SoundPEATS T3 review: Are these cheap ANC earbuds worth buying?

TWS true wireless earphones - under $50

THREE STARS - The SoundPEATS T3 offers ANC active noise cancelling for a small price - but don't expect too much out of it.

SoundPEATS T3 specs and features:

Below this SoundPEATS T3 review, you will find comparisons of the SoundPEATS T3 vs SoundPEATS T2, Tronsmart Onyx Apex, and Realme Buds Air 2.

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Design, comfort and battery life

In SoundPEATS' extensive lineup of affordable wireless earbuds, the T3 is the entry-level model with ANC active noise cancelling. It's positioned just under the $55 SoundPEATS T2, coming in at a tempting 35 to 40 dollars.

To be honest: the product looks like what you'd expect for the price. Like the recently released SoundPEATS Air3, the case is matte-black and feels cheap. It's a bit stronger than the Air3's case, but also bigger - perhaps just a bit too thick to comfortably rest into a jeans pocket.

The earbuds are easy to pick up from the grey inlay and look and feel robust. They combine a short stem with a subtle, oval upper part that feels a tad full yet comfortable in your ears. The T3 has a snug fit, and while it doesn't have an official waterproof rating, it should stay in tight enough during runs and workouts.

SoundPEATS mainly advertises an 'up to 16,5 hours playtime' battery life on its case, but that's a deceptive number as it includes two full recharges of the case when the earbuds are empty. The earbuds' playtime is noticeably shorter: 4 hours with ANC on, and around 5,5 hours with the function turned off. When the case is empty, you can recharge it by USB-C - wireless charging isn't supported.

Controls and connectivity

The SoundPEATS T3 has touch panels on the round surfaces of both earbuds and responds well to your input. The only thing missing from the control scheme is the option to return a song:

  • Double-tap L or R to play/ pause music

  • Tap R to increase the volume

  • Tap L to decrease the volume

  • Hold R to skip to the next track

  • Hold L to cycle between ANC on, ANC off, and Transparency mode

  • Triple-tap L or R to activate the voice assistant

Switching between the ANC functions is confirmed by a convenient voice prompt. A slow, cheap-sounding beep follows up other commands.

The overall connectivity on the T3 is solid. The Bluetooth signal keeps stable up to ten meters away from your device, and it's possible to switch between listening to one or two earbuds at all times - for instance, when you're charging one earbud while using the other. The T3 doesn't automatically pause music playback when you take an earbud out.

Calling and watching movies

It's doable to take a phone call with the SoundPEATS T3. Your voice has plenty of volume and sounds clear. Outside, sudden background noises are distorted but still pretty loud - such as chatter or accelerating scooters. When the T3 takes in these sounds, the mic output becomes compressed, and it can sound like you're talking into an intercom. This makes the T3 less ideal to use to make a call outdoors - although you can do so if you need to.

For video calls in quieter indoor areas, like Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, the microphone does an outstanding job of making you sound loud and clear.

Video playback is flawless on the T3, with perfect synchronization between audio and video on iPhone and Android. There is a noticeable delay in sound effects when you're playing games. Unlike the SoundPEATS Air3, the T3 doesn't have a low-latency mode to reduce this delay.

ANC Noise cancelling test of SoundPEATS T3

Surprisingly, the SoundPEATS T3 defaults to the Transparency mode when you turn it on. You can switch to ANC on and ANC off with a long-press of the left earbud, each action confirmed by a voice prompt.

ANC mode quality: Unfortunately, the ANC active noise cancelling on the SoundPEATS T3 is disappointing. Sounds around you are dampened in volume output, and constant lighter background sounds (like distant traffic) are reduced pretty well. However, all frequencies still come through, whether they are darker sounds from fans and fridges or sudden sounds like chatter and claps. They are still very audible. Round earbuds without ANC can block almost as much noise as these do with ANC.

Transparency mode quality: The Transparency mode, intended to let you hear traffic or chatter around you in moments you need it, is the default setting of the T3. A weird choice, probably made to emphasize the ANC strength? It's called Passthrough-mode here, and while it does let you hear traffic and chatter around you in a fairly natural way, the effect is lost when you turn the music volume up further than around 40 percent.

Wind noise reduction: While the ANC mode of the SoundPEATS T3 does a decent job of ruling out wind noise while you're using the function, the Transparency mode that's on by default lets in a ton of wind noise, even when there isn't much wind. Happily, you can switch to ANC off to rule out all wind noise, and the sound character of the earbuds doesn't change when you do.

Sound quality of SoundPEATS T3: QUiet please

The SoundPEATS T3 can play music from soft enough for bed-proof and background listening to plenty loud. Whether you want to listen to it on higher volumes is another question.

The T3 puts female and higher-pitched male vocals forward, giving them a prominent role in the music. This emphasis makes music on lower volumes sound clear, but doesn't necessarily results in more vocal nuances on moderate volumes. And on active listening levels, things just start to derail.

Near and beyond the middle of the volume bar on iPhone and Android devices, higher tones can become painfully harsh, thin, and just tonally off. Singers and other upper-mids like lighter piano play and cymbals sound too light or too loud, or both, making the sound so bright they're taking the rest of the music hostage. It's not that the T3 has more treble than many other earphones - it's just not balanced well. When it enters, music feels shaky.

In genres without too much higher frequencies, like instrumental techno, jazz, or nightly blues, the T3 sounds quite nice. It's here where the bass and lower mid-tones can capture the stage, and you'll also feel a bit of spaciousness in the music - with instrumental details coming from your left and right. Especially the mid-bass on the T3 does a solid job of energizing the music, with loosely rumbling yet fast tumps. The sub-bass (the darkest tones you should feel as much as hear) doesn't strike very deep and isn't very precise, but at least, it adds in on the rumbly fun the T3 offers in its lows.

At some point, however, you may want to listen to some vocals as well - and that just isn't a very pleasant experience on the T3.

SoundPEATS T3 comparisons

SoundPEATS T3 vs SoundPEATS T2

The SoundPEATS T2 is slightly more expensive than the newer T3. It offers noticeably better noise-cancelling, ruling out more darker and lighter sounds from your surroundings - although there is a problem where some users hear processing noise while using the function. While the T2 also doesn't have the tightest bass, its sound is more pleasant than the T3, with a warmer undertone, more detail in the lower mid-tones, and quicker rolled-off upper-mids and highs to ensure a more comfortable listen. The T2 has up to twice the battery life on a single charge and handles outdoor calls better than the T3.

SoundPEATS T3 vs Realme Buds Air 2

The active noise cancelling on the Realme Buds Air 2 is slightly more effective for darker background sounds than the SoundPEATS, although it does come with an audible white noise- and echo effect - which doesn't make it very usable. The Realme has comparable battery life, yet is more capable of handling outdoor phone calls, has a thinner charging case, and sounds better as well. The Buds Air 2 has a comparable neutral-cold tonality, but keeps vocals and upper-mids better in control. The bass is a little sloppy on both earbuds, yet the Realme balances the different frequencies out better.

SoundPEATS T3 vs Tronsmart Onyx Apex

The $40 Tronsmart Onyx Apex is a direct competitor to the SoundPEATS T3, and while its ANC noise-cancelling is a laugh even more so than the SoundPEATS, it does score better on other aspects. Its Transparency mode is more functional if you want to hear your surroundings while listening to music, battery life is slightly stronger, and it's more musical. The Onyx Apex bass doesn't strike as hard or fast but still provides enough energy to the music. Music has a warmer undertone, and while vocals are forward, highs roll off quicker than on the SoundPEATS, making them friendlier yet still engaging to listen to.

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Earbuds with ANC well under 50 dollars? The SoundPEATS T3 seems like a great deal, but it isn't - with its disappointing active noise cancelling and unbalanced sound.

THREE stars - Worth considering

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I bought the SoundPEATS T3 myself to test and review. My reviews are 100% independent and non-commercial. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.

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