It won’t be wrong if I say it is much easier to switch to wireless audio this year – thanks to a bunch of affordable wireless earphones raining on us. For less than Rs 2,000, you are spoilt for options – neckband style or earbuds, in-ear, or over-the-ear. The choices are endless. Xiaomi just dropped two more in this segment, with one of them being the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones. It currently costs Rs 999 and in a few weeks, it may ask Rs 1,299. Fairly affordable, isn’t it?
The thing is that there are lots of similarly priced, or even cheaper, wireless neckband earphones you can pick as you read. I have tried a few of the popular ones and I have always come out looking at my OnePlus Bullet Wireless 2, one that costs Rs 6,000. I had similar expectations with the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones before opening the box.
Then I used it and I am surprised that even after using it for two weeks, I am in no mood to stash it in the cupboard in favor of my OnePlus earphones. Hear me out.
Design and build
There’s not much you can do with neckband style wireless earphones as a product designer. At most, you can play with the shape of the neckband or the earbuds – maybe make it thicker or mold it into a weird shape. Redmi chose a different design direction and kept it minimalist. The Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones looks and feels slim. And light. And manageable for an entire day.
The horseshoe neckband has slim cylindrical endings that gel well with T-shirts and tops. Since it is made of lightweight plastic with a soft-touch finish, it doesn’t bother the skin around the neck even in hot weather. There are three control buttons that are easily accessible. The rest of the neckband is slim and it sits firmly without making me adjust it every 5 minutes.
The earbuds themselves are small and fit in the ear canal without any fuss – at least in my ears. Redmi bundles additional ear tips if you find the standard ear tips unfit. They magnetically latch onto each other when not in use but don’t expect an auto-switch on/off like the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2.
The ear tips themselves are designed in a clever way to prevent the accumulation of ear wax – a subtle yet important feature that not many expensive earphones feature. Additionally, there’s an IPX4 rating for sweat and water resistance, hence it should survive the horrid Indian summer we all hate.
While I am happy with the build and design, I am not happy with the micro USB port. Chances are that you may use a phone that uses a micro USB charger, in which case it’s no issue. For me, I use an iPhone and the micro USB did make me go hunting for a micro USB port. My secondary phones tend to have a USB-C port as standard these days. What’s weird is that Xiaomi isn’t bundling a micro USB charging cable in the box. Hence, if you plan on getting it, make sure you have a micro USB cable lying around.
I will cut to the important bit – the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones sounds great. Great for what it costs. Xiaomi says it delivers highly on bass and they aren’t kidding. There’s a lot of bass in the audio and if you love the thumping beats on every track, this is just for you. The bass feels pronounced, however, and at times, I wished there was a way to dial it down for certain genres and tracks.
The bass is of good quality though. I got hooked to a lot of numbers from Ritviz and all his tracks make generous use of a heavy low-end output. The Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones pronounced the drums and guitars but it kept the other instruments clear. I am no master of the symphonies but I felt the mids are pronounced to enhance the bass effect. The enhanced mids do eat into the highs and vocals. Hence, after half an hour, I felt the audio to be heavy on my ears.
For casual music listening, I love humming them on the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones. It is certainly enjoyable and if you are in the mood to party, that bassy output certainly helps. The passive noise isolation is great as it muted the noise of the ceiling fan and distant chatter to some noticeable extent.
Call quality on the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones is good too. My callers were able to hear me out without any disturbance. That said, the pronounced bassy output extends to the call quality too and after 20 minutes or so, I found myself switching to speakerphone on my phone for comfort. For short calls, it isn’t a bother.
The playback controls the neckband are easy to access and use. These are soft-touch buttons that you have to press hard. The extended length of the earbud cable did not dislodge them while I dabbed on the buttons. The single multifunction button is convenient for basic functions such as play/pause and taking calls.
You can also summon the Google Assistant or Siri as well as switch between two devices with this button. Frankly, I find it convenient to just connect to a single device and not use a voice assistant to do something that eventually takes ages to complete. Hence, I did not use the latter functions a lot.
Xiaomi promises a total of 12 hours of playback on a single charge. I average 1.5 hours of usage per day a week and after two weeks, my iPhone still shows 30 percent of battery left. That’s more than what a casual listener needs. Of course, if you depend on your earphones throughout the day for every call, you may need to go socket-hunting every 2-3 days. It takes close to two hours for a full charge.
Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones: Should you buy it?
The Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones joins the massive list of neckband-style wireless earphones you can but without spending a fortune. Whether you buy it for Rs 999 or Rs 1,299, I think the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones will keep most listeners pumped-up. It is certainly a joy to listen to music on, provided you love that bass hitting you like a pillow on your face. I also love the fact that the audio does not drown the subtle instruments despite going high on the bass. There’s some room for improvement for the highs and overall balance but at the end of the day, I am still wearing it for all my music sessions. Sorry Xiaomi, I am not giving this one back.