Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods Review: ANC TWS that struggles to stand out

by newsup

Boult Audio is a home-grown audio company that has a vast portfolio of affordable audio products including wireless headphones, speakers, and TWS earbuds. The latest TWS offering from the company is the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods, an Active Noise Cancelling pair of truly wireless earbuds priced at Rs 2,999. The earbuds compete against the likes of devices such as the Realme Buds Q2, the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro, and a few more ANC-enabled TWS under 3K. Although the earbuds are officially priced at 3K, they are available at Rs 2,499 on Flipkart for a limited period. But how do these earphones perform and should you consider them over other competitors in this price range? We’re going to find out. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods: Build and comfort

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

Sporting a rectangular-shaped charging case with a matte texture, the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods have a mediocre build and design. These earphones are available in two simple colours – White and Black. We got the latter for review and it looked pretty ordinary. There’s nothing eye-catching about the case, there’s a simple Boult Audio logo on top. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

The matte texture is resistant to fingerprints but can get smudged and scratched. There’s an LED indicator on the front, a USB-C charging port on the left and a pairing button inside the case. The case has a pretty sizable footprint but is slim enough to fit in pockets easily. The case’s hinge feels very rickety and we’re worried if it will stand the test of time. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

As for the earbuds, they also sport a larger footprint than what we usually see these days. The buds have very long stems with the Boult Audio logo on the back. The top part of the stems is a touch-sensitive surface for gesture input for music and call controls. The touch controls work decently well but there are some misreadings every now and then. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

The earbuds’ have an angled design for better fit and comfort. The buds fit moderately well but if you have smaller ears than usual, you may have difficultly finding the perfect fit with the provided ear tips. They are comfortable to wear but the long stems add some heft to the buds, so you may feel some discomfort after a few hours.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods: Features

The Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods comes packing features such as Active Noise Cancellation, Ambient Mode, IPX7 water resistance and USB Type-C connectivity. The earbuds’ do a mediocre job cancelling out ambient sounds when on the ANC mode but they don’t match up to the performance of the Realme Buds Air 2 which cancels some ambient sounds more effectively.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

The Soulpods can cancel low, constant sounds such as an AC drone, flight rumble, and more but has a hard time with anything else. The Ambient Mode on these earbuds work well and amplify surrounding sounds. 

There’s no companion app support, so you cannot customise these earbuds at all. You get an excellent companion app with Realme earbuds, so if you like tweaking your earbuds’ controls, look elsewhere. The earbuds have touch controls that can be used to pause or play music, skip tracks, activate voice assistant and change noise cancellation modes. There are no volume controls, which is disappointing. 

There’s also mono bud use where you can use either bud independently of each other which is convenient. There’s no in-ear detection feature or gaming mode present on these buds, which is present in competitors such as the Realme Buds Air 2 and Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro. The IPX7 rating means that you can use these earbuds when working out or in light rain.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods: Performance

The Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods feature 10mm drivers and support the SBC and AAC codecs. The earbuds can get pretty loud, although we wouldn’t advise you to listen at over 80 percent volume since the sound begins to distort past this level. The Airbass Soulpods come with a bass-boosted, dark sound profile with boosted bass, decent mids, and underemphasised highs. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

Uncompensated frequency response graph of Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods (Orange) vs Flat Response (Blue)

In the frequency graph generated for the Airbass Soulpods, the range up to 250Hz is massively boosted. This means the bass response has a lot of heft to it, so much so that it ends up sounding a bit muddy at times. The exaggerated bass response may appeal to bassheads especially when listening to genres such as rap, pop, hip hop, EDM, and Bollywood. However, we wish Boult Audio had tuned this part of the frequency range more conservatively as the boosted nature of the bass shrouds the details in the mids and highs. This happens since the mid-range and highs are muted in comparison to the lows. 

On its own, the mid-range sounds full-bodied and energetic and the highs sound pretty decent as well, but the lows simply overpower them both in most instances, especially in genres with a lot of bass presence. Even in rock tracks, the drums overpower the lead vocals and instruments. 

However, these earbuds aren’t as dark and muddy sounding as the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro that is priced the same. The Realme Buds Air 2 and the cheaper Realme Q2 do have a more balanced sound signature though while still sounding dynamic and fun and we prefer that over the Airbass Soulpods’ sound profile.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

Uncompensated frequency response graph of Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods (Orange) vs Realme Buds Q2 (Yellow)

As for microphone performance, the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods really surprised us with its performance here. The microphone picks up sound well and produces natural-sounding voices during calls with minimal distortion. This is possibly due to the long stem design of the earbuds and the lower positioning of the mics. You won’t have any problem making calls with these buds. 

Moving on to wireless connectivity, the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods is powered by Bluetooth version 5.0 which is a step down from competitors such as the Realme Buds Q2 and Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro that come with Bluetooth 5.2. We faced a lot of issues when pairing this device and with subsequent connections. At times, when you try to connect the earbuds only one side turns on and connects to your paired device, and this can get frustrating very quickly. 

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods review

Also, the buds would sometimes disconnect from the source device and we would have to put them in the charging case and remove them to connect again. This didn’t happen too often, but pairing the buds to a device for the first time is a hassle since it doesn’t happen as seamlessly as we’d hoped. The buds also have a slight delay between video and audio and there’s no gaming or low latency mode, so you’ll have to make do with the delay. It isn’t too jarring, but it’s present nonetheless.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods: Battery life

The Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods’ battery life is rated at 24 hours, earbuds and charging case combined. The buds themselves at rated at 6 hours of wireless playback time on a single charge. If you turn the ANC feature on, the earbuds’ battery life drops lower. 

In our testing, we recorded 4.5 hours of playtime on the buds alone with ANC turned on. The case provided 3-4 additional charges. There’s no fast charging support on these earbuds and they charge up to full in about 2 hours. The battery life is mediocre and competitors like the Realme Buds Q2 with its 28-hour battery life and Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro with a whopping 30 hours of total battery life easily outperform the Airbass Soulpods.

Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods: Verdict

Priced at Rs 2,999, the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods are a decent option for those who want to immerse themselves in the world of ANC without breaking the bank. However, with many brands offering the same and more at under 3K, the Boult Audio Airbass Soulpods struggles to stand out in this segment. While the earbuds have a bass-boosted sound signature that would be liked by bass lovers and a great microphone, the sound signature is a bit too dark and muddy, the wireless connectivity is unreliable, and the battery life is nothing to write home about. Options such as the Realme Buds Q2, The Realme Buds Air 2, and the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro offer more value for money be it with an excellent companion app or with aptX adaptive Bluetooth codec support. It is hard to recommend the Airbass Soulpods over those earphones simply because they provide more bang for your buck.

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