Ausounds is a great company when it comes to audio devices, so when it sent its new AU Frequency ANC out for review, I was excited to try them out. As it turns out, that trust in the brand was not at all misplaced either. Not only does AU Frequency ANC live up to expectations. It far-exceeded them with consideration for the cost of just under $130. And that wasn’t just on audio either.
AU Frequency excelled with regard to connectivity, battery life, comfort, and a lot more. For the money, they’re some of the best. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a closer look at what makes these earbuds so great.
The hardware here is imperfect but still pretty great
On the hardware front, there are four aspects of AU Frequency ANC that I immediately disliked. Two of those will be discussed in the battery segment of this review. The other two both center around the charging cable and the included earbud tips. First, the charging cable here is incredibly short. So short, in fact, as to be useless when it comes to charging from a wall adapter — at under two feet. These will need to be powered up via a power bank or laptop.
The other caveat is that Ausounds only includes three earbud tip sizes. While not a deal-breaker by any stretch, it does mean that fewer users will be able to get a perfect fit. Many competitors are beginning to offer at least five earbud tip sizes to ensure better audio quality and comfort.
With those caveats out of the way, these earbuds are unbelievably comfortable. They weigh just 5.5g to start. And the shape is such that the part inserted in the curve of the ear is rounded. So there’s almost no pressure on that portion of the ear. That’s also without feeling like they’ll fall out — and AU Frequency ANC didn’t fall out even once during my review.
The charging case is small, with a hinge that appears to be reinforced despite the design leaning toward being lightweight. It fit snugly in the palm of my hand with plenty of room to spare. The smooth texture of the carry case does make it easier to drop. But that appears to be a tradeoff. Namely, one that Ausounds made so that it’s easier to slip into a front pocket too, without too much bulk or weight.
The magnets holding the lid and the earbuds, conversely, are strong. That’s not so strong as to make the earbuds difficult to pull out since that can still be accomplished with one hand. But the case isn’t going to open by accident and the buds fall out either.
All told, the whole package weighs in at just 38g. So, if you’re looking for something super portable and IPX4 protected against sweat and dust, these are going to fit the bill. And there other perks here as we’ll discuss further along in this review.
Battery life from AU Frequency ANC isn’t all-day but comes close enough
As I noted in the hardware segment of this review, there are two distinct hardware areas, pertaining to the battery, that could definitely be improved for AU Frequency ANC.
First, the LEDs on the earbuds themselves can be difficult to read in even moderate lighting. Let alone in bright lighting or under direct sunlight. And that’s almost as obnoxious as the fact that there seems to be almost no way to tell how charged they are. At least not without opening up the case or beyond seeing if they’re charged completely or not. Although, checking the Bluetooth connection Quick Tile or Settings page on an Android phone does seem to show an accurate reading.
The LED lights on the case itself are fairly standard fare. There are four lights, each representing approximately 25-percent of the full charge. So that’s at least as easy to read as other companies’ offerings. Those also can’t be read unless the case is opened.
With regard to how long the earbuds last, that is — it almost goes without saying — subjective. For my test, I mostly played music at almost full volume. And the company’s claimed 5-hour battery life from a single charge of the buds appears to be relatively accurate. They will likely last a bit longer during listening than with calls. And they’ll last hours longer without ANC active.
The same holds true for the charging case, which provided just over 20-hours of listening overall under the same conditions. That’s with ANC active because, again, they definitely lasted longer without that feature turned on.
Now, Ausounds says that AU Frequency ANC can be charged for up to 1.5-hours of listening in 15-minutes. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a full charge in just over 30-minutes though. A full charge-up of the buds themselves takes an hour and ten minutes and a full charge-up for the case and buds together takes right around one-and-three-quarters of an hour. As with many other aspects of these earbuds though, that’s all fairly standard for the product category.
Audio is important, so how did AU Frequency ANC do?
Audio quality is almost always the most important aspect of any earbuds but Ausounds is no stranger to great sound. And, insofar as my review of AU Frequency ANC, that holds true in every medium I tested. Whether for video calls, movies, podcasts, or music, these earbuds are going to get the job done.
In fact, for the price — at just $129.95 — these may be among the best earbuds on the market right now. Not only were all tones represented well on all fronts, with a slight lean toward bass tones, but balance is also on point. That’s probably thanks to the 10mm AU PEEK+PU driver. For music, the mids and highs shined through in clarity, with only a hint of mud depending on the genre and mixing. For movies, voices, music, and other sounds are clear, even when occurring all at once.
Now, the bass is present, but not overwhelming. There were no head-shaking lows to be found here, even where songs are engineered for that. And that may be a good thing. Too much bass tends to drown out other frequencies in many headphones. Especially when engineered that way. That didn’t happen with AU Frequency ANC.
The active noise cancellation doesn’t change the audio curve here either. And that was evident in the quality of the audio. Balance and tone representation stayed the same with the feature on or off. The big difference, of course, was that ANC stopped ambient noise all but entirely. With only the loudest environmental noises coming through at all.
The placement of that audio, conversely, was almost perfect. So songs that are mixed to separate audio across various channels created a unique headspace compared to most similarly priced headphones I’ve tested.
The biggest caveat here is, of course, that volume could be higher. That primarily comes down to a couple of factors — for example, the 32 ohms resistance rating. But even at lower volumes quality remains intact and around 50-percent volume is loud enough.
On calls, these are clearly not the best headphones or earbuds I’ve used in terms of pick-up from the mics. Spoken audio went through a bit quieter than expected, just for starters. But AU Frequency ANC somehow still managed to pick up my breathing after I’d been working out. The audio itself, when it does ring through loudly, had a slight tinny-effect — similar to what’s seen from speakerphones.
Fortunately, the mics also didn’t pick up ambient noise in the background — such as a noisy fan or loudly-clicking heater. And it didn’t become overly distorted when others were speaking loudly nearby either. So they certainly aren’t the worst headphones for calls and none of those caveats is necessarily a deal-breaker, either.
Connectivity and features are top-notch with AU Frequency ANC
In terms of deep features, AU Frequency ANC wasn’t the most feature-packed earbud I’ve had the opportunity to review. There are no extra apps to download for EQ adjustments, just for starters.
But everything that is there, is easy to use and intuitive. For instance, to turn active noise cancelation on or off, users just need to hold either buds’ touch zone for 3 seconds. To activate voice assistant — derived from the source devices, so it was Google Assistant, in my case — a triple tap on either bud also works.
Music playback can be controlled on-bud too, so there’s no need to pull out your phone to skip tracks, pause music, answer calls, and more. And, in each case, the earbuds responded to touch interactions almost immediately.
Where this particular listening device really excels on these fronts though, is on the range.
Ausounds claims that AU Frequency ANC will work at up to 32-feet thanks to Bluetooth 5.0. I noted that and fully expected a walk around my home, with the source device left near the center of the house, would create distortion, cut-out, or a drop in connection. It did not. Even when I walked around my property line — adding an additional 20 feet to the already 25-feet or more of distance — no problems occurred.
That makes these headphones among the best I’ve tested in terms of staying connected regardless of obstruction. And with respect to distance combined with obstruction.
Should you buy these earbuds?
Among the most desirable aspects of AU Frequency ANC that I noted under review, these earbuds maintained stability in audio balance, punch, and clarity whether ANC was active or not. That’s not always been the case with headphones I’ve tested. In fact, as often as not, I’ve tended to leave ANC turned off to keep balance and clarity up. And for consistency in power across frequency playback. That wasn’t at all a problem with these earbuds.
More to the point, these earbuds sound great whether that feature is turned on or off. Bass tones can come across ever-so-slightly too heavy, of course. But that’s a much bigger issue with other companies in this price bracket. Here, the lower frequencies are stable and don’t ever seem to drown out either mids or highs. And those other frequencies come through clearly, showing nuances in music and other mediums that isn’t there in many headphones — wired or otherwise.
Because of that, whether ANC is used or not comes down to a matter of personal preference. Although, audio on the calling side could be better.
With the feature turned off, expecting closer to seven or eight hours of battery life is not at all unreasonable. And with it turned on, 5 is easily within reach. While the latter is more typical for these types of earbuds, the former is a definite highlight. These earbuds, with an hour-and-a-half of listening on a 15-minute charge, can certainly provide all the audio that might be needed all day long.
Perhaps more importantly, these wearables are comfortable enough, with their rounded edges and soft ear tips, to be worn all day. And they don’t create a lot of pressure inside the ear when ANC is turned on either.
Put simply, AU Frequency ANC is worth the money and then some. Anybody looking in the sub-$200 price bracket should consider these near the top of their list.