Ultimate audio bargain: SoundMagic E11BT sound a million dollars, cost £70

Take the T3 Award for Best headphones under £100

T3 Awards 2019: Best headphones under £100: Soundmagic E11BT

We'll put our hands up here and admit some of the winners of T3 Awards 2019 are just that little bit on the premium side. But we also love a good tech bargain – we can't wait for Amazon Prime Day – and in the audio world, there's no better bargain than SoundMagic E11BT. These best cheap Bluetooth buds are the wireless successors to the same brand's legendary E10, which are among the best wired buds you can get, yet about the same price as a round of drinks in a London bar. They offer incredible battery life, great fit and audio that is on point, all for less than £70, ie: about the same as 2 rounds in a London bar. Let's drink to that.

This man is using SoundMagic E11BT and look how happy he is!

Not much is known about enigmatic Chinese headphones brand SoundMagic but it certainly seems to produce buds that are extremely high quality and remarkably cheap. Its first foray into wireless headphones is the E11BT, and they're among the best 'necklace'-style, in-ear buds you can buy, despite the highly affordable price.

One of the first things you notice about the E11BT is that they sit very easily and comfortably around your neck and in your ears. We've tried similar buds that are way more expensive, and can't compare in this regard. 

Sound quality is also genuinely startling for the price. We know £69.99 isn't 'cheap' compared to the sort of buds you find if you search for 'headphones' on Amazon and then select 'order by price, low to high' but the difference is that not only does the E11BT not sound like it came out of a Kinder Egg, in fact if you handed it to anyone to try, and didn't tell them the price, they would assume it cost well over £100.

After using these buds for a while, another thing you notice is that the battery life is quite ridiculously colossal. According to SoundMagic's UK rep, they claim 20 hours because that seems like a reasonable number – it's certainly higher than most in-ear Bluetooth buds – but in actuality it can go as high as 30 hours. And, having used them extensively, we think that is actually true. Fantastisch!

When you then factor in that they have AAC compatibility for better audio from iOS devices and an increasing number of Android ones, IPX4 water resistance, long range and reliable connectivity thanks to Bluetooth 5 and they look alright too – not exactly eyebrow-raisingly chic, but certainly not ugly, and SoundMagic E11BT look like one of the tech bargains of the year. Put it this way, I get sent a lot of the most expensive in-ear buds you can buy, but I had no problem using these instead.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."