Near perfect sports headphones offer good value for the price.
For quite some time now, I’ve struggled with Bluetooth earbuds. They never seem to fit my ears just right and when they do fit, I don’t think the audio quality is all that outstanding. As a result, I’ve shied away from testing out many BT earbuds, but I decided to give the NC50 earphones from Linner a try. They have a unique style and the added feature of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) so I thought they might be worth it. Before I dive into this review too far, I want to point out that in-ear headphones (earbuds/earphones) have a different fit that you might expect. I’ve found that with the exception of Apple’s AirPods, standard earbuds have to be placed farther into the ear than you might expect. This can cause a little discomfort at first, but if you take the time to fit yourself with the correct ear gels and wings (if provided) you should find something that is comfortable for you.
The Linner earphones came in a larger branded box with minimal graphics on the exterior. The inside of the box has a molded plastic holder that the earphone sits inside. They are the first thing when you lift the box top. Beneath the earphones is cardboard insert that contains the user guide, carrying pouch, replacement ear gels and wings, and a Micro USB charging cable for the earphones.
The user guide is multilingual and gives you the very basic ‘getting started’ details. It covers:
- Connecting devices via Bluetooth
- Bluetooth indicator state
- Connect Multiple devices
- Product care & use
- Warranty & Customer support
The user guide could use a good proofreading. For example, under the Connect Multiple Devices heading, the second bullet point reads — In pairing state, the earphone connect to the device after connecting with first one So that the earphone can connect to two device at the same time. First of all, I’d like to see the heading read Connecting Multiple Devices. Secondly, the phrase would read much easier and grammatically correct if it were printed like this — In a pairing state, the earphones connect to the second device after connecting to the first one. This is so the earphones can connect to two devices at the same time.
Aside from the grammatical mistakes, the user guide is fairly easy to follow. I am surprised that there isn’t more information about the ANC feature, but you only press the ANC button to activate it or deactivate it. There are no different settings to follow so I suppose no further explanation is required. The initial set-up of the earphones was quite easy. I turned them on and set them into Bluetooth pairing mode. My iPhone picked up their signal right away and I connected to it.
As I mentioned above, I tend to avoid earbuds because of the general discomfort I feel when I wear them. The Linner NC50 earphones were surprisingly comfortable to me. I was able to wear them for about two hours in one sitting and was actively listening to them at that point. I didn’t have to swap out ear gels or wings and when I didn’t want to use them, I simply pulled them out of my ears and lets them dangle around my neck. The backs of the earpieces are magnetized so they will connect together when hanging around your neck. They aren’t very strong though as I found myself having to reconnect them several times.
The ANC feature was quite handy as it did seem to deaden the ambient noises in the room around me. I noticed that the air handling noises from our furnace was dulled quite a bit and when someone tried to talk to me, their voice sounded muffled. All room noises were modified quite a bit to allow the sounds from the earphones be heard more clearly. Now, something that was very odd to me was that the volume was decreased when I switched back and forth between ANC and non-ANC audio. I have the natural volume set to 25% on my iPhone and with ANC engaged, it was a comfortable volume — probably about 25%. When I turned off ANC, the volume of the audio coming through the earphones was decreased to about 5%. I also noticed quite a bit of static/white noise from the headphones (with or without ANC). This was especially prevalent when I tested out a couple of different hearing tests using the earbuds.
To test out the actual audio quality/levels in the earphones, I utilized a couple of different methods. Keep in mind that a standard range for human hearing is 20Hz to 20kHz. I did a quick check of my personal hearing frequencies (without the earphones) and found that on the high end, I can hear up to 17kHz and on the low end, I can hear as low as 30Hz.
- Audiocheck.net’s Headphones and Earphones Benchmarking Test: This is a very nice option because Audiocheck has compiled files together in one place for you to utilize them. I ended up focusing on the high and low-frequency tests because the other apps I ended up testing with tested along the same lines. According to Audiocheck the low-end frequency that was detected was 50Hz while the high end was 16kHz.
- Tone Generator: This is an app for iOS that will generate tone frequencies to both earphones at the same time. I was able to hear between 15kHz and 16kHz on the high end and 30Hz on the low end.
- Headphone Check: This app for iOS is basically intended to help you check the signal between your left and right audio channels. It has three different tones — 250Hz, 440Hz, and 1kHz. I was able to hear them all equally and the signal switched between left and right channels without any issues.
Finally, I listened to several tracks of music through Pandora and Apple Music. I found that either method provided the same level of audio quality. There was a good balance to all the songs I listened to. The controls on the earphones are a little odd. The volume and play/pause buttons are on one control while the on/off and ANC controls are on another part of the neck piece. I would have liked to see this combined into one control panel. Otherwise, these were an enjoyable set of earphones to use.
If I were going to rate these headphones, I would give them 4 out of 5 stars. The only reasons for the less than perfect score are the ANC/volume issue I described, the static/white noise presence despite the ANC feature, and the design of the controls. None of these things are going to keep me from recommending these earphones, but I can’t rate them as ‘perfect’ because of them.
BUY FROM AMAZON