If you’re looking for a simple pair of wireless earbuds and don’t care about noise cancelling, then the Onyx Ace Pro are an excellent choice. Audio sounds great, battery life is long, and the price is one we can all afford. Not bad at all in these difficult times.
Best Prices Today: Tronsmart Oynx Ace Pro
Over the past year or so there’s been plenty of budget friendly wireless earbuds released that feature active noise cancellation and other fancy modes. The thing is those capabilities have begun to stretch what budget-friendly really means.
Tronsmart seems to have spotted this and has launched the Onyx Ace Pro buds that keep things simple and the cost affordable. But is this minimalist approach a blessing or a curse?
Design & Build
Half in design
Pretty much all of the wireless earbuds I’ve reviewed over the last few years have come with pill-shaped charging cases that have almost no external decoration. Tronsmart has obviously gotten bored of this ascetic approach, so with the Onyx Ace Pro there is a silver trim around the flip-top opening, plus a silver panel on the front that houses the four lights that tell you how much charge it holds.
Opening up the box and taking out the buds is a little fiddly, but once extracted they bear a very Apple AirPods aesthetic. There’s no rubber ear cups for holding them in your ear canal, instead smooth plastic ovals are attached to short stalks, with the former resting against the openings in your ears. Basically, if you’ve used a pair of regular Apple AirPods in the last ten years then you’ll know how these work.
As is normal with this design, it’s one-size fits most with no silicone tips. So, those who have had problems in the past with semi in-ear buds slipping out by themselves, may prefer to go for a pair of in-ear buds like the affordable Redmi AirDots.
Inside the buds Tronsmart has fitted 13mm composite polymer drivers to deliver the audio, all controlled by a Qualcomm QCC3040 processor that offers aptX adaptive audio decoding and provides cVc 8.0 call reduction technology to help make phone calls clear and free from unwanted artefacts.
The plastic construction means the Onyx Ace Pro are featherlight, with speakers at one end of the ovals, two microphones for each bud, and a touch sensitive control area on the outside of each stalk.
Martyn Casserley / Foundry
There are a pretty standard range of touch commands available, with a double tap on either one triggering play/pause, tapping and holding for 2 seconds on the right bud will skip to the next track, while doing the same on the left one will take you to the previous track. Thankfully, there is also a volume control option, by tapping once on the right bud to turn up and once on the left to turn down.
The Onyx Ace Pro support various digital assistants, depending on which smartphone you use, and you can launch this by tapping the right bud three times. You can also use the play/pause command to answer or end phone calls.
Pairing the buds is simple, with the first time requiring the flip top case to be opened (with the buds still inside), then pressing and holding the pairing button found on the bottom of the case next to the USB-C charging port. When the lights start to flash, it means the pairing mode is active, then it’s just a case of selecting them from the available devices menu on your smartphone or other device.
Once this is set up, they connect automatically every other time you take them out of the case. I found the connections to be reliable and solid throughout my time with the buds, and the Bluetooth 5.2 technology even allows you to venture about ten metres away from your device before the signal is lost.
An IPX5 rating assures you that the buds can be used in the rain without worrying they’ll go kaputt, plus they should also survive the odd splash or two.
Sound Quality & Features
Good audio quality
Gaming Mode for enhanced audio/video syncing
The Onyx Ace Pro buds are capable of some very nice audio. Spoken word content sounds rich and full, with enough bottom end to make everything feel solid and warm. Put on some music and again there are pleasing results, with a wide frequency spread that can handle folk to metal without skipping a beat. There’s also plenty of volume on offer, although do be careful with this as prolonged use (of any loud earphones) can damage your hearing.
I was impressed with the quality of the tones coming out of the buds when they were securely wedged into my ears, but things do drop away a bit if the buds get slightly dislodged. When the buds are fully in your ear, they create enough of a sealed chamber to blot out most of the background noise in a room or busy environment.
Martyn Casserley / Foundry
But the shape of them, and the lack of any different sized covers that you find on the in-ear bud style alternatives, means it can be a little too easy to knock them out from those firm fits when operating the touch controls, allowing noise to get in. This isn’t a problem particular to these headphones, it’s just a design compromise that has always been attached to this style of earphones.
Conversely, if you don’t like having buds jammed in your ear canal, then these are a good alternative. The Nothing Ear (Stick) are another option if you have more to spend.
There’s no active noise cancelling, and therefore no ambient mode that can keep you aware of what’s going on around you while you enjoy content on the buds. This is fine if you want to get rid of the din that’s usually going on in the world, but does make you oblivious (aurally anyway) to your surroundings.
What is on offer is a Gaming Mode, which beefs up the audio/video synchronisation capabilities of the buds, with a slight hit to battery life in the process. The idea is that you can use the Onyx Ace Pro more comfortably with games, as the sounds you hear will stick closely to video you see on your handset.
It worked fine for me and also doubled up to improve the syncing of the buds to my TV so I could watch Netflix at night without waking the family or getting dizzy from the delay of people’s lips moving before I heard them speak. You access the Gaming Mode by tapping the left bud three times, and turn it off by repeating the process.
Phone calls were equally good, with our recipients reporting clear audio with little in the way of distortion or noise.
These have to be some of the most impressive buds I’ve tried in terms of battery life. From a single charge in the case the buds are able to pass the six hour mark before needing to pop them back in for a refresh.
Admittedly, it does take over an hour to get them back up to 100%, but that’s a price I’d be happy to pay for the prolonged listening sessions they provide.
Tronsmart doesn’t state the battery sizes for the buds or the charging case, but the latter is no slouch either, having enough reserves (after a full two hour charge) to replenish the buds around five times. A total of 36 hours is commendable.
Martyn Casserley / Foundry
Price & Availability
You can pick up the Onyx Ace Pro buds from Aliexpress for £29.99/$39.99.
The company also told me that these should be coming to Amazon but they are nowhere to be found at the time of writing.
Looking at the competition, the most obvious alternative is the Redmi AirDots that you can get on Amazon for £25/$25 and which have largely similar appointments to the Onyx Ace Pro.
If you want noise cancelling, then you’ll need to spend a bit more, but the Redmi Buds Pro 3 are an excellent option at £65 on Amazon UK and $59.99 on Amazon US.
Check out more options in our roundup of the best budget wireless earbuds.
Tronsmart lives up to the latter half of its name, delivering a solid pair of wireless buds that provide good audio, are comfortable to wear, and have excellent battery life all for a price that most people can afford.
If you’ve been wary of switching to wireless earbuds, these would be the perfect place to start, as you can always upgrade to a pair with active noise cancelling later on without feeling like you’ve wasted your money.
The only real blemish is how easy it can be to dislodge them when using the controls, but if your ears fit with this style of earphone, I think you’ll be very happy with the Onyx Ace Pro.