※Japanese version is here.
Hey, guys. I’m Doga (@Doga_EN), a tech writer for Gizmodo Japan and Techable.
Have you used truly wireless earphones so-called “EarBuds”? I have been using AirPods for almost 3 months and I can’t live without them now that I know how convenient they are. Since the day the AirPods were released, many other manufacturers have been trying hard to copy them or make better earbuds. Generally, some of them might look good in terms of the design but many of them are not so practical and not so user-friendly.
I believe that there is kind of a trend that those manufacturers don’t care so much about those elements as long as it’s truly wireless. I think that that is a sad trend.
Not long ago, I got contacted by a HongKong company called GEP that recently opened a Kickstarter campaign of their new earbuds. The earbuds are “C+E1“. The campaign is going very well so far and they have reached almost 80% of their fund goal already. It seems that many people are curious about their product. They shipped me a pre-release model of the C+E1 for my review. I was quite excited because I had used only AirPods as wireless earbuds in my life.
What does the name stand for? Who cares! You don’t care the name as long as those are nice earbuds, right?
Alright, let’s check them out!
What really are C+E1? Truly wireless earbuds?
First is first. Let me briefly refer to the information in the Kickstarter.
C+E1 are truly wireless earbuds that can be charged with the charging capsule just like AirPods. The company GEP wanted to develop good quality earbuds that are affordable and good looking. Here those are, C+E1!!
The version of the Bluetooth that the earbuds use is 4.2, which isn’t the latest but is still a standard. The interesting part is that they use the Laser Direct Structuring (LDS) technology on their Bluetooth antennas, which magnify the strength of the wireless network by integrating the antenna in the earbuds body itself. It sounds complicated but sounds cool, anyway.
Unlike AirPods, C+E1 don’t have a chip or a sensor to recognize the users’ movement. So, these don’t have auto music play/pause function but they have at least a button on the earbuds body. You can play/pause music and answer/hang phone calls by clicking them.
The continuous music play time on the earbuds itself is 3 hours and you can keep listening to music for another 12 hours using the charging capsule.
More detailed specifications are below.
- Audio Signal：Stereo
- Frequency Response：20Hz〜20KHz
- Bluetooth Version：4.2
- Bluetooth Range：≦10m
- Bluetooth Frequency：2.4〜2.48Ghz
- Wiress Antenna：LDS
- Charging Cupsule Port：Micro USB
- Microphone Sensitivity：-42dB±2dB
- EarBuds Battery：Up to 3 hours’ audio playback
- Charging Capsule Battery：12± additional hours’ playback
Let’s unpack them!!
This is my favorite part.
There are the earbuds themselves, a charging capsule, some parts and a booklet (in English).
Here they are. The metallic bolt-like thing is the charging capsule that you can set the earbuds in. Yes, that’s a bit strange design looking but actually, I don’t mind the industrial design at all.
It’s nice that differently sized earpieces and ear hooks are packed too. This makes sense because the company seems to think the C+E1 as sporty earbuds.
The orange earbud is the primary one and the green one is the secondary earbud. Those are so tiny!
How to pair them and how to control them
The direction explains how to pair them but actually, I spent a lot of time in this part. It took me about 10 mins.
The each earbud has a tiny button on the side, which is in charge of almost everything like powering, pairing and the basic controls.
- Hold orange earbud’s button for 2~3 sec.
- The earbud flashes red and blue.
- Open your cell phone Bluetooth to search C+E1 and connect.
- Then turn on the green earbud.
- After the initial pairing, C+E1 will automatically connect to your phone as soon as you remove them from the capsule.
If the primary and secondary earbuds are not linked, it won’t give a stereo sound. In that case, you need another process. It was so confusing for me at first…
- Press the button on each earbud for 2 seconds in the off position until the blue and red lights flash alternately.
- Release the button and wait for a moment.
- The primary (orange one) and secondly earbuds will change from alternately flashing blue and red lights to flashing blue lights.
Once those are connected each other, those two will be automatically paired with the phone next time. Don’t worry.
With a push of the button on whichever, you can play/pause music and answer/hang phone calls. It’s simple.
Let’s test them out!!
I tested them with my iPhone SE for almost 1 week and I assessed them based on 3 factors, sound quality, comfort, and convenience.
Honestly speaking, I wasn’t expecting the sound quality to be good before using them. I know, I’m an asshole. The truth? Actually, the sound quality wasn’t so bad. It was decent.
Compared to the AirPods which are well known for the decent sound too, the sound of the C+E1 has kind of a flat sound. Those don’t have a vivid sound. The sound characters between each instrument and the difference of each sound range in the music were less clear.
However, except that weakness, the C+E1 has a quite decent sound and I’m sure that those who are not serious about sound quality won’t even realize the difference between the sounds of the AirPods and the C+E1 soon. Well, in other words, it might be obvious for those who are familiar with the sound.
Moreover, the C+E1 are so-called an ear canal earbuds. It means that those have a better noise canceling mechanism than the in-ear earbuds. I think that some people prefer the canal style to in-ear style because you can immerse yourself more in the music.
The comfortability wasn’t good, at least for me. Those earbuds are big and rugged.
There are 2 more different-sized earpieces. The default one fit my ear canal the best but earbud part touches my cartilage. The smaller earpieces don’t go deeper even if you want.
The opinion may vary depending on the person but those might hurt your ears as you keep wearing them for a long time.
The big and rugged size of the earbud may make it easy to fall when those are hooked by your hands or something but those have never naturally fallen from my ears yet.
The convenience of C+E1 was meh, not so good but not so bad.
Firstly, the good part is that the LED red light on the earbuds goes off when those are fully charged. It’s simple but very convenient. In addition, the charging capsule looks made of a metal and looks durable. I like it.
The bad part is that you need to set the earbuds in exactly the same position as the one in the picture above. There are metallic ports at the bottom of the earbuds, which connect to the other metallic ports in the capsule. Therefore, if those metallic ports don’t face each other, earbuds can’t be properly charged.
Particularly, the side of the orange earbud in the picture above is more troublesome. You had better check if the LED lights are on for sure before closing the slide.
Moreover, I didn’t like that there is a button on the side (on the color part) of the earbud not at the bottom. When you click the button, you can’t avoid pushing the earbud too and it gets loosened. I’m sure that it would be more user-friendly if the button was installed at the bottom so that you can push it into your canal at the same time when to click the button.
After all, C+E1 was a nicer earbud than I thought. The sound quality isn’t so bad compared to the AirPods and the canal style must be loved by many people too. I only wish they were a little bit more comfortable though…
The C+E1 costs $39.9 in Kickstarter now and will be sold in the market for $79.9. Those are nice truly wireless earbuds for those who have never tried yet. You will be able to get a sense of what the earbuds are.
The campaign in the Kickstarter is supposed to keep going until 9th November in 2017. If you are interested, how about checking their campaign page?