While I prefer the updated, stemless design found in the Pixel Buds and Soundcore Liberty 3 Pros, there is an added convenience to having the dangling bits. The stem makes the buds easier to insert and remove, it puts the mic closer to your mouth so you sound better on calls, and it also makes the earphones a little easier to spot when accidentally dropped. Add in that they have excellent battery life and that they sell for a fair price, and the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds become a no-brainer.
- Excellent sound with rich, unexpectedly deep bass
- Capacitive commands on each bud are easy to get the hang of
- Earbuds have smartphone voice assistant access
- Comfortable to wear for long periods
- Excellent battery life of 38 total hours or more
- Things are kept simple with no app, and the AXS Audio earbuds still sounds excellent
- IPX6 sweat and water-resistance rating
- The dangling stems make these earbuds look unoriginal
- There’s no compatible app, which means there are no special EQ tweaks or preset listening profiles to choose from
True Wireless Earbuds are becoming so common that it’s no longer a question of whether you can find a great pair of TWE that will work for you; it’s what one particular pair does to set itself apart from all other brands and how much they cost that matters now. AXS Audio Professional Earbuds won’t win any awards for original style, but at $149, they offer quite a few features that punch well above their price.
AXS Audio was founded by Rikki Farr, a concert audio producer who happens to have one of the most impressive resumes I’ve ever seen. I mean, Farr has produced live audio concerts featuring artists that include Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, The Who, Bob Seger, Guns N Roses, and Nirvana, just for starters.
The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds are the company’s first product; these TWE feature IPX4 sweat and water resistance, active noise canceling of -25db or lower, environmental noise canceling for clear phone calls, low latency, Bluetooth LE 5.2, wireless charging, and USB-C charging. You can get them in black or white.
On top of that, the earbuds are independent, so you can wear them as a pair or singly.
The retail box includes the earphones, a charging case, six pairs of sized earbuds (two each of S, M, and L), a short USB-A to USB-C charging cable, a warranty card, and a QR code to download the user manual.
The charging case measures approximately 2.25″ wide by 2″ tall by 1″ thick; made of matte white plastic with sloped sides, it is easily pocketable. Four LEDs on the front indicate when the case is being charged — they will blink and then glow solid in 25% increments as the battery is recharged, and the LEDs will stop glowing when the battery is full.
I haven’t ever allowed my charging case’s battery to go empty; I generally charge it every other day or so, and it takes less than an hour to get the case and buds to 100%. But AXS Audio says that it takes two hours to fully recharge the case and 1.5 hours to recharge the buds in the case fully, and that sounds about right.
With ANC off, the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds get well over 10 hours of audio playtime; even with ANC on, you can expect over 8 hours. The charging case adds 29+ hours of playtime to the buds, for a total of over 38 hours.
Such excellent battery life means you can bring your earbuds on a weekend getaway, use them as much as you want, and you probably won’t have to charge them — via USB port or wirelessly — until after you get home.
A USB-C port and a multifunction button are on the bottom of the case.
The buds will enter pairing mode when you open the charging case for the first time. Once they’re paired, opening the case will automatically pair them with the last connected device.
Because the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds support single bud use, once the earbuds are paired to your phone, you can pull one bud out of your ear, and the music will continue to play in the remaining earphone. Lay the bud on the table, put it in the charging case, or let a friend listen in on your audio; it’s up to you.
Were you expecting me to tell you to download an app as part of the setup? There’s no app.
So while not having an app means not getting any special EQ tweaks or preset listening profiles, you’ll get a straightforward setup with earbuds tuned so well that I doubt you’ll mind.
Removing one or even both buds will not automatically pause the audio, but it’s easy enough to do. The earphones have a capacitive area near the top of their stems that is sensitive to touch and proximity; on the white AXS Audio Professional Earbuds, this capacitive area is gray.
Here’s a handy tip if you feel the capacitive area isn’t registering your touches. If you give it a light touch, wait for a second or two, and then tap according to whatever function you’re trying to call up, it will work very well.
Stop tapping if you find yourself accidentally pausing or fast-forwarding a song when trying to do multiple single taps to raise the volume. Instead, after the initial tap increases the volume, do a swipe-up; there’s no need to tap, and you won’t accidentally lose the song you were trying to make louder.
When listening to audio, you can play or pause the music by tapping the right or left earbud’s capacitive area twice. Three taps on the left earbud will return you to the beginning of a song; three more taps on the left earbud will take you to the previous song. Tapping the right earbud three times will advance to the next song.
Anytime they are first powered on, the earbuds will be in Voice Through mode. If you press the capacitive area on the right earphone for two seconds, ANC will be activated, and a woman’s voice will say, “ANC on.” If you press the right earbud’s capacitive area for two more seconds, ANC will be deactivated, and the woman’s voice will say, “ANC off.”
Pressing and holding the right earbud for another two seconds will activate Voice Through with the accompanying woman’s voice alert, letting you know that’s the current mode.
Tapping your finger once on the right earbud’s capacitive area will raise the volume, and tapping once on the left bud will lower the volume; this works when listening to audio or in calls.
When a call comes in, you can accept it by tapping either the left or right bud once; pressing either earbud for two seconds as a call comes in will reject the call, and double-tapping either bud will end a call.
When you want to access your smartphone assistant, pressing the left earbud for two seconds will summon them. On my Pixel 6 Pro, I had the option of making Alexa or Google my default assistant; if you are on an iPhone, Siri will be offered.
You might think that with a capacitive area on the top of the stems, false touches would be plentiful, but I haven’t found that to be the case. The stems are handy to grab when you need to whip an earphone out of your ear quickly, and the buds are rotund enough to grasp with your thumb and pointer for proper insertion.
The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds have a similar design to every stemmed true wireless earbud since 2015’s AirPods (and the 2007+ wired Airpods before them); in other words, the design is a bit dated and not exactly original. I get it, though. When something works, why reinvent the wheel?
As handy as the stems on the earbuds are for grabbing, I suspect they are at least partly responsible for why these earbuds sound so phenomenal in calls. So, unless you’re absolutely set on having your earbuds entirely nestled inside your ear’s conchas without a dangling stem, the design (and those dangling stems) shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Throughout this review process, I’ve been comparing the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds to my usual standbys, the Google Pixel Buds ($179.99, no longer available for sale, and no ANC) and the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pros ($169, but the battery life is 4.5 hours on a good day).
Of all the true wireless earbuds that I’ve tried, those two are the only ones that offer excellent sound and are comfortable enough to wear for hours on end without ending my day with throbbing ears.
Now I can add the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds to that very short list
The smallest AXS tips give me an excellent seal, and the earbuds are comfortable enough to wear all day long — which is great because that’s the kind of battery life they’ve been giving me! I just put them in and forget about them when I am working.
Switching between ANC (when I am relatively sure no one will be trying to talk to me) and Voice Through (when I know I’ll need to be able to hear someone else) is quickly done. Still, I like that if I think I missed something directed at me, I can whip an earbud out of one ear, and the music will keep playing in the other.
And how does the music sound? Well, we need to talk about that.
It may seem like a feature loss that there’s no compatible AXS Audio app for tuning the earbuds through, but I haven’t yet felt the need! The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds have excellent sound that I don’t think needs tweaking!
Vocals are crisp and true, bass thumps without feeling like it’s been artificially pumped up, and the midrange audio is clear enough to hear what’s going on, even on what would ordinarily be the muddiest of songs with earbuds that can’t hang.
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be much difference between how the audio sounds through the earbuds when they’re in ANC, Voice Through, or when the ANC is turned off. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell by the ambient noise around you which ANC mode you’re in (or if there is no ANC), but the audio you’re listening to will sound just as good in all three modes!
If I had to pick a pair of earphones, I’d reach for over all others in my small collection of favorite earbuds; it would have to be these. The fact is that I enjoy listening to the audio I get from all three sets of earphones, so if I remove that factor from the equation, I’m left with deciding which features each has that stand out over the others.
While I prefer the updated, stemless design found in the Pixel Buds and Soundcore Liberty 3 Pros, there is an added convenience to having the dangling bits. The stem makes the buds easier to insert and remove, and it puts the mic closer to your mouth, so you sound better on calls. It also makes the earphones a little easier to spot when one is accidentally dropped. Add in that they have excellent battery life and sell for a fair price, and the AXS Audio Professional Earbuds become a no-brainer.
One last thing worth mentioning: with the AXS Lost and Sound replacement program, if you lose an earbud or the charging case, AXS Audio will replace any one part for $35; if you wear out your eartips, you can order another set for $12.
The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds retail for $149; they are available in black or white, directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Excellent sound with rich, unexpectedly deep bass; Capacitive commands on each bud are easy to get the hang of; Earbuds have smartphone voice assistant access; Comfortable to wear for long periods; Excellent battery life of 38 total hours or more; Things are kept simple with no app, and the AXS Audio earbuds still sounds excellent; IPX6 sweat and water-resistance rating
What Needs Improvement: The dangling stems make these earbuds look unoriginal; There’s no compatible app, which means there are no special EQ tweaks or preset listening profiles to choose from