Today we are checking out another fully wireless earphone from SoundPEATS, the Q29.
The benefits of going fully wireless for me revolves around convenience. You don’t have to deal with wires that tangle and get in the way or catch on things, and there are fewer break points, or at least not obvious ones. There are definitely some downsides too such as losing an ear piece if you’re being careless, or having the batteries die at a most inopportune time.
How does the Q29 fare in it’s pursuit of convenience? Let’s find out.
The Q29 was provided by SoundPEATS in exchange for a fair and impartial review. There is no financial incentive for writing this review, and all thoughts and opinions within are my own. They do not represent SoundPEATS, or any other entity.
You can order the Q29 from SoundPEATS here on Amazon:
Amazon.ca – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XYNDMJT (not available at the time of this review)
Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/SoundPEATS-Bluetooth-Headphones-Earphones-Sweatproof/dp/B06XZ4TX3B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500939702&sr=8-1&keywords=soundpeats+q29 (51.19 USD at the time of this review)
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 writers, 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 HiFiMan, RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, 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 a product that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1 and LG G5. 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. Lately I’ve been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. Two of my favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1[i] with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.
Packaging and Accessories:
The Q29’s packaging is a simple cardboard box, longer than it is wide, with a very clean design utilizing a white and grey color scheme. The front of the package contains the product name and image with the rear providing some customer service information. I like that they lead into this information with “We hope you never have the need, but if you do, our service is friendly and hassle-free.” That comes across to me as honest and open.
Unlike most packages that would now have you lifting off a lid or opening a flap to get to the goods inside, to get to the Q29 the bottom of the package slides out like a very long drawer. Under a paper sheet which feels like waxless wax paper sits the Q29’s charge case (ear pieces inside) encased in foam. To the left of it sits a cardboard insert. This is split into two segments. The larger of the two displays the spare ear tips and holds the smaller segment in which there is a short, 17cm microUSB cable used for charging the case. Underneath everything is the full instruction manual. In all you get;
– Q29 ear pieces
– carry case which also charges the ear pieces
– silicone ear tips in s/m/l; medium preinstalled
– microUSB charge cable
– instruction manual
– stereo mode pairing quick guide
While there is nothing particularly premium about any of the materials used, the presentation is unique, attractive, and well-designed. It stands out in a good way. The carrying case feels well-built and durable and the ear pieces fit in perfectly. The ear tips are a bit stiff, but I’ll talk more about them later. The manual is easy to read and follow. Overall very well done.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
Even though it’s almost completely devoid of metal in it’s construction, I would say the Q29 is a well put together piece of kit. The plastics feel thick and solid with no creaking or groaning if you squeeze, poke, twist, or pry at them. The ear-facing section of each ear piece uses a matte plastic which adds some additional grip when they’re in use. The buttons that make up the rear of each ear piece are tight and depress cleanly. There’s none of that sloppy, wobbliness as found on competitors like the Syllable D900s. Overall fit and finish is excellent with each component piece fitting together very tightly.
Comfort is also good, thanks in part to the fact that the ear pieces weigh next to nothing. According to SoundPEATS, they somehow managed to keep the weight down to less than .2oz. It’s pretty impressive considering how durable they feel, and that these are fully wireless and all the electronics are crammed in the ear pieces. The only thing that held comfort back from being ‘great!’ was the included ear tips.
While they’re not necessarily bad, the core is too thick and the silicone too stiff to fit as comfortably as I would like. I found myself constantly fiddling to get them seated properly. Thankfully, even if not seated properly the Q29 stayed in place. Not once did they fall out, though admittedly I didn’t use them while mountain biking or anything a bit more rough and tumble. The reason for that comes down to how they sound, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Isolation seemed pretty average. The Q29 dulls external noise reasonably well, but not as effectively as I was expecting. This was primarily due to the ill-fitting tips. With some 3rd party tips installed things improved noticeably. I really think the included tips would be great if a softer, more pliant silicone was used.
Overall the Q29 is a very well built wireless earphone with decent comfort and average isolation.
Battery and Connection Quality:
SoundPEATS quotes the Q29 as having 2-3 hours of playback time. I found this estimate to be pretty accurate, at least for the right (primary) earpiece. It always started to die out nearing that 3 hour mark. Not once did the left ear piece give me a low-battery warning and it always finished charging a good 5 to 10 minutes earlier than the right side. The case is supposed to charge the earpieces up to three times which effectively gives them anywhere from 6 to 9 hours total play time. I was getting around 8 hours total at ~30% volume when paired with the Shanling M1, and ~40% volume paired with the LG G5. Not great, but not bad either.
If the charge time was longer, like it is on the Accutone Vega (2 hours of charging for 2 hours of playback), I would be pretty displeased. The Q29 will give you nearly 3 hours of playback from 1 hour of charging though, which isn’t bad. You have to remember that these ear pieces are quite small for something so crammed with tech. They’re about the size of the KZ ZS5, slightly deeper, but devoid of the angles and creases covering that wired earphone. I found the case to charge back up to full in around 2 hours, which is also quite acceptable.
Connection quality with the Q29 is unremarkable. In mono mode the connection remained strong and consistent. Running in stereo mode is where the occasional quirks cropped up. I could cover the G5 or M1 with my hand with no drop in connection. If I entirely covered the right ear piece with my hand it would lose contact with the left ear piece only. While the connection between earpieces was for the most part solid, it did drop a few times each listening session. Not something I experienced with the Q16, but still much more stable than the Syllable D900s.
I must also note that while the left and right ear pieces were supposed to auto-connect when turned on, this feature failed to work and I was forced to manually pair them. This process was easy enough though. You just had to pair the right earpiece to your device, turn it off, them turn on both ear pieces at the same time, holding the multifunction button down for around 8 seconds. At this point they would beep a few times then connect with an announcement re-confirming which was the left and which the right side. As long as I didn’t connect to a new device, the two ear pieces remembered each other.
In all, performance in terms of battery and connection quality was simply okay. Nothing great, but nothing terrible either. As always, I would love improved battery life and a stronger connection between ear pieces, but achieving this likely would have led to larger, bulkier ear pieces. The trade off to keep them small and light was mostly worth it in my opinion.
Tips: The included sadly just didn’t work out for me. While of good quality, the silicone was too stiff so regardless of which tip size I used they would either not seal at all, or the amount of fiddling required to get a seal would quickly get tiresome. I ended up settling on the medium sized, Heir-style tips that came with my Dunu Titan 1. They provided the most consistent fit and best comfort.
I’ve tried a couple other Bluetooth iems from SoundPEATS, those being the Q16 and Q23, both of which were quite good. The Q16 seems to be in a never ending battle with the significantly more expensive Accutone Vega as my go-to Bluetooth device when I want to go wireless and as a result I had high hopes for the Q29. Unfortunately, this model’s sound quality ended up being a bit of a let down. Let me start on a positive note though.
The Q29’s mid-range is actually very pleasant and handled well. Vocals come through loud and clear with lots of detail and a fairly natural tonality. I never struggled to hear anyone, and there was never interference from other frequencies. Guitar heavy sections sound really nice too as they are wonderfully grimy and textured.
Treble is also decently detailed, though the early roll off hinders the Q29 on treble-reliant tracks. This presentation ended up being non-fatiguing, but only because it doesn’t have much in the way of sparkle and energy. It’s quite a dry sounding upper register.
Bass is where the Q29 really falters. It’s never bloated or bloomy, but that’s because there isn’t a whole lot going on down there. I thought at first it was due to a poor seal, but a quick tip-rolling session cleared up that theory. The bass present is at least quick and somewhat punchy, so you’re not worrying about a sloppy presentation in addition to poor extension.
Sound stage? Well, there isn’t much of one. The Q29 has a very in-your-head presentation. Left right channel movement is okay, but anything in between doesn’t really exist. On many Aesop Rock tracks his vocals are slightly off to one side while his featured guest is slightly offer to the other. Such nuances are either non-existent or barely noticeable on the Q29.
In the end, the Q29’s tune reminds me of an older ear bud. It has a mid-centric signature with poor end-to-end extension. It’s detailed mid-range works decently well with vocal focused tunes, though I would recommend them most for podcasts or ebooks. If you want a fully wireless earphone with awesome sound quality, just get the Q16 model whose sonics are superior in every way.
The Q29 is not the best sounding earphone in the SoundPEATS lineup, a title I’d handily give to the Q16. It does somewhat make up for this in other ways though. They’re small, light, durable, comfortable, and have decent battery life when you take into account their extremely compact size and life extension via the charging case. While their connection quality isn’t the most stable I’ve experienced, it’s far from unreliable.
If great sound quality is low on your list of important features and you simply want something that’s convenient and affordable, the Q29 might be exactly what you are looking for. If you want a great sounding Bluetooth earphone, you best look elsewhere.
Thanks for reading!