SoundPEATS Q36 Magnetic Sport Earphones Impressions

December 28, 2017

No, The Sound Apprentice is not affiliated with SoundPEATS. In fact, I never would have heard of the brand, which is more likely trying to sound like Beats, if not for company representative Ada reaching out to me to test their new Q36 Bluetooth magnetic sport earphones. Not one to deny a request for feedback, I accepted Ada’s offer and received the $29.99 Q36 from Amazon only a few days later.

Unboxing & Accessories

My initial impression during the unboxing was that Shenzhen, China’s SoundPEATS is targeting the same consumer market as Brainwavz Audio, another Chinese audio company trying to capture consumers itching for upgrades and budget audiophiles. Much like Brainwavz, SoundPEATS’ packing and presentation exceeds expectations for the price point. The Q36 arrives in a clean-lined and well-thought carton with a moderate assortment of accessories. The Q36 comes with standard silicone extra-small, small, medium, and large ear tips and small, medium, and large stabilizing wings, two shirt clips, and a small, black, synthetic SoundPEATS-branded coin purse to stow everything in.

My impression of the accessories is that while they’re certainly all useful, the overall quality is about what you’d expect for a $30 earphone: they all get the job done but lack a premium feel. The pouch isn’t lined or padded for protection, and the ear tips have slight ridges from the mold that you can feel in your ear canal. Here’s where I give Brainwavz an edge if you’re comparing products, as their accessories almost always have a better fit and finish than you’d expect for the price paid, including Comply foam ear tips.


While we’re on the topic of ear tips, let’s get my regular disclaimer to beginner audiophiles out of the way. With the assortment of ear tips offered with the Q36, it’s important to test each set. Tip selection is critical with earphones and in-ear monitors (IEMs), and I strongly encourage you to take the time to choose the ear tip(s) that fits each ear canal best—emphasis on best and not just one that “fits”—because the audio quality, comfort, and isolation improve greatly with the ideal tip. For me, this meant mixing and matching sizes of tips and wings to ensure sound isolation and earphone stability, both of which are really important for getting the most out of the Q36.

I typically have trouble with long cylindrical-shaped earphones like the Q36, and that continued to be true. I found the Q36 to be a bulky earphone (although this is somewhat expected with most Bluetooth offerings), which meant it was a touch heavy in my ear and also protruded out of the ear quite a bit. Without the right ear tip, the Q36’s weight and design will cause sealing problems, which then negates almost all sound isolation from the outside world and all bass disappears. Considering isolation is only modest with the provided tips, this becomes a real issue. The other problem with bulk is listening fatigue. At just over an hour-and-a-half of continuous use, my ear canals were starting to ache from the pressure of the Q36 nozzle. Considering the Q36 is marketed as a sport earphone, long listening sessions probably weren’t planned for the in the design. For active use, I personally prefer designs more like the Brainwavz XF-200 (review) for something super affordable to bang around in or my Shure SE215 (review) which now comes in wired or wireless options.

On to the sound, the Q36 is what I consider a consumer-friendly earphone. The sound signature is somewhat U-shaped, giving the most emphasis to the bass and treble regions to create an artificially dynamic sound that will appeal to the general public as they seek alternatives to the cheap stock earbuds that come with most smart devices these days. This tuning is more suited for less complex rap, hip-hop, and electronic/EDM music where bass and treble emphasis is often welcomed and seemingly “fun.” I like fun, but I also like balance.

Like most earphones tuned with a U- or V-shaped dynamic range, the Q36’s mids are a bit recessed, albeit not so terribly that the bass and treble completely overwhelm your ears. I favor a slightly darker, warmer, and fuller sounding earphone or headphone: the Q36 sacrifices too much mid-range and overall clarity to be a real hi-fi instrument, in my opinion. That said, I was happily surprised to find that the treble wasn’t so tipped up that it was piercing or brittle, in fact I heard very little sibilance throughout my Spotify mix. It wasn’t until getting into very high volumes that the sound started to fall apart on both ends of the spectrum.

Still, strong vocalists sound clear but flat rather than front-and-center; bass notes are emphasized but lack timbre, settling on being more impactful than precise, and the treble simply sounds… digital, a bit cold and artificially crisp if you will.

Now I realize these listening impressions seem a bit harsh, but to me, the Q36 sounds too much like a moderately refined stock earbud or consumer-level Skullcandy earphone—it doesn’t depart enough from what you can hear elsewhere to be truly unique. If that’s OK, the Q36’s added Bluetooth connectivity and accessories fit the bill perfectly for a simple and affordable entry into Bluetooth earphones, but if you want true hi-fi performance, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

The Q36 isn’t all bad however. In fact, I wouldn’t call it bad at all—it’s just not what I have grown accustomed to wanting. In fact, if I had heard these years ago, prior to being spoiled by high-end audio, I’d likely be perfectly happy with the sound, price, and performance.

The Bluetooth connectivity was a breeze, pairing instantly with my aging Motorola Droid Turbo. I didn’t hear any constant feedback, static, or hum that often plagues cheaper Bluetooth options. Being near a running microwave did cause some sporadic interference and popping noises, but I wasn’t able to repeat it continually in other situations. The Q36 also seemed to charge quickly, within one to two hours, and lasted for nearly eight hours before shutting down. The remote worked well with positive button feedback, and the overall build of the Q36 seems solid enough where I wouldn’t fear tossing these around. The cable between the earphones could be a touch shorter as it does dangle enough to pick up noise from bouncing/rubbing on your clothes or body, so be mindful of using the shirt clips to minimize this. The magnetic backs on the earphones are also a neat feature that snaps them together for storage, keeping them tangle-free.

Bottom Line

All in all, my time with the SoundPEATS Q36 was enjoyable enough. The $29.99 Q36 is a simple, solid Bluetooth earphone that’s cheap enough to make it worth a shot, and a throwaway if it ever craps out. Sure, the sound leaves a lot for an audiophile to desire, but as a sport earphone for drowning out the drone of a treadmill, or a simple step up from cheap earbuds, the Q36 gets the job done just fine. And at this price point, the Q36 seems to be a crowd-pleaser, just check out the positive user reviews on Amazon.

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