Sometimes you just want audio that’s clear and balanced, with plenty of volume and punch, and all the latest features. And, of course, at a value-first price. Well, that’s exactly what Ausounds recently sent Android Headlines for review with its AU-XT ANC.
Priced at under $200 — $199.95 — these aren’t going to be the least expensive headphones on the market. They also aren’t the most expensive, by any stretch, falling squarely in the lower-mid-range. But the cost can be deceiving. AU-XT ANC is easily one of the best listening devices money can currently buy.
That’s not simply because they’re comfortable, long-lasting, and well-balanced either. Ausounds put forward the effort to ensure that there are almost no caveats at all to its latest offering. So let’s dive in and see how these headphones performed under a thorough test.
AU-XT ANC hardware punches hundreds of dollars above its weight
On the hardware front, it became obvious under review that premium materials and comfort are the order of the day for AU-XT ANC. Not only did Ausounds coat both the headband and earcups in a soft-touch leather that’s arguably the softest I’ve ever felt. It ensured that the plastics used in the outer shell is matte colored for better fingerprint and dust deterrence. And the band itself seems to be built from metal.
Relatively low weight and solid internal metal sliders further the feeling that these headphones are durable. And that’s accompanied by an IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating too. All of the buttons and ports, conversely, were clicky and responsive. You’ll find no annoying, easy-to-accidentally-activate touch controls here. Just a multi-function pause/play, reverse, and forward button. Each serving additional purposes associated with answering calls, volume, and more.
The ANC activation toggle, conversely, is led by a green LED when switched on. That disappears when turned off.
Aside from looking good and having great materials used, AU-XT ANC also goes a step further in its shape. While this isn’t the most flexible headphone to date, it does feature ear cups that are curved slightly to better cup the ear. That keeps the edges of the earcup almost exclusively away from the ear. And, of course, that leads to a furtherance of the comfort here.
As does the fact that, even with ANC activated, I never felt any undue or unwanted pressure from the audio. This is good because, of course, these headphones get loud, as we’ll discuss in a moment.
The cups can also be flexed in either a forward or backward direction and fold up easily. So, in addition to shipping with a charging cable, airplane adapter, 3.5mm audio cable, and a beautifully designed minimal carry case, they’re easy enough to tote around all on their own.
Summarily, this is the quality of hardware I’d expect in a $500+ pair of headphones.
Battery life from AU-XT ANC didn’t disappoint
When it comes to longevity, Ausounds claims that AU-XT ANC will get you 30-hours of battery from a single charge but my review didn’t quite match up with that. That’s not to say that these won’t get that many hours. Battery life is extremely subjective and I set these headphones down at full volume for effectively the entire battery test. As we’ll discover in the next segment of the review, that’s going to be entirely too loud for these headphones.
I also left ANC active throughout the battery test, which drains the battery faster still. While keeping the source device at a distance of around 25-feet pushes up against the limit, further exasperating that.
With all of that said, I saw approximately 12-hours of battery life from AU-XT ANC under review under those conditions. And that’s great. Because they should last a lot longer at a reasonable distance, with a reasonable volume. Turning ANC off will extend battery life further still. All of which means that these should easily last 30-hours. Especially since ANC is not always going to be needed, given the volume of these headphones.
Now, Ausounds says that its AU-XT ANC can gain back around an hour and a half of listening in 15-minutes of charging. That seems to be almost dead-on accurate. But they also only take just short of two hours to charge. In fact, it took me just an hour and 20-minutes to fuel up my review unit for another full day (and then some) of playback and calls.
Audio from AU-XT ANC sounds and feels nearly perfect
The biggest audio feature from AU-XT ANC is right there in the branding and active noise canceling really shined in this review. Not only was it easy to switch on or off via a toggle. And not only did that toggle have an easy-to-read green LED showing when it was turned on. ANC from Ausounds on this pair of headphones didn’t appear to change the sound quality at all.
Instead, ANC isolated my ears cleanly away from external noise with a click, keeping the same balance.
Balance from these headphones, conversely, was exceptionally well done. Especially with consideration for the price. Typically, the music I gravitate toward tends to use complex mixes and sound spaces. In every genre of music and every movie I watched, the balance of these headphones nailed down exactly where to place each sound almost perfectly. The result was an immersive and wide listening experience, even in simpler tunes.
Returning to the frequency curve, each frequency, from the lowest bass to the highest tones, shined through without losing power. Bass tones that have ordinarily drowned out or been unplayable on similarly priced headphones did too. All without under-representing — or over-representing — any given frequency. At least not to my ear.
Now, as noted earlier, volume is another area these headphones really stand out. And that’s because they’re incredibly loud. Loud enough, even, that they should probably never be listened to at over 70-to-75-percent volume. Although, that does mean that even those in the loudest surrounding environments should be able to hear their favorite songs clearly.
Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true for calls made using Ausounds AU-XT ANC. Audio quality on that front, in a quiet environment, is simply not as crisp as some other headsets and headphones I’ve used. And that gets worse with environmental noise. Even having music quietly playing on a speaker in the background while talking to somebody over the phone didn’t go well. The friend I had called noted that they could tell not only what song was playing but where, in the song, it was.
They also noted that as the music got louder, it got much harder to hear me. So that’s going to get worse with louder sounds and environments too.
In that same vein, wind absolutely kills these headphones for communication. Stepping outside on a moderately windy day, not quite windy enough even to get a kite in the air, speech from my end became nearly inaudible. So, while serviceable in the right conditions, these are absolutely not the headphones to get for that purpose if calls are a primary use case.
Connectivity is solid, as it should be
Ausounds started with Bluetooth 5.0 for this wearable. That provides an effective range of around 32-feet, which ensured that even with some obstacles, AU-XT ANC didn’t cut out during my review. And it ensures the near-lossless audio quality, as noted in the segment above. Simultaneously lending to longer battery life, and support for AAC, Apt-X, and Apt-X HD are built right in. But what else does it bring to the table?
To begin with, Ausounds AU-XT ANC doesn’t actually require its internal battery to work properly. In fact, Ausounds packs these headphones with a 3.5mm audio combo jack. So you can hook up your favorite audio cable or the included one for days of listening on end. And that also helps add a slightly better-placed mic for easy access to your smartphone’s AI — such as Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri.
Ausounds additionally includes an Aircraft Adapter in the bundle. That’s an adapter with a plug for headphones on one edge and two prongs on the other. So it should work well with most dual-output plugs, ensuring a great connection in more than just single-port 3.5mm plugs.
Should you buy Ausounds AU-XT ANC?
For under $200, it’s easy to recommend Ausounds AU-XT ANC after conducting this review. In fact, this product is easily among the very best listening devices for that money. Not only does the audio punch well above its price point — with the exception of call audio — so does the build. Conversely, the comfort of these headphones is such that I was able to wear them straight through until the battery died.
Anybody looking for an affordable pair of premium headphones would be remiss not to give these ones from Ausounds a go. Whether for movies or music, wired or wireless.