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Donner DoBuds One review: AirPods styling and effective ANC for less

These $49 buds pack delightful audio and noise cancellation into a familiar design

The Donner DoBuds One wireless earbuds held in reviewer's hand
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The $49 Donner DoBuds One gets plenty right, including ANC and sound, but it could benefit from better app functionality and comfort.

Pros

  • +

    Balanced sound

  • +

    Effective ANC

  • +

    Better than AirPods battery life

  • +

    Sweat and water resistant

Cons

  • -

    Poor comfort levels

  • -

    EQ presets are poorly engineered

  • -

    Unreliable connectivity with Control app

Donner DoBuds One: Specifications

Price: $49

Colors: Black; blue; pea green; white

Battery life (rated): 6.5 hours (ANC on); 8 hours (ANC off); 26 hours (charging case with ANC on); 32 hours (charging case with ANC off)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codecs: SBC, mSBC, AAC)

Water resistance: Yes (IPX4 rated)

Size: 0.9 x 1.247 x 0.88 inches (per bud); 1.74 x 2.47 x 1.05 (charging cases)

Weight: 0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.32 ounces (charging case)

Donner makes the leap from musical instruments to true wireless audio with the release of their first-ever wireless earbuds: the DoBuds One. These buds feature intuitive controls, powerful sound with customization settings, steady battery life, and versatile active noise cancellation (ANC) – for only $49.

A price this low often presents compromises and DoBuds One has its fair share, including slight discomfort and shoddy app connectivity. Even with these drawbacks, the noise cancellation and sound performance are enough to make them a very worthwhile investment.

Read our full review below to see why the Donner DoBuds One are one of the best noise-cancelling earbuds under $100.

Donner DoBuds One review: Price and availability

  • Bargain price
  • Available in multiple colors

The DoBuds One sells for $49 on Amazon (opens in new tab) and Donner’s official website (opens in new tab). They can be purchased in black, blue, pea green, or white. A charging case, USB-C charging cable, user manual, and five sets of different-sized ear tips come in the box.

These are some of the most inexpensive noise-cancelling earbuds out there, at a price point similar to the well-received 1More PistonBuds Pro ($59) and quality Phiaton BonoBuds ($59). For premium performance, consider splurging on category leaders like the AirPods Pro ($249) or Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279).

Bookmark our headphone deals page to stay up on the latest sales.

Donner DoBuds One review: Design and comfort

  • Build looks more durable than AirPods
  • Fragile charging case
  • Uncomfortable after an hour of wear

The design shares similarities to many Fake AirPods (picture the Denon AH-C830NCW with a more visible and wider touch panel). It’s not attractive or ugly, but it’s appealing enough to appease fashion-forward music lovers that want something resembling the AirPods Pro for much less. These buds feel solid, composed of strong plastic materials that can take a beating and are rated at IPX4 to survive sweat and water splashes.

The Donner DoBuds One wireless earbuds with its packaging

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Donner has plans to release a Pro version with hopes of adding a higher IP rating and other features (more on this later).

Our reviewer showing off the Donner DoBuds One's charging case in hand

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The charging case is a small block of plastic that easily slides into your denim pocket. It just lacks sturdiness. You’ll want to be careful not to drop it because the flimsy lid will pop open and send the buds flying across any surface. The exterior is also a scuff-and-scratch magnet.

The Donner DoBuds One right bud being held in hand

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Wearing the DoBuds One for longer than an hour caused discomfort in my ears. The bulging cavity applies unwanted pressure on the concha. On the flip side, Donner’s dustproof ear tips keep the buds in place by forming a tight seal around the canal. I performed a few lateral exercisers (e.g., jumping jacks, lunges) to test on-ear stability and was happy with the results.

Donner DoBuds One review: Controls and digital assistant

  • Responsive touch controls
  • Google Assistant support was inconsistent

Donner has equipped their buds with a full suite of media controls. These include playback, call management, volume, digital assistance, and listening mode activation. The touch panel on each bud accepts numerous input methods, from single/multi-taps (double and triple) to long presses, and it demonstrates excellent touch accuracy. 

The DoBuds One do not come with wear detection for auto-pause/play when removing or placing the buds on your ears.

Our reviewer testing the Donner DoBuds One's touch controls

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Google Assistant, Siri, and Bixby are compatible, but performance varies among the three AI bots. Siri gave me accurate results, notably on macOS, which is something I’m not accustomed to from non-AirPods. Bixby was fine for executing common tasks like “open Spotify” and weather updates. Google Assistant was most problematic, struggling to understand basic commands like “when is my next event,” yet registering vague requests like “Bleacher Report,” which directed Chrome to the sports website.

Donner DoBuds One review: Sound quality

  • Donner’s Signature EQ preset is well balanced
  • Other EQ presets are flawed
  • Lacks aptX codec support

The DoBuds One features a 12mm dynamic driver and custom balanced armature that produces rich, insightful sound to enjoy music fully. Frequencies are well represented, so you won’t feel cheated of specific sonic elements on complex recordings, and bass is tight.

Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” offered a perfect mix of everything. The midrange was prominent, allowing the catchy harmonies to shine over the infectious beat. Details like the tambourine jingle remained consistent and clear sounding over the jangly chords and multi-layered synths.

Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" playing on the Donner DoBuds One wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The pulsating drums and searing synths on Dr. Dre’s “Kush” smacked my eardrums, stimulating head-nods throughout the entire listen. I loved how crisp the stabbing piano keys sounded over the booming production.

Orchestral classics like Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s “My Little Brown Book” were pleasant listens that didn’t skimp on nuance. It was nice to be able to hear the low-sounding snares distinctly. The double bass had some stellar reverb that tickled my ears with every pluck and blended nicely with the soulful sax and striking hi-hats.

Listeners can tweak sound to their hearing needs through the 8-band EQ in the companion app. There’s a custom setting to create your own sound profile or you can select from six different presets: Donner Signature (the default), Classic, Rap, Monitor, Pop, and Rock. Leave it on Signature because it’s the most well-balanced of the bunch. The rest are mediocre and diminish the quality on targeted music genres. There is barely any low-end presence in Classical, bass gets completely lost in Pop, and highs are nonexistent in Rap. 

Showing off the Donner DoBuds One's 8-band EQ

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Game Mode reduces latency when gaming on mobile devices. It isn’t a significant improvement from standard mode, but certain sound effects are more on cue. I noticed audio synchronization was better on YouTube videos when enabling the feature. 

Music streaming was smooth on Apple Music and Spotify through my MacBook Pro (AAC) and Google Pixel 6 Pro (SBC). These buds also come with mSBC, which was developed to support mobile networks with HD voice.

Donner DoBuds One review: Active noise cancellation

  • Effective auto noise reduction modes
  • Manual ANC settings were ineffective
  • Strong ambient listening mode

Donner engineered their buds with four different ANC settings — Commute, Indoor, Outdoor, and Manual Noise Reduction — the latter allowing for adjustment up to 10 levels. I’ve never seen sub-$50 wireless buds offer this much noise cancellation. The question is whether the DoBuds One is a quality noise suppressor. Answer: Yes.

ANC is raised incrementally when switching from Commute to Indoor to Outdoor. Commute was only good for muffling nearby chatter. Indoor and Outdoor were reliable for their intended purposes. Most low- and mid-frequency noises went silent around the house. I didn’t hear any construction work or loud traffic when walking past the bridge. The whisking effect from speeding cars and wind were heavily reduced.

Testing the Donner DoBuds One's active noise cancellation in a backyard

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

High-frequency sounds were a tougher battle for the DoBuds One. My toddler’s crying and the siren effects from his noisy toys wound up catching my attention. Car horns and whistles could also be heard from about two blocks out, but neither were huge distractions.

Manual Noise Reduction was the least effective mode and blocked out very little ambient noise. I dialed through all 10 levels and could still hear a high number of external sounds when set at max level.

Demonstrating the Donner DoBuds One's 10 levels of ANC

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Hidden in the app settings is a Reduce Loud Sound mode that doesn’t do much to neutralize blaring noises.

The Transparency Mode is impressive. While watching my son, I could hear his babbling from across the room, along with the educational videos playing on his iPad and my mother-in-law’s phone conversations. It felt great communicating with my wife from several feet away — clearly, concisely, and without having to removing the buds. Using the feature outside was even more rewarding. Donner’s beamforming dual-mic array picked up traffic sounds and incidents that took place in my vicinity; I would have never known a bike accident occurred behind me had the mode been disabled.

Donner DoBuds One review: Special features and app

  • Generous feature set for the price
  • Connectivity to Donner Control app was unreliable

Rarely do you find wireless earbuds this cheap that have their own app. Downloading the Donner Control app places several features at the tip of your finger. I’ve already touched on the majority: ANC/Transparency mode, control customization, Equalizer, Game Mode, and Reduce Loud Sound. The rest consists of an auto-off function, battery level indicators, firmware updates, and a quick start guide.

The Donner DoBuds One connected to the Donner Control app

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Unfortunately, the app has serious connection issues. It took me 30 minutes and numerous tries for Donner Control to recognize my buds. If you’re lucky enough to establish a connection, the app has a tendency to lose it after an hour of inactivity, forcing you to go through the same frustrating process. This needs to be fixed in the next software update.

Donner DoBuds One review: Battery life and charging case

  • Better playtimes than the AirPods Pro
  • Charging case holds 4 extra charges
  • No wireless charging

Any noise-cancelling earbuds that come with more playtime than the AirPods Pro (4.5 to 5 hours) are a win in my book, and the DoBuds One give up to 6.5 hours of play with ANC on, and 8 hours with ANC off. These playtimes drop by 1 hour when factoring in high volume and Game Mode.

The Donner DoBuds One charging case connected to a USB-C charging cable

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The charging case holds between 26 to 32 hours, depending how you use the buds. It surpasses the AirPods Pro’s charging case (24 hours) and gives you 4 additional charges on the go. Wireless charging does not come part of the package, but quick charging does, providing 2 hours of use on a 10-minute charge.

Donner DoBuds One review: Call quality and connectivity

  • Mics capture lots of noise during voice and video calls
  • Instantaneous pairing with recognized devices

Don’t expect grade-A call quality from the DoBuds One. A few clients found my voice loud and clear during indoor chats, but only in quiet settings. There was some muffle when incidental sounds came into the equation. Performance took a huge hit when taking calls outside. My wife barely heard me when I passed by construction sites. The mics and Wind Noise Resistant technology (WNR) failed to boost clarity in drafty conditions as well.

Answering a video call with the Donner DoBuds One

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Bluetooth 5.2 was dependable for calls and streaming sessions. Range extended up to 40 feet before stuttering. Opening the case instantly paired the buds with my last recognized device. One-tap Google Fast Pair and multipoint technology (pair to two devices simultaneously) are unavailable, though Donner is looking to include the latter on the upcoming Pro model.

Donner DoBuds One review: Verdict

The Donner DoBuds One are a fantastic addition to the competitive cheap noise-cancelling earbuds market. They undercut several mid-range models by delivering superb sound and surprisingly good ANC in an affordable package. Not everything hits its mark, such as app connectivity, comfort, and the EQ, but you’re still getting an incredible deal for the price.

Next: Want quality buds for a bargain? Here are the best cheap wireless earbuds right now.

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.