Upon first glance of a product price list, wireless headphones are a pretty serious investment. More specifically, if you’re looking for a pair of over-ear, noise-canceling, Bluetooth headphones to pair with all your other expensive devices—iPhone, laptop, home entertainment system, the International Space Station—you’re probably expecting to shell out a few hundred dollars for the high-quality, name-brand headphones. You might even be willing to spend that much, all while the final price makes you cringe a little.
The dilemma that we face as technophiles, audiophiles, hardcore gamers, or simply just people who don’t want to be disturbed on airplanes is that we literally can’t afford to take chances. For most people, the price tag is the confirmation of quality. It is the reassurance that, hey, these headphones aren’t going to leave black fuzz all over your ears and fall apart the first time the bass hits on Run the Jewels 4. And we surrender to that punch-to-the-gut feeling that it was worth $300 to spend the next two years (you know, until the newer, better pair is released) praying that we don’t leave our headphones in the hotel room.
But several months ago, I did something that I don’t normally do—I took a leap of faith, set my big-name wired headphones aside, and tried the Treblab E3 over-ear, wireless, noise-canceling headphones. Short version: I am really glad I channeled my inner Indiana Jones and stepped off the ledge.
Why These Headphones?
Full disclosure: I was already familiar with Treblab, having previously tested the XFit earbuds, so I had an idea of where I was leaping. But, again, I was attempting to move on from a very trusted pair of expensive over-ear headphones, so the leap was still dangerous… it just wasn’t expensive.
Indeed, the price tag was the first thing I noticed about the E3 headphones, because you don’t buy many accessories like this for less than $100. Certainly not brand new. And if they are brand new, you’re reading the product details to find the small print where it says, “You’re only getting a box full of wood chips for this price” or “These headphones are made of chocolate.”
Then I saw the battery life—“50 hours from a single charge”—and I let several expletives slip from my mouth in disbelief. Now, when you travel a lot, or even just ride the subway or bus to and from work each day, battery life is arguably just as important as the price, because I have used wireless earbuds that barely last a flight from Orlando to Aruba. I have flown from Florida to Washington state, and about two-thirds through the flight I grumbled to myself while having to dig my wired earbuds out of my bag because my $150 buds decided they needed a nap.
So, when I saw FIFTY hours, I basically convinced myself that I had to try the E3 headphones. Now, I am still not daring enough to charge a set of headphones once and then gamble with my sanity by leaving them unplugged for days at a time, but the key is these headphones must last at least a day. Can they get me through a three-hour layover in Miami, my 75th viewing of John Wick: Parabellum on a flight to Turks and Caicos, and then an evening on my hotel room’s balcony, as I’m sipping a margarita and listening to Norah Jones’ Day Breaks?
And, yes, so far, the E3 headphones have done the trick and then some for five trips. That’s pretty darn impressive.
What about the Quality of Sound?
The thing about a price that is too good to be true is you will most likely expect to sacrifice quality. I can’t pretend to be an expert about sound quality, but I have a pretty good idea of what I should expect, because I use headphones for a lot of things. On any given weekday, I listen to more music than most radio DJs, and I have never used these headphones and thought, “This sounds awful.” Quite the opposite. I’ve listened to everything from the latest Wu-Tang album to a lot of 90s music that I’m too embarrassed to name names (okay, I still really love the Toadies), and it all sounds crystal-clear.
I also watch movies, as I already mentioned, and I’ve never found myself doing that thing where I lean into my iPhone as if that’ll make the sound better, like I have experienced with certain earbuds. And probably more than anything, I watch a lot of stand-up comedy shows, and the sound is so clear that I can even hear that moment when the woman heckles Dave Chappelle in Deep in the Heart of Texas.
So, while that’s not the most scientific explanation, I hope I have conveyed that the sound quality is very good.
What’s My Favorite Part?
Aside from the price, battery life and sound quality—oh, and the comfort—my favorite part is that the E3 headphones even include a microphone for taking phone calls, and while I’m not much of a voice assistant guy, you can even ask Siri and Alexa how to say, “I will have a Sierra Mist, please” in French when you’re flying to Guadeloupe.
All in all, I’m glad I took this leap of faith, because the Treblab E3 headphones have proven to be a crucial accessory, deserving of their space in my weekender bag. And I’m glad they’re not made of chocolate, because then I’d have nothing to use for music when I’m at the hotel gym trying to work off those extra calories.