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These $80 earbuds changed my mind about low-cost headphones

With awesome audio, fine fit, and plenty of customization options, the EarFun Air Pro 3 are at the top of their class.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The EarFun Air Pro 3 earbuds.

The EarFun Pro 3 case is small enough to fit in your pocket.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The EarFun Air Pro 3 is available now on Amazon for $79.99.
  • While the earbuds don't offer audiophile-quality sound, they're superior to many devices in the same price range.
  • To get the most from these earbuds, the EarFun app must be installed.

Before I get into this, know that my ears have been spoiled by a trio of earbuds (Google Pixel Buds Pro, Denon PerL Pro, and Creative Aurvana Ace 2) that are hard to beat for sound and features. Still, there's plenty of room for earbuds that deliver high-quality sound without demanding too much from your budget.

The earbuds in question are the EarFun Air Pro 3 and they've changed my mind about low-cost devices. 

View at Amazon

For some time now, I -- like many audiophiles --  have looked down upon such earbuds. And although these aren't anywhere near the best earbuds I've experienced, the sound they produced was quite surprising. There was rich, clear bass, clean highs, and (mostly) mellow mids. For me, that's a winning combination out of the box. And, thanks to the EarFun app -- and a firmware upgrade -- the noise cancellation and connection stability were both much improved.

Speaking of the app, to my added surprise, the EarFun app offers more customization options than a lot of earbud apps. With this app, you can customize things like EQ, Bluetooth Audio Quality, Game Mode, Controls, Mic settings, and more.

The specs

For those who like a good spec sheet, here's what you'll find with the EarFun Pro 3.

  • 11mm wool composite drivers.
  • Qualcomm QCC3072 chip with aptX support (which requires a phone that supports the protocol).
  • Active Noise Canceling up to 43dB with EarFun's QuietSmart 2.0 ANC technology.
  • IPX5 water resistant.
  • 6-mic array to process voice and environmental sound.
  • Battery life - 7 hours single charge with ANC on, 9 hours with ANC off, and 45 hours using the case to charge.
  • <55ms low latency gaming mode.
  • Can easily switch between two devices at a time.
  • Bluetooth v 5.3.
  • Bluetooth codecs - aptX adaptive, AAC, LC3, SBC.
  • Maximum working range - 15m.
  • Dimensions - 60mm x 50mm x 31mm.
  • Weight - 52g.

My experience

I unpacked the EarFun Pro 3 earbuds, connected them to my Pixel 8 Pro, and played two recordings: Mahler's Symphony 2 and Rush's Power Windows, both of which sounded rich and powerful (surprising, given how demanding the Mahler is). 

Also: The best earbuds you can buy: Sony, Apple, and more compared

After installing the EarFun app (Android, iOS), the out-of-date firmware was automatically detected and the upgrade proceeded. Once that was finished, I immediately tweaked the EQ to better match my taste. The EarFun app EQ takes a bit of getting used to (because of how the sliders are laid out). But with the EQ adjusted, I went back to both pieces of music and found them to have even more punch and weight. The Mahler finale movements were far more adept and clear (after lowering the mids and giving the bass an arc that better suits my taste. I could hear the "breath" of the cello bows, and the rolls of the timpani were stunning and even ominous at times.

The EarFun app EQ customization.

The EarFun Pro 3 app includes a 10-band EQ.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

One thing I really appreciate about the EarFun Pro 3 earbuds is the fit. Unlike my Google Pixel Buds Pro and Denon PerL Pros, there was never a concern that these buds would fall out or lose their seal. My only concern is the "wings" that hold the earbuds in place are made of silicon and will eventually wear out. However, the earbuds do ship with three replacement pairs (along with four pairs of silicon ear tips and one pair of foam tips). Those additions should keep the EarFun Pro 3s locked in place for a long time to come.

Also: If your earbuds don't fit or fall out of your ears, here's a great, cheap fix

ZDNET buying advice

I don't see the EarFun Pro 3 taking the place of my Google Pixel Buds Pro earbuds, but I can imagine that anyone who doesn't want to spend between $200-$400 on a pair of earbuds would be quite pleased with the performance of the EarFun Pro 3. And given how much you can customize with the free app, these earbuds are worth every penny. 

If you're on a budget but don't want budget sound, give these earbuds a try and see if they don't exceed your expectations as they did mine.

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