Saturday, June 22, 2024

Aukey EP-N7 vs. EP-N5: Comparing two affordable Aukey earbuds


A sounder curve

Aukey EP-N7


$65 at Amazon


  • Good audio quality
  • ANC and ambient support
  • Smaller and lighter build
  • Improved onboard controls
  • Better call quality
  • Similar price


  • Only marginally better battery life
  • Still no onboard volume control
  • No wireless charging
  • No more rugged than before

Aukey comes back with a newer look that shaves things down on the outside, while trying to spread things out on the inside. You get a smaller form factor that stands a better chance of fitting your ears, plus a more balanced soundstage to go with it.

A rumbling take

Aukey EP-N5


$65 at Amazon


  • Thicker bass
  • Louder sound performance
  • ANC support
  • Lightweight build
  • IPX5 water resistance


  • Random audio cutouts
  • No dedicated ambient mode
  • Less effective touch controls
  • No wireless charging

Aukey came out with a suprise when it launched these earbuds because they sounded so good relative to their cost. And yet, they’re now up against renewed competition from Aukey’s own lineup, and that breaks the choice down to fit and sound.

Aukey isn’t a total stranger to the headphone market, but its branding may be totally new to you. You might also be familiar with it and like the value you get from its products. Either way, the company wants you to wear its earbuds thinking you got a great deal, and that’s certainly the case with these two pairs. They were released only six months apart, so there aren’t huge differences, but this is why it comes to how they look and feel. Those things then influence what kind of sound you can expect.

Aukey EP-N7 vs. EP-N5 Sporting a different look


The one common theme between these two earbuds, other than affordability, is the stem design. Like other AirPods clones out there, both are an obvious homage to that form factor. But that’s where the similarities end. While the EP-N5 sport a thicker and longer form, the EP-N7 are less cumbersome in all facets. It’s almost as if the N5 went on a diet and the N7 are what came out.

Durability IPX5 IPX5
Bud battery life (ANC on) 5 hours 4.5 hours
Charging case battery life (ANC on) 20 hours 22.5 hours
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Wireless charging case No No
Charging connector USB-C USB-C
Digital assistant support Google Assistant, Siri Google Assistant, Siri
Speaker size 8mm drivers 10mm drivers
Supported audio codecs SBC, AAC SBC, AAC
Active noise cancelation (ANC) Yes Yes
Transparency/ambient sound mode Yes No

But that would also be oversimplifying everything. The design choices carry functional consequences that are largely by design. While both have active noise cancelation (ANC) with dual microphone setups, their respective performance shows gaps. For instance, the EP-N7 are slightly better at reducing background noise, though both aren’t particularly great at cutting down higher-frequency sounds.

The EP-N7 also have a built-in ambient mode you can toggle on from the right earbud. The EP-N5 don’t have that at all, so you’re left with whatever passively seeps in. This will affect the battery life, but not by much. The EP-N7 are only marginally better in that regard with ANC on, and it’s hard to approximate what it is without ANC on because Aukey doesn’t say so. Plus, volume levels are critical to what the true numbers actually are anyway.

Four hours of battery life with ANC may seem standard because of the AirPods Pro, but that’s actually a mediocre number. Stay above 50% volume, and that’s where you end up with either one of these pairs. For sub-$100 earbuds, you could possibly forgive that since you’re paying less. The saving grace is that the respective cases do have several charges in them, so battery life isn’t as much of an issue if you’re consistently topping them up. Just too bad you can’t take leisurely advantage of wireless charging.

Aukey EP-N7 vs. EP-N5 Lending more ears


Aukey went with smaller 8mm drivers in the EP-N7 to help them get smaller. It’s likely one of the main reasons why they aren’t as loud out of the box, and why the EP-N5 hold an advantage off the bat that way. Play them both at the same volume, and you’ll notice the N5 come through louder. Part of that is owed to the 10mm drivers, and also because they offer a deeper bass response than the N7 do.

From the outset, it’s clear Aukey wanted to cater the EP-N7 to a wider subset of listeners by going with a flatter soundstage that didn’t skew as much toward the bass. Its engineers didn’t cut it down to a terrible level — they only subdued it and focused on ramping up the mids and highs to get more resonance from that part of the spectrum. The resulting sound is something that would please more eclectic tastes rather than the bass-friendly crowd wanting more of a rumble with each track.

ANC has a bigger impact on sound quality with the EP-N7 as well. I noticed bolder bass response when it was on, whereas the difference felt negligible while listening through the EP-N5. Passive noise isolation is arguably easier with the N5, though I suspect some will feel the opposite is true because of the nimbler size the N7 manage. Foam tips are a real benefit for the N7, and I do recommend trying those if you feel you need a snugger fit or tighter seal. Their malleable material will deform to fit without much wiggling on your part.

It’s pretty clear Aukey wanted to cater the EP-N7 to a wider subset of listeners by going with a flatter soundstage that didn’t skew as much toward the bass.

In either case, it’s a bummer Aukey doesn’t have a dedicated app with an equalizer to pull serious customization out of these earbuds. While you can theoretically use a third-party EQ app, the effect won’t be specifically tuned to either of these earbuds, nor will it work with all music apps.

One thing that does work better on the EP-N7 is the onboard touch control scheme. The EP-N5 were a mixed bag in that regard, whereas their successors offer far better consistency. Triggering the voice assistant is still messy, but the other controls work well. Unfortunately, you can’t control volume with either pair.

Call quality also got a little better with the EP-N7, though the difference isn’t huge. Aukey had already done an admirable job with the EP-N5, so the extra bit is just icing on the cake for the newer earbuds. The dual microphone array is the same in both pairs, though you can talk on the phone with ambient mode on with the N7, which isn’t an option on the N5.

As for colors, you get black and that’s it. Aukey didn’t exactly diverge much on that, except the EP-N7 are more a midnight black rather than the jet black making up the EP-N5.

Aukey EP-N7 vs. EP-N5 Which pair should you choose?


For now, price isn’t so much a consideration because they don’t differ much that way. What it should come down to is the fit, comfort, and audio style you’re looking for. The EP-N7 cast a wider net because they’re smaller and nimbler, thereby fitting more ears. The EP-N5 will feel fine for plenty of ears as well so long as you feel there’s enough room in your inner ear to keep them stable over longer listening periods.

Both have ANC, and share similar performance limitations that way, but only one has an ambient mode, thankfully supplemented by improved touch controls to actually toggle the feature on or off. There really isn’t a poor choice between these two pairs, especially when battery life isn’t radically different, but the nuances matter when making a choice. The EP-N7 address some previous shortcomings, making a few other changes to accommodate the whole package along the way.

Still, it’s not hard to come across a good pair of cheap wireless earbuds that offer real bang for the buck. In fact, they’re becoming easier to find with each passing month. The Creative Outlier Air V2 last much longer per charge and sound great, assuming you can get past the fact there’s no ANC or ambient mode. The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 are another pair that sound excellent for the price, and offer a good set of features, including an effective companion app.

Smaller size

Aukey EP-N7


Playing for others

$65 at Amazon

Aukey cut things down for size and gave the EP-N7 more room to work with, including with the audio playback.

Boomier sound

Aukey EP-N5


Bigger and bolder

$65 at Amazon

Aukey makes the EP-N5 True Wireless Earbuds sound bold out of the box, and they stay that way throughout.

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