Are BeatsX Earbuds Worth It?

For years I sailed along with solid headphone choices and didn’t think much about advancements in the marketplace.  I relied on 3 products:

Bose QC20i-Noise canceling, perfect for plane flights.  Comfortable, 16-hour battery life.  Great sound quality.  Durable.  Features the great Bose product protection.

Plantronics Voyager Legend-Perfect earpiece for phone calls.  I spend quite a bit of time on the phone.  The battery life is 7 hours between charges and the Voyager Legend comes with a convenient case to charge it in between calls.  Great sound quality, noise reduction when in windy or noisy environments.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Earbuds:  I added these to my stable more recently.  I like them for working out and for phone calls if I only want one device in my bag.  They come with a recharging case like the Voyager Legend.  However, only one works for phone calls.  Great sound quality for music but not quite as good as the Voyager Legend for phone calls.  A bit heavier as well.

When Apple released their AirPods, I largely ignored them.  However, after they’d been on the market for a while I decided to give them a try.  I’d just purchased an Apple Watch and tried the AirPods out in the store.  They fit well and were more compact in my pocket than either the Voyager Legend or Bose SoundSport.

As it turns out, the Apple Watch is kind of a problem for my Voyager Legend.  And, my AirPods are kind of a disaster.  They frequently won’t connect, the battery life is poor.  In short, they’re by far the worst Apple product I’ve ever purchased.

BeatsX

I had a close friend (Paul) tell me how much he liked the BeatsX, so I decided to give them a try.  The BeatsX uses a cord that wraps around your neck to keep the earbuds handy.  They also have a nifty feature where the earbuds have a magnet in the back.  That means they naturally stick together around your neck so you don’t lose track of them.  It’s very intuitive.  They were also super easy to sync to my iPhone.  And, that’s literally the only positive things I can say about them.

The sound quality is just poor.  They sound much worse than either of my Bose devices or my AirPods when it comes to playing music.  For podcasts, they sound tinny.  As a guy who listens to a lot of podcasts (and produces 2 every week) I kinda want my podcasts to sound good.  I tested them on phone calls with a handful of people.  They told me I sounded okay, though they could hear more background noise than other devices I’ve used in the past.

The battery life is advertised at 8 hours.  I got close to that on my two tests.  And, it conveniently uses a lightning cable to charge.  So, if you have an iPhone you can carry one cable.  But, once the battery is dead, you’re stuck with a longer charging cycle than I can really deal with for phone calls.

The Final Two Pennies

At $99, the price is still just too high for me.  They were $119, but seem to be discounted to $99 on Apple and Amazon.  The sound quality and charging cycle just don’t match the price for a device of this nature.  Even if you just wanted to listen to music, I’m not sure these fit the price point.  If they were under $70, I might recommend them.  But, I think they just don’t deliver enough quality for the price.

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10 Comments

  1. Wow you have dropped some serious money on headphones. Each pair you mention is $100 to $200+. I go through headphones like they are disposable due to running outdoors in all kinds of weather (Listening to Now Boarding, Miles to Go and Dots Lines and Destinations, mostly…of course). My wife bought me a pair of Bose earbuds several years ago that sounded great but eventually fell apart. I appreciate your review of the Beats product but the quality doesn’t surprise me. Keep up the great work. Oh and it’s worth mentioned that folks shouldn’t buy NC type headphones for outdoor running, ever 🙂

    1. Dan, I’ve had my QC20i headphones since they came out. So, more than 5 years? Same for the Plantronics, and I typically talk a few hours each day on the phone. Might seem like a lot, but it’s spread over a large period of time. Love to hear you listening to such great podcasts!

  2. Here’s the deal with BeatsX — you have to find the right rubber end pieces for your specific ears. They include four options. I myself nearly returned them for the same reason you’d mentioned. Then I tried another ear cap and wow, what a difference. You have to make sure they are seated tightly, forming a seal. The bass is amazing, sound quality is spectacular when worn properly.

    I agree with you on price. I bought mine last year from Best Buy on an open box promo for $55 — well worth it at that price point.

    Give it another go and let me know how it works.

    1. I’m with Lance on this.
      When I first got my Beats X based on recommendations from many colleagues in the office I too struggled but then again, I have never found a pair of in ear headphones or ear buds that actually fitted my ears.
      But I then installed some Comply Foam tips. I have used Comply on previous ear buds from the likes of Klipsch and Bose and found they have transformed something that just fell out and sounded poor because there was no seal to something that I could wear all day with good sound.
      On Beats X, again, the Comply tips transformed everything. They are comfortable enough to wear for a 14 hour flight, isolate background noise “almost” as well as my Bose CQ35s on a 747 and sound great when playing music from Spotify or Apple Music.
      There days, my Bose QC35s are still my go to cans for long haul but the Beats can just live in the bottom of my laptop bag ready to go anytime anywhere.

  3. I’ve had two pair – the first were stolen and i bought a second pair because I liked them. I replaced the tips who Comply foam tips that provided a better seal and better noise isolation. However, the BeatsX do not seem to last. They were repaired/replaced under warranty because the power button stopped working. Now that they are out of warranty, an internal break in one of the wires that goes around the neck seems to turn them off. So when I turn them on and put them around my neck, they turn off! Apple won’t budge and wants $79 to repair/replace. You will now see a spate of poor reviews from long term users if you look on Amazon and Apple.

  4. “They frequently won’t connect, the battery life is poor. In short, they’re by far the worst Apple product I’ve ever purchased.”

    Rubbish, you either don’t have a set or you have defective ones that you just have been too lazy to get looked at. I’ve owned mine since the beginning and they work fantastically.

    1. Steve,

      Definitely have a set, and I’m a big fan of Apple products. I can run the battery down multiple times a day with my AirPods and have plenty of trouble getting them to connect when I have to swap ears, take them out of the case after charging, etc. Apple had me walk through a reset function when I brought them to the Genius Bar. Alas, that didn’t solve the issue.

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