I was recently after a pair of Bluetooth headphones mainly for cycling. I’m aware this is a controversial practice – but I usually only want to listen to podcasts cycling to work on a cycle path, and generally have just one earbud in my kerbside ear. The main danger is over-eager dogs!
I wanted an inexpensive pair of headphones, since there is a strong possibility they’ll get broken with my intended use. That rules out the decent brands, like the Beats Powerbeats 2 which are pricey. They needed to be wireless – the cable just gets in the way cycling. They needed some remote since I don’t have access to my phone whilst cycling. Finally they need to stay in my ears! My patented piece of black insulating tape has worked very well before for keeping them in, but I wanted something a bit higher tech!
I arrived at the Soundpeats Qy7 Bluetooth headphones – mainly based on reading Amazon reviews and the price being right (around £15). I wasn’t expecting much, but have been very impressed with them …
What you get and fit
The earphones come in a nice small hard case and come with a selection of ear fins. I’ve never previously fully understood what these are for exactly but worked out that if you find the size that fits the shape of your ear, they do a fantastic job of holding the earbud in place – even in a fast decent. I found the fins with holes work best for me. It turns out both my ears are different so I used a medium in one ear and a large in the other. You need to get them the correct way around and gently push them into the outside of your ear:
There’s also a charging cable and a very handy little clip – more on this later. The build of the headphones is surprisingly good. The cable is ribbon-like and very tangle-free. The earbuds have a little weight but when fitted correctly I don’t notice them at all. This is impressive since they also hold the rechargeable battery.
Pairing to your phone
This is very simple and works like other Bluetooth devices. Press and hold the function button (1) until the LED flashes red and blue alternately:
I’ll show the setup with an iPhone but it’ll be pretty much the same with any Bluetooth cable smartphone or music player.
Enter Settings | Bluetooth:
Tap Qy7 (1) and you’re connected (2)! Every time you power on the earphones they’ll automatically connect from now on. You can also see the battery level icon (3) showing I need to give them a charge.
Once you have them fitted and paired with your smartphone you’re ready to go although they may need an initial charge. A 2 second press of the function button turns the device on and the headphones re-pair in seconds. A voice confirms you’re “connected” plus on the iPhone you get a handy icon next to the Bluetooth icon showing also confirming the connection and giving an indication of remaining battery life (see (3) above).
Choose your music application – in my case Deezer and tap play. You can now start and stop the music (or a podcast) by a single press (not hold) of the function button.
You can adjust the volume by clicking the + and – buttons. You can skip forward and backwards tracks by holding the + and – respectively.
On my bike I use the supplied clip to attach to my collar leaving a little cable slack, otherwise the weight of the earbuds tend to pull the cable slightly which is uncomfortable. This is especially the case if you only have one earbud in place.
I can also easily pull the earbud from my ear for roads and I don’t lose the headphones. And they are very easy to reinsert – again lightly pushing the fin into the outer ear.
Here’s a little video describing and showing their fit – mainly with cycling in mind:
They claim to be sweat proof, but more than that I’ve had them pretty much drenched from rain showers and they’ve kept going.
And battery life is very impressive. They claim 6 hours and I’ve no reason to dispute that!
One minor issue I’ve had is a conflict with my Garmin Edge 810 cycling computer which also connects via Bluetooth. The workaround is you need to connect the headphones first before switching on the Garmin otherwise although the headphones appear to connect, you won’t get any sound which isn’t much use.
Also the function button probably has too many functions so you need to be a little careful on how long you hold the button down. A single press plays | pauses music. A slightly longer press activates Siri on the iPhone. And a just slightly longer press turns the headphones off! And a really long press will start re-pairing. But you’ll get used to it.
The sound quality of these headphones was probably the biggest surprise. The sound is very good and better than a lot of far more expensive headphones I’ve tried which aren’t wireless! They do favour bass but there is little distortion even at full volume. And full volume is loud – louder than I’d need most of the time, especially on the bike. Just a note that on the iPhone at least, you’ll need to set both the iPhone volume and headphone volume to maximum to achieve full volume.
- Fit – they stay in and are comfortable. Wide range of buds and fins to fit most ears
- Sound quality is very good (even if they were over twice the price)
- Battery life is good (6 hours plus) and easy to charge via a standard micro-usb port
- Tangle free cable and handy clip
- Easy pairing and good range
- Handy battery indicator on iPhone at least
- Some possible interference with other Bluetooth devices (namely my Garmin Edge 810). But see workaround above
- Length of function button presses for different functions takes some getting used to
- Doesn’t appear to automatically disconnect after a period of no use – have to manually disconnect by powering down.
I really doubt there is a better pair of wireless earphones for under £20 and if I lost them on my ride back today, I’d order a replacement pair the second I got home!
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