I like to test out lots of inexpensive wireless headphones, hoping to find some hidden gems to pass on to CNET readers as bargains. With that in mind, I was eager to try out the new Amazon Sada Al-Baraem 2023which carries a list price of $50 but is currently sold out $35 at first First day a deal. This puts them firmly in the category of “cheap” headphones.
Interestingly, they impressed me in many ways that I didn’t expect. For starters, they sound great for cheap open-ear headphones, delivering decent clarity and ample bass. And by “open” I mean they don’t have silicone tips that you stick in your ears (headphones like these are called noise-canceling headphones). It does, however, have a rubber ring around the 12mm driver of the speaker, as well as a removable transparent silicone rubber cap that fits over the bud itself (you can choose to add or remove it). to withdraw). Both design elements help you achieve a more secure fit, although like all headphones, the Echo Buds 2023 don’t fit well in all ears. But they stayed in my ears better than Apple AirPods 3 They’re also as light as AirPods and include a compact charging case.
Learn moreThe best open-back wireless headphones of 2023
The 2023 Echo Buds aren’t much different from 1More’s Comfobuds 2 ($30) for example, which also feature a rubber loop or amputated ear tip around their speakers. But what sets the 2023 Echo Buds apart are a few key features you’ll rarely find in a $35 set of headphones.
The first is an ear detection sensor on each earbud that automatically pauses music playback when you take one or both earbuds out of your ears. Your music resumes when you put the earphone(s) back in your ears, and you can use one earphone independently of the other if you wish. (At around $43 and sometimes less, another set of open-ear headphones I recommend is the Soundpeats Air 3 Deluxe HSIt also has ear detection sensors, as well as LDAC audio codec support for devices that support it.)
The second major feature is Alexa Hands-Free, which lets you issue voice commands like “next track” and “low volume” and control Alexa-enabled smart home products by simply saying the Alexa wake word. With most cheap headphones, you have to press a button to activate your voice assistant (you can choose to use Siri or Google Assistant with the Echo Buds, but there’s no hands-free option for those assistants voicemail, because Amazon prefers you to use Alexa).
In addition to these two main features, the headphones also have an acoustic accelerometer that detects when you’re speaking and helps people hear your voice more clearly during calls. (Amazon says the headphones have two microphones to pick up your voice.) The headphones do a reasonable job of reducing background noise, but callers said they could hear traffic and other ambient noise during my calls. But my voice came through clearly, rising above the surrounding sound. Because they’re open-ear headphones, they let in a fair amount of ambient noise, so callers — and any other sound you’re listening to — can be hard to hear in noisy environments. But the buds offer great volume.
Plus, you get multipoint pairing via Bluetooth (Bluetooth 5.2) so you can pair the speakers with two devices at once and automatically switch sound between them. For example, if you’re using them with a computer and a call comes in on your smartphone, you can answer the call and the speakers will switch audio from the computer to your smartphone. (You must pair with another device using the Alexa companion app.)
Other specs are in line with what you get from most other cheap headphones. You get up to 5 hours of listening time on a single charge with three additional charges in the box (the headphones also have a quick charge feature). It is IPX4 splash and sweat resistant, so you can use it for your workout. However, after a hot weather run, I pulled the silicone caps over the buds to wipe everything off as some moisture seemed to be trapped under the caps.
I should also note that I initially had a little trouble setting up the speakers using the Alexa app with my iPhone 14 Pro (you can use them just fine with Android devices as well). I’ve had this problem before – the app seems to be broken and not recognizing my Echo Buds because I have too many Bluetooth devices in my Bluetooth list. It took me a few tries and restarting the phone before the buds appeared in the Alexa app. Once they did, everything worked fine. You can tweak the sound profile a bit using the app’s EQ settings and customize the touch controls to your liking. There’s also a location feature similar to Apple’s Find My for its AirPods.
To be clear, the Echo Buds 2023 don’t offer the best sound quality, but they’re pretty good for the price. Their voice is less than a voice Apple AirPods 3, which provide fuller bass and richer overall sound. But the AirPods 3 cost more than four times as much as the 2023 Echo Buds and only sound 15-20% better. In short, if you’re looking for open-back headphones — or “semi-open” as these types of headphones are sometimes called — the Echo Buds are good value at their $50 list price and easy to recommend. at their $35 sale.