It’s just the nature of my life that I spend more time producing a podcast than listening to them. There are a lot of shows that I love listening to, but I can't listen to them when I’m writing, reading and editing the content of this week’s episode. Usually, I’m squeezing them in while walking the dog and at the gym.
So, I found that this year’s schedule would involve more air travel, I welcomed the chance to catch up on some of my favorite shows. However, I knew that the earbuds that I normally used would not provide me either the comfort, battery life and sound quality that I needed.
Though there are some high-end noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones available, I found it hard justifying spending $200 - $400 on headphones that I wouldn’t use on a regular basis when working at home. I wondered whether there were some more reasonably priced headphones that might fit the bill.
So, I requested the Mixcder E9 and Cowin E8 to send me samples of their popular wireless headphones for evaluation. As many of you listen to podcasts, I thought it would be a good opportunity to use something that you likely may be in the market for yourself.
Mixcder E9 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
The smaller of the two headphones, the overall construction feels solid. The plastic material has a black matte finish, which is smooth to the touch. earpieces and headband are well-padded and comfortable. It over-sized control buttons make controlling the headphones easy. The overall styling creates an impression that the headphones are more expensive than they are.
The headphones are not collapsible, but each earpiece does swivel 45-degrees, making them comfortable when you choose to hang them from your neck and on your chest. The large on/off button, volume controls are located on the right-hand side along with the USB connector. The anti-noise canceling control is conveniently located on the left-hand side where a ⅛ port for wire connection is also found.
The lithium-ion battery can be fully charged within 2.5 hours via the supplied USB connector, providing up to 30 hours of continuous use. You can expect to reduce hours when actively using the noise-cancellation feature. My personal experience while traveling provided me a full day and a half of use.
Unlike some other popular brands of Bluetooth headphones, these do not provide a deep bass that many prefer for pop and hip-hop music. However, it was sufficient for my musical interest. The mids and highs are clear but relatively flat lacking the separation I prefer for my musical preferences. However, with podcasts and spoken word, the sound was pleasing and clear.
The headphone’s lightweight and small form factor made them very comfortable to wear continually during long flights. The noise-canceling feature was sufficient to cut diminish the impact of continuous noise levels, but do not eliminate them entirely. The boost in clarity in the highs when using the ANC was pleasing without being distracting. The oversized control buttons made it very easy to control the various functions without fumbling.
I would prefer more clarity and clearer definition between the mids and highs. I tweaked this to some degree by using the EQ controls on my phone and tablet.
Weight: 20.6 ounces
Dimensions: 7.6 x 6.61 x 3.39 in
Battery Type: 500mAh Lithium Battery
Charging Time: 2.5H
Bluetooth Vers: 4.0
Headphone Fit: Over-ear
Noise Cancellation: 30±2db
Cowin E8 PerfectQuiet Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The overall body of the headphone is made of a lightly-textured matte plastic. The lower quarter of earpiece features a glossy plastic accent. Two gold-colored bands are sandwiched between the hard plastic and the padded cushion of the headband, providing a stylish flourish. The headphones provide a firm and comfortable fit without feeling too tight against the side of the head.
The headphones are not collapsible but the earpieces do swivel 45-degrees. All the controls for power, volume, active-noise canceling and a USB connector are located on the right-hand side of the headphones. While a large gold-switch for controlling noise-canceling, the other button are much smaller and not easy to differentiate when touching them with your fingers.
The headphones achieved a full charge in about 2.5 hours via the supplied USB cable. This provides up to 20 hours of continuous use, but you can expect less when ANC is enabled. My personal use of the headphones provided ample power when used heavily while traveling.
The overall sound quality provides good bass levels but struggles in providing separation between the mids and highs, resulting in some muddy sound quality with some types of music. The sound is robust and full and provides good results when listening to podcasts.
I enjoyed the stylish design of the headphones. They are very comfortable to wear over long periods of time and completely enclosed both ears. The padding on each ear is removable making it easy to replace when the pads become damaged or worn. The noise-canceling seemed especially effective while on a long plane flight.
Though I was pleased with the overall sound quality for podcasts, I was disappointed by the lack of a clear definition of bass, mids, and highs for some music. The control buttons are very small, making it difficult to differentiate button the volume and on/off buttons. Despite using the headphones on a variety of phones or tablet, the headphones produce an audible beep when adjusting volume and transitioning between musical tracks and podcast episodes. When visiting forums and other reviews, I have not discovered any discussion of this.
Weight: 15.2 ounces
Dimensions: 6.5 x 7.1 x 2.4 in
Battery Type: 545mAh Lithium Battery
Charging Time: 2-3H
Headphone Fit: Over-ear
Noise Cancellation: 30±2db
I found both headphones provide a good alternative to wired earbuds and headphones at a reasonable price. Unless you are a passionate audiophile, I think you would be pleased with the overall performance of both headphones.
While I enjoy and appreciate the design and physical comfort of the Cowin E8, I preferred the Mixcder E9 for its slightly better sound quality with the mids and highs and its larger control buttons.