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Earbuds are a lot less irritating when you remove the cord.

Due in part to the welcome given to Apple's AirPods, wire-free earbuds are becoming a thing. 3Sixt's entry to this market is the Studio True Wireless Earbuds.

As with our previous experience of 3Sixt earbuds, we needed to switch to the largest of the three sets of tips in order to get a good seal between bud and ear even though the middle size provides a good fit with most other brands.

Each bud pretty much fills the concha (yes, we had to look up the word for the main cavity in the external ear) and protrudes slightly, so they are very apparent in use. That said, they are less obtrusive than on-ear or over-ear headphones, and lack the slightly disturbing "who took a pair of scissors to the cable?" look of AirPods.

They seemed comfortable enough, though we rarely use earbuds for more than an hour at a time.

The sound quality was fine for our purposes, but then we mostly use earbuds for phone calls and spoken word material. It seemed adequate for listening to music on a train or in a noisy office, but we weren't convinced by the "Studio True" tag.

We missed the ability to adjust the volume from the earbuds - the available functions are answer a call (but not end a call), reject a call, redial last number, next/previous track, and power off.

When making phone calls, the people at the other end reported that our voice was reasonably clear, though rather quieter than when we spoke directly into the phone.

 3Sixt Studio True Wireless Earbuds

We tried pairing the Bluetooth earbuds with an iPhone, a smart TV, and Windows and Mac notebooks. Everything worked smoothly, except that on Windows 10 the device name was initially displayed in an Asian script, but changed to the expected "3S-0954" after the first connection.

The USB cable provided for charging the case measures less than 18cm from tip to tip. That's very convenient for plugging into a notebook's USB port or a USB hub, but probably too short for use with a mains charger unless the power point is just above the floor or counter.

The case is reasonably compact, but not something we'd like to carry around in a pocket - though you probably do need to keep it with you, as the in-bud batteries only last for about an hour per charge. A single LED flashes to indicate case charge when you remove an earbud, and the earbud charge when you insert it. For example, two flashes means a 50% charge.

3Sixt says one case charge is OK for about five earbud charges, but our experience suggests that might be slightly optimistic.

The verdict: At $129.95, the Studio True Wireless Earbuds are inexpensive as fully-wireless earbuds go, so they should attract people who want complete freedom from cables and are prepared to sacrifice some music quality for a more realistic price.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

 

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