The wireless earphones market has matured at a good pace over the past couple years, with countless budget options now available for those simply looking to dip their toes into the space. If you too are in the market for a pair of wireless earphones that won’t break the bank, the $26 Baseus Encok S17 may be a good place to start.
The Encok S17 aren’t the truly wireless kind, with a wire tethering the two earbuds. This has its upsides, of course, with the obvious benefit being a lower risk of dropping the earphones during your morning run. It also makes the first-time pairing process much easier.
The earphones do not offer the illusion of a premium build, unless viewed from a distance. Baseus makes up for that with a pragmatic design that favors comfort. The ear-hooks, meant to keep the buds in place, are made of silicone instead of plastic, which gives the buds a softer, lighter feel. In fact, the whole thing weighs in at just 22g.
The silicone ear-hooks also make the earphones easier to pocket, though you’ll rarely find the need to do so – a magnet on each bud allows you to snap the two together to prevent them from slipping off your neck after having removed them from your ears.
My only gripe when it comes to comfort, and it isn’t a serious one, is that the cord tends to rest unevenly around the neck with the control module weighing it down on the right side. This can also cause the right earbud to be shaken loose at times, but only enough to partially lose its in-ear seal. The solution here would be a cable management clip like the one afforded by Apple’s Powerbeats3 Wireless. As for looks, the S17 could do without the red ring on each bud. The satiny luster on the rings doesn’t jive well with the rest of the design, though that may be a matter of personal preference.
Of course, none of that may matter to you if the sound quality isn’t to your liking, and the S17 exceeds expectations in that area. Cheaper wireless earphones tend to struggle when it comes to outputting lows. The S17, on the other hand, handles bass quite impressively. That’s not to say that the sound quality is impeccable, but for $26 a pop, you’ll definitely be getting more than you paid for. Depending on the kind of content you’re listening to, you may experience instances where the bass drowns out the mids, so the out does seem to be a little out of balance.
The in-ear design offers a shallow seal against the ear canal, which means that it will let in quite bit of ambient noise. I personally prefer a shallow in-ear seal – it feels more comfortable and a little more ambient noise can’t hurt for outdoor use.
In the box: the earphones, extra pair of silicone ear-tips, and the charging cable.
As for the technical specs, Baseus claims the S17’s 100mAh battery offers 200 hours of standby, 7 hours of playback, and 6 hours of call time. The earphones are Bluetooth 5.0-compliant and have an IPX5 rating, which means they are protected against rain, sweat, and light washing under a a tap, but may not survive being dunked in a pool. The company also says that the ear-tips, inclined at 60-degrees to the body, should remain comfortable through 7 straight hours of listening. This may be true for a majority of users, but in my time with the earphones, I began feeling slight discomfort after roughly 20 minutes of use, though that may be because I’m not used to in-ear design.
If all that sounds good to you, and you’re in the market for a new pair of wireless earphones, you may want to take a gander at the Encok S17. You can pick the earphones up in either black or white, with both available for just $26 over at Amazon here.