Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Mar 16, 2021 at 09:28 am
Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
6.0
Neutral Sound
7.4
Commute/Travel
8.1
Sports/Fitness
6.5
Office
5.0
Wireless Gaming
4.8
Wired Gaming
6.0
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless are comfortable in-ears that come with a portable charging case. While they come with an ANC feature, it offers mediocre performance overall, so you can still hear bass-heavy background noises like bus or plane engines as well as higher-frequency ambient sound like the hum of an AC unit. Also, they have a boomy, uneven sound profile that adds a lot of extra punch to your audio, which can be overwhelming for some listeners. That said, they're stable enough to wear to the gym, which is nice.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Cowin Apex Elite are fair for mixed usage. They're comfortable and stable enough to wear to the gym, which is nice. While they come with an ANC feature, it offers mediocre performance, so you may be distracted by background noises while commuting or working in an office. They also have an uneven, boomy sound profile that can be overwhelming for fans of neutral sound, and they don't have an EQ.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • Breathable design.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation performance.
  • No sound customization features.
6.0 Neutral Sound

The Cowin Apex Elite are mediocre for neutral sound. They have a boomy, uneven sound profile that adds a lot of extra thump and punch to your audio, which can be overwhelming for fans of more neutral sound. Vocals and lead instruments can be a bit weak and distant, while sibilants like S and T sounds are sharp and piercing. Unfortunately, they lack an EQ for sound customization.

Pros
  • Consistent audio delivery across different users.
Cons
  • No sound customization features.
7.4 Commute/Travel

The Cowin Apex Elite are satisfactory for commute and travel. They're comfortable enough to wear during long flights, and their portable design makes it easy to carry them in your pocket. Their continuous battery life may not last through long international flights, but you can recharge them using their portable case. Unfortunately, they really struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, which can be distracting.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation performance.
8.1 Sports/Fitness

The Cowin Apex Elite are impressive for sports and fitness. These in-ears have a comfortable, stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears during your workout. Thanks to their truly wireless design, they don't make you sweat more than usual, and you don't have to worry about snagging any cords on exercise equipment. Unfortunately, you can't use their touch-sensitive controls to skip tracks or adjust the volume, which can be inconvenient if you're out on a run.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • Breathable design.
Cons
  • Plasticky build.
6.5 Office

The Cowin Apex Elite are alright for office use. These comfortable headphones don't leak a lot of noise, so you can listen to audio at loud volumes without really bothering those around you. They last for just over seven hours off of a single charge, which may not last through your 9-5 workday, but their portable charging case offers around three extra charges so you can power up on-the-go. Unfortunately, their ANC feature offers a mediocre performance, so you may be distracted by sounds like the hum of AC units.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation performance.
5.0 Wireless Gaming

The Cowin Apex Elite are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming, even with their Game Mode turned on. They also aren't compatible with PlayStation or Xbox consoles.

4.8 Wired Gaming

The Cowin Apex Elite are wireless-only headphones that can't be used wired, so they aren't suitable for wired gaming.

6.0 Phone Calls

The Cowin Apex Elite are passable for phone calls. Their integrated microphone has a mediocre recording quality, so while whoever's on the other end of the line can understand you, your voice may also sound thin and muffled. The mic also struggles to separate your voice from background noises, and these headphones offer mediocre noise isolation, so they're better suited for taking phone calls in quiet settings.

Pros
  • Integrated microphone.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation performance.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.0 Neutral Sound
  • 7.4 Commute/Travel
  • 8.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.5 Office
  • 5.0 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.8 Wired Gaming
  • 6.0 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Cowin Apex Elite are truly wireless in-ears with a unicolor design. Unlike the Cowin Apex, they have long stems that protrude from the buds, which have the Cowin logo on them.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.2 lbs
Clamping Force
0.0 lbs

The Cowin Apex Elite are very comfortable. They're lightweight and they don't go deep in your ear. You can use their touch-sensitive controls without putting any extra pressure on your ear, which is nice. They should be comfortable for long listening sessions.

6.3
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The controls are okay. You can double-tap either bud to answer/end a call or play/pause your audio. You can also tap and hold either bud for two seconds to reject a call, or to cycle between ANC On, Ambient Mode, and ANC Off. You can also triple press the right bud to turn Game Mode on and off, or triple press the left bud to activate the voice assistant. There's a chime that registers the number of taps you make, as well as voice prompts for turning Game Mode on/off and cycling through the ANC features. Unfortunately, you can't control the volume or skip tracks using these controls, and the touch panel can be a bit difficult to locate at first.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 C

Like most in-ear headphones, the Cowin Apex Elite don't trap a lot of heat inside your ear. You can wear them during your workouts, and they shouldn't make your ears sweat more than usual.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.2 "
W 1.2 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 1.4 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

These headphones are incredibly portable. They're very small and lightweight, so you can easily put them in your pocket, even when they're inside their carrying case.

7.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.3 "
W 2.3 "
H 1.3 "
Volume 6.8 Cu. Inches

The case is decent. It's made of plastic, which feels a bit flimsy and cheap. The lid also doesn't feel very sturdy, and it moves a bit when closed. However, there are four LED indicator lights to help you keep track of the battery level, which is handy.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Cowin Apex Elite have a decent build quality. They're mostly made of plastic, which feels cheap and not very durable. Their charging case also has a plasticky build. On the upside, they have an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this.

7.5
Design
Stability

The Cowin Apex Elite have good stability. They should stay in your ears during casual listening sessions and workouts at the gym.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Cowin Apex Elite truly wireless
  • 3x tip sizes
  • User Guide
  • Charging case
  • USB-A to USB-C charging cable

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.85 db
Treble Amount
-3.37 db

The Cowin Apex Elite have a boomy sound profile that adds a lot of extra punch to your audio, which is ideal for fans of bass-heavy music genres like EDM but may be overwhelming for fans of a more neutral sound. They're also lacking some low-bass, so you don't really feel the deep thump and rumble in your audio. Sibilants like S and T sounds are a bit bright, too, which may be too piercing for some listeners.

9.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.21 dB

These headphones have superb frequency response consistency. Once you achieve a proper fit and seal with the included ear tips, you should get consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.2
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.19 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
39.43 Hz
Low-Bass
-4.12 dB
Mid-Bass
3.26 dB
High-Bass
8.14 dB

The Cowin Apex Elite have mediocre bass accuracy. They're lacking in low-bass, so you don't really feel the deep thump and rumble in your audio. The rest of the range is overemphasized, however, resulting in a boomy sound that can be overwhelming for some listeners.

6.5
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.68 dB
Low-Mid
6.97 dB
Mid-Mid
0.84 dB
High-Mid
-2.41 dB

The mid accuracy is okay. There's an overemphasis in the low-mids that extends from the bass range, which can muddy vocals and lead instruments. The underemphasized high-mid can make those same instruments weak and distant in the mix.

5.1
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.52 dB
Low-Treble
-5.79 dB
Mid-Treble
6.0 dB
High-Treble
-3.88 dB

The Cowin Apex Elite have disappointing treble accuracy. The underemphasized low-treble can hurt the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments, while the overemphasized mid-treble can make sibilants like S and T sounds sharp and piercing.

5.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
3.21 db
Dips
2.4 db

These headphones have middling peaks and dips performance. The underemphasized low-bass means that you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy audio, while the peak in the high-bass and low-mids adds a boomy quality to your mix. The dip in the high-mids and low-treble makes vocals and lead instruments weak, veiled, and distant, while the peak in the mid-treble makes sibilants like cymbals piercing and harsh.

9.3
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.13
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.51
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
0.94
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.29

The Cowin Apex Elite have an outstanding imaging performance. Their weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold for the entire range, ensuring a tight bass and transparent treble. Also, the L/R drivers are well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, so objects in the stereo image like voices or footsteps are accurately placed and localized. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, and your real-world experience may vary.

1.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.7

These headphones have a terrible passive soundstage performance. Due to their in-ear design, they bypass any interaction with the outer ear, which is one of the key components in creating an out-of-body, speaker-like soundstage. As a result, audio seems like it's coming from inside your head, rather than from speakers placed all around you.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.5
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.423
WHD @ 100
0.137

The Cowin Apex Elite have a good weighted harmonic distortion performance. Aside from a small peak in the low-treble, which shouldn't be audible for most people, all frequencies fall within good limits. As a result, audio reproduction is clear and pure.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings we used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
6.3
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-14.83 dB
Bass
-9.42 dB
Mid
-15.82 dB
Treble
-19.94 dB

The Cowin Apex Elite have mediocre noise isolation. Even with their ANC feature turned on, they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. They perform a bit better with mid-range background noises, like voices, but they also struggle with treble-range ambient noise like the hum of a nearby AC unit.

7.6
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
35.86 dB

These headphones have a good leakage performance. They don't leak a lot of noise, and escaping audio sounds quite thin. It shouldn't be too noticeable for those working around you in an office unless you're listening to audio at really high volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.1
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
289.23 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.86 dB
HFE
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
46.804
Gain
8.43 dB

The integrated mic has a mediocre recording quality. Your voice should be understandable to whoever's on the other end of the line, but it also sounds thin and a bit muffled.

5.8
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
8.98 dB

The mic's noise handling performance is middling. It struggles to separate your voice from background noise, even if you're calling from a moderately noisy setting.

Active Features
7.4
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
7.1 hrs
Additional Charges
3.0
Total Battery Life
28.4 hrs
Charge Time
0.9 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Cowin Apex Elite have a decent battery performance. They last for a little over seven hours off of a single charge, which is okay. That said, battery life can vary depending on usage, so your experience may vary. Fortunately, their portable charging case offers around three extra charges to help you power up while on-the-go. There's even an auto-off timer that turns the buds off after five minutes without audio, which can help conserve battery life.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
7.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
299 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
243 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
69 ms
Android Latency
89 ms

The Cowin Apex Elite have decent Bluetooth connectivity. While their latency with iOS and Android devices is likely low enough to be suitable for watching videos, they have much higher latency with PCs. With their Game Mode feature turned on, we measured latency of 243 ms with PC (SBC), 74 ms with iOS, and 117 ms with Android devices. These headphones actually have higher latency with their Game Mode on.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

These headphones can't be used with a wired connection. They come with a USB-C to USB-A cable, but it's just for charging their case.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

The Cowin Apex Elite can be used with Bluetooth-compatible PCs, though their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming. However, they aren't compatible with PS4 or PS5 consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The Cowin Apex Elite come with a portable charging case that offers around three extra charges. It can be charged using the included USB-C to USB-A cable.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Cowin Apex Elite Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds are an upgraded version of the Cowin Apex Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds. They're advertised to have an improved ANC performance and a different design with a long stem that's more comfortable for long listening sessions. They're available in 'Black' and 'White'. We tested the Black variant, but we expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Cowin Apex Elite are budget-friendly truly wireless headphones that offer an active noise cancelling feature. They're advertised to have a more comfortable fit and a better ANC performance compared to the Cowin Apex Truly Wireless. However, their ANC feature offers a mediocre overall performance, and their boomy, uneven sound profile can be overwhelming for some listeners. See also our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $100, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best noise cancelling headphones under $100.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The Apple are better-built, more stable, and have a more balanced sound profile. Also, their ANC feature performs much better than the Cowin's. That said, the Cowin's mic has a better recording quality.

Mpow X3 Truly Wireless

The Mpow X3 Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The Mpow are better-built, more stable, and offer a more neutral sound profile. However, the Cowin's ANC feature isolates against more background noise, though its overall performance isn't that impressive.

ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless

The ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless are better than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The ENACFIRE are better-built, and even though they lack an ANC feature, they have better noise isolation. They also leak less audio, and have a more neutral sound, especially in the mid-range. However, the Cowin have a better mic performance, which is more suited for making phone calls.

TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless

The TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The TOZO are better-built, and they offer a more balanced mid-range. Also, their ANC feature isolates against more background noise, and they leak less audio. That said, the Cowin are more comfortable.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The Anker are better-built, and their v-shaped sound profile has a more balanced mid-range than the Cowin, which some listeners may prefer. They have a better noise isolation performance, leak less audio, and come with a graphic EQ for more sound customization. However, the Cowin are more comfortable.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Cowin Apex Elite Truly Wireless. The Samsung are better-built, more stable, and have a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. Thanks to their companion app, you can even customize their sound using EQ presets. Their continuous battery life is longer, and they can passively isolate against more background noises than the Cowin can with their ANC feature turned on.

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