Cheap Earbuds Review: AWEI S90vi
My quest to find the the perfect cheap earbuds continues this spring. It has been a really long winter in Ottawa and I've had a chance to really battle test this latest pair. I'm quite excited to announce that I've found the ideal earbud to send out for my cheap earbud subscription service.
  • I will not be reviewing high end or well-known brands.
  • All earbuds will cost under $50. Hopefully much lower so I can include them in my subscription service, which has a fixed cost per month.
  • All equipment must be "somewhat" durable (1-2 months of use but probably not 1-2 years).

The benefits of having low cost earbuds are many. They should at least sound good enough for daily use, but after that if the earbuds are cheap I don't worry if I forget them or drop them in water.

Often when I am getting ready for my walk to work I leave my earbuds hanging low enough to step on them. This is terrible for Apple EarPods because they get crushed! With these earbuds there is no big loss, since the replacement cost is so small and I'm always getting another pair the next month.

The pair of earbuds in this review are the AWEI S90vi Smart Earphone with microphone. As I wrote in my previous earphone reviews I will rate each review with the same set of characteristics to allow for easy comparison between models. These characteristics will be Build Quality, Tangle Rating, Audio Quality and Overall Impression. 







AWEI S90vi box with close up of information

Some of the best sets will also be for sale on my earbud subscription service at our store– earbuds will only be stocked by our shop if they achieve a high enough rating. These have to be earbuds I would consider for daily use but enough about that, lets year about the build quality for the AWEI S90vi earbuds.

Build Quality

This package is much better than the brands which choose plastic or envelopes to package their earbuds. The price for these again is a few times higher than my previous samples and this is evident in the packaging. Its a solid box with some nice touches like foil behind the clear plastic package. It doesn't look as terrible as other ones, but thats about as much as I can say.

 s90vi with extra earcups and cheap earbud case

For most audiophiles the package doesn't take any consideration. I like to take a quick cursory look and consider the build quality of the packaging also, sort of like a "broken window" heuristic. So far this has worked well.

The box also indicates the electrical specs of the earbuds. Interestingly enough they note the tolerance also, but I'm unable to test the accuracy of the numbers anyhow.

These are rated as 16Ω. (+ / - 15  %) To compare this with other models some top of the line earbuds are around 18Ω – this means you can use higher-end earbuds with lower quality, or quieter amplifiers. This doesn't really matter these days since we're all just plugging into smartphones. 

The loudness is rated as 110dB SPL (+ / - 3dB)  which is pretty decent for most earbuds. The frequency response is 20Hz to 20KHz and the listening experience is supreme. The bass is very smooth and does not distort. It produces deep bass, but also crips snappy high end that doesn't tire the ears, which is an important quality for my use.

I'm giving them a build quality of 4.5 out of 5 stars. These are fantastic compared to any of the models I've tried in the past. 

Tangle Rating

These are made with a beats-style flat plastic cable. They almost never have tangle issues but the earbuds can get caught if the earbuds aren't coiled neatly before storage. These are close to the ultimate in tangle-free use but I feel a more rigid cable would prevent tangles. They're just too soft, the design is close but not quite right. Just like a regular cord they can become tangled eventually. I give them a pretty good rating, 4 out of a possible 5 stars.

 Great tangle proof design, flat cable close up

Audio Quality

This is another set of earbuds that I can absolutely use every single day. I have been using this specific pair daily for about 6 months as I write this. I've just had to replace a few lost earcups (the package includes several) The audio quality is absolutely great. I'm quite happy to listen to these for hours.

I was impressed that small details like rain and hand percussion  were coming through - just like the last AWEI earbuds - these are almost like my studio speakers. The range of sounds these can faithfully reproduce is shocking. I haven't seen a pair of cheap earbuds that also sounds this good EVER.

These are certainly good enough for daily use and sound great. I will be giving them 5 out of 5 stars in this category.

Overall Impression

 These are a fantastic set of earbuds. They are stylish in an interesting way. The wooden finish is a nice touch. 

The overall rating for these was 13.5 out of 15 stars. If you want to get your hands on these you can buy them now at


As always you can stay tuned for more reviews in the coming months.

 Cheap Earbuds, model S90vi with case, extra ear cups and cable clip