I test wireless earbuds for a living, and these $50 EarFun Air 2 buds sound a lot better than I expected

EarFun Air 2 in charging case held between fingers in an outdoor setting with plants in the background
(Image credit: Future)

While I regularly carry several of the top-ranking best wireless earbuds with me as my go-to choices for music listening, it's rare for me to pack a pair of budget buds into my work, gym or travel bags. In truth, I prefer the upmarket features, performance and solid app integration that comes with mid- and flagship-level wireless earbuds designs, although I readily admit that there are plenty of cheap wireless earbuds worth considering, too. 

How low-cost you go can be tough to call if top sound quality is your goal, but on a recent vacation I decided to ditch my favorite audiophile earbuds and packed a $50 option into my carry-on bag as a companion. I had no idea how the EarFun Air 2 would perform until I tried them out on my flight, but they were better than I expected.

EarFun Air 2 in charging case outdoors by a stone wall

(Image credit: Future)

The EarFun Air 2 wireless earbuds are the latest iteration in the Air series. We've seen several budget models from EarFun before, and Tom's Guide audio contributor Alex Bracetti recently applauded the EarFun Free 2S as one of the best budget earbuds that beat the AirPods on sound.

I had no idea how the EarFun Air 2 would perform, but they were better than I expected.

I might be giving too much away before the end of my editorial, but I'd be happy to see the EarFun Air 2 added to that list. They give longer battery life, better Bluetooth connectivity and higher-quality codec support than the Free 2S, and have a lower MSRP too.

When we covered the original EarFun Air our reviewer criticized the tricky fit and some design flaws around the controls, but the overall impression was positive with top-notch sound at $39. 

EarFun Air 2: $49 @ Amazon

EarFun Air 2: $49 @ Amazon
The EarFun Air 2 deliver solid sound quality for the price via a 10mm driver (compared to 6mm on the original), a comfortable fit, Bluetooth 5.3 support with LDAC support and up to 9 hours of battery life for the buds and 40 hours total with the charging case. The IPX7 rating means you get strong water and sweat resistance. Apply the EFAIR2DT discount code for 10% off. 

The Air 2 version adds $10 to the price, but improves significantly on the specification by upgrading to a 10mm driver (compared to 6mm on the original). Bluetooth capabilities are boosted to version 5.3 and battery life goes up to 9 hours for the buds and 31 hours of top-ups from the charging case compared to 7 and 28 hours respectively from the original.

The durability rating remains the same as the original Air at IPX7, meaning that they're better protected from water ingress than Apple's AirPods Pro 2, and a 10-minute quick charge gives the same 2 hours of playback.

The charging case and drop-stem design on the Air 2 have been updated since the original version, and the buds themselves look a lot more sophisticated than their price tag suggests. The black charging case is a little prone to scratches and quickly gets grubby, but perhaps the white version will be less so when it arrives in March.

One thing that I found a bit irritating when removing and reinserting the earbuds from the charging case was that they face outwards, meaning they need to be twisted around each time you replace or remove them from the case. This felt counterintuitive and meant it was tricky each time I inserted them into my ears. It's a small detail but one I've not encountered previously.

No noise canceling is no biggie

EarFun Air 2 showing left earbud held between fingertips with green foliage in background

(Image credit: Future)

The EarFun Air 2 don't offer noise canceling but that didn't detract from the enjoyment of listening to the buds on a 4-hour flight from the U.K. to the Canary Islands. The buds come pre-fitted with a mid-sized eartip (small and large eartip sizes are also provided), and luckily they turned out to give the perfect seal in my ear canal, effectively reducing background noise so that I could listen without being overly distracted by fellow travelers.

Of course, it would have been great to have some form of active noise cancelation tech on board, but you can't have everything at the price, and I was perfectly happy with the level of passive isolation these buds gave. 

Comfort levels were high and I had no problems providing my own inflight entertainment listening to my favorite tracks on my Tidal playlist. What attracted me to these buds though, is that they support LDAC over Bluetooth for higher quality music streams when connected to compatible devices, meaning that I could pair them up to my Sony Xperia 1 IV phone, enable LDAC mode on the buds and stream in higher quality over Bluetooth than I can with them connected to my iPhone.

It would have been great to have some form of active noise cancelation tech on board, but I was perfectly happy with the level of passive isolation these buds gave.

These are the first set of earbuds I've tried with LDAC support at this price, and I was curious to see whether it made a difference at the price point. I'd say it does. The sonic rewards were much more noticeable than I bargained for, with improved definition and a more engaging listening experience compared to the same Tidal tracks played via an iPhone's using AAC.

The frequency balance wasn't perfect, but nevertheless the buds had a warm sound that made big bass beats and classical strings sound rich and thoroughly engaging. Some mid frequencies missed out on subtle details in recordings I know well, and I'd say that the EarFun Air 2 gave a sonic picture that was presented in broader strokes than more upmarket models, but was still enjoyable. 

There were some idiosyncrasies with the touch controls not following the usual control scheme employed by other wireless earbud models. Plus, there was often a second or so delay to action commands, but regular use and familiarity will likely render these flaws negligible for many users.

Overall, the EarFun Air 2 turned out to be a useful vacation companion. They provided a practical musical distraction to prevent medium-haul flight fatigue, enabling my ears to experience some surprisingly enjoyable soundscapes while getting my mind and body ready to soak up some warm mid-winter sunshine. With their lengthy battery life, practical durability and decent sound, I can see I'll be adding these wireless earbuds to my travel bag essentials on future trips.  

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

After 2.5 years as Tom's Guide's audio editor, Lee has joined the passionate audio experts at audiograde.uk where he writes about luxury audio and Hi-Fi. As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.