The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen are the company’s offering for a more budget-friendly priced pair of true wireless earbuds from the Air 1 range touting an antibacterial design and up to 30 hours of listening. The term “budget-friendly” is relative to Happy Plugs other true wireless earbuds, the Air 1 Zen will set you back around £70.
Air 1 Zen
The Air 1 Zen are available in a handful of colour choices, including mint, pink gold, silver. For this review, I’ve been testing the mint colour of the earbuds which I quite like, with so many true wireless earbuds coming in white or black finishes – it’s nice to see something with a splash of colour.
The earbuds feature a lightweight plastic construction that feels solid and well made. The earbuds feature a short stem design like the Air 1 ANC I reviewed last year, I quite like the design of these types of earbuds as I prefer having a stem but these are nice as it does not stick out of your ears as much as AirPods, for example.
The earbuds have a simple and minimal design. The outer side features a couple of holes for microphones that are using when making a phone call with the earbuds, the outer sides also feature physical buttons for controlling the earbuds which play a subtle feedback sound when pressed so you know the press has been registered. The button controls feature both track and volume controls which is fantastic, as there’s no need to get your phone out to make simple adjustments to your listening experience – the controls are also straightforward to get your head around, which is nice.
There are some charging pads on the bottom of each earbud stem which are used to charge the earbuds when they are placed in their charging case. The underside of the earbuds features some minimal Happy Plugs branding as well as an ear indicator, so you know which ear the earbud does in. Unfortunately, there are no ear detection sensors on these earbuds, so you’ll need to make use of those button controls.
The earbuds feature a rubber ear-tip design which I have found very comfortable to use. The ear-tips provide a secure fit in the ear and the lightweight design of the earbuds also makes them comfortable to use for long periods, I also found the shape of the earbuds to be good and I did not find them uncomfortable to wear. The ear-tips offer a good amount of passive isolation from the environment around you and there are also five alternative ear-tip sizes included in the box.
I really like the design of these earbuds overall; they don’t stray too far from the designs found in some of the other Air 1 earbuds range – but that’s not a bad thing. They’re comfortable to wear and I like how there are a couple of different colour options available.
The charging case for the Air 1 Zen isn’t the smallest but is still pocketable and easy to carry around. The colour of the case matches the colour of the earbuds and features a silver band around the design which separates the case from the lid. Like the earbuds, the charging case feels well made and features a sturdy hinge that isn’t flimsy. The earbuds are magnetically held within the case to prevent them from slipping out.
The bottom of the case features a repairing button, USB Type-C charging port and four LED indicator lights which can show both the charging status of the case and light up when the earbuds themselves are charging.
The Air 1 Zen features 10mm drivers which provide a punchy and warm listening experience. This sound signature does focus on the bass, so it doesn’t provide as much of a balanced experience across the audio spectrum in comparison to other earbuds that I’ve looked at in the past. This isn’t a bad thing though and really depends on how you like earbuds to sound, I imagine these earbuds would bode well to fitness-buffs and gym-goers who wish to have a thumping beat accompanying them throughout their workout.
The mids and highs from the earbuds sound clear and pleasant to listen to in acoustic tracks and vocals are clear, however, I found that if I was listening to a song with prominent bass the highs could become crushed and lose their clarity – which is not good at all. This means the earbuds can struggle to offer a great listening experience across all the tracks I was listening to. So, I do wish that there was a little more brightness and clarity to the mid and higher end of the sound.
Unfortunately, Happy Plugs does not have an app that can be used to customise the EQ or change settings of the earbuds, any customisations you wish to do will need to be done in the app you listen to your music in. The earbuds do pack a punch, offering plenty of volume for listening, I found myself listening at around 40-50% volume.
I think if you’re a fan of a bass-focused sound, the Air 1 Zen do a good job at delivering that but it is a shame that it can struggle, at times, with the higher end of the audio spectrum such as vocals and percussion.
The Air 1 Zen feature 4 microphones which work together to reduce the background noise around you, making it easier for the person on the other end of the phone to hear you. The microphone picked up my voice well, albeit a little quietly, but my voice was clear and easy to hear.
The earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and utilise the SBC codec, it’s great to see that they’re supporting the latest Bluetooth version and not just sticking with Bluetooth 5.0. The earbuds also feature a sweat resistance rating, but I was unable to find an IP certification for the earbuds, but these should work fine for exercising in.
One of the main features of the earbuds is their antibacterial protection which should keep the earbuds looking clean and fresh throughout their lifetime of regular use. Of course, it’s still good to wipe down your earbuds if they are looking a little dirty, but this added protection should keep the earbuds looking good for longer.
The Air 1 Zen can provide up to 6 hours of listening on a single charge and can be extended by an additional 24 hours to give you up to 30 hours of total listening time with the charging case taken into account. This can vary depending on your listening conditions such as device and volume, but to be able to have over a day of listening out of the earbuds and charging case on a single charge is a great aspect.
When it does come to charging up the earbuds, that will take around an hour and a half to fully charge up again. It would’ve been nice to have seen some quick charging functionality in either the earbuds or the case, but I would like to see that in the future.
So, to conclude, the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen are a decent pair of punchy and bassy true wireless earbuds for gym-goers and those that like a thump to their music, but they were let down by their effectiveness at being able to maintain high-end clarity in various songs.
I think the bassy nature of the earbuds is great for exercise as you want to feel the beat to keep your rhythm, but if that’s not your focus and you just want great sound you may be better off looking at alternatives that can deliver better clarity for the money.
The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen true wireless earbuds are available to purchase directly from Happy Plugs.
The SummaryThe Summary
- Comfortable design for long listening.
- Great fit and sweat resistance for sports.
- Good passive isolation.
- Overpowering bass negatively affects treble.
- Microphones are clear but a little quiet.
- No fast charging.