TLife V8Pro: Firing on 4 Cylinders

Greetings!

Today we are checking out another budget Bluetooth option, this time from one of TMart’s in-house brands, TLife, the V8 Pro.

Inexpensive, entry level wireless headphones and earphones are quite common and are becoming more and more relevant as smart phone manufacturers stress, or force in some cases (Apple…), the use of wireless options for those that want music on the go. The V8 Pro is not a bad option, however it suffers from one critical issue that makes it tough for me to recommend to anyone but power users. Let’s find out why.

Disclaimer:

The V8Pro was provided by TMart free of charge for the purposes of a fair and impartial review. There is no financial incentive for writing this. All thoughts within this review are mine and do not represent TMart or any other entity.

At the time of this review the V8 Pro was on sale for 19.27 CAD. You can purchase yours here:

http://www.tmart.com/TLIFE-V8-PRO-Wireless-Bluetooth-4-1-Sports-Music-In-ear-Earphones-Stereo-Earbuds-Smart-Magnet-Switch-Bass-Earbuds-Blue_p358785.html

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 an 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 V8 comes in some pretty decent packaging for a budget set. Most in this price range I’ve tried came in a thin cardboard box with some branding and specs, some with even less. TLife clearly set these up to draw attention on store shelves with a large jewel case showing of the V8’s housings. The black cardboard sheath that covers the lower half of the case covers the specs and some basic product info. Sliding off the sheath and lifting the lid reveals a small cardboard box holding all of the accessories. In total you get;

– V8 Pro earphones

– silicone tips in s/m/l

– ear hooks in s/m/l

– removable chin cinch

– micro USB cable for charging

– instruction pamphlet

I was quite surprised at the quality feel of the ear tips and ear hooks, as they are made from a comfortable, soft silicone. They allow for a good seal and the ear hooks hold the V8 is securely without causing any discomfort.

Overall it’s a solid unboxing experience for the ~20 CAD these command.

Build, Comfort, Ease of Use, and Isolation:

The V8Pro is well designed, but the build quality is sub-par. At best. There are lots of gaps and bits hanging off from the molding process. These are marketed as being “weather and sweat proof” (IPX4). Unless the internals inside are plasti-dipped, I don’t see these surviving long in wet environments. While the fit and finish is quite poor, they thankfully don’t feel fragile. The SoundPEATS Q23 showed some flex if stressed where the section housing the driver and nozzle attached. The V8Pro feels much more solid.

It also has a pretty nice flat cable connecting the two earpieces. It’s stylishly colored blue on one side, grey on the other and is quite flexible. It transmits a bit of noise when rubbing against your clothing, but this is easily rectified by using the cinch.

Comfort is excellent. As mentioned earlier, the tips and hooks are made of a soft silicone and as a result do their respective jobs without qualm. The V8Pro is extremely light as a result of their all-plastic build so you don’t have to worry about weight. Since all the electronics are housed in the earpieces, you don’t have a control module weighing down one side of the cable or flopping around annoyingly while you’re on a jog. They’re a nice set of earphones to have in your ears.

The buttons are all laid out in a logical manner with volume and track skipping covered by a raised +/- rocker on the top of the right earpiece. The icons aren’t raised quite enough to tell when they do by feel, but it only takes a moment to get used to pressing the front to increase volume (hold) or skip track (quick press), and the back to reduce volume (hold) or return/skip back a track (quick press/two quick presses). The multi-function button is a large silver button on the public-facing portion of the housing. That is easy to find given the size. I doesn’t do anything beyond starting/stopping music and call controls. All that works fine. Turning on and off the V8Pro is another matter entirely. Remember the “critical issue” mentioned earlier? We’ll go over it in the “Battery” section.

Connection Quality:

For 20 bucks, I had low expectations. While the V8Pro doesn’t give you a rock solid connection, it’s not terrible. In the three or so week I’ve been using them it’s been mostly minor dropouts here and there with a a couple (literally) major cuts that would last 15 or so more and require a reconnect. At least I’m not forced to put the phone in my front right pocket to accommodate the device as is required with the ADVANCED Evo-X and Syllable D900.

Range is 30 feet, pretty standard for a Bluetooth 4.1 device. I’m able to walk around my apartment from room to room, one wall separation, with my device on my desk with no loss of contact. Adding in a second wall causes some sputtering. Overall pretty good.

Battery:

The V8Pro is rated at 6 hours of use and only 1.5 hours of charge time, and these claims seem to be accurate. The problem is, I rarely get to use the full six hours due to the way this device turns on and off, and that’s the critical issue.

Like many recent earphones, the V8Pro allows you to clip the earphones around your neck when not in use using magnets on the back of each earpiece. Unlike most, this is also how you turn them on and off. Pull them apart and they immediately turn on and enter pairing mode, or connect with your device if Bluetooth is already on. Put them together and they shut off after a couple second. In theory, it’s pretty cool and a great idea. In practice, the implementation is horrible.

– It rarely turns off when you connect the earpieces. This is why this review was delayed about two weeks. Every time I went to use them, the battery was dead. Infuriating.

– Any movement will shift the earpieces when clipped, turning them on. They must be in a very precise position for it to register. This means you really can’t turn them off unless they are sitting on an unmoving surface. You can’t put them in a gym bag, or a purse, or your pocket and expect them to be charged when you return to them. Infuriating.

In summary, 6 hours of battery life is pretty great from such an inexpensive product, you just can’t use it given how difficult it is to keep the device off when not in use. This is why I recommend them to power users who will hopefully suck up all 6 hours in one go.

Sound:

The V8Pro sounds pretty darn good for such an inexpensive wireless earphone which makes the terrible magnetic on/off feature all that more infuriating. It follows the same sort of tuning and performance edging that of the SoundPEATs Q23 and Advanced EVO-X; warm, smooth, and non-fatiguing.

Treble is surprisingly restrained and rolls off a touch early lending to a relaxing presentation. There’s just enough energy to keep them from being boring though. Tossing them on with reggae-metal gurus Skindred shows this off nicely.

Their mid-range is slightly recessed with some bleed from the mid-bass regions, but overall well done. I was quite surprised at how clear and detailed the mid-range was with both male and female vocals showing great presence and separation from other frequencies. It makes for a nice listen with rap and pop tracks and was an unexpected surprise. Definitely my favorite aspect of the V8’s presentation.

The V8’s low end is much more sensitive to your tips selection than most earphones. I thought I had a good seal with the pre-installed medium tips which resulted in a low end that was pretty restrained, somewhat soft, lacked punch, and rolled off earlier than I would like. Overall it’s pretty unoffensive. When I decided to mess around with the tips and tossed on the large set, it was a whole new experience. The V8Pro has some serious grunt down low. It’s still somewhat flabby, but the depth is actually quite good and with EDM tracks is a lot of fun, exactly what I want when I’m exercising with these things on.

Sound stage and imaging is nothing to write home about. It’s more accurate than the similarly priced Ausdom S09 but falls just short of the more expensive SoundPEATS Q23. The V8Pro won’t give you a massive out of the head, “3D” experience but it’s not overly compressed and constricted either.

While the V8 Pro isn’t a mind-boggingly impressive sounding earphone, it sounds good for the price with a very sweet mid-range and a low end you can somewhat tune to your liking with a varied tip selection.

Final Thoughts:

I like the V8Pro quite a bit. For the money it’s not a bad product at all. The magnetic on/off feature just doesn’t work as it should though, and as a result really holds them back. It’s too easy to turn on the device accidentally which for me resulted in the batteries being dead nearly every time I went to use them. The frustration levels skyrocketed after I realized what was happening, did what I could to avoid it, and still ran into routinely draining the battery by accident.

My suggestions for improving the V8Pro Version 2? Ditch the magnetic on/off feature. It’s wholly unnecessary and causes more problems than it solves. Keep it simple by having the multi-function button take over this job. You could also replace the jewel case packaging with something cheaper and put that money into improving the build quality and fit and finish.

The V8Pro looks decent, sounds good, is comfortable, and has reasonable battery life and Bluetooth performance for the price, but it could be improved significantly with just a couple tweaks. I have no issues recommending these if you simply want an inexpensive budget Bluetooth earphone, just keep in mind the magnetic on/off feature is deeply flawed.

Thanks again to TMart, and especially Joice for the review opportunity. I apologize for the significant delay in this review going up and hope my feedback and experiences help to improve your product.

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Some Test Tunes:

Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)

Elton John – Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)

Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (Album)

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)

Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)

Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)

Tobacco – F****d Up Friends

Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet)

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