Mini Review: Axgio Bluetooth Wireless Sports Headphones
Axgio Sprint Bluetooth Headphones -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/16, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Axgio Sprint Bluetooth Headphones

A month and a half ago I got an email out of the blue asking whether I'd like to have a free pair of wireless bluetooth headphones in exchange for a review on my blog. Well gee, sure, why not?! It's cheap advertising for them if I like them, but they risk bad PR if I don't.

In the past I'd tried small wireless headphones from Avantree, ECSEM, and Mpow before finding a pair I liked, BlueAnt Pump. I was happy with those, but figured it wouldn't hurt to give another pair a try.

So, I was sent a pair of Axgio Sprint Wireless Earbuds. I use the passive voice here because I don't actually know who the person sending them represents (they have a nondescript gmail address), but I assume it's either the maker or their American distributor. (Update:: after I published this, he contacted me to let me know he's from Axgio's marketing department.)

Anyway, I've been using them for the last month and I like them a lot, so their risk paid off.

Generally speaking, wireless headphones are the way to go when on the move. I use them when working out at the gym and when doing housework. (I never, by the way, use headphones of any kind when riding a bike on public roads.) I generally use them with my phone in my pocket or in my nearby gym bag. In either way, no wires to get in the way.

Specifically about these Axgio Sprint headphones, two items that caught my attention:

  • Size — Ridiculously light and insubstantial. It's not that the other units I tried were problematically big or bulky, but these are really small and light, both while worn and carried in a pocket.

  • English Feedback — Responses to events like being turning on, pairing, hitting maximum volume, etc., are indicated with an English voice in the headphones. Other units I've used employ a series of various beeps that are difficult (for me) to keep straight.

    With this Axgio unit, upon pressing the main button long enough to turn it on, you hear Power On, then Connected. Raising the volume to the max yields Maximum Volume, and when put into pairing mode, you're told Pairing, etc.

    This is really convenient and you're never left wondering what happened, or whether something you tried to do actually happened. With other units it's easy enough to understand the various beep patterns when you're reading the manual, but I can never remember them when I actually need them. The Axgio's simple English feedback is wonderful. I find it especially useful for things that I really want to be sure are done, such as Power Off, and for things that don't happen often, such as Battery Low.

When turning on to use with my iPhone, the connection is usually almost instant, with Power On followed by Connected in the same second. This is much faster than the BLueAnt Pump connects for me.

Bendy the thicker part of the wire holds whatever shape you give; the rest is supple -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Bendy
the thicker part of the wire holds whatever shape you give; the rest is supple

It did take a bit before I could wear them correctly. Like the BlueAnt Pump that had been my primary earbuds, they wrap around the ear so that they're held in place during exercise and the like, but it took me a while to realize that unlike the BlueAnt Pump, you're meant to conform the wire to a shape that works for you. Not realizing this, I tried to make do with the shape that they came in, and it just wasn't right. I didn't realize that the wire is meant to be actively bent to find a good fit.

Considering that the Amazon listing includes the phrase Memory Wire in the title, this was my fault. I figured it out on the second or third day I had them, and things were much smoother after that. I also would have figured it out earlier had I read the manual.

It comes with a bunch of ear-bud inserts for different sized ears, but I haven't tried them... the ones that came installed on the unit work just fine for me.

I tested them with my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro. They worked flawlessly on the first two, but I've never been able to get a bluetooth speaker/headphone to work well with my MacBook Pro. This is a well-known problem with Apple's laptops, and considering how long the problem has persisted (many generations of hardware), it's clear Apple just doesn't care. )-:

I actually did get a good connection with my MacBook Pro the first time I tried, but the sound seemed to be quieter than I thought it should have been. But on subsequent attempts, it wouldn't hold a connection.

But as I said, it works just dandy with my iPhone and iPad. I use it mostly with my iPhone.

Like most bluetooth earbuds on the market it allows you to make and receive phone calls when paired to a phone, but I haven't tested that. No one calls me.

According to the manual it can actually pair to two devices at once (so that you can hear sound from two devices at once, I guess), but I haven't tested that.

The text in the printed manual is gratuitously small; I can read it when wearing my reading glasses, but it would have been nice if they just made the font a bit bigger. (I asked for and was sent a PDF copy of the manual.) The text on the outside of the box is even smaller, and I can't read it even with reading glasses.

Control Buttons easy to find by feel alone -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Control Buttons
easy to find by feel alone

The control buttons are another thing I really like compared to others I've tried. The little control unit is always hanging lightly a bit below the ear, and the main control button is always at the bottom of that, so finding it is always easy and deterministic, with good tactile feedback.

A long press turns it on if it's off and off if it's on (with accompanied Power On and Power Off status messages). While playing music it pauses or unpauses.

The other buttons are for volume up/down with short taps, or next/previous song with long taps. I actually wish these were reversed because I skip songs more than I set volume. The Mpow earbugs that I used to use were like this and I found it convenient.

As I said above, they are very light and there's no pull from the weight of the wire on your ear, but depending on your clothes and hair, really active movement can cause the wire to drag on your neck and sort of tug at the ear. This is pretty rare for me, but in these cases you can avail yourself of the little clip on the wire seen in the background of the photo below:

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos

By using the clip to snug the wire firmly to your skull, there's no pull as you whip your head around. It's a simple and elegant solution to an occasional problem.

Two minor nits that I came across, besides the tiny fonts in their printing:

  • The hook shape of the wire causes them to get hooked on things when pulling them from my gym bag, so I have to be a bit careful. I don't recall having had this kind of problem with the other units I've used.

  • The unit doesn't seem to turn off automatically if the sound has been paused for a while. The manual says that it turns off automatically if there's no bluetooth connection for five minutes, but I think at least some other units I've used turn off if there's no sound for a while, even if the connection remains. With those units, I can just pause the music and put the headphones away; I don't have to bother actually turning the unit off. With this Axgio unit I have to remember to actually turn the unit off.

Sound Quality

Having written this much, I realize that I've not talked about sound quality. I'm not an audiophile, so fine details are likely lost on me, but I've not been the least bit disappointed in listening to music that I've known intimately for years. Whether some old Billy Joel, some modern light acoustic guitar, some rough Black Eyed Peas, some electronic Daft Punk, or heavy AC/DC, I've been pleased with the sound. It's clear, substantial, and full of presence.

I've also used them to listen to Japanese news broadcasts while doing the dishes, and found voices to be equally clear, so I'd assume they'd be good for phone calls.

But to provide a bit of due diligence, I've just compared these Axgio wireless headphones to some brand new over-the-ear wired Sony MDR-V6 studio-monitor headphones. I've used this model of headphone for the better part of 30 years, having to buy a new pair on average once a decade due to some mistake on my part or another. My previous pair got damaged in my luggage on my recent summer trip, so I immediately bought another pair.

Anyway, the Sony headphones are very good and are popular with professional sound engineers and were highly rated at Consumer Reports (which is probably why I bought them in the first place), so I wouldn't expect the literally-lighter-than-a-feather Axgio wireless in-ear headphones to fare well in direct comparison, but they did. The Sony headphones do seem to have better base response, but I noticed this only during direct comparison switching back and forth between the two sets of headphones; when using the Axgio headphones on a daily basis, I'd not noticed anything lacking.

Overall, a nice pair of wireless sports headphones, all the nicer because I got them for free. If I lost them or something, though, I'd spend the $50 or whatever for a new pair, which perhaps says the most about them.

Having completed this review I think I'm ready to try again... if Tesla or Nikon or Apple, for example, would like a review of their most recent product, just send one or a dozen units over and I'll be happy to give'em a try.... 🙂


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I have a very similar pair, made by Plantronics, and I find the English announcements very useful too – especially the battery level status straight after the headphones connect – tells me if I need to charge them before I tell the dog it’s time for her walk! They’re the best exercise/physical activity headphones I’ve had…

— comment by Stuart Dootson on September 14th, 2015 at 9:40pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Nice review, but I’m not sure that this headphones are the best choice in this price. Moreover I don’t like this design. Headphones look very cheap and cheesy, but it is only my own opinion:) I found your blog yesterday by accident and I like it, keep it up! I wait for more posts

They’re neither cheap nor cheesy; you’re probably just used to looking at the CGI renditions of headphones in advertisements where the cords are perfectly coiled and such. (The advertisement photos for these headphones are no different.) And of course you couldn’t be sure whether they’re the best for this price, since you’ve never tried them. I’ve tried them, but not every other comparable headphone, so I also can’t say whether they’re the best. —Jeffrey

— comment by Anonymous on September 15th, 2015 at 7:00pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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