We checked our fair share of affordable headphones, including the decent Ant Audio Treble 900 and Boat Rockerz 400, both of which offer decent value for the Rs. 2,000 marks. At this price level, basic wireless connectivity and acceptable sound quality are really all we're looking for, but additional features are certainly welcome.
This brings us to the latest headphones with a price of around Rs. 2,000 that we have reviewed, the Xech A8 Voice Assist Play FM radio and SD cards. We tested this affordable wireless headphone. Here is our review.
Design and technical data of the Xech A8 Voice Assist headphones
From a distance, the Xech A8 Voice Assist headphones are similar to the popular Bose and Sony options, but up close it looks different. The device looks impressive at first glance, but we quickly found things that we didn't like in terms of design and design. We found the edges and corners of the headband too sharp and the finish looked pretty matte and refined. There is only one company logo on the top of the headband.
The inside of the headband is padded with soft rubber and the ear cups are also well padded. Despite the claim that the box sits over the ear, the ear cups did not completely cover our ears and sat on it like earphones.
Although the Xech A8's ear cups have been swung back up to 90 degrees for easy storage, there is no forward swivel at all that improves fit and comfort. This meant that the headphones were never comfortable on our ears and the passive noise isolation was also poor. In addition, the sound came out fairly easily and others in the room could hear what we heard.
The Xech A8 has four buttons on the right ear cup that control power, Bluetooth pairing, mode, volume, and playback. The buttons are all easy to reach and take some getting used to. The bottom of the right ear cup has a micro USB port for charging, an indicator lamp, a 3.5 mm jack for wired listening, a microphone and a microSD card slot.
A long press on the play button calls up the voice assistant on your smartphone. Depending on the smartphone, it is most likely Siri or Google Assistant. The feature is also optimized for use with Bixby and Cortana, depending on your phone's default setting. During the reporting period, we noticed that it also works with Alexa. Of course, the function uses your smartphone, tablet or PC to actually carry out your voice instructions, but with the headset you can call up the voice assistant without touching the phone and forward commands via the microphone.
The sales package is well equipped with a micro-USB cable for charging, an aux cable for wired audio, an aircraft adapter and a very good hard case. The Xech A8 has Bluetooth 4.2 and only supports the SBC audio codec. In addition to Bluetooth and cable audio connections, you can also use the headphones to listen to FM radio and music that is played directly from a microSD card. Both functions worked well for us, but the lack of a display on the headset means that when you browse radio stations or tracks, you have to repeatedly press “Next” or “Previous” and hope for something you like.
During our test, the Xech A8 Voice Assist headphones ran for about 5 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and it took about three hours to fully charge. This is pretty disappointing for a pair of on-ear headphones, even considering the price.
Xech A8 Voice Assist headphone performance
We were hoping the Xech A8 headset would make up for its physical shortcomings with decent sound, but that wasn't the case. The sound quality of these headphones is poor, and other performance problems further impair the user experience. We listened to music via Bluetooth (paired with an Android smartphone), FM radio and the microSD options and found that the performance of all audio sources was consistently below average.
The first problem we had with the headset was that it always started in Bluetooth pairing mode when turned on. This meant that an automatic connection to a previously paired device could not be established. We had to go through all modes and then go back to Bluetooth so the Xech A8 automatically connected to the source device. In addition, the headset was always started at maximum volume. These are not minor inconveniences, and they quickly became annoying for us.
We found the acoustic signature a little too warm and the sound over the entire frequency range sounded too loud. Sure, it wasn't just a punchy bass that we might have enjoyed. Everything from the lows to the highs had an uncomfortable rumble that completely changed the way the tracks sounded. Listening to Netsky's Tequila Limonada brought out the bass so well that it was impossible to focus on anything other than the rumble that should have been a background element of the track.
The heavy, booming sound also extends into the lower mid-range, which affects the vocals. The upper midrange and the highs are much quieter than the lows, which not only distorts the character of most tracks, but also leads to a tiring sound that we can't stand for more than 20-25 minutes at a time. We weren't impressed with instrument separation and sound staging either. The former was barely noticeable, while the latter was narrow and did little more than basic stereo separation. The only positive aspect of the sound is that these headphones can get quite loud.
The Voice Assistant functionality worked with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but the Xech A8's microphone wasn't particularly good. It was often not possible to properly forward commands and requests so that our smartphone itself worked properly. This led to some weird interactions – the question "What can you do?" was understood as a "kangaroo".
Repeated attempts to call a colleague with an inquiry in English suggested that the Google Assistant suggested that we were speaking in Hindi and then did not execute the command. We found that speaking directly to a voice assistant on the Android smartphone is easier than using the headphones. Finally, we also tried using the headset for voice calls, and although conversations were possible, the sound quality was similarly booming and uncomfortable on both sides.
The Xech A8 Voice Assist headphones are disappointing and inadequate in several ways. Whether it's design, comfort, battery life, sound quality or the advertised key functionality of optimization for voice assistants, the Xech A8 headset offers a sub-par overall experience. Even at its Rs. Price of 2,499, we find it hard to recommend this pair of headphones. Instead, we recommend that you choose the Ant Audio Treble 900, which is a better product in every way and costs less.
Price: Rs. 2,499
- Good carry bag included
- FM radio, support for microSD cards
- Buttons are easy to use
- Very badly designed
- Inconvenient, problematic fit
- Battery life below average
- Poor sound quality
- Always starts in Bluetooth pairing mode and at the highest volume
- The functionality of Voice Assistant is frustrating
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 2
- Audio quality: 1.5
- Battery life: 2.5
- Value for money: 2.5
- Total: 2