The Groov-E SoundBuds, like so many earbuds chasing the trend these days, are a pair of true wireless earphones offering untethered audio on the cheap.
True wireless goes that step further from wireless earbuds, meaning even the earbuds themselves are disconnected from each other. This can cause more connectivity problems on the budget end of headphones, but it can also offer convenient audio without any pesky cables getting in the way. So how do the Groov-E SoundBuds fair, and do they manage to stand out from the competition?
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Price and availability
The Groov-E SoundBuds retail at $74.99 / £64.99 (around AU$105). They're already available to buy in the UK and Europe through the Groov-E website (www.groov-e.co.uk), though UK buyers can also get them from Amazon – or Tesco, who are selling at a reduced £50 price in-store. The SoundBuds will be available from Amazon US from August.
Those after the market leaders will want the Apple AirPods (2019), which come in at $159 / £159 / AU$249.
If you don’t want to follow the trends – or fork out that much for such a small piece of hardware – the Funcl W1 earbuds are fantastic true wireless earbuds at a bottom-dollar price. It’s worth noting that Funcl’s offering is also cheaper than the Groov-E SoundBuds reviewed here, with generally more pleasing audio too.
The design of the earbuds themselves is straightforward, with a matte black casing small LED ring that flashes every few seconds when in use. It’s simple, but with an edge of sci-fi, and it’s to Groov-E’s benefit that it hasn’t tried to do anything more complicated.
The SoundBuds feel cheap, yet streamlined – and it’s a shame that the charging case feels even cheaper for what it is. The case carries an additional 10 hours of charge with the SoundBuds’ four-hour battery life – totalling at a paltry 14 hours.
There's also a needless ‘charging’ button you have to press to get the process going – instead of simply charging automatically when you put the earbuds inside. The case does however show you how many charges you have left, slowly reducing a percentage counter down from 100% full charge.
That said, the earbuds and case are light and compact, and for transporting in a bag or pocket everyday they’re perfectly sufficient. They aren’t fitted with wing tips or seem that ergonomic, but they also shouldn’t fall out unless you’re attempting rigorous exercise – in which case you may want some running headphones like the Under Armor True Wireless Flash instead.
As is the norm with earbuds like these, you'll get three sizes of ear tips, as well as a micro USB charging cable (we wouldn't expect the fancier USB-C standard at this budget price).
The action button is the same on both earbuds, meaning it doesn’t make a difference whether you prod the left or right earbud to use the SoundBuds’ various functions – for the most part.
A single press will play/pause the music, or answer/drop a call, while a quick hold (one second) will conjure either the Siri or Google Assistant voice AI – if your phone or laptop supports one of them. A long hold (four seconds) will also turn each earbud on or off. Double-clicking on the left earbud will jump to the previous track, while double-clicking the right earbud will skip to the next one. Triple-clicking acts in a similar way with the volume, decreasing with the left earbud and increasing with the right.
As a relatively cheap pair of true wireless earbuds, the SoundBuds connect to your source device through the right earbud, with the left and right earbuds then connecting to each other.
The connection therefore isn’t as strong as we would like – and it’s obvious when listening that this isn’t the latest Bluetooth standard, so you will get music cutting in and out on occasion.
When the music is playing, however, the Groov-E SoundBuds generally have a balanced and clear sound. They can struggle especially with higher notes, though: listening to something like the heart-wrenching solo in Burn (Hamilton Soundtrack) will grate on the ears, with a scratchy sound that can’t quite keep the higher notes together – there’s a lot of sibilance wringing out the s’s for all they’re worth.
The SoundBuds are more comfortable with mid-range frequencies that don’t push their drivers particularly hard.
You can certainly hear podcasts or radio stations relatively clearly, and for general pop and rock you’ll be able to follow the tune and make out lyrics perfectly well – even if it’s not of the highest quality. But these are budget true wireless earbuds, and there’s only so much you should expect for the price.
The Groove-E SoundBuds are middle-of-the-road earbuds, that can only really justify the asking price for its true wireless technology. If untethered audio is your priority, it may be worth it, but keep in mind you’re not getting the audio quality you would for wired earphones for the same cost.
It's hard to recommend these especially given the Funcl W1 earbuds we reviewed earlier in the year – which come in at a slightly cheaper £50 and have a generally more pleasing design and sound (somehow). But the Groov-E SoundBuds are still certainly a decent package for the price.
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