Pros: fun bass, good bluetooth reception, value, comfort
Cons: the midrange can be a little recessed for some
Ever since the introduction of the 3.5mm headphone-jack-omitted iPhone 7 in 2016, along with the subsequent release of competing smartphones following suit, the market for affordable bluetooth earphones has grown substantially. I originally dismissed bluetooth earphones and headphones as being inferior to their wired counterparts in both convenience (they must be charged) and in sound quality. Ever since I bought my iPhone 7, however, being all but forced to use wireless headphones (lest I use that pesky little lightning-to-3.5mm dongle) has made me an unexpected believer in this technology. I have found that once I have gone wireless, I struggle to return to snag-happy wired headphones, especially when I am moving about. This concern for having a pair of earphones that lack free dangling wires has become exponentially more crucial when I perform intense cardio sessions. My need for a pair of bluetooth earphones that stayed secure in my ears whilst enduring perspiration (sweating) presented the challenge to find a suitable and affordable fitness headset. QCY Audio rose to this challenge, and kindly reached out to offer me the opportunity to review one of their newest bluetooth sports earphones, the QY25 Plus.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
The QY25 Plus comes nicely packaged in a cardboard display-style box with a magnetic flap, complete with a set of small and large eartips; the medium eartips are preinstalled. There is also a short micro USB charging cable included.
FORM FACTOR AND WEARING COMFORT
The QY25 Plus is a fitness and convenience-focused pair of neckband bluetooth earphones. There are two color wave options to choose from: black with lime green wires, and gray and white. My unit was the white model. The neckband is a light gray rubber-coated metal wire, with two plastic, rubber-cushioned dongles at the end of each side of the band. The white earphones attach to wires that terminate from both of these dongles. I previously used bluetooth earphones that simply connect with one wire, but I have found that this design often forces manufactures to place the batteries, bluetooth antennas and audio circuitry in the ear capsules themselves, causing the earphones to protrude excessively from my ears, and becoming excessively bulky and heavy, easily falling out of my ears. The QY25 Plus solves this problem by having its circuitry and batteries located at the dongle ends of the neckband, allowing the earphones to remain light and compact, comparable to the size of traditional wired earphone capsules. This results in the QY25 Plus being an extraordinarily comfortable pair of bluetooth earphones. The earphones stay comfortable in my ear canals by just the silicone eartips, without the need for uncomfortable hooks that dig into the backs of my ears, or wings that make the concha bowls of my ears incredibly sore. The QY25 Plus stays in securely, whether I am running on an elliptical machine, walking or at my work desk. The dongles on the end of the headband have a tendency to bounce around a bit when I am running, but I can easily tuck them underneath the collar of my shirt. I can easily wear the QY25 Plus all day long around my neck with no issues whatsoever, and the magnetic metal ends of the ear capsules allow the earphones to attach together so they do not flap around loosely.
The right dongle on the neckband contains the play/pause button, the volume buttons, the power switch, the microphone, the charging port, and the vibration motor. The button for play/pause button/answer call/redial (does not work with Siri) is located on top of the dongle. The volume buttons (that also can skip or replay tracks by being held down) are easy to reach and are located on the outside of the dongle. The power switch is located on the inside of the dongle next to the blue/red charging, connection, and power indicator LED. When you turn the QY25 Plus on, you will hear a brief melody played (as well as when you turn the QY25 Plus off), and you will feel a long vibration from the right dongle. The vibration function works for incoming phone calls, but having a vibration for text and email notifications would have been nice as well. Bluetooth connection is version 4.1, and I experienced no issues with electronic buzzing or chirping sounds. The Bluetooth connection signal stayed strong for about 30-40 feet before the QY25 Plus lost the signal from my iPhone. The QY25 Plus is a good headset as well: phone call quality was adequate, with clarity from both ends of the call.
CHARGING AND BATTERY LIFE
The QY25 Plus is good for 5 hours of battery life, and once the battery level dips below 10 percent, the earphones give off a warning beep. Recharging is accomplished via micro USB, with the charging port located on the inside of the right dongle covered by a silicone flap, requiring a bit of prying with the fingernails to open. The QY25 Plus charges in approximately 1 hour off of any sort of USB power connection, and indicates a complete charge by illuminating the solid blue LED.
ISOLATION AND SOUND QUALITY
Once you have the eartips securely placed in the ear canals, sound isolation is good, and comparable to a good pair of closed back headphones. The QY25 Plus is definitely a sound isolation step up from Apple earphones, and the earphone nozzles are a fairly universal size, which may suit those who want to eartip roll to seek even better noise isolation or tailor the sound more to their liking.
And now onto the sound….
The QY25 Plus has a fairly smoothed over treble, with decent articulation, though on the darker side. Darker treble is fine for a pair of fitness earphones, since having a ton of treble while doing exercise tends to hurt my ears (though some of you may like a treble assault while you are running). Sibilances were not harsh at all, and neither was harsh guitar work. I did notice that the treble could get a bit slurred on some harsher and faster genres, but for what the headphones are, that is perfectly acceptable.
Mids and vocals on the QY25 Plus are good quality considering the form factor, purpose and price of these earphones. Often times, more affordable headphones and earphones tend to be plagued with a tinny, nasty upper midrange. The QY25 Plus has a touch of graininess in the upper midrange, though not to any extreme, and is not a deal breaker whatsoever. Vocals and mids tend to be a bit on the darker side and take a bit of a step back to the bass, but there is plenty of clarity to enjoy your favorite music, videos and podcasts while exercising. QCY Audio reports the QY25 Plus as supporting aptX bluetooth audio quality, but I do not have a source device that supports this format, so I am unfortunately unable to comment any further here.
Bass is where the QY25 Plus shines. There is plenty of middle and sub bass to enjoy all the dance, house, hip-hop, drum and bass, and K-Pop that I want, and the bass speed keeps up with fast genres. There is a bit of a dip in the upper bass, combined with the more laid back mids, but the midbass still keeps the pace going. These are definitely a fun and driving set of earbuds for those who demand a fast and thumpy listen for their cardio or weight training sessions, myself included.
MY CLOSING THOUGHTS
The QY25 Plus is definitely a bass-emphasized, fun-sounding, affordable pair of sport neckband earphones, and has become my go-to, portable work/walking/fitness pair of earphones that suits most of my genre preferences. I highly recommend these earphones to anyone looking for a solid, affordable pair of sports Bluetooth neckband earphones. These days with the push toward wireless connectivity and the abandonment of wired peripheral support from mainstream wireless media sources, the market in good-sounding, affordable audio products continues to grow exponentially by the day. The QY25 Plus is one of these latest products that holds its own. I would like to thank the folks at QCY Audio for providing me with this unit, and giving me the opportunity to review one of their products.
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