Just about every audio company is releasing truly wireless headphones today and it’s increasingly difficult to stand out – but Rowkin manages it by marketing their headphones as “The world’s smallest true wireless Bluetooth headphones.”
Looking at the company’s portfolio of true wireless earbuds, they are quite compact with their bullet shape but, keep this in mind: size really isn’t everything.
Unfortunately, the $120 (about £93 / AU$164) Rowkin Micro Touch headphones we tested have too many design and audio compromises for us to recommend. The earphones, while compact, offer a poor fit, bloated bass, and are as slippery as a bar of soap. Using the Rowkin Micro Touch headphones for several weeks made us miss using our current favorite truly wireless headphone, the Jabra Elite 65t.
Here's what it's like to use a pair.
The Rowkin Micro Touch earphones are compact, bullet-style earbuds that sit fairly flush with the side of your ears. Don’t expect to sleep with them on as they still protrude from the ears a bit and require a tight seal in order to sound their best.
Speaking of fit, we could never get the Rowkin Micro Touches to fit correctly in our ears for long. The earphones kept slipping out of our ear canals with simple movements like chewing or yawning, let alone any strenuous activity like running.
We tried all of the eartips included in the package but none of them offered a secure fit ... and you’ll need that secure fit too, as the headphones won’t block out sound or offer any bass response without a proper seal.
Unfortunately, while the bullet design may look good, it’s not ideal if you want to keep the headphones sealed properly.
The charging case is equally frustrating to use as its gloss black finish makes it extremely slippery, and we ended up dropping the case as well as the gloss black headphones repeatedly over our testing period.
That's particularly problematic as the mirror finish also picks up scratches and fingerprints easily, making the headphones and case look dirty in regular use. It was also difficult to remove the headphones from the case as the earbuds were quite slippery and the magnets holding them in the case are very strong.
One cool feature of the Micro Touch earphones, as you could have guessed by the name, is the capacitive touch controls on each of the earbuds. Like with most touch controls, they were hit or miss. Half of our inputs weren’t recognized and requiring listeners to press an earbud on the outside means you’ll be pushing the earbuds into the ear canal, and since the headphones don’t stay in the ears very well, tapping to control music playback means you’ll be readjusting the headphones every time.
Rowkin touts the Micro Touch earphones as having big bass in a small package and boy do they deliver. The headphone’s tonal balance is completely overwhelmed by bass. It’s powerful and extends deep but it also obscures the mids and highs, and while the bass-heavy sound is fun in moderation, it doesn’t work well with many genres like classical or jazz. That being said, if you love bass, the Rowkin Micro Touch earphones could be for you.
Battery life is rated at 15 hours total, and 3.5 hours for the earbuds themselves. We experienced closer to 3 hours on a single charge for the earbuds, which makes them average for longevity. Charging is achieved via a micro USB cable.
It’s disappointing that there are so many issues with the Rowkin Micro Touch. While the battery life is good and its bass-heavy sound can be fun at times, they are just so frustrating to use that we recommend taking your money elsewhere.
For about the same money, you can get the excellent Optoma Nuforce BE Free5, which features better sound, physical buttons, and good fit or, if you can stretch your budget, the Jabra Elite 65t is one of our top picks for its battery life, features, and usability, and cost just a little bit more at $170 (£150, AU$300).