SoundPeats sent me this pair of Bluetooth headphones to review. They retail for $40 CAD. My main review and teardown can be seen on my YouTube channel. This post serves only to act as a summary.

These headphones (or technically headset since they have an integrated microphone) don’t stand out from other products in the same price range, however this is not necessarily a bad thing.

The build quality is quite good, and the feature set is not lacking anything critical. The most important specifications such as battery life and range are not exaggerated from the manufacturer spec. of 6 hours and 10m respectively.

That being said, the drivers have a sound signature similar to that of wired headphones in the $15-30 range and require a great deal of equalisation to render them usable. Driving them at high power does cause distortion above 6kHz. They have a massive peak at 3kHz which must be toned down.

The noise floor of the built-in DAC is quite high and is very audible. I do not recommend buying these if you intend to listen in a quiet environment as you will hear a constant hissing.

Taking them apart reveals a CSR 8635 all-in-one Bluetooth headset chipset. It is nice to see a name-brand chip, however after reading the datasheet and inspecting the PCB, I suspect that they have sacrificed sound quality in order to squeeze the most out of the tiny 80mAh cell. The chip should be capable of a 95dB SNR, however they appear to be using switch-mode regulators to power the chip’s 1.35V rails, including the analog supply, instead of the included LDOs. This drops the SNR well into the audible range (I suspect ~80dB, but cannot test). As this regulator requires firmware to enable, it is more than just a board level mod to change.

In addition, the chip’s 80MIPS DSP (which can implement a 5-band equaliser using CSR’s stock ROM) is also not being utilised. If it had been, the headset might not have required the user to have a software equaliser on their device in order to correct for the poor driver performance.

The device also lacks the 2 data wires to the USB microB connector which would have allowed for use as a USB sound card. The firmware instead does not even allow the device to be turned on when plugged in, a feature which the chip does support.

All-in-all, they are not bad, and on the surface they seem fine when compared to what is in the market. It was only when I opened them up that I noticed what could have been done, and that left me somewhat disappointed. They appear to have come so close on the design only to let me down by making what I can only assume are marketing decisions.