review

AUKEY Key Series B33 Review Neckband Earphones

Friday, April 24, 2020

While earphones without cable provide a truly wireless experience, true wireless earphones haven't made everyone a convert! For some, there is always the chance of losing true wireless earbuds, making regular wireless earphones with cable still a very popular option.
Wireless earphones are typically attached via a cable or neckband. A few examples include AUKEY's B80, B40, B23, B26 and Aipower's Key Series B33 (pictured). While bulkier in size than true wireless earphones, the Key Series B33 neckband earphones are less fiddly to store since you don't need to put them inside a charging case when you're done using them.
Having a neckband style means the Key Series B33 earphones are worn around the neck so, there is no chance of losing them. When you're done using them, you simply remove the earphones from the ears and let them hang from your neck.
Total weight is just 37 grams, although much of that weight rests on the headband so, you barely notice them when wearing them around. The nozzle of the earbuds have a short neck with a large and wide, oval tip that lets sound freely pass-through. The angled design of the nozzles, making them fit extremely securely in the ears.
The Aipower Key Series B33 neckband measures 40cm long and it's entirely made of very flexible, silicone-like rubber with a silky-smooth finish. The end tips of the neckband integrate aluminum alloy accents with a light copper finish on them.
The cable sections on either end of the neckband have a cylindrical flat shape sleeves made with the same silicone-like rubber material as the neckband. Being flat-shaped means less chance for the cables to tangle up, although the cables aren't overly too long, measuring just 22cm long. The cable features small strain reliefs at the joint with the neckband and earphone housing, which should help prevent premature wear and tear.
The earphone housing is made of glossy hard plastic, although the middle top section of the housing is rubberized. The front panel of the Key Series B33 earphones is magnetized with a circular etched metal accent similar to the B60 earphones. There is also a metallic etching of the Aipower brand logo in the centre of the front panels, which are magnetized. When the earbuds snap together, it secures the neckband around the neck but, it also plays and pauses the audio.
The bottom end sections of the Aipower Key Series B33 neckband house the user control buttons (right side) and other electronic components such as the battery and Bluetooth 5.0 chip (left side) that supports 10 meters wireless range and aptX-LL(low latency) bluetooth.
The battery has a 130 mAh capacity and supports fast charging via a USB-C charging port connection, located on the top right side of the neckband. From a 10 minute charge, you can quickly top up 2 hours worth of battery power. There is no pass through audio while charging though, meaning you cannot listen to audio while the Key Series B33 are charging up.
The Aipower Key Series B33 lithium ion battery takes 60 minutes to recharge and can provide up to 8 hours of playtime when playing audio at 50% volume and using the default SBC codec. The Aipower Key Series B33 neckband earphones also support hi-res codecs AAC and aptX bluetooth.
Hi-resolution codecs do consume more power though, particularly AAC so, battery life is only 5.5 hours. It's also worth pointing out that in order to listen to audio via the mentioned codecs, your phone/tablet must also support them and not all devices do.
If your phone doesn't support aptX or AAC, audio playback from the Key Series B33 neckband will default to SBC codec. SBC does provides good audio, although aptX has lower bit rate transmission, which provides better sound quality. Another advantage of aptX-LL is lower latency, which means you can use the Aipower Key Series B33 neckband earphones for gaming. You can expect around 6.5 hours playtime when using aptX-LL.
The Aipower Key Series B33 neckband is made for the outdoors so, you can wear them while running in the rain or sweat in them while working out in the gym. Aside from the charging port, the neckband is very much sealed-shut to the outside elements. The charging port gets properly sealed via a pop-up rubber cover, which provides the Aipower Key Series B33 neckband with IPX6 water-resistance.
The user control buttons consists of four physical buttons with etched symbols, which provide good tactility. The buttons have a hard-press design so, they require a slight amount of down force to activate. The buttons are easy to differentiate without looking at them, thanks to the indent on the volume rocker buttons.
The other two buttons on the Aipower Key Series B33 neckband include a power button with led status and an equalizer (EQ) button with led status. The power button led feedbacks power, as well as bluetooth pairing when it flashes white and green. The EQ led lights up orange when selection EQ modes.
The EQ button controls three EQ modes, which vary the sound signature. EQ 1 mode increases the treble, making the audio sound louder. EQ 2 mode balances the bass, treble and mid-range; while EQ 3 mode increases the low end, producing more bass.
49cm long USB type C audio cable included
The Key Series B33 10mm drivers have medium/high sensitivity (95dB) and are nicely tuned so, they are able to produce a decent amount of volume without notable distortions.
The Key Series B33 integrate only one microphone but it's a MEMS microphone with good amplification, clear and balanced sound, making the voice sound natural while suppressing some background noise. The location of the microphone, on top, pointing at the mouth also helps, although the microphone being on top means you have to make sure you place the neckband on your neck the right way; otherwise, the microphone will end up facing downwards.
Speaking of microphone, during a call you can switch the Aipower Key Series B33 microphone with your phones' internal microphone. The Key Series B33 also support 3-way calling so, you can also accept a second call during a call. You can buy the Key Series B33 on amazon. Check out the review of the T10 Key Series earbuds.

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