Aukey EP-N12 are the most bizarre wireless headphones that sound both good and bad at the same time.
Headphones have 3 different sound profiles: one without ANC, second with ANC, and the third using AUX port.
The first two sound profiles have enormous bass boost and tinny, shimmery mids and treble.
On the other hand, when plugged into the AUX port, they completely invert the frequency response. They actually share a similar tuning to the Sennheiser HD6xx, headphones that cost 4 times as much.
Besides sound, Aukey EP-N12 feel very well built for the price, with a bit shallow yet comfortable earpads and good active noise cancelling performance.
The battery life is excellent, offering around 30 hours of listening time with ANC enabled.
Now, let’s dive into more details below to get a better picture of what to expect from the new Aukey EP-N12 Bluetooth headphones.
- Good sound (via AUX port)
- Comfortable design
- Foldable & rotatable earcups
- Good build quality
- Decent ANC performance
- Great battery life (up to 30h)
- Subpar sound quality in Bluetooth mode
What’s in the Box?
- Aukey EP-N12 Bluetooth headphones
- Carrying pouch
- USB-C cable
- 3.5mm cable
- User manual
Comfort & Fit
Aukey put sufficient memory foam padding onto earcups, ensuring a comfortable fit for long listening sessions. Users with bigger ears might feel some wearing fatigue after a few hours of use.
Despite their budget price, the EP-N12 haven’t skimmed on comfort. Earpads are dressed in soft faux leather that feels great on your skin and doesn’t warm it too much.
Earpads are a bit shallow yet big enough to fit an entire ear. Even though your earlobes are touching the foam covering the drivers, it doesn’t cause discomfort.
Users with bigger ears might have to squish their ears a bit more, which can lead to wearing fatigue.
Headphones have a moderate clamping force and feel relatively secure on your head.
Upon observation, the Aukey EP-N12 look a little funny on your head, as their headband extends far out to the sides.
Pleather earpads do a good job keeping ambient noise out, even without enabling ANC.
Passive noise isolation is pretty strong on these. Earpads are thick just enough to create a proper seal and block the outside noise.
They compare to other active noise cancelling headphones with similar designs (Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort models).
The active noise cancelling effectively reduces lower frequencies to a minimum while struggling with higher ones.
The active noise cancellation technology on Aukey EP-N12 works quite well, adding another layer of isolation on top of already great passive isolation.
You can hear the most noticeable difference in lower frequencies, which disappear entirely.
Higher frequencies are a bit more unpredictable, so headphones struggle to reduce them for the most part.
The overall active noise cancelling performance is still sufficient for commuting and traveling since you only need to block engine/cabin noise.
On the contrary, if you also want to block speech in a loud office, you’ll have to look for something more expensive (Sony WH-1000XM3 or XM4).
Keep in mind that you can’t enable active noise canceling if you listen to music via AUX 3.5mm port.
Bluetooth 5.0 ensures an average connection range, standard SBC and AAC codecs, and minimal audio delay when watching videos. Sadly, no multipoint support.
The wireless connection is pretty reliable on the Aukey EP-N12, with no dropouts or stutters during regular use.
The range is average for the Bluetooth 5.0, reaching the second brick wall, after which the connection cuts off completely.
The pairing process is quite simple. They want to pair as soon you turn them on.
If you want to pair them to another device, you have to turn them off and back on while holding the button for a few seconds.
The wireless headphones don’t support multipoint connections with multiple devices. Only one at a time.
What Bluetooth Codecs do They Use?
Aukey EP-N12 only uses SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, which cover both Android and Apple users.
At this price point, it’s pointless adding codecs like aptX since they only add to the price.
Is There an Audio Lag?
You shouldn’t notice any audio delay when watching YouTube on both Android and iOS.
Playing mobile games shows a split-second delay, which is fine for non-competitive games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush.
However, in games like PUBG or Fortnite, that kind of delay might result in a quick game over.
Headphones officially hold up to 40 hours of battery life per charge. In reality, it’s closer to 29 hours and 52 minutes from our test, which is enough for at least a week of casual listening. Also, they don’t support fast charging.
Aukey EP-N12 hold up to 40 hours of playtime in the best-use scenario, which is above average for over-ear headphones.
Enabling active noise cancellation does take its toll, dropping the battery life down to 29 hours and 52 minutes.
They charge via USB-C charging port, and you can use them via an AUX port if the battery runs out. Both cables are included in the box.
Headphones feel rather sturdy, despite their mostly plastic build quality. Everything appears of good quality, but the folding mechanism can be the first thing to break.
You don’t see many well-built headphones for such a low price. The Samson SR850 cost around $40 and are made from the cheapest plastic possible.
Not the Aukey EP-N12. They feel surprisingly sturdy and well made. Even when you fully extend the headband and start shaking them, they don’t produce any rattling sounds.
Construction is mostly plastic, with a piece of metal inside the headband to provide sturdiness.
Faux leather is soft to the touch and could start cracking over a year or two. Sadly, there’s no easy way to replace the earpads. That also makes it slightly harder to clean your headphones.
Otherwise, the stitching on both earpads and the top of the headband is tight and well made. Truly a remarkable job for headphones that only cost $50.
Earcups can also rotate up to 90° and fold inwards to save space in a backpack.
Inside the packaging, you get a thin carrying pouch made from faux leather. It only offers protection from scratches, whereas drops could still cause some damage.
If you plan to use these for running or working out, be extra careful since they don’t provide any IP rating for sweat protection.
On top of active noise cancellation, you also get a basic array of commands and an AUX port if the battery runs out.
Apart from ANC, you don’t get any other extra features like Ambient sound mode, EQ presets, or a companion app. However, for the price, that’s understandable.
Instead, the only thing worth mentioning are controls. You operate Aukey headphones by using physical buttons behind both earcups.
There are dedicated volume buttons, a button for activating ANC, and a multifunction button that also acts as a power switch.
The array of commands is rich enough for you to leave your phone in your pocket. Buttons are nice a clicky, so you know when you press them.
Making phone calls in a quiet place, your voice remains nicely clean and articulate. There’s some popping in the background but it’s hardly distracting.
Furthermore, headphones do a good job reducing the background noise (traffic noise, engines) while maintaining your voice understandable.
Overall, the call quality is pretty good. No matter where you are, you shouldn’t hesitate to answer a phone call.
When connected via Bluetooth, the sound has an enormous boost in basically all frequency regions. In contrast, listening via AUX provides an almost audiophile tuning.
Cheaper ANC headphones are known to change the sound when you activate active noise cancelling. Aukey EP-N12 are no different.
However, neither option (with or without ANC) provides good results. The boost in sub-bass and midrange is simply too substantial to make the sound palatable.
Turning headphones off and plugging them via AUX shows a completely different picture, with much smoother, dynamic, and natural sound.
When paired via Bluetooth, the sub-bass output is boosted around 20dB above neutral.
That massive peak is followed by a huge dip in the upper bass, which prevents it from bleeding into the midrange.
However, that also means that the bass can come out of nowhere. For example, one bass note appears quiet, whereas the other bass note rattles your skull.
While the powerful deep bass is thumping and massive in scale, it also sounds very unnatural and uneven.
Playing music via AUX port changes this picture entirely. The sub-bass gets weaker than the upper bass, which is boosted only by a few dB above neutral.
That results in a much more controlled and natural sound. Drums and bass guitars start to feel more detailed and less bloated.
DSP (digital signal processor) boosts up the midrange almost as much as the bass. As a result, all instruments and especially vocals, start sounding very thin.
There’s simply too much shimmer in the sound. Some might mistake that for clarity, but it’s far from it.
Some darker-sounding songs might sound okay, like “Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury” by Marillion. However, playing something more energetic, like pop, and the sound becomes thin again.
AUX port provides a completely different listening experience. The midrange is much more neutral now, with both vocals and instruments sounding more natural and textured.
In Bluetooth mode, the treble is a shimmery mess for the most part. You can hear the cymbals quite clearly, but they sound pretty artificial.
Like in other frequency regions, listening via AUX improves the treble by a lot. Cymbals start sounding more natural and with better resolution.
The soundstage is about average for full-sized headphones, with sound coming slightly out of your head.
Imaging is good, too, with only some tiny blind spots in-between channels.
Interestingly, when comparing the frequency response of the Aukey EP-N12 (using AUX) with Sennheiser HD6xx, they share a similar tuning.
It’s so similar that it can’t possibly be a mistake. It’s strange that people at Aukey abandoned this tuning and made a complete opposite for Bluetooth mode.
Even so, while they have similar tuning, the EP-N12 don’t sound nearly as transparent, detailed, and controlled as Sennheiser HD6xx.
For some reason, the Sennheiser’s even have better sub-bass extension, despite having an open-back design.
Still, if you want a similar sound signature as the HD6xx but can’t take them on your daily commute, the Aukey EP-N12 offer a good alternative.
Should You Get Aukey EP-N12?
If you enjoy thumping bass and only want something to keep you entertained during your daily commute, these Bluetooth headphones will do the job.
They’re also well-built in comfortable to wear, which is quite surprising for a budget-friendly product.
The ANC is decent and should reduce constant noises from your surroundings.
However, if you want to dive into music searching for details and a natural sound, skip these entirely.
Sure, you can use them in wired mode and get a far better sound quality, but nobody buys wireless headphones to listen to them with a cable.
More expensive wireless headphones with ANC and similar built and finish. The comfort might be slightly better on the EP-N12 since the Z2’s earpads make your ears sweaty very quickly.
Active noise cancelling performance is about on par. Both headphones have rotatable ear cups and a folding mechanism. The Z2 come with a hard carrying case, offering better protection.
A unique thing about these is the IPX4 water resistance rating, making them fully sweatproof and ready to hit the gym.
As for the sound, without ANC, it’s overly bassy, but it gets nicely detailed and controlled when you enable it. However, with ANC on bass lacks quantity.
The SR850 are the complete opposite of the Aukey EP-N12.
They’re wired, have a semi-open design, and are made from cheap-feeling plastic. Even stock faux leather earpads are stiff and quite uncomfortable (you can get them with velour pads).
However, Samson’s provide much better sound quality. They’re still quite punchy but also very detailed and overall natural in the mids and treble.
|Mic & Controls:||Yes|
|Battery life:||40h (ANC off)|
|Active noise cancelling:||Yes|
|Bluetooth codecs:||SBC, AAC|
|Wireless range:||33ft (10m)|