QCY T13 review: a new hope

QCY T13 review

I have maintained for a long time that cheap “true wireless” earphones are not there yet – they compromise too much on sound quality, among other things, to be a viable option. That is changing, though, and more and more entry-level TWS earphones are actually quite good for the price, to the point they are comparable to wired alternatives. The QCY T13 are among those who are making me change my mind, as they do a lot of things correctly.

Disclaimer: I received the QCY T13 directly from QCY.

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TL;DR: recap

Pros
Cons
+ Great design

+ Lots of details

+ Great imaging

+ Very good stock eartips

– Treble is peaky

– Midrange is distant

Rating: 7.5/10

Packaging & Accessories

The packaging is quite simply and only includes a short USB to USB-C cable and a set of eartips in four different sizes.

Design & Comfort

QCY T13

The QCY T13 appear a bit anonymous in today’s wireless earphones market: they use a stem design made with shiny black plastic with no markings or logos; in fact, the earphones look quite clean. The black plastic is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but it’s also cleaned easily. The main part of the shell, where the driver is, is pill-shaped and it’s relatively small. There’s a status LED on each earbud.

In terms of build quality, the QCY T13 don’t look especially solid, but feel decently robust and, in fact, they feel rather robust for the asking price. I unfortunately dropped them a couple of times and they came away without even a scratch. They are IPX5 certified, so they can withstand a variety of situations including hot showers.

Comfort is simply great. Thanks to the small shape and rounded lines, the QCY T13 are indeed very comfortable. I can wear them for a couple of hours without even noticing they’re in my ears. That’s especially true when I use them with the SpinFit CP1025 eartips, as they increase the comfort significantly compared to the (still quite good) stock tips.

Isolation is not the T13’s best quality, but they still offer enough to filter out most noises in a relatively quiet environment. In noisy places, such as stations or busy streets, they show their limits.

The case is light and relatively small, and it fits in my jeans’ pockets easily; it is made of the same shiny black plastic as the earphones. It is easy to open and close with just one hand and it powers up the earphones as soon as you open the lid, so that they automatically pair to your source device.

Extra Features & Battery Life

The QCY T13 offer compatibility with the Bluetooth 5.1 standard, together with the SBC and AAC codecs. Range is entirely inside the average, but the connection is quite stable and I’ve never had any issues with stability.

The control set (which builds on the sensitivity to the touch of the faceplates) includes play/pause with two taps on either earphone, previous track with tap-and-hold on the left hand side and next track on the right hand side, invocation of the voice assistant with three taps on the left hand side plus activation of a so-called “low latency mode” by triple-tapping on the right hand side. This mode takes advantage of Bluetooth 5.1’s ability to offer low latency, which is quite useful if you want to watch videos or play games. In fact I’ve tried playing some games on my PC and the audio was quite well synchronised. One thing I especially appreciated is the fact that without one-tap operations, there was no occasion in which I would inadvertently issue a command. There is no volume control.

The microphone works decently well, although it does have some issues with noisy places. In a quiet environment it allows you to take calls without issues.

I am quite impressed by the battery life. I have been able to use the QCY T13 for about 8 hours straight, which is quite significant in general and even more so given the super-affordable price they are sold at. Interestingly, the earphones start complaining about low battery (with a repeated modulated tone) more than half an hour before they eventually give up.

Sound & Specs

I’ve tested the QCY T13 with various sources, though mainly with my computers.

QCY T13

Frequency response N/A
Impedance N/A
Sensitivity N/A
Bluetooth version 5.1
Codecs SBC, AAC

 

There is a slight hiss in the background that’s always present, but never gets too invasive. Still, if you’re especially sensitive to this kind of things and you listen to very quiet music, it can easily get annoying.

Soundstage has a bit of width and almost no depth, so it sounds as if music were reproduced in a small space that extends to the sides. Imaging is limited to the three basic positions: left, centre and right. Anything else is basically reduced to one of these three. Instrument separation is somewhat hampered by the bass, but it’s still very much decent.

Bass is abundant, but not so much that it ends up covering everything else. In fact it stays quite separate from the rest and gives it a very solid foundation while staying mostly out of the way. The level of speed and detail is quite remarkable for and unexpected from wireless earphones of this price; although it’s not spectacular in general terms, it’s very hard to fault the T13.

Midrange is slightly recessed, with a bit of an accent on the upper region, but it’s mostly balanced. This makes it quite enjoyable whatever genre you listen to. One thing I really appreciate about it is that it has great detail and speed: in Fleetwood Mac’s Second Hand News the drums are very vividly detailed and they have great speed and decay that make them sound believable. That’s really the best compliment I can pay to the T13, given how headphones multiple times the price fail to do this.

Treble is very well made, with enough presence and detail to make it interesting without going beyond the threshold of fatigue. There are occasions in which that happens, though; as a practical example, Al Stweart’s Lord Grenville has some cymbals that can be a bit piercing. Overall, though, the T13 offer a treble section that achieves the right balance in terms of pure presence in the mix. It has decent extension, too.

QCY T13 Comparisons

I’ve reviewed a few TWS earphones in the same sub-$50 price range and they were all a bitter disappointment. For this reason, I won’t offer any comparison here – any other model I’ve tried in the past in the same price bracket as the T13 simply doesn’t hold a candle to it. I’m sure there are valid competitors out there, but unfortunately I haven’t tried any.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always been quite sceptical about entry-level TWS earphones, but the QCY T13 do bring something new to the table. Although they’re not perfect – nothing is, unfortunately – they do bring a very nice mix of features to the game. It’s especially the combination of sound quality, connectivity and battery life that makes me feel like they are the first entry-level model I’ve tried which deserves my praise. So far all of the other ones I’ve tried let me down for a reason or another, but not the T13.

So I wholeheartedly recommend getting, or at the very least trying, them. For their price (less than £30), it’s very hard to get something substantially better. This is why I’ve borrowed the title from the fourth Star Wars episode – the QCY T13 are a new hope, at least to me, that the TWS market can actually offer something worthwhile even in the entry-level segment.

About Riccardo Robecchi

Living in Glasgow, Scotland but born and raised near Milan, Italy, I got the the passion for music listening as a legacy from my father and my grandfather. I have reported on technology for major Italian publications since 2011.
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