3SIXT Studio True Wireless Earbuds (review)Ray Shaw February 20, 2018 Headphones
At less than half the cost of Samsung’s ICONX or Apple’s AirPods, 3SIXT may just have the winner in the value stakes for its Studio True Wireless Earphones.
These cost $129.95 compared to the iconic Icon X at $299 (GadgetGuy review here and street price is closer to <$229) or the dorky Apple AirPods, at $229. But for $100 less its fine to overlook some minor imperfections.
GadgetGuy uses established paradigms to test and rate products. These are being tested as general-purpose wireless earbuds focused on music.
Out of the box 3SIXT True Wireless Earbuds
- Studio True Wireless Earbuds
- 6 x Gel tips (S, M, L) – these are Comply compatible, so replacements are easy
- Power Bank Carry Case
- User Guide
- Micro USB Charge Cable
The first impression is that they are very Samsung Icon X like – an attractive grey and black in-ear canal earphone.
Pairing is a two-part process. First, they pair to each other wirelessly; then they pair via Bluetooth 4.2 to a smartphone, tablet, Windows or macOS device. In a week of use, they were flawless.
These are IPx4 meaning water splashing against the enclosure from any direction for up to 10 minutes shall have no harmful effect. They are not suitable for swimming.
Allows for multi-point connection – two devices and up to eight memorised devices. It also means it is future compatible with Internet of Things smart home devices.
It supports the standard A2DP codec – not apt/HD or LDAC hi-res codecs.
It recharges using the supplied cradle which houses a 500mA battery. Each bud is capable of three hours playback, and I tested that over three one-hour morning walks.
It recommends a minimum of a 5V/1A USB charger (not supplied) – it works fine on 2 and 3A chargers and the case recharge time decreases accordingly from about 90 minutes.
The case can provide about five recharges to the buds that have 50mAh batteries. Recharging is a little slow at around 1.5 hours.
How does it sound?
The usual disclaimer – select the right sized gel tip for the best, snug, in-ear canal fit. If you don’t two things will happen.
First, you won’t get the sound isolation and quality you expect and second, they might fall out if you are vigorously exercising.
And it all depends on content. For example, vocals are clear enough in Beach Boys including the subtle cymbals in the background. In Blues Brothers “Everybody needs somebody to love” you get the vocals and barely acceptable bass.
The closest sound signature is ‘mid’ – (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) which is good for most types of easy listening music – not heavy rock. Frequency response (FR) is listed as 20,000Hz to 20,000kHz and total harmonic distortion of <1%.
It is hard to measure FR on buds but I did use a microphone and FR metre and its strongest from 100Hz to 10,000kHz reflecting the mid signature classification. Volume is good – 80dB equivalent.
The noise cancelling effect comes from sound isolation using the silicon tips.
It has Qualcomm’s cVc which makes handsfree use clearer.
I usually don’t do shootouts as each device has strengths and weaknesses. But let’s look at it in comparison to the Samsung Icon X 2017 which has GadgetGuy’s recommendation as the best wireless buds and see where 3SIXT sits.
|Samsung Icon X|
Also has winglets for added security
|Earbuds||Six sets S/M/L||One set S/M/L|
|Battery time||5-7 hours (82mAh)||3 hours (50mAh)|
|Recharge case||Two charges|
60 minutes charge
10min charge for 60 min play
90 minutes charge
15 min for 60 min play
|Weight||2 x 8g||similar|
|Sound signature||Balanced – better for bass||Mid|
|Health features||Works with Samsung Health for voice coaching etc||No|
|Price||$229 (street price <$229)||$129.95|
|Warranty||One year||Two years|
These are perfect at the value end of the market. I would buy these if I did not want on-device music storage.
- Well made
- Easy setup but don’t lose the case
- Mid sound signature is good for easy listening music
- Good value
- Snug fit
- Three hours battery life is a little short for longer trips
Rated as a value set of wireless buds. If rated against the Icon X it would be closer to 3.5 out of 5.
- Overall: 4.1 – good value for wireless buds
- Features: 4 out of 5 – everything you need
- Value for Money: 5 out of 5 – Nothing else compares at this price
- Performance: 3.5 out of 5 – Sound signature is for easy listening, battery life a little short
- Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – easy to set up and use
- Design: 4 out of 5 – a lot more discrete than Apple Pods and look more expensive
Ray Shaw [email protected] has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!