There’s no doubt that you can pick up some impressive wireless earbuds for well under £100/$100 these days, but you won’t find many that offer active noise cancelling. That’s why it’s surprising to find the Enacfire A9s doing precisely that and at a price that challenges the best value alternatives.
So, can the reality match the promise? I take the Enacfire A9 earbuds for a spin.
Design & Build
As with all modern earbuds, the A9s come in a small plastic case with a flippable lid that not only acts as a home for them when not in use but also doubles as a charger.
On the underside, you’ll find a solitary USB-C port, while the front of the case has a small LED to let you know when it’s being charged at the mains or is providing power to the earbuds. The 400mAh battery means that it can recharge the buds many times before needing to top it up.
Removing the buds themselves reveals a slightly bulbous body, plus short stems, making the whole aesthetic reminiscent of the Apple AirPods Pro, albeit with a black livery rather than white and £200/$200 off the price tag. It’s a shame no other colours are available.
The speakers come with detachable silicone tips. With Enacfire including three different sizes in the box, and I found them to be comfortable even during extended listening sessions and sit firmly in the ear without feeling like they’d slip out at any moment.
The stems are subtle enough to hide away without bringing attention to themselves and the lightweight construction makes the buds feel like they almost disappear once you put them in your ears.
Not always a given for cheap earbuds, the tops of the stems feature touch-sensitive areas that are used to control volume, playback and switching between the various audio modes. You’ll need to spend a little time remembering them, as some controls are mapped to one bud while others only work on its opposite number.
For instance, tapping the right bud once will play/pause whatever you’re listening to, but tapping the left bud once will select the next mode: Noise Cancelling On, Noise Cancelling Off or Ambient mode. More on those later.
For the most part, the taps were registered with a decent level of accuracy. One nice touch (pun unintended) is that to increase or decrease the volume, you tap and hold one of the buds. Rather than jumping up quickly, the volume ascends or descends at a slow rate, so there are no sudden surprises.
Enacfire fits the A9 earbuds with four microphones, so phone calls sound sharp and clear for the recipient.
As a nice bonus, the Enacfire A9s also come with a IPX7 rating, meaning you can use them for sweaty sessions at the gym (I’m told) or surviving heavy downpours while out walking the dog (which I can vouch for).
Sound Quality & Features
Obviously, the main selling point of the A9s is the active noise cancellation feature. In this area, we have to moderate our expectations somewhat as it’s hard for earbuds to deliver the same kind of isolation as over the ear headphones, due to the fact that they need to be tightly secured in your ears at all times to eliminate any outside noise.
With that in mind, turning on the noise cancelling mode does manage to remove some of the higher register white noise, while maintaining the integrity of the audio coming from your device. Walking along a country lane with people out mowing lawns and sawing trees, I switched regularly between noise cancelling on and off, finding that while those errant sounds of rural industry weren’t removed entirely, there was a definite softening of the harsh edges, improving my overall aural experience.
It wasn’t life-altering in any way, but was a welcome, if subtle, enhancement to my stroll while enjoying an audiobook.
The other mode is announced in your ears as Ambient, whereas the Enacfire website and manual call it Transparency. This is a variant of noise cancelling that also introduces a small amount of ambient noise from your surroundings so you can hear train announcements, the approach of cars, or that your Friday night curry is ready.
In truth, I didn’t notice that much of a difference between this and the mode where noise cancelling is turned off, although there was more natural reverb in the mix, suggesting outside sounds would be clearer.
Sound quality is excellent. The A9s deliver a full scope of frequencies that keep songs, podcasts and audiobooks full and rich, while also balancing out the lower frequencies in a way that they never overpower or feel absent.
Using the noise cancelling feature also tightens up the sound, with that brittle top end softening out while still retaining clarity. Ok, that all feels a bit like I’m spiralling into audiophile pretentious nonsense, but just trust me, these are good sounding earbuds.
One small attention to details that I really like, and which demonstrates that the engineers at Enacfire are paying attention, is that when you switch between modes the audio gently comes up to the previous volume level afterwards rather than jumping back immediately and giving you a sudden jolt.
It’s a little thing, but it’s normally something reserved for expensive products and adds to the already impressive experience.
When it comes to battery life, the company claims that the 45mAh battery in each bud delivers a maximum of six hours if you have noise cancelling turned off or four and half hours with it turned on.
I found working in the garden for around four hours one afternoon, with noise cancelling enabled, went by without a warning bell or the buds running out of juice. The best part was that I only charged the case up fully at the start of the week (taking around two hours) and it was still topping up the A9s at the end, even with regularly listening to things on them for at least a couple of hours each day.
If they do reach zero, then popping the in case sees a complete restoration of power in about an hour and a half. The case can charge the earbuds many times giving you a decent theoretical total of 32 hours.
Price & Availability
You can order the A9 earbuds directly from the Enacfire website, with UK customers looking at a price tag of £59.99 and $69.99 those in the US. Bear in mind that these will ship from China, so be careful to work out any local customs that may be payable.
However, they are readily available for cheaper prices elsewhere. You can buy the Enacfire A9 earbuds on Amazon UK for £49.99 and Amazon USA for $49.99.
This means they undercut rivals such as the Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC and Huawei FreeBuds 3i which are £79 and £89 respectively.
Check our chart of the best budget wireless earbuds to see what all your options are.
Up until now, my favourite wireless earbuds in the under budget market was definitely the Sound Liberty 79 buds, and while they are still excellent, I shall be reluctantly putting them back in their case as the Enacfire A9 ANC earbuds are now top of the list.
Not only does the subtle noise cancelling feature enrich the audio, but the design, comfort, durable battery life and simple controls all add up to a product that I genuinely enjoy using.
For around £50/$50 I can’t see how you could buy a better set of wireless earbuds. The king is dead. Long live the king.
Enacfire A9 Wireless Earbuds: Specs
Bluetooth 5.0 A2DP/AVRCP/HFP
IPX7 waterpoof rating
Active Noise Cancelling modes
45mAh battery (earbuds)
400mAh battery (charging case)
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