Audio manufacturer Mavin is looking to shake up the true wireless earbuds market – and with a sleek design, impressive 50-hour battery life, and record-breaking 100-foot (30-meter) wireless range, the Mavin Air-X earbuds certainly have the specs to cause a stir.
We’ve seen some good – and not so good – true wireless earbuds pass our way since Apple’s AirPods kicked off the trend for fully untethered audio. But, with the technology still in its infancy, manufacturers are struggling to find that perfect balance between design smarts, sound quality, and comfort.
While Mavin isn’t the biggest name in the market, its Air-X earbuds have been generating considerable buzz over the past few weeks. And, after extensive tests, we can say with certainty that these earbuds are worth a listen.
Price and availability
As we write this review the Mavin Air-X earbuds are available in the US from Amazon, priced at $139. At Mavin's own website the RRP is $179, and we're told that the $139 price is a 'New Year Valentine's Day Sale' offer – that's a new one for us, but note that the Amazon price may go up in the coming weeks.
At first glance, Mavin’s Air-X earbuds don’t seem to veer too far from the AirPods design (just look at the image below). The carry case is a similar square shape with a glossy surface and rounded edges, and a lid that clasps shut over the top. There’s even a matching button on the side of the case for pairing, which you’ll need to press while the earbuds are inside to connect to Bluetooth.
The similarities pretty much end there though – you’ll find much more than just a carbon copy of the AirPods.
By the pairing button are two LEDs: a blue one that lights up when the earbuds are charging, and a red one that lights up when the case is charging. You can also press the pairing button to check the case’s battery life, which is shown by how many times the light flashes – once for low battery, twice for 30%, thrice for 60%, and four times for 80% and up.
The Air X also ships with a micro USB cable, rather than USB-C, which you’ll need to plug into the charging port on the case’s right side. The case is about the size of a lighter, and is small enough to slip into pretty much any coat or trouser pocket, while its smooth, tactile feel make it a pleasure to interact with.
The earbuds match the color and glossy finish of the case, which uses a pair of circular magnets to hold them both in place and keep the charging points in the correct position. They feel very secure, connecting with a satisfying click.
There are three sizes of ear tips in the box, with two additional sets of rubber stabilizers that cover the main body of the earbud to bulk it out and keep it more firmly in place – though we found the Air-X earbuds are wonderfully comfortable either way. We recommend using the add-ons for a firmer fit – especially during exercise – and can confirm the earbuds still fit in the case with the added layers on.
The Air-X comes in five colors: blue, black, white, red and pink.
The Mavin Air-X earbuds look the part then, but it’s in everyday use that they really begin to shine. Mavin has clearly put some thought into how to make its earbuds as practical to use as possible.
The earbuds each carry a solid 10 hours of battery life when charged, which can be extended up to 50 hours when you take the case’s four additional charges into account. That’s enough to last several days of heavy use, and is far above what we’d expect from true wireless earphones. (By comparison, the premium Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds only offer 12 hours of battery life.)
The IPX5 rating also protects the earbuds and case from light rain or splashes, while the 100-foot wireless range – unheard of for wireless earphones – means you’re far less likely to drop out of range when wandering away from your phone.
Perhaps because of this focus on practicality, though, other aspects of the earbuds’ performance are less impressive. On audio quality alone, the Air X earbuds are hard to recommend, with a slightly scratchy output compared to other earphones in this price range.
The difference is most noticeable with low-res music files, where the lack of audio detail leads to some slightly harsh sounds. Sometimes this actively grates on the ears, but we found the Air-X buds inoffensive for most of the music and audio output we tested them with.
You get a decent amount of presence in low, middle, and high frequencies, with the soundstage to make out the individual instruments, in, for example, The Who’s Baba O’Riley. The Air-X earbuds are fine for general listening, but feel like they’re missing the natural warmth and tunefulness needed to really tie the disparate frequencies together.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Due to Mavin’s Qualcomm processor, connecting to a source device with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or 855 – like the Samsung Galaxy S9, Pixel 3, or other recent flagships – will activate Qualcomm’s ‘TrueWireless Stereo Plus’ mode.
This means audio is sent separately to each earbud, rather than to just one, with the sound then being passed on the other. This delivers a notable improvement to the sound quality – it’s just a shame it’s limited to users of flagship Android phones.
True wireless audio has gone from futuristic novelty to being widely available in a relatively short space of time, and with their brilliant form factor, extensive battery life, and wide wireless range, Mavin’s Air-X earbuds are one of the best implementations we’ve seen in terms of their design and features.
The sound quality isn’t the best for the price – and it’s obvious it’s not the drivers you’re paying for. But Mavin has managed to offer true wireless for those who see the technology’s practical potential, with astonishing wireless range and long-lasting charges, even if, when it comes to outright audio performance, better options are available.
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