audio-syncing issues, I did not notice anything. I played content that was locally stored on my phone, and I played content from Netflix and it appeared as if the audio and video synced fine. If there is a lag, it was negligible to me. No complaints.
PHONE CALLS: I don’t make many phone calls, but when I did, the sound only comes in through the master earbud, i.e., the right earbud on the E19, or the left on the E18 and the Tranya. I could hear the other person clearly, and he could hear me when I spoke, although he said it sounded a little hollow / like I was speaking a distance from the speaker. I’m guessing this is due to the fact that the microphone is on the earbud itself (there is some distance between the microphone and my mouth). He also said I occasionally cut out, but never bad enough where he could not understand me. As such, these earbuds may not be great if you use them for conference calls, or other important business calls. I did not test out phone calls on the Tranya or E18’s.
BATTERY LIFE: this is where all three ear buds fell short (based on my personal needs). I understand these are tiny earbuds with tiny batteries, so maybe my expectations are unrealistic. However, the E19 is advertised as being able to play music for 3 hours on a single charge, and the E18 and Tranya’s are advertised as being able to last 3-4 hours of music playtime on a single charge but I have yet to attain that on the E19 and Tranya while on stereo mode (using both earbuds simultaneously).
I have tried using the earbuds streaming music from Amazon Music, as well as from music stored locally on my iPhone 6S Plus. Prior to my rundown test, I charged the headphones overnight so that I would have a fully charged set of earbuds. I also ran the test first thing in the morning (not sure that makes a difference, but I just wanted to be consistent). For the E19 and the Tranya, the earbuds died between 2 hours and 35 minutes and 2 hours and 45 minutes (I timed using the stopwatch on my phone. I started the stopwatch upon pairing, and started the music immediately thereafter). For the E18, the earbuds died at around 3 hours and 10 minutes, although it started beeping and giving me the low battery warning right around 3 hours.
Based on the number of clicks on the volume button, the iPhone 6S Plus’s volume ranges from 0 (mute) to 16 (max volume). For the battery rundown information given in the prior paragraph, the volume was set to level 1, i.e., the lowest level possible without the volume being muted. On the E18, I turned the volume up to level 3, and the battery died at around 3 hours. Based on my unscientific test, the volume level affected the battery life, although most people may have already known this.
If I listened to the earbuds on mono mode (one earbud only), and again at volume 1, I was able to get about 3 hours and 45 minutes to 4 hours before the battery died completely. This applied to both the master and slave earbuds. According to the Tranya description, you can get up to 6 hours on mono mode, but I was never able to come close to this figure.
I guess the technology isn’t quite there yet where it is reasonable to expect the earbuds to last 3-4 hours, in stereo mode, on a single charge, but that’s sort of what I was hoping for, particularly since these products were advertised as being able to last at least 3 hours on a single charge. Not sure if this was false or misleading advertising, if I simply got a dud re: the E19 and the Tranya, or if the manufacturing process is inconsistent (since I was able to get over 3 hours with the E18). In addition, I don’t know if my results were due to my phone not having Bluetooth 5. However, I’m also not going to run out and get a new phone just so I can get a little extra runtime on these earbuds.
In addition, batteries degrade over time, so I am concerned the battery life on these earbuds will continue to get worse over time, i.e., will the battery even last 2 or 2.5 hours after a few months? A year? Also, I understand that I can do a quick charge of the ear buds, but that’s a tad inconvenient if I am watching a movie on a flight, and my ear buds run out of battery.
BOTTOM LINE: these 3 budget headphones check off all but one of my requirements. I just want basic truly wireless headphones that I can reliably listen to music and podcasts on, and that I can use to watch movies. I don’t need all the other premium features, like local storage, fitness features, etc. I just want them to have a good connection and decent sound, and these three options all fit the bill. I really wanted to like these earbuds; unfortunately, what’s holding these three earbuds back is the subpar battery life. I would like to use these ear buds and consistently get more than 3 hours of runtime on a single charge.
If you’re okay with listening to one earbud at a time in order to get nearly 4 hours of juice, these earbuds are a great bargain (as long as they continue working). Since I don’t want to limit my music listening to one ear, and given the battery life concerns, I think all three pairs will be returned. I will just either have to wait for the future improvements to truly wireless headphones, or I’ll have to bite the bullet and just purchase the Jabra Elite 65t.
However, if I had to pick one of the three earbuds, I would pick the E18, as it had the best battery life of the three units I received, and I felt like its charging case was the smallest, yet felt the most robust.