Ever since the Apple AirPods (review) took off, audio brands are adding the TWS category to their lineups, and newer companies are joining the fray. I had not heard of EQ8 Audio before it sent me a review unit of its first product called … well, the EQ8 TWS earbuds.
If I was to give an early impression of the device just by its packaging and the quality of its case, I would’ve had to say this is a much more expensive product than its current price tag of Rs 6,999. Whether it is sound quality, comfort in the ears or just the overall build quality of the earbuds, the EQ8 is definitely my number one recommendation for TWS earbuds under a budget of Rs 10,000. Read on to find out why.
Design and comfort
Rarely have I been very impressed with the casing of earbuds. Most TWS earbuds I’ve tried have bland, boring plastic cases that are sometimes very bulky and don’t fit well in the pocket. While I’ll admit that the EQ8 case is slightly on the bulkier side, the textured cloth finish on all the sides more than makes up for it. The case does not hold a lot of weight to it which makes it all the more easier to carry around in my pocket. Opening the case reveals a polished and shiny interior with the earbuds arranged symmetrically, and the words ‘Live The Balance’ embossed on the bottom. I had recently reviewed the AirPods-knockoff FutureBuds (review) by HiFuture which are priced around the same, but lack the visual appeal of the EQ8.
There is only one colour variant for the case which is Black and I think that it matches perfectly with the case’s textured finish. Along with the case and earbuds, you also get a charging cable and replaceable silicone ear tips which have become pretty standard on TWS earbuds. The earbuds themselves are quite light with a little hook extension on each silicon tip to fit more snuggly inside your ears. I have had the earbuds on for more than 2 hours continuously without feeling even the slightest of discomfort, something which I cannot say about the FutureBuds. The ear tips I found attached with my review unit were a perfect fit for me and provided amazing ambient noise isolation.
Again something very commonly seen on TWS earbuds these days in this price range, is Type-C charging which is present on the EQ8. The case has a respectable 500mAh battery which is said to last about 30 hours. In terms of range, the earbuds start losing signal with a paired smartphone if I’m about 4-5 meters away although the company claims it is about 10 meters. The EQ8 instantly pair with my phone when I take them out of the case which is a must for TWS earbuds. Also, the earbuds are IPX5 sweatproof which means they will quite likely stay undamaged during sweaty workout sessions. The EQ8 have in-built mics that work well in an isolated environment, but become slightly muddled in crowded places like a metro station. On the negative side, there is no wireless charging on the case like the Realme Buds Air (review) though.
With a limited surface area on the earbuds, there is only so much you can have control over. The earbuds employ a standard button use case wherein you can double click the right earbud and hold for 1s to turn up the volume, while the same action on the left bud is for decreasing the volume. Holding any earbud for 5 seconds will turn the power off or on. A single press on any earbud will either pause the music playing or in the case of an incoming call, answer it. Double-tapping on the left bud will play the previous track while doing so on the right earbud will play the next track. A triple press will bring up the voice assistant. That is pretty much all you can get functionality wise.
I would’ve loved a couple of additions on the earbuds although I don’t think it would have been feasible considering the price tag. Active noise cancellation would’ve been wonderful, like on the Sony WF-1000XM3’s, although the seal is good enough to not warrant additional noise cancellation.
The EQ8 are loud in a way that does not distort the sound or create any crackling sound even at max volume
An option to pair with more than one device at a time would also be a welcome feature since I like to switch between my laptop and phone frequently. Pairing the earbuds for the first time is also easy enough. Just pop the earbuds out and they instantly go into pairing mode. The FutureBuds needed the extra step of pressing a button on the case. You can also just pair one earbud to your primary device while the second earbud can be paired to another device.
Sound quality and battery
The EQ8 are loud in a way that does not distort the sound or create any crackling sound even at max volume. The bass is also quite thumping, extremely clear and not on the unbearably high side. Qualcomm’s Bluetooth chipset powers the earbuds and it has support for all major codecs including AAC, SBC, and AptX. Now EQ8 has claimed that it has worked with professionals in the music industry to derive a sound signature that “reproduce true audio of your music as the artist intended it to be.” I don’t really disagree.
Highs and mids are delivered smoothly through the earbuds. A couple of songs which act as my testing subjects are Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, both of which bring out the best in vocals and instruments. The separation of the cymbal playing in the background from the drums beating in the foreground was noticeable when I looked for it. The solo at the end of Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ was something to herald to. Bollywood songs like the EDM-centric ‘Vadiya’ from the movie Udta Punjab faired well on the earbuds with good quality lows. Overall the sound signature is balanced in a way that almost all songs, with the exception of perhaps Techno/Trance genre, sound commendable on the earbuds.
As far as the battery on the earbuds is concerned, for a person like me who mostly used the earbuds while navigating the four-hour commute (to and fro), the EQ8 lasted me a whole week without having to charge them even once.
The EQ8s are really one of the nicest earbuds that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
Qualcomm’s chipset is also claimed to reduce battery consumption by about 50 percent. Each earbud can play continuously for 7 hours straight and as mentioned above the case gives you an additional 30 hours. Also, the case can charge the earbuds to play for 3 hours in just 15 min of charging. All these stats are extremely impressive.
The EQ8s are really one of the nicest earbuds that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. They have an excellent sound signature and they do not overdo any aspect of the music be it the mids, lows, treble, vocals or bass. Comfort, which is of paramount importance to me, is exceptional while the battery life on the earbuds is long-lasting as well. The case is perhaps one of the best that I’ve laid my eyes on in this or for that matter any price range. It wouldn’t be stretch for me to say that the EQ8, priced at Rs 6,999, are one of the best TWS earbuds under Rs 10,000.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Amazing case design
- Comfortable earbuds
- Excellent sound signature
- Good battery life
- Slightly bulky
- No wireless charging