True wireless earbuds have rapidly become the next ‘battleground’ in tech, with Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and more battling it out for people’s hear holes. However, not everyone is sold on true wireless earbuds, and many can’t afford — or don’t want to fork out the money for — expensive buds.
Unsurprisingly, several companies offer cheaper earbuds in an attempt to capitalize on those who don’t want the expensive offerings from the big players, but still want the benefits of true wireless earbuds. One such company, Swedish audio brand Defunc, recently launched a line of true wireless earbuds. Available in Canada, the line includes the ‘True Go Slim’ and ‘True Plus’ earbuds as well as the premiere ‘True Gaming’ earbuds, which the company sent over for me to test out.
At $135 CAD, the Defunc True Gaming earbuds come in cheaper than Samsung’s $199 Galaxy Buds+, Apple’s $219 AirPods (without the wireless charging case) and Google’s $239 Pixel Buds. And while low-cost earbuds may be enticing, it could be worth putting down the extra $60 to $100 on a better pair of earbuds.
Shaped liked AirPods, not shaped for my ears
Defunc’s True Gaming buds look a lot like AirPods Pro, but bigger. The ones I reviewed came in a half-matte, half-glossy black colour, but they also come in a white colour that looks more like AirPods and an olive-like green shade. However, the shape isn’t much of an issue in my eyes — AirPods have that ‘coolness’ factor about them, so it comes as no surprise that companies try to imitate that style.
The bigger issue with the True Gaming buds, at least for me, is that the size makes them an uncomfortable fit for my ears. I could make them more bearable by adjusting the ear tips, but wearing them always reminded me more of the chunky in-ear wired buds I bought for $10 in high school than the more premium feel I’d expect from $135 earbuds. Coming from Microsoft’s excellent Surface Earbuds, which I find to be among the most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn, makes the feeling worse. I think someone coming from a typical pair of in-ear earbuds with rubber tips would likely feel right at home with these.
Speaking of the rubber tips, I found I had to get the seal just right before the sound became decent. I’ll dig into the sound more below, but if the earbuds weren’t pushed in enough, they sounded hollow and quiet.
For all my distaste over the size, the True Gaming earbuds were impressively light and, if it weren’t for the uncomfortable ear tips, I think I could wear these for hours without issue.
Also on the upside was battery life. The earbuds support Bluetooth 5.0 and offer a solid five to six hours of active playtime. The case offers an additional four or five charges, making for earbuds that can last a while. The case doesn’t support wireless charging, unfortunately, but does use USB-C so it should work with almost every phone charger out there (unless you’ve got an iPhone).
Sounds about how I expect for $135
For me, comfort and battery life are the most integral factors with true wireless earbud. Sound is also important, but I’m willing to trade sound quality for the other features.
If you’re not like me, you may want to look elsewhere. The True Gaming earbuds sound all right to me, but I’m not exactly an audiophile. My fiancé, who happens to be a musician, also found the sound okay, but suggests liberal EQ use can fix most of the issues. Additionally, the True Gaming earbuds tend to be top-heavy, so if you’re not a fan of bass, you’ll miss it with the default sound profile.
Interestingly, the True Gaming earbuds also offer a ‘gaming mode.’ In typical gaming accessory fashion, however, the ‘gaming’ features don’t really add much to the experience. Defunc says that the gaming mode gives players 360-degree surround sound and low-latency. For me, I’d never rely on wireless earbuds for any serious gaming and as of writing I’d yet to find anything that surpassed the sound of the wired headphones I currently use. Still, the Defunc True Gaming earbuds could work well in a pinch if you want wireless earbuds, but I’d avoid the gaming mode if possible.
In my testing, it made the sound noticeably worse and added no real benefit. This is doubly true if you want to listen to music in the gaming mode. Plus, enabling the gaming mode turns on the blue LEDs on the stem of each earbud, which increases drain on the battery and is largely pointless since you can’t see them in your ears to appreciate the extra lights.
One thing to be aware of is that these earbuds don’t have active noise cancellation (ANC). Frankly, I’ve never wanted ANC in earbuds like this — I find it much more effective in over-ear headphones — so it doesn’t bother me, but some might find the lack of ANC frustrating.
Not all bad
However, the True Gaming buds aren’t all bad. In my testing, I found they worked well when on phone calls. This doubles for gaming if you want to use these as a headset to chat with friends and teammates.
Moreover, I appreciated the charging case, which was smaller than most other earbuds and also super light. Granted, that’s likely because the case is mostly plastic, but I liked that I didn’t feel it in my pocket.
Ultimately, I think the Defunc True Gaming earbuds are generally all right, although $135 might be a steep ask for them. If you really care about comfort, gaming and sound quality, it may be worth looking at something a little more expensive and perhaps with ANC. However, if you see them on sale for a good price, I’d say go for it.
I also want to make it clear that my primary issues with the True Gaming earbuds stem from its gaming mode and fit. To that end, the fit is something that’s much more subjective and someone with a different ear shape and size than me may find they fit better. The gaming mode, on the other hand, isn’t much of a value add. Because of that, I think it’d be worth considering one of Defunc’s other options, like the $108 True Plus or $67 True Go Slim.
Although I haven’t tested these myself, they do offer a different shape that may be more comfortable. Further, these other earbuds have a clear focus on music, which could mean you’ll get a better sound. Either way, if the other Defunc earbuds are equivalent to the True Gaming buds on sound, the price makes them a much better value option.