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These $70 wireless earbuds are my go-to recommendation for audiophiles on a budget

If you're looking for a new pair of earbuds that value sound quality over features, the Soundpeats Air4 Pros may be your best option.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Soundpeats Air4 Pro earbuds and case.

Soundpeats Air4 Pro feel comfortable in the ears and deliver outstanding sound.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • Soundpeats Air4 Pro earbuds are available now on Amazon for $72.
  • Capable of producing very good sound with agile, tight bass, and well-balanced highs and midrange.
  • Firmware updating from App doesn't seem to work and no touch controls.  

One of the things I've been most impressed with over the years is the quality of sound that can be produced by low-end earbuds. I remember in the past there was a vast difference between low-end and high-end headphones. If you weren't willing to pay a premium, you were going to hear tinny, thin music with little dimension and practically zero depth when it came to bass. Sure, you could get some highs and mids from those plastic film drivers, but not much more.

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Now, it seems like any company can produce a pair of earbuds that can stand up to the competition. Yes, they won't be the best in class, but it would take a miracle for a sub-$90 pair of earbuds to beat a pair in the $300-$400 range.

So, when I received the Soundpeats Air4 Pro earbuds, I was fairly certain I knew what to expect. And although these earbuds do have their flaws, they definitely deliver in the category that matters most: sound.

View at Amazon

The specs

  • Snapdragon chip with aptX Lossless (requires a device that supports aptX)
  • 13mm dynamic driver
  • Adaptive ANC technology with triple mic noise cancellation
  • 88ms low latency game mode
  • 6.5 hours of playback, with a total 26 hrs playtime (using case to recharge)
  • Bluetooth 5.3 support
  • Low-latency game mode and dual-device connection
  • In-ear detection (automatically pause music when you remove earbuds)
  • Free app to customize EQ and upgrade firmware

My experience

Upon connecting the Air4 Pros to my Pixel 8 Pro, I sank right into one of my favorite albums, Signals, By Rush. I think this album is perfectly mastered to highlight the pros and cons of earbuds, especially Geddy Lee's amazing bass lines. It takes an agile drive to be able to keep up with Ged. 

When Subdivisions kicked in, I wasn't impressed. I'm not sure why, but I found the earbuds hollow and lifeless. During that session, I didn't give the buds much time, simply because I was so underwhelmed. 

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The Soundpeats app EQ customization.

An EQ curve I can live with.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Fortunately, I gave them another chance, after installing the app and doing a slight tweak of the EQ. I then went back to the album and heard something altogether different. When Analog Kid began, the bass line was spot on and the earbuds were perfectly capable of keeping up with Geddy Lee. Bass wasn't overly dramatic, but rich and dynamic. I was able to sit down and just enjoy the music. And when the keyboard sang out during the chorus, the song had just the right size. When the song went back to the verse, the bass took control again.

When it comes to earbuds, nothing impresses me more than technology that can keep up with Geddy Lee's bass line on Analog Kid, especially if the sound doesn't become too overpowering when the song shifts to a more keyboard-centric nature. 

As far as the EQ is concerned, you can choose from a few preset options, including Soundpeats Classic, Bass boost, Bass reduction, Electronic, Rock & Roll, Folk, Treble enhancement, Pop, and Classical Music. I rarely find preset EQ to be of much value, which is why I always go to the custom options. As I was weened on the mastering of Rush and Van Halen albums during the 1980s, I have a particular EQ curve that I prefer. Thankfully, these earbuds are perfectly capable of producing that curve and the sound was everything I wanted.

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Don't get me wrong, these earbuds aren't perfect. For example, every time I attempt to upgrade the firmware, it fails. The file downloads, and then either fails to upload to the earbuds or seems to upload, but doesn't finalize on the device. I've attempted the upgrade numerous times and it has yet to succeed. 

I'm not sure what the new firmware has to offer, but it looks like I may never find out.

ZDNET buying advice

If your primary concern is high-quality sound -- and you don't care about touch controls, a seamless firmware update, or other amenities found on costlier earbuds -- the Soundpeats Air4 Pro earbuds are a bargain. You won't get the high-end depth you might find on the Denon PerL Pros, but the Soundpeats Air4 Pros deliver a rich, dynamic, and agile sound that I would normally associate with costlier earbuds.

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