I couldn’t resist.
I was looking around for potential headphones to review and stumbled upon Amazon’s Best Seller list. I’ve recently heard from an trustworthy industry insider who said Amazon sells 40% of all headphones sold in America. Their top seller’s got to be pretty good, right?
At the moment, the Cowin E7 is Amazon’s top selling wireless, noise canceling headphone and has a four star rating with 3,800+ reviews. We headphone geeks might recognize the brand, but I very much doubt if the average person has ever heard of Cowin. I thought maybe it’s just the cheapest Bluetooth, noise canceler on Amazon. Not even close; this one is $13.21! (How in the world do you even deliver the box for that price?) I tried to find a PR contact for Cowin for review samples to no avail. Oh well, it’s cheap enough…I just bought a pair. Let’s take a listen.
Cowin E7 Noise Canceling ($69)
The Cowin E7 is an over-ear, sealed, Bluetooth, noise canceling headphone. The styling is decidedly cheap and flashy in full-dress chromed plastic and fingerprint-magnet gloss black.
The headband and earpads must be a rather inexpensive grade synthetic leather, but frankly I found it had a better feel than I expected at this price. Headband and earpad cushions are not memory foam. Weighing in at 281 grams they’re a little heavy, and I do find the headband putting a little too much pressure at the top of my head. Caliper pressure is a bit tight for my slightly larger than average male head, but stretching out the headband relieved that some.
Size adjustment arms slide out from either end of the headband. Arms are detented, but the mechanism is rather stiff and difficult to adjust, though it does remain securely in place once adjusted.
Ear capsules rotate on swivels at headband arm ends, and rotate flat for transport and storagethey do not hinge inward to become more compact. These swivels do rattle a bit and rotate freely when not on the head, but once on the head the swivel friction increases significantly making it necessary to manually adjust ear capsule front-to-back rotation for best comfort.
Ear pad openings are about average at 53mm x 35mm, but are not very deep delivering a somewhat confining feeling when worn. Overall comfort is below average; I’d say the fit is more clumsy than painful.
The included cable is a tad short at 48″ and is terminated at either end with straight 3.5mm TRS plugs. It does not have a remote and the headphones will not act as a headset with cable installed. The cable enters the right earpiece slightly aft of center causing the cable to exit slightly rearward, so the cable can rub on your shoulder a little. Also included is a USB charging cable, and a faux-leather draw-string carry bag. A sturdier clam-shell carry case is optionally available.
The Cowin E7 has evidently undergone some changes to control functions at some point. Early Amazon reviews complained that the noise canceling would not work in wired mode.
Cowin did chime in when the change occurred in the Amazon FAQ area with the comment:
I am sorry for that, we decide to update e7 version.
And now, We won it.
1. Update noise canceling function.
2. Support Line in Noise Cancelling.
Cowin changed the internal configuration of the headphone to solve this complaint, unfortunately their solution was to use the 3.5mm jack to switch audio between the analog input from the cable and the Bluetooth audio prior to going into the noise canceling circuit. So now the headphone must be powered on in order to work over the cable and have noise canceling. This headphone will not work over the cable when batteries are dead. The headphone must be turned on for it to work over the cable. It will, however, operate in both wired and Bluetooth modes while charging. The battery takes about three hours to fully charge from empty and lasts a claimed 30 hours.
All user controls are on the right earpiece. The chrome triangle on the outside of the right earpiece provides up/down volume control and play/pause/answer functions. Oddly, the volume control using the corners of the forward leg of the triangle uses the top part to reduce volume and the bottom part to increase it, and momentary pushes do not toggle the volume up or downshort pushed command track forward or back. A long, continuous push is required; after about a second or so while pushing one corner the volume will begin to step up or down in about one second intervals. This is a very counter-intuitive control and many Amazon customer reviews complain the volume control doesn’t work…no doubt because they were pushing the button repeatedly rather than holding it down. The volume control does work in both wired and Bluetooth modes.
Other complaints I saw in Amazon comments were:
- Too much latency in Bluetooth mode. I did not experience this, latency on my devices seemed quite short.
- Poor mic audio quality in phone calls. I did find the voice mic quite tinny sounding, but adequate in volume and intelligibility.
- Of the 3800+ reviews, roughly 200 were one-star ratings, most complaining of loss of one channel or headband ends breaking within the first few months of ownership.
The E7 uses Bluetooth 4.0 and has NFC pairing. I found the BT range about average and pairing quite snappy and functional. I did, however, note that upon loosing signal it would require manual reconnection when back in range.
No further details about Bluetooth are available from the website or the (pretty poor) manual.
Kind of a mixed bag so far, but I have to admit styling, build quality, comfort, and functionality are a bit better than I expected for a $69 headphone. Let’s have a listen…..