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Elepawl EP6 Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Rating:
4/5,
  1. alex2750
    Better sound than ANC
    Written by alex2750
    Published Nov 19, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good quality build
    Wide soundstage with good depth
    Decent clarity
    ANC with music works very well
    Cons - Weak ANC without music
    Backwards volume controls
    Bloated bass
    Can't turn on ANC without turning on headphones as well
    Disclaimer: Although I received these headphones in exchange for my review, all opinions I put forth are my own and I always review as honestly and unbiasedly as possible.

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    I'm a 20 year old college student who listens to music at every possible opportunity. I generally prefer IEMs to cans and wear them on the subway, between classes, doing school work, working out, and any other time it's socially acceptable to (as well as a few times it's not).

    I listen to a bit of everything but usually prefer male vocals and strong bass. I don't know how to describe my tastes by genre so I would say somewhere in the middle of Hozier, early Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Queen, and Mumford and Sons is my sweet spot.

    I hold all of my music on my Samsung S8 and use Poweramp as my main player. Though I conduct all of my tests without EQ, this is my preferred EQ for casual listening:

    Some of my test tracks are:
    Sail - Awolnation
    Somebody That I Used To Know - Pentatonix
    Centipede - Knife Party
    In One Ear - Cage The Elephant
    Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
    All I Need - Awolnation
    Killer Queen - Queen
    Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
    Hundred - The Fray
    Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
    Someone Like You - Adele
    Gasoline - Halsey
    Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

    At the time of posting, the Elepawl EP6 can be found on Amazon for $65.99. It doesn’t look like they can currently be found elsewhere.

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The EP6 came with very basic packaging. It comes in a plain black cardboard box with a sketch of the headphones on the front along with the Elepawl logo and EP6 model number.

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    A leather carrying case with ELEPAWL embossed on it and a drawstring on the top right sits right below the lid; under that is protective foam with cutouts for the headphones and included AUX and charging cables. The user manual and a customer support card promising a free gift in exchange for an Amazon review (which made alarm bells go off in my head) sit on top of the foam.

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    Build:

    These headphones have a more premium look than others I’ve seen at this price range. The black-and-silver color scheme is very sleek and the small metal pieces on the outside of the housing on each side add a nice touch.

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    The housing is made of plastic with small metal accents - a small oval in the middle and a rounded piece near the front (which makes it easier than the small lettering on the inside of the hinge to tell which ear is which, honestly). On the left housing, they are just for decoration; on the right, however, the small oval in the middle is the pause/play button and the rounded piece is the volume control. I’m not sure that these controls were built for ease of use - pressing volume up, which is on the bottom, skips a song, and pressing volume down goes back a song. To adjust the volume, you have to hold the buttons. The right housing also has the ELEPAWL logo prominently on it. The micro USB port is on the bottom of the left housing; the bottom of the right housing has the AUX port, the microphone, and the power switch, which has ANC and Bluetooth as separate settings. This means you can’t turn ANC on without also turning the headphones on, which is mildly annoying.

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    The ear pads are very well made - they’re covered in soft leather and are an inch and a half thick, which makes these headphones truly fit around my ear rather than on them. In the middle of the ear pad, foam that is startlingly similar to the foam the EP6 is packaged in covers the drivers.

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    The hinges, which are made of solid metal, rotate telescopically but do not fold, which makes them less portable than other headphones and makes it difficult to fit these in their carrying case. However, they extend in small enough increments to fit almost any head size and the flexible headband is very well padded, covered by the same soft leather that covers the ear pads.

    Fit/Isolation:

    The EP6 are incredibly comfortable. The thickness and padding of the ear pads makes them fit firmly around my ears without the headband causing them to push against my head too tightly. This creates a decent seal, and along with it, pretty good passive noise isolation. I can wear these for long periods of time without being uncomfortable. That said, they are a bit heavy; I usually wear them around my neck while I’m not using them instead of just keeping them on my head.

    The ANC is weaker than I anticipated. I tested it by listening to “Celestial White Noise” through my computer at 80% volume, the equivalent of sitting inside of an airplane. Just putting these headphones on reduced the noise by about half; however, I barely noticed a difference when I turned ANC on. The ANC works better when music is playing - the difference in level of background noise was noticeable and not negligible - but is borderline not worth using without music.

    Battery Life/Connectivity:

    Packing an 800 mAh battery, these headphones promise an impressive 30 hours of playtime. It isn’t specified but I assume that figure is for Bluetooth playback without ANC - 30 hours seems way too generous to be the combined figure. That said, the actual battery life is still respectable and is easily over 20 hours. I would estimate I use ANC about 40-50% of the time while wearing these headphones and I have only had to recharge them once in the month or so I have owned them. They recharge decently quickly and have an LED on the bottom of the left housing that glows red while the headphones are plugged in and turns off when they are fully charged.

    I generally keep my phone in my pocket or close to my person while using headphones or IEMs and these are no exception. The connection is very good within a close range - the music hasn’t skipped or dropped once. Elepawl doesn’t specify the maximum range of the EP6 but it seems like between 25 and 30 feet is its effective range.

    Sound:

    The EP6 has a serious bass boost that gives it a lopsided V-shaped sound signature. These headphones fall into the trap that so many other consumer-focused headphones and IEMs do: strong bass at the cost of clarity (especially in the treble) and mid-range presence. That said, the soundstage is better than expected, making it easy to get lost in the music, and the slightly elevated level of detail helps fight the problems the mid and treble face.

    As expected, the ANC isolates the mids by reducing the bass; this makes vocals sound more natural and treble less muddled. I prefer listening with ANC for songs with lots of piano or heavy focus on vocals (especially a cappella) but without for pop songs or EDM. Unless otherwise specified, my descriptions of the sound are without ANC on.

    Bass:

    The bass is powerful to a fault. The sub-bass is smooth and accurate, allowing you to feel your music as well as hear it - no other headphone I’ve used and very few IEMs have been able to replicate the rumble in the beginning of Evanescense’s “Bring Me To Life” the way these did.. The mid-bass is punchy and percussive but very sloppy around the edges. It becomes bloated very easily - it did on almost every song I used to test these headphones that featured a bass line - and bleeds into the mids, making them recess.

    I’m reminded of the KZ ZS3 when I listen to these. The bass of the ZS3 is tighter than the EP6 but both have strong basses that become the most prominent part of the music. They are also similar in terms of vibrancy but I would say the ZS3 has the better bass.

    Mids:

    Staying true to the V-shaped sound signature, the mids are recessed. In Pentatonix’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, the tenor part prominently comes in after the bass; however, as the alto and soprano parts come in, it fades into the back and is much harder to hear. At lower volumes, the mids simply have less presence; at higher volumes, it is easier to hear them but the bleed from the bass distorts mid-range sounds.

    The vocals, however, are a different story. Voices - especially male voices - come through with a surprisingly good level of detail. Despite the recession of the mids in the background, vocals stand out and are not strongly affected by the bass bloat. Neither male nor female vocals have large amounts of sibilance either. However, they sound a bit muffled - if I weren’t listening for it I probably wouldn’t hear it but it sounds like you’re listening to a reproduction of a voice rather than someone singing to you.

    Treble:

    Like the bass, the treble also has a slight boost. The best way to describe it is that it’s just there. It has no special qualities of its own - it’s not particularly airy, light, or soft - but replicates high sounds and female voices pretty well. Piano parts, like on The Fray’s “Hundred”, sound a bit muddy, but the intros to Bastille’s “Laughter Lines” and My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade sound crystal clear.

    Female vocals sound a bit distant but aren’t overly sibilant (which happens on many V- or U-shaped sound signatures). They also have good detail - I can hear Adele’s trills on “Someone Like You” but can’t get the micro-details that you might hear from a more audiophile-focused headphone. I wouldn’t recommend these headphones if you listen to mostly songs with female vocals but they aren’t bad for songs with lots of treble or high voices either.

    Soundstage:

    The EP6 has a wide soundstage with decent depth. Instead of sounding like it’s just in front of me, the music seemingly comes from all sides. Also, individual instruments are easy to pick out, even in busy songs like AWOLNATION’s “All I Need” and Cage The Elephant’s “In One Ear”. However, clarity is lacking; many of the instruments in the background bleed into one another and aren’t as defined or crisp as they probably should be.

    Comparisons:

    vs Tsumbay TS-BH05 (~$60 USD)

    The TS-BH05 has hands down the better ANC. You don’t have to turn the headphones on to use it and it is stronger, blocking more noise without music playing. The bass on the TS-BH05 is also more refined. However, the sound quality of the EP6 has more clarity and detail overall than the TS-BH05 and is built better. If sound is more important than ANC, the EP6 is a better choice; if ANC is more important, the TS-BH05 is better.

    Final Thoughts:

    For under $70, Elepawl put out a pretty good Bluetooth ANC headphone. The build quality looks and feels premium, and though some of the functionality could have been better thought out, they are easy to use once you get the hang of them. The ANC is a bit weak to be used by itself; however, when used with music, it isolates incredibly well. The sound quality is also pretty good, despite (or because of, depending on your tastes) the V-shaped signature. These headphones are worth it for the casual traveler who wants to shut the world out of their commute, whether a bus or train or plane, but anyone looking for more than casual listening or who wants serious noise cancellation might want to upgrade.