One of the better-sounding true wireless among the mid-range bracket, the AXS Audio Earbuds also pack in a confident ANC performance, though they are susceptible to wind noise and the wireless connection struggles in busy areas.
- Confident, slick sound
- Effective noise-cancellation
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Long battery life
- ANC struggles with wind noise
- Wireless signal gets choppy in busy areas
- Not the brightest reproduction of high frequencies
- Below average call quality
- AXS Studio tuningAims to faithfully reproduce music
- Active Noise CancellationRemoves up to 25dB of surrounding noise
- Ear-tipsHypoallergenic ear-tips of comfort and cleaniness
The AXS Audio Earbuds are a true wireless produced by legendary music producer Rikki Farr with the promise of delivering studio-quality sound.
They’re not the only buds to come with that type of hype, but with Rikki Farr lending his knowledge and expertise to the earbuds’ tuning – a man who has produced live music for the likes of Bob Dylan, Prince, Tom Petty, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix – it’s probably fair to say we can trust his ears.
These aren’t earbuds looking to tussle with the big brands but carve out a niche in the mid-range area of the market. It’s not as if the competition is any less fierce, but the performance of these buds is a pleasant-sounding surprise.
- Great, lightweight fit
- Packaged with hypoallergenic ear-tips
- Responsive touch controls
AXS Audio sticks with the tried-and-tested stem design that’s used by so many brands, and this is a well-executed version of that popular concept.
The plastic construction might not scream premium, but it keeps the earphones lightweight, and I found them very comfortable to wear. Whether putting them in for brief periods or extended sessions, I’ve not experienced any level of discomfort.
After a while I barely felt the AXS Audio Earbuds in my ears, which is exactly what I’d want from a true wireless. A generous six pairs of ear-tips are provided to find the best fit, including three pairs of hypoallergenic earbud tips to avoid causing any allergic reactions.
The shape of the housing, at least for me, slid into my ears without issue and created a very good seal with which to block outside sounds. The AXS Earbuds employ capacitive touch controls, with the coloured area denoting where to press. Though you won’t see this when you’re wearing them, the surface area has a different texture that demarcates them from what’s around them.
The touch controls prove very responsive to prods, and accurate too. I haven’t come across double taps, or otherwise, not registering as they should. The only slightly awkward aspect to get past is that volume is supported via a single tap.
Having become so used to a single tap being pause/play, it feels unusual for it to be allocated to volume. My feeling is that for running headphones, assigning volume to a single tap makes sense if you’re predominantly listening to playlists, but for music-centric earbuds, play/pause feels more convenient.
Other means of onboard operation include track-skipping and answering/ending calls, while a hold on the right earbud cycles through the noise-cancelling modes and the same trick on the left calls up the device’s voice assistant.
The buds have an IPX4 rating, par for the course for noise-cancelling earphones and good enough to bat away splashes of water. No IP rating is associated with the charging case, which fulfils the necessary obligations of being compact enough to fit into a pocket.
The four-strip LED on the front of the case is clear and obvious in discerning how much battery life is left (each one equals 25%). On the underside of the case is a multi-function button where you can initiate first-time pairing for Bluetooth or reset them to their factory state if held for long enough. Finishes are available in satin white and satin black.
- Connection can falter in busy areas
- Confident noise-cancelling
- Battery life better than expected
There’s no app support for the AXS Audio Earbuds, which means no EQ adjustment or firmware updates, so the earphones will remain in the exact same state from when they’ve been plucked from the charging case to when they cease working (however long that takes).
Bluetooth connectivity is version 5.2, and like a number of true wireless earphones, the AXS Earbuds are no fans of busy signal areas. From walking about in Soho and Leicester Square to using them in busy transport terminals like Waterloo, a sketchy connection was never too far away.
Call quality performance is below average for a true wireless. The AXS performs the usual feat of being acceptable in quiet areas, but when faced with lots of background noise it became hard for the person on the other end to make out what I was saying.
There is noise cancellation to battle against surrounding noise, reducing sounds by a claimed 20-25dB, and I must admit the AXS puts in a very impressive performance. Despite the hustle and bustle of people going about their business in Soho and Leicester Square, the overall feeling was one of peaceful quiet.
Very few noises managed to make their way past the earphones, in part due to its very good seal, and it dealt with the sound of wind rushing past and other persistent sounds on the Tube and train with confidence. The one aspect where it does falter is dealing with blustery conditions. There is a noticeable level of noise when noise-cancelling is engaged, which isn’t apparent when it’s turned off.
The pass-through mode is good enough for added perception, opening things up without sounding either noisy or unnatural. The mode is also good enough for having conversation and still having music playing in the background or for hearing announcements on the train. It does what it’s meant to do without issue.
Battery life is quoted at 10 hours without noise-cancelling and 8 hours with it on. Having performed two battery drains (an hour of streaming on Spotify at mid-volume), on both occasions the AXS Earbuds came out the other side at 90% overall with noise-cancelling on. That suggests 10 hours with noise-cancelling, which is impressive.
There is no fast-charging as such, but AXS claims the earphones will fully recharge at a nippy 90 minutes, while wireless charging is also supported.
- Versatile performer
- Not the clearest or sharpest
- Slight warmth and richness to presentation
AXS says all tuning of the AXS Audio Earbuds has been done using Tidal music streaming service at 60% volume, but regardless of which streaming service you prefer to listen to, the AXS earbuds put in a very respectable performance for their price bracket.
Their handling of the low end of the frequency range is varied, capable of describing bass in a number of ways, like the slow thud in Derrick Hodge’s Heartbeats or the assertive and punchy description of the constant percussion in Makaya McCraven’s Half Steppin’. With this track there’s a nice kick to the drums at the beginning of the song before they accelerate and become a rapid beat – a rhythm and tempo the AXS does solidly to keep track of given how quick in succession McCraven’s hits come.
That track isn’t the clearest song (perhaps deliberately) to gauge the AXS Earbuds’ form with clarity and detail, but there does appear to be a slight warmth and richness to their presentation that indicates the AXS aren’t the most neutral or analytical in their approach. But with The Isley Brothers’ For the Love of You, Part 1 & 2, there’s a smooth, lyrical quality to their vocals that’s easy on the ear.
The soundstage these earbuds present is one that’s open and spacious with Alex Isley and Jack Dine’s Love Again (continuing the Isley connection), the same smooth tone applied to vocals. Instruments strike a ‘true’ tone in their reproduction; I can easily pick out the guitars and drums used in Dire Strait’s Sultans of Swing, and there’s an appealing richness to the strums of the guitar that stands out.
I wouldn’t label them as the most dynamic-sounding pair of earphones, but there is a difference between quiet and loud notes even if it is more minor than major, with a sense of progression in loudness in Michael Giacchino’s Can’t Fight City Halloween as the track reaches its crescendo.
The top end of frequency range is not the brightest sounding either, more measured and controlled with GoGo Penguin’s Atomised, but there is still a good sense of clarity and detail to treble notes even if it doesn’t sound as brilliant and sharp as some others can muster.
Should you buy it?
If you’re an audiophile with less expensive tastes:
There’s no shortage of earphones looking to offer a high-quality audio experience but in the mid-range price bracket, there aren’t many that sound as good as the AXS Earbuds.
Wind noise drives you to distraction:
The noise cancellation is very good at shutting out sounds, but when it faces a blustery wind then it becomes a notable distraction.
As an all-round package, the AXS Earbuds put in a solid performance. The design is well thought out, lightweight, comfortable, and easy to use. The noise cancellation is effective at reducing sounds, though it is susceptible to wind noise becoming a distraction. It also suffers from a choppy wireless connection in busy areas.
But the AXS Earbuds mark themselves out as one of the best-sounding true wireless among the mid-range bracket with their warm and tonally pleasing presentation.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for several weeks
Tested with real world use
Battery drain tests
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Currently the AXS Earbuds are only available to purchase in the US, and directly from the AXS’ website.