I have reviewed many different Bluetooth headphones over the past couple of years and had more-or-less settled on the Aukey EP-B61 Neck Buds as my daily go-to pair. They are a slightly shameless copy of the Apple-Beats X but cost a fraction of the price.
My only major gripe with them after using them for as long as I have is that they do not blend in or wear well with my works business casual attire. Using the B61s with a collared shirt does not lend to a comfortable experience. I embarked on a search to find a solution to this issue, a solution I was sure didn't exist.
After searching for a period and coming up dry I received an email from a company named BlitzWolf telling me about their new headphones and asked if I would like to give them a try and share my experiences with them here.
What Are The BlitzWolf BW-ANC1 Headphones?
The ANC1 headphones are, on paper, pretty standard sounding wireless (but wired) Bluetooth headphones. However, take one look at them and you will see why I immediately felt I had a solution to my wearability issue with more formal attire. Instead of being traditional around the neck/back of the head Bluetooth headphones, the ANC1s come off the front and run into a small cube which contains the battery and controls for the headphones. The control cube also has a clothing clip on it, allowing you to attach to a sleeve or between buttons on your shirt. Rather than having to tuck the neckband into or under your shirt collar, the ANC1s hang in front and are far more manageable for me with a button up or collared shirt.
The ANC1s also came with a very hand pill-shaped carrying case and a short, about 2", micro USB cable for charging.
- Bluetooth Version：V4.1
- Noise Reduction Range(200-800Hz)：-20±5dB
- Battery Capacity：120mAh, 3.7V
- Talking Time：6h
- Standby Time：240h
- Charging Time：2h
What I Liked
If it was not already obvious, the design is the biggest pro for me. being able to wear these while at work and have it blend in with the business casual attire. They are incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods and I often forget they are there. I was worried about the weight of the control cube. Before they headphones arrived the images I had seen made the cube look excessively large. After they arrived, I was pretty happy with how small the controls actually were.
Active Noise Cancelling
I think I have said this in every audio related review I have done, but here it is again. I am far from an audiophile. I don't listen to a lot of music, most of my audio comes in the form of podcasts or audiobooks. Now, with that said, that does not mean that I do not appreciate a solid listening experience!
The ANC1s feature active noise cancelling which can reduce background noise by about 20db and for the size and price of these headphones, I was skeptical as to how well the ANC would work in real day-to-day use. Since I use these mostly at work, sometimes I want to have the ability to keep both earbuds in to focus but be able to catch what's going on around me with minimal effort and minimal distraction.
Waterproof, sort of
The ANC1s are waterproofed with an IPX4 rating. This is not true waterproof like you see on flagship phones these days. The IPX4 rating means that the headphones are protected from splashing water, no matter the direction. They cannot be fully submerged, but wearing them in the rain if you used them for running would allow you to have the peace of mind that they won't be damaged. My ideal use case for these, as I mentioned, is to wear these in a more formal setting, where they can blend into your attire. That use case makes the lack of full waterproofing less of a factor, and the IPX4 rating fully acceptable.
What I Did Not Like
There is not much I did not like about the ANC1s, but if I had to pick one thing that consistently took away from the experience was the material selection used for the wires connecting the earbuds to the battery/control cube. The wire was very rigid and didn't sit comfortably when moving around and for me caused the earbuds to come loose when moving around. I more flexible material would be far more versatile to make the ANC1s stay more secure when worn.
The control cube for ANC1s is pretty great. Packing in the 120mAh battery along with the power, volume and noise-cancelling is an impressive feat given the small package, however, the tactility of the controls for power, play/pause and volume is pretty poor. The controls are raised above the surface to allow you to find them, but the selections are so small, I was often hitting the incorrect button which was quite frustrating.
Should You Buy The BW-ANC1s
Getting your hands on the BW-ANC1s over here in Canada may be a bit of a challenge since they are not readily available on Amazon.ca. As of this writing, they will set you back about $200 CAD. So steer clear.
So, they can be found, but not from my preferred source.
Should you buy them though? If you envision the same use case I have for the ANC1s, yes, absolutely, give these a try. I think most people would be surprised by how well these headphones perform. For most users, however, the more common neck bud design that we have seen take over in this space will likely be a better choice.
Bottom line; I will be more than likely to pick up and use my Aukey EP-B61s to use unless I am headed to work and don't want them getting in the way. If you'd like to read that review, you can check that out HERE.
If you would like to check out the BlitzWolf ANC1 Bluetooth headphones, head over to their site to learn more.