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Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen true wireless headphones review: Not quite there

July 30th, 2021 at 12:11 PM

True wireless headphones are everywhere these days, but they’re not created equal. While the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro are easy sells thanks to their high quality, if you don’t want to spend as much cash, you’ll need to do a little more research. Happy Plugs thinks it has the solution with the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones.

The Air 1 Zen headphones are clearly AirPods Pro clones, thanks to their angled stem design. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Are the Happy Plus Air 1 Zen headphones worth buying? I’ve been testing them for a while now to find out.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen design

Right from the get-go, you can see similarities between the Air 1 Zen headphones and Apple’s AirPods Pro. While the Air 1 Zen headphones come in more colors, they have Apple’s angled stem look, and the same overall shape. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that these headphones have a button on each bud, instead of the touch-sensitive stem on the AirPods Pro. The buttons are relatively easy to use, but you’ll have to get used to the controls and how they work.

The charging case has a USB-C port on the bottom, along with a pairing button, and a set of lights to indicate charging status. It’s relatively compact and should be easy to fit in a pocket or bag, but it’s definitely bigger than the AirPods Pro case.

As mentioned, the headphones are available in a range of colors. I’m reviewing the “Mint Green” model, but they also come in pink, white, black, and silver.

Generally speaking, the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones look good, thanks largely to the fact that they copy the AirPods Pro.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen features and battery

There’s one area in which the Air 1 Zen headphones are nothing like the AirPods Pro — features. That’s to say, you won’t get Spatial Audio or Automatic Switching here.

Ultimately, the Air 1 Zen headphones don’t really offer any extra features. They’re Bluetooth earbuds, and nothing more. Don’t be fooled by the company’s claim of “passive noise cancelation.” While technically true, that just means that they naturally block out some noise — like all headphones. There’s no active noise cancelation here.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen In CaseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Unfortunately, the Bluetooth performance on offer by these headphones was pretty spotty, sometimes losing connectivity completely. At times, the headphones went slightly out of sync, creating an echo effect. Cool for two seconds, annoying for any longer. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, and connectivity was usually only momentarily lost. But at this point in time, true wireless headphones should offer a better connection than this.

The battery life of the headphones isn’t bad. You’ll get six hours of use on a single charge, and a total of 30 hours with the battery case.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen comfort

Generally speaking, the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones are comfortable, and easy to wear for longer periods of time. That’s good news — considering the fact that true wireless headphones are usually bulkier than their wired counterparts.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen ComfortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

One of the best things about these headphones is that they offer a good fit, at least for my ears. They’re not big enough to be uncomfortable, but they are big enough to create a good seal that ensures they remain in your ears.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen sound

The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones offer a relatively deep sound quality that isn’t necessarily for audiophiles but should please most listeners.

The bass response, for starters, is heavy and deep. Kick drums offer plenty of oomph, while bass guitars and synthesizers are front and center. It does overshadow other aspects of the headphones a little, but it’s not too muddy or over-the-top.

The mids are decently tuned, with an emphasis on the warm, low mids, and a dip in the high mids. The result is that things like vocals and guitars can feel a little tucked away.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen BudsImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The highs aren’t as clear or as detailed as I would have liked. It’s not terrible, but cymbals feel a little midsy, doing away with the sheen you would expect from them.

Along with the connectivity issues, the headphones also have pretty bad connection noise. It’s really only noticeable when you’re not listening to anything, but still annoying.

Conclusions

The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones are a little hit and miss. The headphones don’t look or sound bad, but they suffer from some connectivity issues. That said, the headphones are only $80 — so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be perfect.

The competition

If you want to buy a pair of true wireless headphones for under $100, we recommend looking elsewhere. JLab Audio makes a range of great headphones at a low price, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are exactly $100. The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen don’t really do enough to beat out the competition.

Should I buy the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen?

No. You should consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus instead.




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