The Avantree C171 offers bright, but not spotless sound, with a secure fit well suited for workouts for a very affordable price.
- Secure earhook design
- Easy to use controls
- Good cable length
- Design does feel cheap
- Water resistance rating not clear
- Fine, but not spectacular call quality
The Avantree C171 are headphones firmly aimed at anyone not quite ready to go cable-free that also wants something that’s going to stay put when hitting the gym or going for a run.
The C171 promises to deliver that wired sports headphone experience for USB-C compatible smartphones on a budget sitting well below the price of most other ear-hook sports headphones.
The question is when you’re paying so little, do you get enough quality in design, fit, and sound to make them an attractive cheap buy or should you spend more? Here’s my take.
The Avantree C171 are currently available directly from Avantree’s own website for £19.99 / $19.99. They’re also available through retailers including Amazon for £16.99 / $19.99, so you can pick them up for even less in the UK.
- In-line physical controls
- Weigh 23g
These are headphones that don’t try to break new ground in terms of design. You’re getting a pretty ordinary-looking pair of ear hook-style earbuds, with a 120cm-long cable that gives you enough to plug it into a phone planted in an armband or you need something to comfortably reach a short pocket or a running belt.
At the end of that cable lies a USB-C plug, which is your clear indicator that these aren’t built for current iPhones and did work without issue with a Google Pixel 6a smartphone and for some stationary listening plugged into the USB-C port on a Macbook.
They’re light at just 23g and that’s largely down to a predominantly plastic build that doesn’t scream high grade, but that’s hardly surprising given the price. The ear hooks are pretty diminutive in stature, but clamp securely without exerting any sort of unwanted pressure and crucially, don’t jump around when you work out with them.
Avantree includes a set of three eartips to help you get a secure fit with a cable clip in place to stop the cable from flailing around. That cable also hosts the microphone to deal with calls and interacting with your smart assistant and there’s room for in-line controls here. That means you can tap and press those buttons to play and pause audio, adjust volume and skip back and forward through audio.
Something that isn’t clear is whether they have any strong form of defence against water splashes and sweat. I haven’t had any issues on the durability front, but that’s definitely something to keep in mind here.
- Surprisingly good soundstage
- Good bass warmth
- Fine call quality
With the Avantree C171, it’s really a case of you get what you pay for. These are a cheap set of headphones and if you’re expecting stellar sound then you’re not getting that here. Avantree claims you can enjoy, ‘Crisp audio with emphasis on well balanced, high quality sound levels’. It doesn’t quite live up to that claim, but it’s also not as bad as I thought it might be.
It’s unsurprisingly quite bass-focused and there’s a good power with that bass more of a thud over something that’s more pleasingly punchy. Mids are more recessed and boxy than they are smooth and detailed and it’s definitely a little harsh sounding on the treble front. If that doesn’t sound all that enticing, it’s not as bad as it sounds and while audiophiles won’t love the sound profile, it’s a relatively versatile sounding set of headphones that does work for most music or listening to podcasts and audiobooks without notably excelling on any particular front.
On bass-heavy tracks like Jamie XX’s Gosh or Erykah Badu’s On and On where you get a pretty immediate rumble of that bass, you can experience that muddier, bassier profile with vocals crying out for a little more finesse and overall clarity and balance. Listening to Traci Chapman’s Talkin Bout a Revolution, there’s a surprisingly good soundstage here and vocals are reasonably well reproduced without being drowned out by that bass heavy profile.
For podcasts, there’s definitely some harshness at the louder volumes, but they offer satisfactory quality for ditching the music for some chat. If you’re using them for calls, the built-in microphones do a good enough job for a sub-£20 / $20 set of headphones.
It’s not giving you Apple or Sony levels of call quality as you’d expect, but it’s not a hollow, echo-laden mess either and if you just need something to handle taking a call quickly, it’s not massively out of its depths.
Should you buy it?
You want cheap wired headphones with a secure fit: Avantree ticks that crucial box of offering a design that ensures it stays put when you’re working out.
You want the best sounding cheap sports headphones: If you’re happy to go truly wireless, there are other sporty headphones like the JLab GO Air Sport that will give you a more pleasing sound.
The Avantree C171 aren’t wired sports headphones that blow you away with impeccable sound, but what you do get are headphones that can still offer a good performance for most audio and also offers that in a design that’s a good fit for workouts and are very cheap.
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Tested with real world use
Tested for several days
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The Avantree C171 could be used with any devices that support USB-C, from smartphones to laptops.