Aukey looks for a budget-friendly encore.
Aukey may not be a brand you associate with good earbuds, but its presence in the market is emblematic of a whole range of upstarts trying to undercut more established brands. The EP-N7 take a familiar form factor and apply a slightly different look to it for improved fit and comfort.
As with any pair of earbuds, sound matters, and that’s what makes this budget pair interesting to consider. Aukey tries to prove that you can, in fact, get more for less.
At a glance
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds
Bottom line: Aukey tries to cast a wider net by making the EP-N7 easier to wear, and more leisurely to listen to because of a more balanced soundstage. You give up a few things to get all that, but when they fit just right, it’s hard not to like what Aukey is offering here.
- Good audio quality
- ANC and ambient support
- Smaller and lighter build
- Improved onboard controls
- Better call quality
- Great price
- So-so battery life with ANC
- No onboard volume control
- No wireless charging
$65 at Amazon
- What I like
- What needs work
- Should you buy them?
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds What I like
When Aukey made the EP-N5, its focus was to engineer a sound profile that would appeal to those who wanted their music loud, bass-friendly, and with active noise cancelation (ANC) in tow. The EP-N7 are less overt, and more sculpted, at least when it comes to how the audio spreads out. The 8mm drivers aren’t as powerful, but they also don’t need to be because Aukey clearly tuned these earbuds to cater to a wider subset.
To get there, Aukey had to also consider how they would fit. The stem design is back, albeit with a very different base, reduced both in girth and length. From the very start, it’s obvious these are smaller and lighter, but also with a more refined appearance. While they are decidedly in the affordable category, they do look the part of something better than that.
The three sizes of silicone ear tips (small, medium, large) are critical for finding the best seal, though the size difference between them wasn’t dramatic in my review sample. I also tried Comply foam tips to gauge whether I could improve the seal further, though you don’t get any of those in here. The USB-C cable is short, and perhaps a little too short. The case is shorter, yet taller than the EP-N5, and the earbuds fit snugly inside (with magnets locking them in place). It really is a snug fit, though, which I noticed when I tried using a pair of extra-large ear tips because it wouldn’t close properly. For that reason, you are generally limited to the sizes available here.
The pairing process was easy enough, much like it was with other Aukey earbuds. Once I started playing music, the differences in sound stood out. As comfortable as the EP-N5 were, the EP-N7 felt a little nimbler because of their smaller form factor.
While they are decidedly in the affordable category, they do look the part of something better than that.
Like any pair of earbuds, the seal is everything. Even more so when the 8mm drivers inside aren’t tuned to boost the bass. Aukey chose to swing back a little and prioritize more of the mids and highs in the hopes of achieving some form of stylized balance. The resulting soundstage is more amenable to a variety of genres, but it’s evident the mids are the weaker link because they don’t resonate as much. You can tell by listening to how vocals and certain instruments sound relative to the treble and bass.
I could hear that through tracks like My Body Sings Electric’s Oceancrest or Maxi Priest’s Groovin’ in the Midnight. Both have significant instrumentation, and there’s some good detail coming out of them, but the vocals are subdued enough to not overtake them. If you like your music to sound balanced that way, you will likely find something valuable about the listening experience here.
While this approach somewhat mirrors what Aukey did with the previous EP-N5, the difference is in the way the overall sound comes through. I liked that the EP-N7 weren’t overdoing it in any particular way, meaning I didn’t feel like there was a ridiculously skewed audio profile masquerading as something else. These earbuds are better suited to eclectic tastes, for the simple fact they don’t push too hard — and avoid key issues like sibilance, distortion, and muffling. Those are the reasons why these don’t sound as loud as their predecessors out of the box.
Aukey also included ANC and ambient modes in here, both of which you can toggle on or by holding the right earbud’s touch control. A voice popped up telling me which mode I was in, though it definitely wasn’t the clearest I’ve ever heard on a pair of earbuds. ANC is decent at reducing low-frequency noises, though its efficacy really depends on what’s making the background noise. It can reduce a fan or basic traffic noise to a much lower level, yet struggles to contain high-frequency sounds. Anything in the middle is also a mixed bag.
Ambient mode works pretty well and comes in handy when trying to talk to someone without removing the earbuds. It’s nothing too special other than that they allow sufficient outside sound in to have a conversation without technical difficulty, but it’s a great feature to have nonetheless.
I’m not sure if the microphones are any different from the EP-N5, and if they are, I didn’t notice a discernible difference in call quality from either end. The dual-microphone setup works to reduce background noise and amplify voices, and for a pair of budget earbuds, the results are easy to like.
Battery life gets a modest upgrade to five hours with ANC on, and maybe seven hours when it’s off. Because they’re not as loud as the EP-N5 out of the box, you may need to raise the volume more often with the EP-N7, which affects overall battery life. I didn’t hit five hours with ANC on, usually getting closer to four hours per charge. Those aren’t great numbers, but at least it does take only 90 minutes to go from zero to full when recharging them.
The case has up to four additional charges, for a total of 25 hours with ANC on throughout. It’s just a shame there isn’t wireless charging support to go with the extra power and convenience.
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds What needs work
Despite staying the course and being consistent, Aukey still has work to do. The random Bluetooth cutouts that could afflict the EP-N5 weren’t entirely solved with the EP-N7. They didn’t happen as often to me, but I also haven’t been out of my house as much to see how that would be in more crowded situations where there could be more connection interference.
I also never experienced the bizarre audio equalizer tweaks that randomly happened with the EP-N5, so Aukey fixed whatever that issue was. While they were rare when they happened with those earbuds, I appreciated never encountering them with the EP-N7.
The onboard controls are definitely better this time around, but not without their own eccentricities.
I do wish Aukey could have made a dedicated app to offer a basic equalizer. It would make a big difference in customizing what is already a very good sound signature to reach new heights. Budget earbuds don’t always have that kind of support, but there are enough that do that it wouldn’t be unprecedented had Aukey done so here, and it would be even more pressing because of the fit. These should fit a greater variance of ears than their predecessors, but that largely depends on the seal. Tweaking the audio to a more personalized preference would have fit perfectly with this situation.
The onboard controls are definitely better this time around, but not without their own eccentricities. There were odd times where I could pause easily, but have to try more than once to play again. Skipping or repeating tracks is easier now, especially with those features separated between the left and right earbuds, by just double-tapping. The voice assistant requires triple-tapping, and that’s where it can confuse the number of taps, thinking I’m trying to skip a song. It would’ve been better if Aukey had just allocated the feature to the left earbud by having users hold there, similar to how the ANC-Ambient toggle works on the right earbud.
It also would’ve been nice to see a more rugged build. The IPX5 rating is fine for the odd water splash and some sweat resistance, but be sure to wipe them down after they get wet. They may be more delicate than other, more expensive, earbuds with a similar rating.
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds The competition
It’s easier to find a pair of cheap true wireless earbuds than it’s ever been, and they continue to get better. That’s what Aukey tried to accomplish with the EP-N7, and it’s a mostly successful attempt, especially when their predecessors are a similar price. But there are competitors to consider, too.
The Creative Outlier Air V2 aren’t far off in pricing, but do much better in battery life per charge, and offer excellent sound quality. The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 are another superb alternative well worth the extra cost associated with them because of everything they offer. If your budget is really tight, and you’re willing to give Aukey a chance, you could always try the EP-T21, so long as you’re okay without ANC support.
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds Should you buy them?
Who they’re for
- You want truly wireless earbuds
- You’re on a tight budget
- You want good sound for the buck
- You want ANC and ambient modes
Who they aren’t for
- You want a companion app or equalizer
- You want more codec support (aptX)
- You want longer battery life per charge
- You’re willing to spend more
The Aukey EP-N7 aren’t a leap forward from their predecessors, though they do look and feel differently than their predecessors do. They sound less like they’re trying to win over the bass-heavy crowd and more like they’re trying to win over everyone else. They sound good and offer a nice list of features for a budget pair of true wireless earbuds.
out of 5
Like the EP-N5, the EP-N7 sound better than the AirPods, and are arguably just as good for phone calls. Plus, they have ANC, only adding to the value. The key is to make sure they fit well, even if it means using foam tips. Once you get that set, you may be glad you gave these a chance.
Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds
$65 at Amazon
Dependable sound for less
For an encore, the Aukey EP-N7 True Wireless Earbuds carry on with a different look to add extra comfort, while also spreading out the audio to draw in more pairs of ears. With better build quality and performance improvements, they may not totally leap forward, but they can deliver bang for every buck you spend on them.