True wireless headphones are at an all-time high. With people doing more around the house or on the go, they’re simply earlier than traditional headphones and far more portable. Many device manufacturers are also moving more towards Bluetooth, making the options range from a phone to a Nintendo Switch. Naturally, this makes the market extremely competitive, with countless brands offering their own take on the concept. One of the most recent is iLive’s new genuinely wireless noise-canceling earbuds, model IAEBT411, which boasts several features at a very affordable price. With so much going on, are they a winner or a dud?
We don’t usually cover more lifestyle products, so iLive offers a real change of pace from the sleek and modern look we typically see from gaming or tech products. Instead of highlighting the product, iLive highlights the use case of their truly wireless noise-canceling earbuds. It makes for a different experience that makes it stand out in its own way. Some features are mentioned, along with the front flap opening to proudly display their product.
Upon picking up their genuinely wireless noise-canceling earbuds, it’s clear iLive is going for the AirPod market. The look, feel, style and even positioning of many elements immediately make me think of Apple’s AirPods Pro. It’s almost uncanny how similar the two products look. Where it is more evident is the gap on the front. iLive is slightly larger, though the overall styling is so similar you likely wouldn’t think twice about it unless you examined their case. Naturally, it doesn’t quite capture the finer points that are so uniquely Apple.
The back opening is plastic on iLive’s model, whereas Apple uses just a little bit of metal to add some style. The space also doesn’t feel as satisfying. A strong swing can open genuinely wireless noise-canceling earbuds, whereas AirPods won’t budge due to a magnet holding them in place. They also tend to have a floppy door that can randomly close or move while in motion, something many brands avoid in various ways.
One feature I don’t typically mention is charging. While both devices have a port on the bottom, iLive put the indicator light down. I prefer this to Apple’s in the case design, though most other true wireless headsets we’ve reviewed have multiple lights on the front that are incredibly easy to read and understand. I might not need 100 percent with my EPOS headset and think 60 percent is acceptable, whereas it’s impossible to tell how far along iLive is. And while it is nice that there is a USB-C port, the included cable is about 1′ long and does not include anything else besides additional tips.
As for the actual earbuds, they also keep a very similar design to the AirPods Pro. They’re just missing some of Apple’s accent points for various features. Beyond that, nothing stands out besides it being a relatively thin plastic. When in pairing mode, it’s possible to see the red/blue LED shine through a considerable amount of the front and both sides of the plastic. In practice, this should not make a difference, just something that stands out with their design.
Comfort is one of the more vital points. I wouldn’t say iLive’s genuinely wireless noise-canceling earbuds are the most comfortable pair I’ve used, but they have a secure connection and are firmly in place. They also beat out similarly priced options like 1More’s Comfobuds or, for a little more the base AirPods.
iLive Next to AirPods
Sound performance is going to vary. When I connected them to my iMac, I had frequent disconnects and issues, something that persisted after multiple pairing attempts. Performance on my iPhone 12 generally worked fine. I had a few disconnects once I got a considerable difference from my phone, but nothing like the previous attempt. The range is also pretty solid. I got the usual whole home coverage we’ve come to expect from Bluetooth five devices.
The actual sound performance was better than I expected. They could not achieve a full sound range nor match slightly more expensive products like AirPods. Still, for the money, they held their own. The sound just came out rather dull at lower volumes with punchy bass. It got better or worse depending on the sound, though overall, I can’t say someone in this range would be disappointed. Especially when you’re not used to knowing what you’re missing, to begin with.
LED Bleed on the Earbud
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) wasn’t particularly impressive. I tried it with my Dyson air multiplier, a test that ANC headsets usually do well with, and while it helped reduce some, it was still apparent without music playing. With actual sound, it depends on how loud the source is; after a certain point, you’d beat the sound regardless.
iLive Truly Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds (IAEBT411) Review Verdict
Overall, iLive truly wireless noise-canceling earbuds are in a weird place. For the price, they’re not the wrong product. The sound is good, but not great. Fit is secure if a bit tight. ANC is present, though it isn’t going to blow anyone away. Overall, if you’re at this level, I think they’re a solid choice, though I think some of the slightly more expensive options offer a better overall package.
[Editor’s Note: iLive truly wireless noise canceling earbuds were given to us for review purposes.]