Review: Can the AU Stream Earbuds Set Themselves Apart from the AirPods?

The folks at Ausounds just announced, and sent me, their new AU Stream ANC ($149.95). The design clearly emulates the Apple AirPods, but that's a good thing. Apple has had several generations of the AirPods by now, yet they still have some deficiencies. And that's where the AU-Stream ANC can shine. They sound, look, and feel great, but so does the Apple version. So here are some differentiators.

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First, if you're sick of all-white Apple accessories, you will appreciate that the AU-Stream ANC comes in a matte black finish. Both the case and the earbuds are black, so you won't look like everybody else on the subway or at the gym. They still look like AirPods, just in black with the AU logo and with the extended stalk microphone, but that helps with the Active Noise Cancelling, hence the ANC name. While Apple has settled on a one-size-fits-all design, Ausounds includes three adaptors, small, medium and large, so that may be a plus or a minus, depending on your perspective. I was able to find the right size for me, but if you share your earbuds, you have to keep track of the extra tips.

Compared to Apple, they offer a couple hours more of talk time (five hours versus three) but both companies deliver five hours of music listening. The AU Stream ANC are waterproof with an IPX5 rating. I appreciated that they use both USB-C charging (instead of microUSB), but if you use Lightning, that's another cable to carry. Apple iPad Pro and MacBook owners probably already have USB-C cables. Or, you can leverage built-in Qi wireless charging, which is something Apple charges more for. Just provide your own charging pad. With the price savings versus Apple, you could buy a couple of Qi pads.

Pros

  • Matte black finish
  • Active noise canceling
  • Decent battery life of five hours
  • Waterproof (IPX5 rating)
  • Wireless and USB-C charging

Cons

  • Uses size adaptors (S/M/L included)

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an alternative to Apple's AirPods, the AU-Stream ANC from Ausounds has some distinct advantages.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.