Key Series N33 Review ANC Neckband Earbuds With Onboard EQ

Friday, August 07, 2020

Neckbands are easily the most overlooked type of wireless headphones, mainly because people assume neckband-style earbuds will be uncomfortable to wear, which isn't the case if you wear them for normal activities.
The latest neckband style earbuds on the market are the Key Series N33, which have the same practical design as the AUKEY Key Series B33, featuring a silky-like rubbery finish, magnetic backing, oval nozzle tips and Key Series logo silver etchings on the front panels of the earbuds.
While the Key Series' N33 and B33 look alike, there are subtle differences between the two, including tiny perforated metal grills on the front panel of the Key Series N33. And, of course, the major difference being the Key Series N33 feature active noise cancellation and dual drivers (1 dynamic + 1 balanced armature).
The Key Series B33 doesn't have ANC other than an onboard three-mode EQ, which the Key Series N33 also has (and better at that).
Other than that, both the Key Series N33 and B33 weigh similarly (40 grams), have the same button arrangement with four mechanical buttons. Button pressing does require a bit of force, although this is not an issue since the buttons are on the neckband and not on the front of the earphones where you would end up jamming the earbuds into the ear canal.
The Key Series N33 have dedicated volume buttons which also control the skipping of tracks forwards and backwards. The ANC button is jam-packed with functionality, controlling the ANC, ambient sound mode, EQ, and voice assistant. Each button press on the ANC button toggles from ANC mode on (orange led turns on), Ambient mode on and ANC mode off.
The ANC button also controls a 3-mode equalizer (normal, movie and classic). The first EQ (normal) produces overpowering boomy bass. The second EQ (movie) produces a surround like effect, emphasizing the midrange and treble. The third EQ (classic) produces balanced sound. The movie EQ is probably the most exciting mode because of the wide soundstage it creates similar to the experience you get with open-back headphones.
The Key Series N33 ANC performance is only suited for reducing car, fan type noises, not background chatter or baby crying. The Ambient Sound mode works well too, although it depends on the environment because Ambient Sound mode amplifies everything a little bit too much; hence in a very loud environment, the sound coming in may sound distorted.
Speaking of background noise, the Key Series N33 have dual MEMS microphones (one per earbud), which sound better and more amplified than the single MEMS microphone on the Key Series B33. Being MEMS microphone, they integrate noise reduction filtering so, a decent amount of environmental sound is reduced.
You can reject, mute and place calls on hold, as well as switch between the earbuds microphone and the phone microphone. The Key Series N33 bluetooth 5.0 chip, surprisingly doesn't integrate aptX though, like the Key Series B33 do. Instead, the N33 model only has SBC and AAC codecs to choose from.

The Key Series N33 charging port is located at the base of the right stem and accepts 5V/0.5A input, taking a total of 60 minutes to fully charge the internal 130 mAh lithium polymer battery. The charging port is sealed with a flat rubber flap that provides IPX6 water/sweat resistance.
The Key Series N33 support 10-minute quick charge, which provides 2 hours of playtime and a total of 8 hours playtime with ANC turned off, 50% volume and using SBC codec (AAC consumes a lot more power on an Android device). With ANC turned on, you can expect around 6 hours of playtime.
The Key Series N33 neckband earbuds have a total length of 36cm from the top of the neckband down to the earbuds. The cabling itself measures 18cm long and has a rubbery flat sleeve that makes it anti-tangle. The neckband has a nice flex to it and, it's bendable making it easy to place around the neck. The neckband has a 14-inch circumference so, it dangles at the level of the collarbone. Depending on the length of your torso, the Key Series N33 earbuds will dangle at the bottom of the sternum (breastbone).
The only real scenario where neckband-style earbuds might be uncomfortable is for situations when you are lifting weights where you need to put a barbell behind the back of the neck. For cardio or anything involving lots of movement, neckband-style earbuds won't be ideal either because the neckband will be bouncing around your neck.
If you like working out while listening to music, neckband-style earbuds like the Key Series N33 are probably not the best solution. For exercising, true wireless earbuds or regular wireless earbuds (with cable) are a super convenient option. That said, when choosing true wireless earbuds, you should look to the IP rating for the intended sport.
For instance, for swimming you will need IPX8 for 100% waterproof resistance. For inland activities like running where you will sweat a lot, you will want an IPX6 water resistance like on the B80 wireless earbuds. For more strenuous sports like crossfit, you should look to earbuds with earhooks or earwings/wingtips like the AUKEY B60 for a more secure fit.
The included USB-A to USB-C charging cable also has the same rubbery soft silicone finish on the cable sleeve and plugs. Not only the cable feels premium but it's also anti-tangle.
There is also a large drawstring pouch included to stow away the Key Series N33 earbuds. The pouch is made of PU leather with a soft finish and the Key Series brand logo etched in the centre of the pouch. The drawstring pouch measures 17cm high by 14.5 wide. If the brand Key Series is not familiar that is because it is a relatively new brand owned by AUKEY who are also behind the Aipower WearbudsKSOUND K06 TWS and the T10 Key series earbudsYou can buy the Key Series N33 neckband earbuds on amazon

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