3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds review: Affordable price but thin sound

Posted: 16 March 2018 2:07 pm News

3SIXT's Studio True Wireless Earbuds provide a comfortable fit at an affordable price, but audio quality could do with a boost.

Quick Verdict
The 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds deliver an affordable and highly discrete listening solution, but they don't stand up well next to more expensive wireless buds for audio quality.

The good

  • Very comfortable
  • Hide well in your ears or under hair
  • IPX4 water protection

The bad

  • Pairing can be tricky
  • Treble-centric audio leaves a lot to be desired

With so many smartphone manufacturers opting to release smartphones that eschew headphone jacks, it's no surprise that there's something of a glut of Bluetooth headphones on the market. While you're still very much free to opt for over-the-head or behind-the-head style buds or cans, there's a definite trend towards entirely wireless, single bud headphones of the style epitomised by Apple's iconic AirPods.

The problem is that Apple charges its usual premium price for a set of AirPods, and that opens up possibilities for competitors to occupy the low-cost space. This is exactly where the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds sit.

Design

Small totally wireless buds don't give you a lot of room for design experimentation, and for the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds, there's simply not a lot of design to take into consideration, at least for the buds themselves.

That's actually no bad thing because they're small and light and under the right circumstances could be entirely inconspicuous while in use. If you've got mid-length hair, you could entirely hide the buds while in use, because they do neatly tuck into your ears once you've selected the right tips for your listening needs.

Even on my own bald head, I found more than a few folks chatting to me without noticing that I was busy listening to music instead. Maybe that's not a good thing for smooth office politics, but it does mean you're not stuck with the rather more obvious and somewhat dorky style of the AirPods and their stick microphones.

Charging of the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds takes place within the magnetic charging case, and this is a much larger affair, bordering on being unfriendly to the pocket in a way that the case for some Bluetooth buds seems to favour. It's a nice enough presentation box, although the resemblance to a clear-topped coffin is unfortunate.

Performance

The 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds have a relatively unique setup process because each bud is handled as its own connection. As such, when you first take them out of the case, the first thing they do is check for the presence of the other bud, and only once they've determined that you are (or aren't) using them do they start Bluetooth pairing. One nice side effect of this process is that they loudly announce which audio channel they're taking, so if you're worried about crossing your audio channels the wrong way around, you can quickly adjust.

The one issue here is that if you want to pair with another device, it can get tricky to get both buds talking nicely to your new device. More than once I had the left bud happily pairing while the right would cancel pairing, seemingly at random intervals. As is so often the case with Bluetooth, different devices tended to like pairing with the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds more than others.

3SIXT refers to the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds as having "studio-quality" audio, which is an exceptional claim for a pair of wireless buds in this price bracket. Everyone's estimation of what comprises "quality" sound may vary depending on your own hearing ability and your taste in music. However, the overwhelming impression I got of the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds was that they were equalised towards treble tones to a degree that turned a lot of music listening into a rather thin, joyless experience.

No matter how much George Clinton tried to demand the P-Funk, I just couldn't quite feel it in the same way as I would through, say, Samsung's Gear IconX or Apple's Airpods.

Switching to Metallica's classic Enter Sandman, the cymbals came through crystal clear, but the essential murk of the track was notably absent. Your musical tastes may well determine how well the Studio True Wireless Earbuds suit your tastes, but for many users, they're highly average at best.

To an extent that's to be expected because 3SIXT prices its buds well below the kind of price point of high-brand competitors, but at the same time, if you do favour a little bass in your beats, these won't be the headphones for you.

Battery life

Battery life is always something of a challenge for smaller standalone Bluetooth buds like these, simply because there's just not that much space to pack batteries into their tiny enclosures.

The 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds feature 50mAh batteries in each bud, with a claimed playback time of 3 hours for music use. In my own tests, they hit that most of the time, which means they should be fine for all but the heaviest exercise fanatics, but if you plan to use them to subtly listen at your work desk, you'll have to take a break at some point to let them recharge.

Verdict

The 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds aren't expensive wireless buds, and that's very much their selling proposition, because despite the use of the word "Studio" in their name, the actual audio output is only average at best.

Certainly, if you want both the convenience of light single ear Bluetooth buds you'll have to spend a little more, but if your budget is constrained, they're fine if not particularly exciting Bluetooth buds.

3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds: Pricing and availability

The 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds retail in Australia for $129.95 outright.

3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds: Alternatives

You've got quite a range of choices in the wireless earbud category at a variety of price points. If the appeal of the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds lies in their low price, you should also consider Flowfonix's Buddies or Cygnett's Freerun headphones.

If you're looking to the 3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds and your budget can push upwards, consider taking Jabra's Elite Sport or Bioconnected's HR+ headphones for a run.

In the more premium branded space, you could consider Google's Pixel Buds (even though they're not strictly speaking "wireless" in the same way), Samsung's Gear IconX or Apple's AirPods.

Specifications

Product Name
3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds
Size
74 x 32 x 32mm
Weight
148.6g
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Storage
N/A
Water resistance
IPX4
RAM
6GB/8GB
Battery
100mAh (50mAh per ear)
RRP
$129.95

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