When it comes to real wireless headphones, there are some terrific new models on the market, but there are some real smelly ones too, especially in the budget price bracket. A pair of inexpensive wireless headphones probably won’t withstand the rigors of daily commutes or a rough session at the gym. Worse yet, many produce an artificially exaggerated sound that is only sufficient for listening to rap music at high volume levels.
However, not all budget headphones are a disaster area. These new ENACFIRE A9 true wireless headphones are the first in the brand’s range to feature ANC (active noise cancellation). Offering a total of 32 hours of playtime and housed in a superbly compact charging case with an IPX7 waterproof rating, these headphones are a real surprise considering their low cost.
I haven’t found many pairs of ANC headphones that can deliver the kind of ANC you can get with a pair of on-ear ANC headphones like Sony’s superb WH-1000-XM4. That said, the ENACFIRE A9 does a fairly reasonable job of suppressing continuous sounds and hums like the hum of an airplane engine or the rumble of noise traveling on a road.
The A9’s ANC feature uses four microphones to monitor ambient noise which is then subtracted from the audio signal to neutralize unwanted noise before it reaches the listener’s ear. The inward-facing microphones measure sound levels at a rate of 120 times per second and ENACFIRE claims that the A9 can effectively filter and reduce exterior noise by up to 80% with the ANC function enabled. I doubt it and think an actual figure would be around 35%, but your mileage may vary.
In addition to offering an ANC function on the A9 headphones, there is also an Ambient Sound mode which allows a certain amount of external noise to be relayed through the headphones. This is an ideal setting if you want to listen to travel announcements or need to be aware of traffic noises when biking or running.
The fit of the A9 earbuds is surprisingly comfortable and they go into pairing mode as soon as they are taken out of their small charging case. A bright LED on the front of the case indicates battery charge levels for the headphones and the charging case. It’s a bit shiny for my liking and it also keeps flashing when the earbuds are reinserted into the case for recharging.
Exceptionally, ENACFIRE doesn’t cite a number for how long the headphones can play on a single charge, but I would put the number at around four to five hours at most. The weather is academic as few of us listen to headphones for more than an hour or two at a time, before putting them back in the case. The case charges using the supplied USB-C cable but there is no provision for wireless charging which is a shame. Like most wireless headphones, the A9s won’t see you crossing the Atlantic on a long-haul flight on a single charge, but they’re ideal for everyday use, an afternoon stroll, or a session. workout at the gym.
ENACFIRE offers a choice of three different sizes of ear tips and choosing the right size for your ear size is essential. Choose the wrong size eartip and the ANC function will not work properly and the sound will be low and metallic. Take the time to get the right fit and you will be amazed at the sound quality of these headphones.
At the heart of the A9 headphones is an advanced BES2300IU Bluetooth chip with support for SBC and AAC audio codecs. The driver of each earphone is a large dynamic unit 10mm in diameter and this is where the A9 earphones shine. I hear a lot of budget headphones and most of them never make it to the review stage. I’m not here to waste your time reviewing bad products. True, less expensive wireless headphones are often of poor quality and sound harsh and overdone with unsubtle bass and a receding midrange. High tones are often tinny, giving the listener a headache.
However, in the digital age and with a good ear, it’s possible to tune the sound of a pair of headphones to deliver stunning sound that can stand up to much more expensive models. It all depends on the person’s skill in adjusting the chipset and adjusting the equalizer so that the sound of a range of musical genres as wide as possible. In this regard, the ENACFIRE A9 headphones do superbly.
The sound produced by the A9s is smooth, deep, wide and very pleasant. I listened to jazz late at night. The warmth of the sound enhanced the acoustic bass with such depth and realism. The medium was more or less straight; not too far forward and not too far behind so that the vocals are overwhelmed by the bass. The highs were remarkably smooth thanks to a high frequency horn, and the highs retain a good level of precision that brings crispness to the soundstage.
Each of the A9 earphones has a touch control that can be used to skip tracks, pause music, answer calls, adjust volume, and cycle through ANC on, transparency mode, and ANC off. As I hinted at before, the A9’s ANC feature works, but if you want a level of ANC that can block out most of the annoying everyday sounds you experience on a commute to and from work, these don’t. probably won’t; but most true wireless earphones with ANC function won’t either.
When taking or making phone calls, the A9 earphones use four noise-canceling microphones to pick up the speaker’s voice with clarity. They can certainly pick up voices well and have a frequency response of 100Hz and 3000Hz. It won’t give you broadcast quality, but it’s fine for phone calls.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a true pair of wireless headphones with active noise cancellation and sound quality, this is way better than you might expect for $ 39. Add the added bonus of IPX7 waterproofing and the compact charging case and ENACFIRE A9 headphones are a compelling proposition. I love their sound and they are perfect for the relaxed styles of music that I enjoy. ANC performance is average for headphones and the lack of wireless charging is a small letdown, but at this price point you can’t complain. The ENACFIRE A9s are well worth an audition.
Price and availability: The ENACFIRE A9s are available now via Amazon or the ENACFIRE website. Price is £ 59.99 / $ 39.99
More information: enacfire.com
- Bluetooth: version 5.o
- Chipset: BES2300IU
- Codecs: SBC / AAC
- Profiles: A2DP / AVRCP / HFP
- Charging: USB-C 5v1A
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Driver size: 10mm
- Earphone battery: 45mAH
- Housing battery: 400mAh
- Controls: touch
- Guarantee: Two years