Today we’re going to be checking out the Q23, a near entry level Bluetooth offering from SoundPEATS.
With a bevy of excellent features like 7 hours of battery life (even though it only says 6 on the box…), a fairly usable 10 meters of range, comfortable ear hooks for stability, and an IPX4 water resistance rating, the Q23 has shown itself to be a pretty solid budget Bluetooth headphone. Let’s look at it in greater depth shall we?
Thanks for Carrie at SoundPEATS for reaching out to see if I wanted to try the Q23. After an excellent experience with the fully wireless Q16, I was curious to see what they could pull off for under 50 CAD, so I accepted. Note that this is a complimentary review sample provided free of charge. All thoughts and opinions within this review are my own and do not represent SoundPEATS or any other entity.
At the time of this review the Q23 could be purchased for 38.99 CAD on Amazon.ca; https://www.amazon.ca/SoundPEATS-Bluetooth-Headphones-Cancelling-Sweatproof/dp/B06X3Q6C5T
My Gear and I:
I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Gear used for testing was an HTC One M8 and a Shanling M1. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures, I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. My favorite in-ear, the Echobox Finder X1[i[ is a fantastic example of this with their grey filters installed.
Packaging and Accessories:
If you’re not keen on reading the below information, here’s an unboxing video;
The Q23 is presented nicely, starting things off with a compact package and a pleasing blue/black color scheme. The earpieces are shown off on the front of the package through a high quality, glossy image. The left side of the package has some barcodes you can scan to access their Facebook and Twitter platforms, while the right outlines some features. On the rear you get some customer support information and a breakdown of the functions of each aspect of the earpiece.
Inside the Q23 is nestled in some foam, under which is a thin cardboard sheet covering the accessories;
– spare eartips in small and large sizes (medium preinstalled)
– a cable cinch (why is this not preinstalled?)
– a USB cable for charging
– instruction manual
I was a little disappointed at the lack of any form of carrying case or pouch. The Q23 is reasonably inexpensive, but something to protect them when not in use would be handy as they don’t feel like the most durable headset in the world, something which I will cover in the next section.
Overall the unboxing experience is quick and easy, though SoundPEATs went a little too light on the accessories, primarily in the lack of a carry case.
Design, Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The Q23 is a subtly attractive earphone. The shiny, piano black plastic on the public-facing side of each earpiece is a fingerprint magnet but looks handsome in it’s simplicity, a thought aided by the simple crease that runs the length of each earpiece.
The earphone is also lighter and smaller than you would expect from something that houses all the electronics and controls within the earpieces, coming in nearly as compact as the more expensive ADVANCED Evo-X, yet noticeably lighter. There’s a reason for that.
Fit and finish is good, but the plastics chosen for the Q23 feel a touch thin and cheap. The nozzles are a separate piece connected to the body of the earpiece. Where they connect I noticed a bit of flex. It’s not confidence inspiring and if you’re someone that often sits on your earphones, well, try not to sit on these. I fully expect that to be a breaking point.
Thankfully the cable connecting the two earpieces is quite good. It feels durable and does a really good job of limiting microphonics (cable noise), despite utilizing a flat design. It could stand to be about 2 1/2″ shorter though. The included cinch helps keep the length under control, but it’s not quite enough as I found it would catch on my shirt or jacket and tug at the earpieces. The earhooks are also made of a comfortable, flexible rubber that feels nicer on the ear than the SoundPEATs Q16’s hooks, but not quite a nice as what ADVANCED built into the Evo-X.
The controls have a solid, tactile click to them and are placed in decent locations. I had no issues controlling my device the way I wanted, but I would like to see the multi function button in a different location. It’s not that it’s tough to find, but it’s location means you’re pressing the earphone uncomfortably into your ear whenever you use it. If it required a lighter press to work I suppose it would be okay, but I prefer the layouts on both the Q16 and Evo-X.
Comfort on the Q23 is good. Not great, not bad, just good. The light weight and earhooks help keep them in place, but they never feel as stable or secure as the Q16 or Evo-X. The earhooks on those two models are shaped ever so slightly more like an ear, and as a result keep the earphones clinging to my head with an extra bit of tenacity. I found my self occasionally readjusting the Q23 to get them in the right spot.
Isolation is pretty average for a dynamic driver-based earphone letting exterior sounds like cars, voices, and other noises bleed through, Given these are designed for active users I consider this a plus as it allows you to maintain at least a minimal level of awareness of your surroundings.
Overall the Q23 is a decently built, reasonably comfortable earphone with an attractive design. The cable could be shorter and the plastics a bit more dense and durable feeling, but these observations haven’t shown themselves to major concerns.
I was seriously impressed at how strong and stable the Q16’s connection was, and thankfully this quality carries over to the Q23. Setup is as simple as you would expect from a modern Bluetooth device; hold the multi function button until the pairing notification plays, find it on your device and select it. Done.
As with many wireless products a 10 meter range is claimed, and in an open space that’s possible. I was able to trundle around my apartment with the device broadcasting music sitting on my desk with very few drops or interruptions.
All in all the Q23’s Bluetooth performance is quite good, and almost entirely uneventful. That’s a big plus in my books.
Battery Performance and Charging:
The box claims six hours of play time, but the sticker on the outside claimed seven. I’m thinking SoundPEATS upgraded the internal battery at some point, as I had no issues hitting that 7 hour mark in the two full cycles I managed to get in. Charging is claimed to take two hours, and from my laptop that seemed about right. It would be nice if it was about 30 minutes less, but as long as you’re keeping yourself busy in the meantime I don’t see it being an issue.
Overall performance I found to be just right. That seven hours of usage felt like a good amount, lasting me two or three listening sessions as a time, and never felt too short. For a budget earphone it’s great, making the battery life of other inexpensive earphones like the Mee Audio M9B and Ausdom S09 feel much too short in comparison.
Tips: The stock tips are perfectly fine, but I preferred the additional comfort afforded by something with a softer silicone; UE, JVC, or KZ Starline. These three tips provided a more consistent seal as well.
SoundPEATS really impressed with the Q16 in a multitude of ways, one of which was it’s sound quality. The Q23 is pretty solid as well, taking on a less aggressive and softer presentation. Where the Q16 was good for pumping you up and getting your heart racing, the Q23 is more mellow and better for less intensive activity.
Treble on the Q23 is very smooth and liquid, able to offer up some decently nice sparkle when called for. It’s weighted well avoiding coming across thin or overly dense. Detail retrieval is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. It falls short of the Q23 and Evo-X and is more in line with Mee Audio’s M9B here.
The Q23’s mid-range is slightly more forward than the M9B but just behind the Evo-X. The texture and detail needed to provide a solid listening experience are there, but there’s also some graininess that crops up occasionally. I appreciate the warmth SoundPEATS dialed in which really helps make vocals pop, and gives guitars some presence.
Dipping into the low end, I don’t think too many will find the Q23 lacking. Most of it’s bass presence is in the upper- and mid-bass regions. It suffers from mild bass bloom with starts to edge into the lower mid-range. I never noticed the Q23 tripping up on quick basslines which was a bit of a surprise. It’s decently nimble. Sub-bass seems to rolls off a touch early, so you miss out on the excellent extension of the Q16 and good extension of the Evo-X. It was only an issue on some tracks.
Their soundstage is open and spacious, in line with the Evo-X and larger than on the more intimate sounding M9B and Q16. Imaging off centre is quite vague, but sharpens up quickly. Overall quite acceptable for a budget Bluetooth set.
The Q23 is a pleasant listen. They’re not the most technically capable Bluetooth earphone, falling short of the excellent performance of the Evo-X and Q16, but ahead of the S09 and M9B. While it could be better, it could also be worse and is simply pleasant. No complaints.
The Q23 comes across as a wireless set worth considering if shopping within a strict budget, giving you some bang for your buck. They perform well in all the areas I consider most important on a Bluetooth earphone; comfort, sound, and connection strength and quality. They aren’t a slouch in the battery department either. The material choice for the earpieces could be better as I have some mild concerns about durability, but at least they’re put together with care. The lack of a protective case is also a slight negative given this is a product that’s likely to be beaten and abused, but you can scoop one up online for a couple bucks so in the end it’s nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
In the end it ended up being about what I expected; a good earphone. The Q23 doesn’t really stand out in any way, but at the same time there are no glaring flaws either. For a budget earphone that’s tough to accomplish.
Thanks for reading!
**Edit – I have enjoyed SoundPEATS’ products so much that I went out and ordered the B10; Amazon Link. Fingers crossed they live up to my expectations.**
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Aesop Rock – Mars Attacks
Aesop Rock – Saturn Missiles
BT – The Antikythera Mechanism
Daft Punk – Touch
Dillon Francis and NGHTMRE – Need You
Gramatik – Bluestep (Album Version)
Incubus – 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey
Infected Mushroom – Deeply Disturbed
Infected Mushroom – The Legend of the Black Shawarma
Jessie J – Bang Bang
Kiesza – Hideaway
King Crimson – Red (full album)
Pink Floyd – Money
Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)
Supertramp – Rudy
The Prodigy – Get Your Fight On
Tom Cochrane – Good Times