Wireless earbuds are getting cheaper, and amid the Beats, Sennheisers and Plantronics of the world is a company called EMTEC, with its Stay Wireless buds. They provide surprisingly good sound for just $65, with a design that's easy to wear and tangle-free, thanks to their flat cord. Though we do have some concerns about the buds' overzealous bass and relatively low battery life, the Stay Wireless deserve serious consideration if you're looking to buy a pair of wireless buds.
The Stay Wireless earbuds are no-fuss headphones. Their simple design is borderline bland; the buds have a shiny, chromelike exterior and red tips that lead to the silicone ear inserts.
The cord is flat, gray and slightly thicker than that on the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless (think fettuccini, not linguini). In the middle of the cord is a large, oval piece of black plastic that holds the micro-USB charging port. The plastic acts as an anchor for the wires, sitting at the nape of your neck when you have the earbuds in and the wire around the back of your head.
The inline remote has a multifunction button and two volume buttons, and it works with Android, iOS and Windows devices.
Comfort and Fit
The Stay Wireless earbuds come with three sizes of silicone inserts, and I stuck with the largest of the bunch. They felt slightly more secure than the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless ear inserts, but I do prefer having ear wings or stabilizers, like those on the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 earbuds, for extra support.
Thanks to their noise-isolating capabilities, the Stay Wireless buds blocked out most of the roar of city traffic and subway cars. I moved my head freely, thanks to their long wire, which comfortably drapes around your neck when you're not listening to music.
MORE: Best Headphones 2015
However, the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless buds are more stylish. If I'm going to keep a pair of buds around my neck all day, I prefer their modern design, embellished in gold and silver accents.
For inexpensive wireless buds, the Stay Wireless pump out good sound. Twenty One Pilots' "Stressed Out" came out loud and strong, with pronounced bass, drums and cymbals, and rich vocals. However, the background pianos and faint echoes were lost in the sea of boom.
The audio quality was similar to that of the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless, but I preferred the Shadow buds for their more balanced rendition of the track. It had a larger sound stage, making it seem like the music were coming at me from all 360 degrees around my head, and didn't sacrifice volume, bass or crispness to do that.
The Stay Wireless buds had the opposite problem of the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2: The low end was overwhelming at times. The acoustic guitars, keyboard and cymbals in Juanes' "La Camisa Negra" muddled together, and were overpowered by drums and bass.
The Shadow Wireless fared much better with this song, highlighting the crispy acoustics in the intro, as well as Juanes' sonorous vocals and the funky electric guitar in the chorus.
EMTEC claims the Stay Wireless buds can get 5 hours of listening time on a single charge. That's around the same as the 4.5-hour battery life on the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2, but just more than half of the 8-hour life on the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless.
MORE: Best Android Music Players
However, the Stay Wireless buds may last longer than advertised. I used the earbuds for two days during my morning workouts and commute home from the office (about 4 hours total), and still had about 50 percent battery remaining.
With the $65 Stay Wireless, EMTEC succeeded in making a good pair of affordable wireless buds. The audio quality is solid, the tangle-free design is easy to hang around your neck all day and the ear inserts stay in place, even during exercise. However, I prefer the chic design of the $99 Sol Republic Shadow Wireless earbuds, which also have a longer rated battery life. But if you're looking to spend a little less, the Stay Wireless earbuds are a good value.