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SoundPeats Q9A review: A dirt-cheap wireless sports headphone with only so-so sound

It's one of the lowest-priced wireless headphones we've seen to date. But you get what you pay for.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

The SoundPeats Q9A is one among several in-ear wireless "sports" headphones from no-name companies that are quite popular with consumers, mostly because they cost very little online. The Q9A, which vaguely resembles the pricey Beats PowersBeat2 Wireless, lists for $50 but can be had for a mere $25 (£16.99, AU$50) on Amazon. So, is it worth it?

6.8

SoundPeats Q9A

The Good

The SoundPeats Q9A is an in-ear wireless sports headphone that's sweat-resistant, costs very little money, and is lightweight and comfortable to wear. It also comes with both a mesh carrying case and a hard carrying case.

The Bad

It feels a little cheap and doesn't sound all that good.

The Bottom Line

If you can live with mediocre sound and budget build quality, the SoundPeats Q9A wireless sports headphones has enough plusses to make it worth considering at its low price point.

Well, if you value sound quality, probably not. The Q9A sounds like a $8 earbud, not so different from Apple's original white 'buds that shipped with the early iPhones (the newer EarPods are a little bit better-sounding). It sounds recessed, distorts even at lower volumes, and has a harsh edge with anything more complicated than easy-listening music (it butchered the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979 -- Vocal Mix," for example).

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What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On the plus side, the headphone is lightweight and relatively comfortable to wear. I couldn't get a tight seal from any of the soft-tip earbuds that are included, but like the Beats, this isn't really designed to have a tight seal, so expect some ambient noise to leak in (and don't expect huge bass).

Other positives: It managed to hold a mostly solid Bluetooth connection -- it's equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 -- and I only experienced a few wireless hiccups. While I can't tell you how well its less than first class construction will hold up over time, the Q9A is rated as being water-resistant and it comes with not one but two carrying cases (one soft mesh, the other a zippered clamshell-style case). A cheap cord-shortening accessory is also included, so you can adjust the length of the wire linking the left and right earphones.

Battery life is rated at 5 hours, which is OK but not great, and the headphones charge up in 1 to 2 hours via Micro-USB. Call quality using the built-in microphone was OK during the handful of calls I made. I could hear callers fine, but some callers said I sounded a little "soft."

In the end, the Q9A'S sound quality was a little too rough for me, but hey, if you're not a critical listener, and just want some tunes piped wirelessly into your ears while you're working out, these SoundPeats are worth considering. After all, they're only $25.

6.8

SoundPeats Q9A

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 5Value 7