The popularity and availability of true wireless earbuds continues to grow with this offering from Happy Plugs. The company’s Air 1 ANC earbuds come in as a competitor and alternative to Apple’s pricier AirPods Pro whilst still offering many of the amenities such as active noise cancellation, ear detection as well as wireless charging.
The Air 1 ANC’s come in at £129 in the UK and $149 in the US, making them a compelling option for a pair of true wireless earbuds with noise-cancelling functionality. If you’re looking for something in a different price bracket, take a look at some of the other earbuds we’ve reviewed.
The earbuds are available in a variety of different colours, so you can pick the best to suit your style, I’ve been testing out the black variant of the earbuds for this review. Happy Plugs has gone with a design choice that gives the Air 1 ANC a similar appearance to Apple’s AirPods Pro which does signify that these earbuds are going head-to-head with Apple’s offering.
The earbuds are constructed from plastic and are finished with a matte appearance which not only helps prevent grease and skin oils from making the earbuds slippery to the touch but it also will be better at ageing as the matte finish will be less prone to micro scratches than a glossy finish. There are also touches of metallic-looking elements which help break up the design from being overly-plastic looking and help add some premium visual flair to the design.
The overall design of the earbuds is very simplistic with minimal branding throughout – the Happy Plugs branding is on the inner side of the earbuds in a glossy black finish which is great if you don’t like visible logos on products. The outer side is plain and is home to the touch controls and microphones. The inner side of the earbuds features a proximity sensor to detect when the earbuds are in your ear.
The earbuds feature a rubber ear-tip design, with 5 additional sizes of tips included within the box allowing you to get the best fit, there are both conic and parabolic sizes included so you can pick your preference –I prefer the conic style as I find them more comfortable and I found the standard size to fit well and give me a secure fit.
As far as overall comfort goes, I found the earbuds very comfortable to wear when listening. The earbuds are lightweight which is beneficial for longer sessions and the design is ergonomic and well designed to fit comfortably within the ear – I also found it extremely easy to get a comfortable fit.
The charging case, like the earbuds, has a matte plastic finish with metallic-looking accents. The case feels well made and sturdy. The exterior has some Happy Plugs branding on the front and back sides with everything else being on the bottom.
On the bottom of the case is a button for checking the charge level of the case, this can also be held down for 10 seconds to reset the earbuds. There’s also a USB Type-C charging port for charging up the case and a 4 charge level indicator LEDs.
The inside of the charging case is simple, there are cut-outs for the earbuds and not much else. It’s easy to slot the earbuds into the charging case for when it is time to put them away to charge.
The Air 1 ANC sound fantastic for listening to a range of different musical genres with an emphasis on vocals and bass which are both easy to hear when listening. The emphasis on the bass does give the earbuds a warmer sound signature and it can be a little difficult to sometimes hear the details of some instruments which fall into the middle of the frequency spectrum as a result – but this can vary on a track by track basis, the earbuds have a good sound signature for electronic and pop music but if you’re looking for a detailed listening experience these may leave you looking for more as the soundstage does not feel expansive.
I found the earbuds to have a consistent sound throughout the different listening modes which is great as they provide the same experience regardless of whether you wish to use active noise cancelling or basic mode.
Aside from active noise cancellation, the earbuds also feature a transparency mode which can be beneficial if you want to be more aware of your surroundings or want to hear something that is going on without taking out the earbuds. I found both modes to work well, the ANC was able to remove much of the low-end frequency noise around me, only allowing slight amounts of high-frequency sound around me through – which I was impressed by.
The earbuds will always start-up in their ANC mode by default, it would’ve been nice for the earbuds to remember what mode was previously being used as it would further improve the experience of using the earbuds.
The microphones on these earbuds sound good for making phone calls or recording voice memos. My voice was able to be picked up clearly and at an audible volume, the microphones also feature ambient noise suppression to make your voice sound clearer when in a busy environment.
The Air 1 ANC include a range of technologies to make your listening more feature-packed. A handy feature is ear detection, which uses the proximity sensors located on the inner sides of the earbuds, this will automatically play and pause what you’re listening to when you remove one of the earbuds from your ear – which could be particularly useful if you need to have a conversation with someone.
The earbuds also feature touch controls on the top of the earbuds’ stems, allowing you to control the track, volume and listening mode of the earbuds. One thing I really like about these, in comparison to other earbuds, is that there is a feedback sound so you know the earbuds have received your touch on the controls.
Unfortunately, I could not find a mention of any IP water resistance rating which can be a drawback for some people – if you’re planning on exercising a lot with these earbuds, the Urbanista London earbuds may be a better choice which has an IPX4 water resistance rating – although the battery life is a little smaller.
The Air 1 ANC tout an impressive battery life of 5.5 hours with ANC turned on or 7 hours with it turned off. When you consider the charging case, that gives a total of 30 hours with ANC turned on and up to 38 hours with ANC turned off – which is very impressive and on the upper end of battery life of true wireless earbuds.
When it comes to charging the earbuds, the charging case supports both USB Type-C as well as wireless charging – with it taking just under 2 hours to fully charge up again. If you need a quick charge, 10 minutes of charging gives you an hour of listening time.
As an alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro at half the price, the Happy Plugs Air 1 ANC are a fantastic option. They are comfortable to wear and sound good for casual listening, they do lack an IP rating but make up for it with battery life and intuitive touch controls. The Air 1 ANC true wireless earbuds are available to purchase from the Happy Plugs website.
Happy Plugs Air 1 ANCHappy Plugs Air 1 ANC
- Comfortable design
- Long battery life
- Functional touch controls
- No IP water resistance rating
- Some tracks can lack mid-range detail
- Listening mode resets on new sessions