I was checking for possible headphones to review when I came across the list of Best Seller of Amazon. An industry insider just recently informed me that that 40% of all headphones marketed in America are sold by Amazon. Indeed, their top seller’s products should be fairly good.
Presently, the top selling wireless, noise canceling headphone in Amazon is Cowin E7 and has received over 3,800 with a four star rating. As headphone enthusiasts, we are likely to identify the brand, but I am not really very sure that Cowin is known by an average person.
I felt that perhaps, it was Amazon’s most inexpensive Bluetooth, noise canceling device. But it is far from it; the cheapest is sold for $13.21! (How on earth will it be possible for you to sell the box at that cost?) My effort to reach Cowin to obtain samples for reviews came to nothing. I just purchased a pair.
Well, it is very affordable. Let’s hear its sound.
The Cowin E7 is a noise canceling headphone with Bluetooth functionality, sealed and designed to be won over the head. Although it has a simple style, it has an impressive visual appeal in its chromed plastic enclosure. The device is available in fingerprint-magnet gloss black color.
The synthetic leather used in making the earpads and headband is quite cheap. However, considering its cost, the texture goes beyond my expectation. Neither the headband cushion nor that of the earpad is made from memory foam. They have a weight of 281 which is a bit heavy. When worn over the head, I did not feel much pressure on my head. The caliper presses a little bit tightly on my head which is somewhat bigger than an average male head. But the headband could be stretched to loosen it.
Sliding out from the two extremes of the headband is the size adjustment arms. The arms have a detent through which it can be regulated. Though it does not get loose when once it is adjusted, adjusting it can be difficult because the mechanism is stiff.
The ends of the headband arms come with swivels through which the ear capsules rotate. It is quite easy to travel and store the device as the ear capsules can be flattened.
But they are not designed to move inwardly to be smaller. The swivels become loose and revolve freely making some sound. But when they are worn, the friction on the swivel will considerably go up. To get maximum comfort, you will need to adjust the ear capsule manually by rotating its front and back.
The openings on the ear pad are about 53mm x 35mm in size. Given that the openings are not larger, the headphones do not offer an encompassing comfort when worn.
In general, they don’t give a nice feel. I will not say that the fit is painful but it looks awkward.
The device comes with 48 inches cable which is barely sufficient. It is hooked to each of the extremes with straight TRS plugs of 3.5mm. The package does not include a remote and even with cable installed, the headphones cannot be utilized as a headset . The cable is connected to the right earpiece a little bit close to the middle. This arrangement makes the cable to come out a little from behind touching a little bit on your shoulder. The package comes with a USB charging cable as well as a draw string carry bag made from faux leather. But you can request for a clam-shell carry case which is stronger.
It is quite obvious that the Cowin E7 has been modified to allow for the control of the functions at some point. There were complaints from the initial reviewers on Amazon that when in wired mode, the noise canceling did not work.
After the modification, Cowin commented in the Amazon FAQ area, apologizing for the error and announcing the updates in these words:
I am sorry for that, we decide to update e7 version. And now, We won it.
1.Update noise canceling function.
2. Support Line in Noise Cancelling.
The headphone’s internal configuration was altered by Cowin in order to resolve the problem. Regrettably, before looking into the noise canceling circuit, they first changed the audio between the analog input from the cable and the Bluetooth using 3.5mm jack. But when the batteries run out, the headphone does not function with the cable unless it is turned on. Nonetheless, it works while charging whether it is in wired or Bluetooth mode. The battery has a 30 hours run-time but when it is dead, it has to be charged for three hours for it to be 100% filled up with energy.
The controls for all functions are located on the right earpiece. The volume as can be controlled from a chrome triangle located on the exterior of the right earpiece. The play, pause and answer functionalities can also be controlled from the same feature.
It is quite awkward to increase and decrease the volume with the bottom part and top part respectively of the corners of the forward leg of the triangle. Momentary pushes do not increase or decrease the volume. You have to continuously give it a long push for the volume to toggle up or down. The volume will start increasing or decreasing in about a second internal after you have pushed for a second or so.
As complained by a lot of reviewers in Amazon, the volume control is not efficient. This is surely because instead of holding it down, they were pushing the button continuously. The arrangement is simply counter-intuitive. Whether in wired or Bluetooth modes, the volume control is inoperative.
Other complaints made by Amazon reviewers that I saw were:
The Bluetooth mode has excessive latency. I had a contrary experience. My devices delivered quite a short latency.
The quality of the mic audio in phone calls is poor. In my view, the mic delivers tiny sound but the volume is audible and understandable.
200 out of the over 3800 reviewers left a star ratings and majority of them complained of the breaking of headband ends of loss of one channel within the first few months of usage.
The E7 utilises Bluetooth 4.0 as well as NFC pairing. Based on my experience, I considered the Bluetooth range to be average. The pairing is also effective and very short. Nonetheless, I observe that it has to be manually reconnected after losing signal and it comes back in range.
Neither the website nor the manual which is fairly poor provides additional details about the Bluetooth.
It has a mixed quality but I must accept that the build quality, styling, functionality and comfort level are slightly better than I imagined given that the headphone is sold for $69. Let’s see.
Indeed… they produce sound.
Their performance was beyond my expectation.
Given that the audio signal consistently moves via the active electronics circuitry, both wired and Bluetooth connection deliver similar levels of sound in noise canceling modes as well as in non-noise canceling modes.
Non-Noise Canceling Mode For Wired and Bluetooth Connections
Generally, the level of sound it delivers when it is in this mode is bass heavy plus a lively treble. Cowin E7 has a character that is remarkably strong and wooly. It derives this quality from its strong bass boost which lies within the upper bass/low-midrange spot (~200 Hertz). It delivers a low quality mid/low-bass extension (lower than 80 Hertz) which is also affected by the seal of an earpad. Essentially, the bass is very poor, disjointed and incoherent. It is also not lively.
The quality of the bass bump as well as that of the mid-upper treble (beyond 4kHz) is better when placed side by side with that of the midrange (~500Hz). The low treble (3kHz) also does not match them when their quality are compared. Although the tonal quality of this aspect is pretty robust, it is swallowed up to a certain extent in the mix.
There is too much accent on the mid-treble on up (4kH+). However, in all, it is better than the bass making it to have a dynamic quality. Luckily, it is considerably robust within this limit producing no unbearable and discordant character.
When listening, you will find that these three aspects deliver inconsistent and disconnected sounds. The entire music will not make any meaning to you. The worst of them all is the bass. The mids and treble are fairly understandable, but musically, they deliver just a little pleasure or fulfillment.
It has a soft dynamics and it delivers a blurred audio image between the ears.
However, E7 does not produce a deafening sound. Besides the incoherent bass bloat, it also gives a fairly understandable music and movie audio. These are the only positive aspects of this device.
Wired and Bluetooth noise canceling active
You can turn on the noise canceling feature through the switch which you have to flip. The device will deliver complete different kinds of sound when it is turned on. This time, its sound can be likened to that of archaic telephones and tubes made from cardboard.
You will obtain up to 10-15db when it is in this mode. If juxtapose with the passive isolation, it is quite well reduced below 400Hz. However, its sound level becomes loud, restricted in tone and mid-accented. There is a fairly strong accent on all of the midrange from 200 Hertz to 1 kiloHertz resulting in a fairly hard sounding. This in its entirety is a direct opposite of the non-noise canceling mode.
There is improvement on the bass quality which is now better dispersed and more rigid. However, there is a lack of rhythm in the midrange that is over-highlighted making it unpleasant as it is clearly evident.
One the positive side, this mode delivers a robust mid and upper-treble (4 kiloHertz and above) which is audible enough to be swallowed up by the loud midrange and this makes it possible for the sound oozing from the device to be slightly understandable.
The imaging of this mode appears not to be as blurred as that of non-noise canceling mode. But the dynamics sounds like awkward midrange shouts.
The bottom line
I have looked carefully very well but I am not able to find any strong point that will make me to recommend this product except its black colored and chrome enclosure where the wireless features as well as that of noise canceling are housed.
There is no doubt that they are highly affordable, not horrific as to make you suffer ear bleeding; but it’s worth its cost. The Cowin E7 is only just good for its affordable price.
Note! Noise canceling can be very challenging and difficult process; doing it properly is an expansive project to engage in.
If spending between $200 and $300 on noise cancellers will be too much for you and you are going to be on air for 16 hours, I will recommend a cheap product such as HifiMan Re-400 Waterline headphones which are sold for $70. If you have no problem plugging your ears, in-ear monitors are a better alternative for you as they eliminate outside noise better than the majority of noise cancellers available on the market.
If you what you actually want is something that will isolate sounds from the external world and not really a noise canceling device, the Creative Aurvana Live sold for $65 should be a good option for you. If you have a large budget, you can go for $150 Audio Technica ATH-M50x or the more expensive $179 worth Sennheiser HD 569.
If you just want to possess a pair of noise canceling headphone with a wireless functionality, the affordable product that I can suggest for you in all honesty is the AKG N60NC which is sold for $299. However, you can go for the more expensive Bose Quiet Comfort 35 which is available for sale at the cost of $349. Bringing out such amount can be painful but it will only last for a short period.
Key point: The most wanted pair of headphones in America is uninspired, joke, chrome-plated. It does not function very well. It is not worth buying even if it is sold at a competitive price. It is a takeoff device made from plastic material. The product can be likened to what occurs when you take advantage of the common denominator with the internet efficiency.