Ausounds is a new audio company comprised of audio industry veterans. Launched in the summer of 2019 and headquartered in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, Ausounds markets their products towards music creators. At the time of this writing, releases include two Airpod-style wireless earbuds, and one wireless neckband unit. The neckband unit, retailing for $199, will be the subject of this review. This is the Ausounds AU-Flex ANC Review.
Ausounds AU-Flex ANC
Out of the box, the AU-Flex comes with 4 pairs of silicone eartips, USB-C charger and a cloth carrying pouch. Battery life is 22 hours, dropping to 10 with active noise cancellation turned on. USB-C ensures quick charging, and Android users will enjoy LDAC codec support with a maximum transfer rate of 990kbps (that means higher quality wireless audio). Apple users have to settle for the standard AAC codec. Waterproof rating is IPX5, which can withstand jets of water.
All the controls are on the right side of the neckband. Volume, play/pause/power, and the ANC button. Controls are intuitive and responsive, but the ANC button stops the music and slowly announces: “ANC mode ON”. I don’t mind the interruption, but I wish it were quicker.
The entirety of the neckband is flexible rubber, with the exception of the plastic tips. As a result, wearing it is light and comfortable. I forgot it was even there. The earbuds are also well-designed, and isolate a significant amount of outside noise. This is important, because the active noise cancellation hardly does anything at all. It eliminates some low-frequency noises from cars and trains and such, but not much else. I also wish the earbuds were made of something other than plastic, but that’s my only complaint as far as the fit is concerned.
The AU-Flex uses a dynamic driver for the lows and a planar magnetic driver for the mids and highs. The resulting sound quality is impressive. Lows are thick, highs are extended, and the midrange doesn’t get left behind. Here are some quick comparisons between similar models in the same price ballpark (AU-Flex is $199).
VS. RHA T20 Wireless ($189.95)
The RHA T20’s earbuds have a similar design to the AU-Flex, but RHA’s are made of metal, include detachable MMCX connections, and are more comfortable in the ear. The sound profile is similar, with the RHA bringing a little more high-end detail and forward leaning vocals. Plus the RHA comes with changeable filters for more low-end or high-end emphasis. Honestly, the RHA is a better option. I actually liked the Ausounds until they went head-to-head with these.
VS. JBL Everest Elite 100 ($199.95)
The JBL is about as comfortable as the AU-Flex, but the sound quality is significantly worse. Much less detail, and though JBL is known for strong bass, the Au-Flex actually had more. I don’t recommend the JBLs.
VS. Klipsch R6 ($179.99)
The Klipsch R6 has a nice leather neckband that vibrates to give you notifications. But the earbuds themselves are small, skinny, and uncomfortable to my ears. The high-end was similar to the AU-Flex, but the Klipsch packs a leaner bass.
I began this review thoroughly enjoying the AU-Flex. Then the RHA T20 entered the picture. I didn’t expect this outcome, and it probably makes the review sound like a thinly-veiled plug for RHA. But the RHA are so much better, the only way Ausounds can expect to compete is to offer a lower price. But the price is higher. Hmm. So I can’t really recommend the AU-Flex, even though there is nothing wrong with them. Sure the noise cancellation is useless, but the sound isolation is good enough without it. But why would I pay more to get less?
Pros- Above average sound and build quality.
Cons- The RHA T20 is slightly cheaper and way better.
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