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These $150 earbuds beat my Google Pixel Buds Pro in one meaningful way

If you're rough on your wearables, you'll want to consider the Raycon Impact earbuds, which are made of impact-resistant materials to go the distance.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Raycon Impact earbuds.

The Raycon Impact earbuds offer great sound with impact resistance that can take a beating.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Raycon Impact earbuds are available now for $150.
  • Impact resistance, quality sound, outstanding battery life, and solid noise-canceling.
  • Requires a perfect fit to get high-quality sound.

I've only dropped an earbud once. It just happened to have been my favorite pair… my Google Pixel Buds Pro. Fortunately, it landed on the carpet, but it still caught my breath. And although most earbuds don't weigh enough to cause much force on impact, it's still a concern. This is even more important when you're outside, running mile after mile, on your bike, or doing just about any activity that could cause problems for your buds, should they tumble out of your ear while you're on the move.

When I was sent the Raycon Impact earbuds, I didn't think much about them. At first blush, the packaging looked to be the same old, tired design that offered little more than any other earbud I'd already tested.

But then I looked a bit deeper and realized they did have something special to offer by way of a MIL-STD-810 certification. Essentially, that means they are built to last, using materials that are impact-resistant. At the same time, those materials don't hamper the sound quality in the slightest. 

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Now, before you get too excited, these are not the greatest-sounding earbuds I've ever used. That award still goes to the Denon PerL Pro (with the Google Pixel Buds Pro coming in a close second). But with these Raycon earbuds being impact-resistant, they become quite an interesting proposition to someone who spends a lot of time exercising. 

The specs

  • Weatherproof with an IP67 rating.
  • 90 hours total battery life (12 hours playback with an additional 78 from the charging case).
  • Active Noise Cancelling & Awareness Mode.
  • Touch controls (for playback, sound control, and ANC on/off).
  • Multipoint connection.
  • Cost: $150.

The controls

I thought it might be smart to talk about the touch controls on these earbuds. Here's how it works.

Left earbud:

  • Tap once for volume down.
  • Tap three times for the previous track.
  • Hold for three seconds for balanced sound.
  • Hold for three seconds for bass sound.
  • Hold for three seconds for pure sound.

Right earbud:

  • Tap once for volume up.
  • Tap three times to skip track.
  • Hold for three seconds for ANC on.
  • Hold for three seconds for ANC off.
  • Hold for three seconds for Awareness mode.

Left/Right earbud:

  • Tap twice for play/pause.
  • Tap four times for voice command.
  • Tap twice to answer calls.
  • Tap twice to end calls.
  • Hold for three seconds to reject calls.
  • Hold for three seconds to power on.
  • Hold for 10 seconds to power off.

The reason why I point this out is because it means you don't need an app for these earbuds, a feature I quite like. That's great because I was unable to find an app for these earbuds. The only thing I could find on the Google Play Store was a Raycon Earbuds Guide, which really isn't necessary.

My experience

My first impression was that the Impact earbuds looked pretty cool, with a carbon weave cover over the sides where touch controls happen. Next, once the earbuds were in place, they held steady, even when active. Unlike the Google Pixel Buds Pro which can slip out of place with the slightest bit of movement.

I wanted to really test the sound quality of these earbuds delivered, so I went with one of Rush's heavier albums, Counterparts. This is where things get a bit finicky. To get the most out of the sound (with full bass and decent highs), you have to get a perfect fit in both earbuds. This means you'll need to play around with different combinations of the tips and wings. The earbuds include XS, M, and L tips and wings, so you'll want to take the time to find the right combination. You'll know you've hit the right mix because the sound will improve dramatically.

I also found that with ANC mode on, the sound gets a bit more boost (especially on the low end). 

Once I had the right fit, even "Stick It Out" (which is especially heavy for the band) sounded surprisingly rich (especially given that these earbuds are targeted toward more active use. But, again, without getting the best fit for your ears, you'll find these earbuds sound average at best. With a perfect fit, they can stand alongside even the Pixel Buds Pro earbuds.

ZDNET's buying advice

It all boils down to two things: Do you need earbuds that can withstand harsher conditions (and the occasional drop) and are willing to take the time to get the right fit? If that sounds like you, you'll find the Raycon Impact earbuds are capable of creating a nice soundstage, with deep bass, and responsive highs. If, however, you want something that's more "plug and play" (without having to mess around with tips and wings to get the ideal fit), look to one of ZDNET's other recommended picks.

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