Review: Wicked Audio Endo Bluetooth Headphones
Wicked Audio's Endo Bluetooth headphones are on-ear cans for those who don't need or want advanced features. This affordable headset is a no-frills offering that delivers basic Bluetooth performance for listening on the go.
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High-end headphones with tools like active noise cancellation are great, but they're hardly a necessity for many people. While some strive to find the best-possible set of speakers when listening to music, others are satisfied with good-enough performance that simply gets the job done.
The Endo headphones from Wicked Audio address this latter category. With an ultra-low price point, they aim for people who prefer simplicity and affordability.
The Endos are on-ear headphones, which rest on top of your earlobes rather than envelop them completely. This form factor mostly isolates your ears from the outside world, while still allowing at least some ambient sound in.
The Endo has a hard plastic headband with some padding on the inside and outside of the curve where it sits on the top of your head. The plastic band has plenty of flexibility. I like that the cups have dual hinges: you can rotate them so the headphones lay relatively flat, or fold them up into the headband for more compact carrying.
I generally prefer the superior sound experience offered by over-the-ear headphones, but if I'm listening for a long time, I find on-ear headphones to be the most comfortable style. The Endo headphones rest gently on your head, aren't too heavy, and are comfortable for hours at a time. The leather ear cups are stuffed with padding that help provide a sound barrier. The Endos never felt too tight. If anything, they were slightly loose. When walking around with the Endos on I was nervous they'd flop off a few times. You definitely cannot wear these during any sort of vigorous exercise.
All of the controls are located on the right side, tucked into the bottom of the cup. This makes them easily accessible with your right thumb when you reach up. There's a small, circular power button, plus dedicated up and down volume keys. The power button is the most forward of these three controls and it doubles as a play/pause and call answer/end key. It's got a decent profile and travel and feedback are good. The separate volume keys, which are also round, can be somewhat frustrating. A quick press will jump forward or backward a track. If you want to adjust the volume, you have to press and hold. I often jumped a track when I intended to raise the volume. That got old really quick.
There are two ports on the right cup, as well: microUSB for charging and 3.5mm headset jack for wired listening if the battery runs out. This is a great fallback feature that I like to see on Bluetooth headphones. (Sound via the 3.5mm headset jack will vary depending on the power of your phone's amplifier.)
The Endos do not come with a storage bag, but do include a headphone cable and USB cable for charging.
Wicked Audio did a decent job assembling the Endos. These headphones include the basic set of features and controls I want from on-ear headphones. I wish the materials were a bit more impressive. Aside from the padded leather, the bulk of the housing is made from a soft-touch plastic The band is strong, though I worry just a bit about the hinge that holds each ear bud to the frame. They are somewhat loose. I also fear they might crack if compressed in a backpack or something.
The Endos come in a single color: black. There's nothing flashy about them. I'd call them pretty boring from a design viewpoint.
The Endo ships with Bluetooth 4.1 aboard. I didn't have any trouble pairing the Endo to several different phones via each phone's Bluetooth menu. I like that turning the Endos on automatically puts them in pairing mode. The Bluetooth connection is good for the standard 30 feet (10m). You can step away from your phone and not lose the connection as long as you don't go too far. In my tests, I found the Bluetooth radio did well with respect to seamless playback. Though I did experience a few drops and blips here and there, they were minimal.
Wicked Audio bestowed the Endos with 40mm drivers with a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This is pretty standard for on-ear headphones.
The packaging and marketing materials talks about "Earth shattering, rock you to the core, ghetto blaster bass!" and it's clear that's how the Endo are tuned. The headphones are a solid option for bass-heavy pop and R&B music styles. I streamed much of today's Top 40 to the Endos and the headphones delivered punchy bass with muted mids and highs. When I switched to other music styles, such as rock, metal, and acoustic, I found the Endos weren't as enjoyable. They keep the bass-heavy tuning no matter the style you prefer, and there is no app to adjust the EQ. Left with nothing but the sound-shaping tools of Spotify, Google Music, and iTunes, I wasn't able to get the sound I really wanted from the Endos for my favorite rock tracks. Highs sounded a bit muffled to me, as though they are fighting for headroom in the drivers.
The on-ear design mean you can still hear the outside environment. The Endos do provide some passive sound isolation, but not enough to transport you away from the din. You really have to crank the volume to overcome the shriek of subway trains and general ruckus of crowds when walking around the city. If you're listening in your bedroom at home, the Endo produce more than enough volume for comfortable listening.
Battery life isn't the best, though I suppose it isn't horrible. Wicked Audio says the Endos deliver between 8 and 9 hours of music playback time. I typically got just over 8 hours during my tests. That allowed me to enjoy the headphones during a day trip into NYC during which I spent plenty of time commuting with tunes pouring into my ears. Competing headphones offer twice as much battery life, however, and that leaves me wanting more from the Endos.
Some good news. The Endos only require about 1.5 hours to charge fully. That's nice and quick.
The Wicked Audio Endo Bluetooth headphones are more for the general listener than the audiophile. Discerning sound freaks may be unhappy with the bass-leaning sound. I prefer headphones that can adapt well to a range of music styles.
Perhaps the in-ear buds that came with your smartphone don't get the job done, or you're looking to make the jump from wired to wireless headphones for the first time. Maybe you're on a tight budget, or have a teenager in mind? In these cases, the Wicked Audio Endo makes sense. At just $45, these on-ear wireless headphones offer more value than most. Sometimes practicality must win, and the Endos are surely a practical purchase.
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