Mention the name Earfun six months ago and you’d probably have been met with quizzical looks or even the odd giggle. But that was before the virtually unknown audio firm released an affordable true wireless headphone proposition that was so good for the money we handed it a What Hi-Fi? Award.
The company is seeking to build on the success of its Earfun Air by cramming even more features into a new ‘Pro’ variant, the main addition being active noise cancellation. (There is now a 10mm driver and three mics per earpiece, too.) But, considering the claims on the spec sheet, the price remains jaw-droppingly low at £70 ($80, AU$120).
Just as bands struggle with the difficult second album, repeating that winning formula in a sophomore effort could be a tough ask. Can Earfun deliver the goods with a follow-up set of affordable in-ears? We can’t wait to see...
The Earfun Air Pro’s cool black plastic case is pocketable, portable and doesn’t collect fingerprint smudges. Unlike its older sibling, it opens like a suitcase, instead of a backpack, and is pebble-shaped as opposed to looking like a premium box of dental-floss. Though it charges via USB-C, it doesn’t support Qi wireless charging.
Bluetooth version 5.0
Battery life 7 hours with ANC (earbuds), 18 hours (case)
Charging time 1.5 hours (earbuds), 2 hours (case)
Dimensions (hwd) 6.7 x 5.5 x 3.1cm
Once the buds are back in it, you have to quickly flip to the back of the case to find the LED battery indicator, which will flash red three times if you have more than 60 per cent battery left, twice for over 30 per cent and once when you’re at five percent and really need to charge.
One of the joys of the Award-winning Earfun Air true wireless earbuds was the simple and reliable pairing experience. We’re happy to report that is still the case here – Earfun consistently manages to do the basics properly. We open the lid, then snap it shut and count to 30. We reopen the case, leave the earpieces inside, go to our phone’s Bluetooth menu, see the Earfun Air Pro as an 'available device' and connect. It’s easy. And once they're paired, the connection is solid.
Although three sets of tips are supplied, we find the pre-fitted medium pair works for us. Also, fitting them in our ears is done without unintentionally altering playback or accessing Siri. This is both refreshing and an improvement on some more expensive models.
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The buds themselves are well-weighted, comfortable and secure in our ears, with the stems angling slightly forward to follow the line of our cheekbones. The silvery sheen on the angular and stylish new stems completes a premium aesthetic that belies the Earfun Air Pro’s entry-level price point.
It’s worth noting that the 10mm composite dynamic driver in each earpiece is a switch up from the 6mm composite cellulose driver found in each Earfun Air driver housing, too.
The in-ear detection is now infrared, not capacitive, and is handled via an LED rather than an electrical charge. If you’re worried this might make auto-pause a bit hit and miss, don’t – it’s spot on. It will doubtless save on battery, but more than that it’s a great comfort to know that you can simply pluck the buds from their case, put them in your ears and pick up whatever you were last listening to.
There’s no way to alter volume or skip back to the start of a track without accessing your source device, and there’s no app support. These are the only small issues in the Earfun Air Pro’s otherwise admirable feature set – though we shouldn’t perhaps expect the latter at this entry level anyway.
The tap-control functionality is clever here, though: more evidence that Earfun does the basics well. One tap actually serves no purpose – a clever approach given that you can easily alter playback on other buds by inadvertently touching them.
Two taps on the right bud pauses or resumes playback; three skips to the next track. Double tapping the left earpiece accesses Siri on our iPhone and also answers or ends a call. The crucial function you’ll want to practice is a triple-tap of that left earpiece, as this scrolls between the Earfun’s noise-cancelling, ‘normal’ and ‘ambient sound’ modes.
Beyond those three profiles, there’s no scope to tweak the levels of noise-cancelling, and without app support you can’t activate them on your phone. However, once we get the hang of tapping just below the mic at the top of the stem rather than on the mic itself, it’s a solution that works well.
With noise-cancelling deployed, low-level constant noises such as the hum of the washing machine are significantly diminished. Initiating ambient mode dutifully feeds the noise of passing cars and barking dogs into our ears. Both in terms of efficacy and usability, it’s not quite in the same league as the Apple AirPods Pro – but at one-third of the price, to expect that would be unreasonable.
The good level of noise cancelling is thanks in part to the six-mic array (three per bud), which also ensures clear voice calls in our tests. Battery life is good too, with a claimed total of 25 hours with ANC on (seven from the buds plus 18 hours from the case) or 32 hours with it off.
The Earfun Air Pros boast an IPX5 rating for water-resistance, meaning that while you can’t submerge them fully in water, a spell in heavy rain or sweating at the gym shouldn't do them any harm. All in all, it’s a lot of decent tech and durability for the money.
Setting the sound profile to normal, we cue up a Tidal Master stream of Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On. The Earfun Air Pro’s presentation really suits the hip-hop track, celebrating the deep bass-heavy intro while still holding down the central riff and the various layered vocals.
It’s a zealous display with energy and attack. Stormzy’s Vossi Bop is similarly agile: the treble is ever-present and, while occasionally a tad harsh through the midrange at higher volumes, alongside a rhythmic grime beat that isn’t afraid to go low, it’s a perfectly acceptable listen.
Fans of the original Earfun Air will have no complaints about the updated model’s sound. Also, both earpieces feel very similar when worn; the driver housing is virtually identical in shape despite the new stems, extra mic and larger drivers inside.
Switch to Words Of A Fool by Barry Gibb and Jason Isbell on Tidal Masters and there’s a pleasing level of separation and clarity between the wurlitzer, piano, textured guitars and Gibb’s soulful vocal. Taylor Swift’s Willow is similarly expansive through the three-dimensional string section and, although there’s that marginal touch of harshness through the midrange, Swift’s central, often ethereal vocal stylings are well-handled.
Listen to the slightly pricier, Award-winning Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 and, in comparison, there’s an extra ounce of detail and finesse over the Earfun Air Pro across the frequencies. But without noise cancelling, USB-C charging or in-ear detection, and taking their higher price tag into account, it’s an altogether different proposition.
During our testing, the sound presentation is well-balanced, relatively transparent, taut and full through the bass, and musically pleasing overall.
When considering our minor issues with how this budget proposition sounds, it’s easy to forget that not long ago, you’d have paid upwards of £200 to get something anywhere near as fully-featured. At the time of writing, we haven't come across anything at this level that does everything these Earfuns do, as well as they do it.
The Earfun Air Pro fit securely, connect easily, have reliable controls and feature basic but effective noise-cancelling profiles – for just a small premium on the Air model. There’s also USB-C charging and wearer detection, plus the sound is pretty decent for the money.
As we said in our review of the Earfun Air, it’s rare that we award five stars to a pair of true wireless headphones at this ultra-low price point, since cheap rarely means good value. Simply put, it does here.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 5
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best wireless earbuds
Read our Earfun Air review