• Beau Steward

Raycon E55 Earbuds

If you watch a lot of youtube, you've probably seen Raycon advertising with many of the big youtubers. They market themselves as the premium audio brand without the premium price. With earbuds upwards to $100, one can assume they're aiming to punch higher, at the likes of Beats Powerbeats Pro or Airpods Pro. So I bought some Raycon E55 earbuds to see if they lived up to the hype. I got them in blue.

First, I want to talk about comfort. I've struggled with comfort when it comes to earbuds. Most earbuds don't fit me right. Either they tend to fall out or their ear tips are too big for my ear canals, putting a lot of pressure and making wear for long periods of time painful. My go-to true wireless earbuds to date were the Jabra Elite 65t as they fit well, don't hurt too badly for long time wear, and have good features. They definitely stay in place, but the fit isn't perfect as they can shift over time. Still, I have no problem using them.

The Raycon E55 surprised me when I first put them in. I'm not referring to hearing Ray J's voice say "Raycoooon" on startup. With the default tips, which appear to be the medium size, they practically sucked right into my ears. They just fit. They're super light and I hardly notice they are there. I've stuck with the default ear tips, though I may step the size down to see if comfort can get even better.

In terms of fit and comfort, these are the best I've encountered.

As these are an audio product, you can't talk about them without going into how they sound. The moment the first bit of music hit, I realized that this is the first cut corner I found. The drivers are clearly very cheap, and tuned to sound good for hip hop music. Which is fine if you enjoy hip hop music. It's not my cup of tea.

The bass is a bit punch, the highs are clear, if muted a bit, but the mids are extremely muddy. There is no accurate sound reproduction with these earbuds. If you like heavy bass in your listening experience, these will fill the need. Personally, I'm good with a bit of punch, but it has to be balanced and clear.

To compare with the Jabra Elite 65t, again, the bass is much more pronounced. I find the bass in the 65t to be quite lacking, so these 2 sets really go on the opposite ends of what I like.

Earbuds that are designed to be used with your phone almost always have call handling capability, which in the bluetooth world is referred to as a headset profile. Yes, the E55 have the ability to do phone calls, they do have microphones.

Jabra is a company that specializes in call audio systems. I have a Jabra USB conference speaker that I use at home for work. It and the 65t handle calls quite well, without issues of me hearing the other party and vice versa. It's almost unfair to compare other bands to it, but I have to compare the E55 because people will want this to work well and not have to use something else.

And that's where the next problem comes in with the E55. I can hear the other party fine. Vocals actually sound pretty clear. However, the microphone, or the noise gate setup, is really really bad. The other party complains that I come in and out and I have to repeat myself at times. I don't see these replacing my 65t for mobile phone calls any time soon.

As true wireless earbuds, you have to worry about not just the pairing with the device you're using them with, but also each other. The 65t were the first true wireless earbuds I found with a truly stable connection all the way across. I was actually soured to the idea of true wireless earbuds until I got the 65t. So how does the E55 fare?

This is where another surprise hit me. First, these are probably the first really truly wireless earbuds I've had, more "true" than the 65t. The 65t has a "master" and a "slave" earbud. I want to say the "master" is the right earbud. This means if I want to use just one earbud, I have one option.

On the other hand, each side of the E55 can work independently. If I want to use just the right one, I can use just the right one. If I prefer the left side, I can use just the left side. Once one earbud is connected, it becomes the "master" and the other one slaves from it. Very nice.

But, of course, this is meaningless if the connection isn't stable, right? Thankfully, so far, I've had zero issues with connectivity. They appear to take advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 having better signal processing and maintaining a stronger connection. Also, thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, the latency is actually not too bad. There's still latency, but not a terribly distracting amount.

One facet of Bluetooth 5.0 you can't take advantage of is multiple device support. I suspect the sync interface between the earbuds may be bluetooth, taking up that extra capability. So, unfortunately, you can only pair them to one device at a time.

As earbuds get smaller and lighter, there's only so much space for batteries. These are quite tiny, so not a lot of room to hold batteries. They're rated for 6 hours between charges, and with the case, can provide up to 36 hours.

I haven't pushed their battery life, yet. However, I've read that their battery management sucks. Rather than detecting a low battery condition and shutting down gracefully, they apparently just pass out, and occasionally let out an awful noise. I plan to test this out at some point, and will update this with my own experience.

The case is actually designed pretty well. The earbuds are held in magnetically, and the hold is strong. As with how they practically suck into my ears, they do kinda suck into their slot in the case as well, making it pretty easy to get them in correctly. The case charges the earbuds, has a USB Type-C interface in a world where there are still new products coming out implementing USB Micro-B, and also offer wireless charging. The case is compact so they are easily pocketable.

It appears the case does implement faster charging, which causes the case to get quite warm while plugged in. This worries me, as fast charging small battery cells can degrade their life, with the amount of degradation increasing the harder the cells are pushed. Testing the effect on this will take some more long term testing.

So far, I haven't had any issues with build quality or other flaws. However, I haven't had these long term, yet. I have done some reading of other users' experience with the earbuds. I take their experiences with a grain of salt as most of the problems I read about seem to be super rare, and every product will have occasional duds.

One common issue came up, though. They start dying after a few months. I'm curious if my concern over fast charging such small, possibly cheap battery cells is to blame, here. When I get a bit more time with these, I'll update this with my own experience.

So for sub-$100 earbuds, so far they are okay. Vocals sound fine, so audiobooks and lessons sound good. Music is a bit punch for my taste. Calls kinda suck. The fit in my ears is really good.

But as I mentioned, the marketing punches up to the premium brands. Honestly, with what I listed already, they fail to meet those standards. However, in trying to punch up like that, they are missing so much more.

Some earbuds they punch up to have active noise cancelling. These are earbuds, they already have really good sound isolation, I don't need ANC. However, their sound isolation can be a bit much, so some earbuds, such as the 65t, implement a "hear through" feature where sound from the outside world is passed through. These earbuds don't have this feature.

Almost all of the premium earbud brands now implement some form of control via an app. Funny enough, when I searched for a Raycon app on the iOS app store, some interesting results came up, but no app for the earbuds. I would love to be able to control some of the dynamics of the earbuds, maybe cut some of the base boosting out that I can't seem to achieve with Spotify's EQ.

So do I recommend them? Eeehh. For the price, they're not bad. The connection is solid and the sound isn't horrible. Call quality really needs to be worked on. Also, for a brand that tries so hard to punch up to the premium brands, it'd be nice to have more control over them and maybe some more features. However, despite what the marketing says, they fail to compare to the premium brands. Yeah, you pay a lot less than a set of Airpods Pro, but you get what you pay for.

If you can spend just a little more, you can get the Jabra Elite 65t. Since the Elite 75t has been released, the 65t can be found for a reduced price. If you can stand to spend just a little bit more, the 75t may also be a good option. And just a little bit more, Bose and Sony become viable options as well.

But if you're strapped for cash and want a good reliable set of truly wireless earbuds but call quality is a secondary concern, then by all means, take a look at the Raycons.

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