The SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS offer an astonishing number of features for their price of just under 50 euros: Thanks to LDAC, these headphones with a semi-ear-bud design also transmit Hi-Res Audio. A low-latency gaming mode can be activated as an option, and automatic wearer recognition is part of the package along with an app for personalised equalisation. Considering the price range, that’s quite respectable, especially as these semi-in-ears also deliver quite a serviceable performance in terms of sound and functionality.
SoundPEATS are currently “flooding” the true-wireless market with new models and updates of existing products that are as affordable as they are full of features. Even though it has been difficult to keep track of them all, we were happy with the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS.
The company SoundPEATS is probably still relatively unknown in Europe – in contrast to the USA and Japan. To change that, the Chinese manufacturer is currently launching a comprehensive product and price offensive. In the absence of an official product list, I did a rough count and came up with no less than twenty (!) in-ear models that are currently on sale. I don’t want to exclude the possibility that this is at least partly based on the concept of using product names such as “Air”, “Pro”, “Free”, “Sonic”, or “True” to occupy the top positions in search rankings. Here “Pro” always stands for an upgrade of an existing model, and “HS” for “Hi-Res Audio” capability. In the end, no matter what their secret plan may look like, we chose to test the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS, as they are currently available for well under fifty Euros.
What can the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS do?
All in all, SoundPEATS’ pricing is decidedly budget-friendly, as not a single product exceeds the 100-euro mark. On the contrary, most headphones are priced well below fifty euros.
It is all the more surprising then, that the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS have a whole range of quite promising features on board. These start with the Bluetooth connection, which supports the current version 5.2 and has a separate gaming mode with which the latency can be reduced to 60 milliseconds. They continue with the Hi-Res-capable LDAC codec and 14.2-millimetre large-dynamic bio-diaphragm drivers (in the manufacturer’s somewhat flowery terminology), as well as a dual microphone for noise cancellation during phone calls and automatic wear detection (Auto Pause). As if that were not enough, SoundPEATS also provide a free app where the sound characteristics can be modified individually or with various pre-sets by means of a 10-band equaliser. In addition, the earpieces have touch functionality on both sides for remote control of various playback parameters (including volume, play/pause, and track forward/back) and telephone functions. The Air3 Deluxe HS are housed in a charging case that has an integrated rechargeable battery and provides power for up to three charging cycles (approx. 1 hour), which then allow a playing time of four to five hours each – depending on the listening volume.
Using the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS
The Air3 Deluxe HS are basically “semi-in-ears” in the style of Apple AirPods – accordingly, the earpieces do not require ear moulds and are simply hung in the ear cavity between the tragus and antitragus, which is barely noticeable – literally – considering they only weigh four grams per earpiece. The Air3 Deluxe HS are correspondingly comfortable to wear. Only after a longer period of wear did the hard plastic start to press against the tragus (the small flap in front of the ear opening). Of course, the absence of earmolds inevitably increases the emission of ambient noise.
For transport or when not in use, the earpieces slide in the best poka-yoke (Japanese word for when things can only be put together in one way) into the transport case, which also acts as a charging cradle and provides information on battery status via an integrated LED.
A press of the integrated button puts the earphones into Bluetooth pairing readiness, whereupon they dutifully announce themselves to the Bluetooth player and are immediately available for audio and telephone functions (when used with a mobile phone) after confirmation. The range is within that typical for Bluetooth.
Optional sound adjustments can be made via the app; however, this made a somewhat shaky impression. For example, changes to the equaliser are implemented with a delay of just under one second. I would also question why the highest equaliser band of a Hi-Res headphone whose playback, according to the datasheet, reaches up to 40 kHz, is 5.5 kHz.
The operation of these in-ears, via the matt-gold lacquered contact surfaces on the sides, worked surprisingly reliably and responsively. Phone calls with the earpiece were reasonably okay but fell short of the quality of the internal mobile phone microphone. Relatively often during the test, I unintentionally triggered functions when adjusting the position of the headphone in my ear. However, this problem has also occurred with significantly more expensive in-ears that use sensor surfaces.
How do the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS sound?
To cut a long story short: The SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS sound significantly better than their price range would suggest. On top of a decent bass foundation that can hold its own quite well from house and jungle to hip hop, the midrange spreads out powerfully, and the highs also come into their own. The highs are astonishingly agile and differentiated. Of course, the bass doesn’t have the punch and impact of airtight in-ears, but it’s still fun.
Overall, the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS felt a little bit boomy – even with the equaliser set to neutral – and this was quite pleasing when listening to current music styles, but seemed slightly out of place with high-quality jazz and classical productions. The voice of the in-ear information system, which is equipped with a factory reverb, was not particularly likeable to me either – I have heard pleasanter and sonically more intelligible assistant voices.
I could not detect any significant difference between LDAC and SBC operation in a direct comparison or when using Spotify as the feed player (320 kbit). When I switched to uncompressed material in 24-bit from the internal memory of my mobile phone, the dynamic response of these headphones seemed slightly better under LDAC than under SBC, but not to such an extent that I would explicitly recommend a purchase because of it.
The SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS do not cause an outbreak of frenetic applause in our editorial office, but they do get an appreciative pat on the back. Considering the price range, the sound and functionality are very good, and the technical features, such as LDAC support and low-latency mode, are also impressive. On the other hand, a slightly longer battery life wouldn’t have hurt, nor would a longer charging cable, which at just 18.5 centimetres is a little short. I would also have appreciated it if the app had the function to modify the assignment and function of the touch sensors. All in all, I would classify the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS as an ideal second pair of headphones for summer use due to their airy semi-in-ear design, and because of their moderate price, it doesn’t hurt quite as much if they get lost in the sand. And if you do find them again, the chances are quite good that they will have survived the excursion unscathed, as they are protected against splash water and foreign bodies according to IPX4.
- reasonable price
- many features
- decent sound
- app with individual eq control
- equalizer stops at 5 kHz in the treble range
- changes in the equalizer with a delay
- touch control not modifiable
- assistant voice very reverberant
- relatively short battery life
- Due to the principle, there is little attenuation of external noise
- bass not particularly punchy due to the principle
- Ear couplingEar-Bud
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 40.000 Hz
- Weight without cable4,2 g each, Case: 36 g
- Cable length18,5 cm
What's in the box
- USB charging cable
- Charging case
- Available in black or white
- BT codecs: SBC, LDAC
- BT version: 5.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, SPP, GATT
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