TWS true wireless earphones - under $50
FOUR STARS - The QCY T18 finally brings multipoint connectivity to the masses. It's easy to connect these wireless earbuds to two devices at the same time and switch between them, but the T18 could make more out of it.
QCY T18 MeloBuds specs and features:
Bluetooth 5.2 with AAC and AptX Adaptive codec
No waterproof rating
7 hours playtime on a single charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 3 times
Comes with three sizes of ear tips and USB-C cable
Below this QCY T18 MeloBuds review, you will find comparisons of the QCY T18 vs QCY T13 and QCY T17.
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Design, comfort and battery life
Another two months, another QCY model? It seems that way. The QCY T18 MeloBuds has a good reason for existing though. It's the first model from the brand to implement multipoint connectivity - an long-awaited function by many Scarbir.com readers.
The design ticks all the basic boxes of wireless earbuds under 50 dollars. It's AirPods-like white, thin enough to slide into any pocket, and sturdy enough to survive a fall. The case can recharge the earbuds three times before needing new power via USB-C itself, and has a multi-colored LED-light on the front to indicate the remaining battery life.
The earbuds follow a proven formula. Short stems lead up to an oveal ear part that sits snugly and extremely comfortable in (medium-sized) ears. It feels compact and light in your ears, and is easy to wear for multiple hours without getting tired of them. Convenient, since the QCY T18 delivers up to 7 hours of playtime on a single charge.
Unfortunately, QCY doesn't provide a waterproof rating for the T18.
Controls and connectivity
The main selling point of the QCY T18? Multipoint connectivity - being able to connect with two devices at the same time!
Switching between these two devices works great. If you play a video on your laptop and receive a phone call on your phone, the T18 will switch towards the call. If you're playing a video on your laptop and start playing music on your phone - it will not only automatically switch; it will also pause the video. Playing music on your phone and entering a video conference call on your laptop? The sound will switch to your laptop automatically. Fantastic.
Some details aren't really worked out yet, just like on Apple's own AirPods. When you double-tap to pause the earbuds, the sound of your current device will stop. But when you tap pause again, the QCY doesn't always know which device to select, and doesn't resume playback on either device. Jumping back quickly to the latest device would have been more convenient - now you may have to tap the pause function more times to get back to where you left off.
Still: the QCY T18 finally brings solid multipoint connectivity to the masses. It works very well.
Happily, QCY wasn't too shy with the controls this time around:
Double-tap L or R to play/pause music
Hold R to skip a track
Hold L to return a track
Triple-touch L to activate the voice assistant
Triple-touch R to (de)activate the gaming mode
What's more, is that you can add single-tap controls via the free QCY Android and iPhone app - letting you add volume controls manually, or change other commands (except for the hold command).
The touch panels on top of the stems could have been more accurate: your number of taps isn't always registered well.
Calls, movies and games
With the multipoint connection, you'd hope the QCY T18 is great in handling both phone and video calls. Unfortunately, calling is only a partial success.
Your voice may appear a little sharp, but it's definitely loud and clear enough in both phone and video calls... when there isn't any noise around you.
Outside, wind and nearby sounds like accelerating traffic come through well and can battle your voice. Indoors, claps, slams and even loud keyboard clicks come through LOUD at first. It takes a while before the T18 picks them up and filters them, and when it does, it drags all the volume down, and your voice is just as inaudible as the sound effects. In short: suitable for quiet (indoor) areas only.
Video playback is flawless on Android and iPhone, and by activating the game mode, there's terrific synchronization of sound-effects in games with the action you see on screen. It's easy to enjoy some Call of Duty mobile action with these buds.
APP SUPPORT of QCY T18 MeloBuds
The QCY T18 enjoys support by the free QCY app on Android and iPhone, which asks a lot of permissions on Android, and gives just enough features in return:
See an (imprecise) indicator for the battery level of the earbuds
Select 5 equalizer presets (Pop, Bass, Rock, Soft, Classic)
Create your own equalizer
Change controls freely for single-tap, double-tap and triple-tap
Update the firmware
Being able to add and change controls is a welcome addition, and updating the firmware is too - as the T18 already had a good update in the end of May 2022 that cleared up the bass. The equalizers and custom EQ options are more usable than on many other QCY's, as these are your way out to tone down the massively boosted treble.
Compared to previous models, app support on the QCY T18 feels stable and is a welcome addition.
Sound quality of QCY T18: Treble-frenzy
Unfortunately, the T18 sounds a bit unpolished.
The QCY T18 happily boosts bass. There's a strong mid-bass thump that lacks precision, but is often laidback enough to hide its boominess. The sub-bass is more impressive. These darkest bass tones you can feel as much as hear, can give a proper and deep rumbling - shown well in James Blake's perfect test track Limit to Your Love. When the mid-bass kicks in or multiple basslines come together in songs, however, things can get a little muddy.
That said, the QCY T18 is really about treble. Upper-mids are elevated and sound more prominent than center-mids like guitars and piano play. Vocals have good clarity, but they also have a grainy edge and color music heavily. High outbursts can be sharp and sound metallic, while singers don't reach lower notes as easily. Both vocals and higher-pitched instruments like cymbals, claps and brighter electronic tones can be harsh and sibilant - meaning sss-sounds drag on a bit.
Prominent treble often means airiness, and QCY delivers in this regard. There's space around the higher frequencies, and in the mentioned test track, instruments come widely from your left and right. You have to increase the volume quite a bit to unlock this, however, and your ears will have to handle sharp treble in return.
This is where the custom equalization of the app comes in. It lets you alter the sound and tame the peaks, but you'll have to tweak yourself and things won't easily sound more natural. There's also another feature of the T18, called Snapdragon Sound - but as only very few phones support it, chances are big it doesn't do anything for you. I couldn't test it.
If you're aiming for the multipoint connectivity specifically and care less about sound refinement, it's good to know the T18 covers the basics well. It has enough volume on iPhone and Android, and voices have excellent clarity for podcasts, videos, or calls.
QCY T18 comparisons
As there aren't any other affordable earbuds with good multipoint connectivity, I'm doing fewer comparisons than normal.
QCY T18 vs QCY T13
You can save yourself some money when multipoint connectivity isn't a requirement. The $25 QCY T13 has less controls on the earbuds, but rocks 7,5 hours battery life on a single charge, also has a gaming mode, and provides more consistent call quality. The T13 puts vocals less forward than the T18, and because it also doesn't elevate treble the same way, it retains more of the singers character: it's better in presenting vocals warmer or darker when needed. The T13 sub-bass shakes more controlled, lower-mids are more boosted, and the mid-bass is more in-your-face. It has a warmer sound than the T18, which throws in a ton more clarity and air in the sound, but sounds more sibilant (emphasizing ssss-sounds) and metallic as a result.
QCY T13 review ($25)
QCY T18 vs QCY T17
The QCY T17 is the clear-sounding counterpart to the QCY T13, but even this $20 model isn't nearly as bright as the QCY T18. Yes, it lifts treble, but upper-mids and highs are more harmonic than on the T18; vocals are more laidback, and treble doesn't necessairily outperform the lower frequencies. The T18 again has a ton more air in the sound, but again: at the cost of sharpness and a vast metallic underlining on higher vocals. The T17 is easier to listen to.
QCY T17 review ($20)
While it amazes with its multipoint connectivity on a budget, the QCY T18 also feels a bit like an example model for future affordable multipoint earbuds, that offer better call quality and more refined sound.
Four stars - Good
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