The Enacfire A9 is the newest release from the Amazon darling. This set of wireless earbuds has bass-forward sound, an ambient-listening mode, and up to 32 hours of battery life via charging case. Most importantly, it offers active noise cancellation (ANC) at a super-affordable price.
While the A9 presents a legitimate case for making our best noise-cancelling earbuds list, it also bears flaws similar to those found on other cheap wireless earbuds. The touch controls require some experimentation to get functioning properly. Furthermore, the uninspiring design and lack of extra features make it less appealing compared to other sub-$100 models.
Battery life (rated): 4.5 hours (ANC on), 5.5 hours (ANC off) , 32 hours (with charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Size: 1.3 x 1 x 0.8 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Nonetheless, if you want inexpensive buds that get the job done and provide some noise neutralization, our Enacfire A9 review breaks down why this budget pair is worth a look.
Enacfire A9 review: Price and availability
The Enacfire A9 can be purchased for $69 from Enacfire, though Amazon has it on sale for $49. It is only sold in black. Bundled with the purchase are a charging case, short USB-C charging cable, instruction manual, two-year warranty, and three pairs of ear tips.
Factoring in sale price, the A9 is one-fifth of the cost of the AirPods Pro ($249). Should you seek something under $100 with longer battery life and more features, there's the EarFun Free Pro ($59) that comes with 7 hours playtime (on a single charge) and wireless charging. There's also the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC ($98) with 11 hours playtime and a customizable EQ.
Enacfire A9 review: Design and comfort
Enacfire isn’t known for its design pedigree. The company's wireless earbuds are as minimalist as you’ll find on the market and prioritize function over fashion. That being said, don’t expect the A9 to enamor you with its bland, copycat appearance.
The buds boast the same long-stem silhouette as the standard AirPods, but with an all-black exterior and thicker casing, which makes them stick out more. To my eyes the AirPods Pro also has a more distinctive design than the A9, thanks to simple details like black vents and shorter stems. One positive is that the A9 comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, a stronger IP rating than the AirPods Pro (IPX4). That means the buds can survive rain, sweat, and submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
The charging case isn’t Red Dot Award material, but fine for portability and storage. You can toss it in any shirt pocket or gym bag and not feel weighed down. The matte finish and logo on the front give it some flair as well. Despite the flimsy lid, this case has a strong magnet that shuts it tightly, preventing the buds from spilling out if ever dropped to the ground. On the inside are left and right indicators to remind you which bud goes in which charging slot, a thoughtful gesture that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Initially, I guessed the large cavity wouldn’t make these buds a comfortable wear, and I was right. Its bulging form takes up a lot of inner ear space and presses up against the concha, causing soreness the longer you keep them on. A 45-minute listening session had me pulling the buds out for some pain relief.
Enacfire claims the A9 provides an ergonomic fit, though that isn’t the case. The tips fail to create a tight seal; I tried all three sizes and noticed zero improvement. You’ll need to adjust the buds for proper stabilization, and even then, the slightest movement to them results in serious slippage. For example, I scratched my left ear and hit the bud by accident, which then caused it to fall out when turning my head. This happened often.
Enacfire A9 review: Touch controls and digital assistant
The touch controls don’t exactly work as Enacfire intended. Functions are divvied up between the two buds, which are activated through hold and tap gestures, but the buds barely recognize the latter. Seriously, I couldn’t get tap functions working at all. What I figured out is that the touch sensors also accept slide gestures, and these delivered much better input accuracy.
Enacfire also programmed these buds with a comprehensive suite of media controls. Depending on how you tap and/or hold the sensors, you can play and pause music, skip forward and back, raise and lower volume, cycle between the different listening modes and even activate your phone's digital assistant.
The A9 supports both Google Assistant and Siri, and they function well for the most part. There is some slight lag when enabling the feature, but once turned on, you can fire off commands and receive results in quick fashion. Speech recognition is surprisingly good, which can be attributed to the A9’s four external mics that pick up every spoken word. To have Apple and Google’s AI bots understand and execute most commands was all I could ask for.
Enacfire A9 review: Active noise cancellation
The A9 can’t compete with what the AirPods Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are doing on the ANC front, and to expect that of any pair of $69 earbuds would be foolish. What you get is capable noise neutralization that can challenge other low-tier options like the Epic Air Sport.
I found the A9’s noise cancellation performed better indoors. In my home office, the buds managed to block out most distractions, from family chatter to loud TVs. My cat’s meows even went unnoticed as he tried clawing his way into the room. The A9 also minimized high-frequency sounds noticeably well, though mostly from a distance. It was good enough to mute my newborn’s cries from the opposite room, so that made me happy.
However, not all noise went silent. My baby boy’s fussing was clear when getting him to perform tummy time exercises, plus I could hear doors opening and closing as guests entered the room. External sounds were much more transparent when stepping outside. Heading towards the mailbox, I was bombarded by the level of noise produced by the landscapers who were about 30 feet away from me; the leaf blowing and weed trimming sounded like it was taking place in front of me. Wind also made its presence felt when listening to music on walks.
Enacfire went the extra mile of creating a transparency mode for listeners to hear what’s happening around them. But this too needs work, as the poor clarity made it difficult to distinguish sounds or have face-to-face conversations.
Enacfire A9 review: Audio quality
These aren’t critical-listening earbuds, so don’t purchase them thinking you’re going to hear the subtle nuances in complex recordings. The A9 has a sound profile that leans primarily towards the warm end of the audio spectrum. Underneath the hood are 10mm drivers that don’t skimp on bass and keep distortion to a minimum.
I thought boom-heavy tracks like Method Man & Redman’s “Da Rockwilder” would have made for a regrettable listen, but the end result was noteworthy. The 808 effects and propulsive lows knocked hard. Also, the fuzzy bass tones were handled well, granted they sounded crisper on the AirPods Pro and QuietComfort Earbuds. Still, the fact that these buds could reproduce such sounds without bloating up the entire soundstage speaks to the A9’s sonic capabilities.
The percussion on Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” was striking. Bass drums and conga stimulated rhythmic toe taps, while harmonies had great resolution to distinguish between individual voices over the up-tempo production.
Jazz classics sounded bittersweet, as the low end was overemphasized, diminishing the depth on certain songs. While I got a taste of mids and highs on Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader,” with the steady hi-hat play sounding sharp, the double bass came on too strong and dominated the soundscape. The AirPods Pro did a better job of capturing the record’s warmth and melodic tones.
I noticed sound quality was better when the listening modes were disabled, producing slightly better bass and clarity. These are small details that many listeners won’t pick up on, but those with perceptive hearing might catch them. Volume doesn’t reach blasting levels and won’t put your hearing at risk. Although, if you do decide to listen at max volume, know that the buds bleed out sound, so others around you will also hear what’s playing.
Enacfire A9 review: Battery life and charging case
Enacfire hasn’t shared the playtimes, but my testing had them lasting about 4 to 4.5 hours with ANC on. This places the A9 in the same company as the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours), though Apple’s battery management is far superior and gets you better general performance on such short battery life. Volume and ANC/transparency mode are battery drainers too. Listening with ANC off will extend playtime to about 5.5 hours. That should suffice for 3 to 4 days of moderate use before recharging.
The charging case does help deal with low-battery anxiety, generating up to 32 hours in total, and 24 hours with ANC on. It’s the same as the AirPods Pro case (24 hours) when factoring in noise cancellation. There are no quick-charging stats for the A9, but my experience saw battery life increase by 50% on a 15-minute charge. Apple’s quick charging is faster , with 5 minutes producing 1 hour of playback. Wireless charging didn’t make the cut either.
Enacfire A9 review: Call quality and connectivity
Call quality is satisfactory on the A9. When taking my wife’s calls outside, she heard every sentence, though my voice was slightly muffled. More feedback she shared was that wind was audible, but wasn’t distracting, which shows the power of Enacfire’s 4-mic array. Other background noises like bicycle bells and speeding cars were transparent and loud, so be mindful of this if you decide to answer calls on a busy street.
Video calls didn’t perform as well. My clients sounded very distorted during Skype chats. I thought maybe it was the service, but the problem occurred on Zoom and Google Meet as well.
The A9 does have speedy wireless performance. Taking the buds out of the case automatically enables Pairing Mode, which made connecting them to my Google Pixel 3 XL and MacBook Pro a breeze; you’ll notice “ENACFIRE A9” pop up immediately on the available devices list.
Unfortunately, the A9’s range is shorter than advertised (33 feet), hitting a peak of 25 feet before stuttering occurs. It would have been cool if Google Fast Pair was available to expedite the pairing process on Android devices. Multipoint technology is MIA from the spec sheet as well, meaning you can’t connect the buds to two devices simultaneously.
Enacfire A9 review: Verdict
The Enacfire A9 offers plenty of performance for the price, highlighted by its strong audio. Where most brands cheap out on the internals in favor of aesthetics or features, Enacfire focused on hardware, stuffing 10mm drivers and noise cancellation circuitry into these buds. Waterproof protection almost makes up for the unflattering design, plus the battery life, while not the lengthiest with ANC on, can be extended by turning off the listening modes and keeping the charging case on hand.
For all the good these buds present, there is also the bad. I would strongly urge Enacfire to change the copy on their product page to inform users of the touch controls; swipe gestures are the best way to operate these buds versus taps. The transparency mode seems like something that was added last minute for variety, and it requires a lot of work. Then there is the lack of extra features (e.g., customizable EQ, multipoint technology, wireless charging) that competitors are offering at a similar price point.
If you can live with the shortcomings, then the A9 is a decent AirPods Pro alternative that can be had for cheap. Just don’t expect top-tier performance from any of the categories.
- More: The best Apple AirPods alternatives — similar styling at lower price