Ailihen is another Chinese headphone manufacturer hoping to make waves in the consumer headphone market by offering decent headphones at an ultra-cheap price. The latest of these? the Ailihen C8 on-ear headphones, which come at a tiny $20 from the company’s website, with shipping options all over the world.
The Ailihen C8’s are comparable in price to the Sound Intone CX-05‘s and the Sound Intone P6’s. In fact, we even obtained them from the same contact.
But just because a product is cheap, that doesn’t mean you should buy it. Are the Ailihen C8’s any good? We put them to the test to find out.
The first thing to notice about the headphones is their design, and they actually look pretty sleek. The model we’re reviewing is white and beige, and the color combination helps give them quite a premium look. Even the cable has been given attention — instead of a simple plastic cable, the cable is a braided nylon, which is both stronger and more stylish than a plastic cable.
At this price, you wouldn’t expect to get much with the headphones, and you don’t — but you also don’t really need much. All that you’ll find in the box are the headphones themselves — no carry case, no adapter, and so on. It would have been nice to get a carry bag with the C8’s, especially considering the fact that these are small enough to take on the road. You’ll need to be careful when taking these headphones with you.
The build quality on the Ailihen C8’s is also pretty cheap, as you might expect. Even the “metal” parts — or components that look like metal — are, in fact, a painted plastic. That’s not that big of a deal considering the price though — and the plastic used on the rest of the headphones feels quite nice. Not only that, but the use of plastic helps keep the headphones extremely light.
The precedent of being middle-of-the-road continues when it comes to comfort. The C8’s most certainly don’t feel bad, but they could be a lot better.
Let’s start with the earcups, which actually feel pretty good. The headphones don’t have a ton of padding, but considering the fact that they’re so light — plus the fact that they don’t really clamp that hardly, and there’s enough on the earcups for even longer listening sessions. It’s not the earcups that are the problem though — it’s the headband.
That’s because there’s no padding to speak of on the headband. Now, for some that won’t be a big issue — it’s easy to extend the earcups a little so there’s less pressure on the top of the head. It can, however, get a little irritating. After around 30 minutes of listening the top of our head was certainly getting uncomfortable.
In general the Ailihen C8’s aren’t uncomfortable, but a little headphone on the headband wouldn’t have hurt.
At $20, you can’t expect much. And you don’t get much.
The sound of these headphones is by far the worst thing about them. We can deal with cheap build-quality and a lack of padding on the headband, but a bad sound is irredeemable.
Let’s start with the bass. The bass on the C8’s leaves a little to be desired, but it’s actually not that bad compared to the mids and the high-end. It delivers a punch, and while there’s little to no sub-bass frequencies, that punch sits pretty well around where the kick drum hits and the bass guitar sounds.
Once we get to the mids things start going downhill. There are some low-mid frequencies, but the high-mids start cutting out, giving the headphones a very muddy and unclear sound.
Continue on into the high-end, and you’re left wondering if there’s a low-pass filter on the headphones — whereby all the lower frequencies are let through and the high frequencies are totally cut out. Interestingly enough the website lists the frequency range as 20Hz – 2000Hz (which is astonishingly low). We assume they mean 20,000Hz, which is an industry standard, but the fact remains — vocals don’t cut through a mix and cymbals are only heard in the distance. Even strings are a little dull.
To top it all off, the headphones are not, as advertised, “noise isolating.” Little outside sound is cut out, and you’ll get quite a bit of bleed from your music, despite the fact that these are closed-back headphones.
The Ailihen C8’s aren’t a great pair of headphones, but they’re actually not that bad for the price. They look pretty good, are reasonably comfortable with the exception of the headband, and offer a good amount of bass. Audiophiles should most certainly steer clear of the C8’s as should anyone who appreciates high frequencies. But if you just want to look stylish and hear pounding bass, then these could work for you.
Still, at this price we can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be better served with another pair of headphones. The JVC Flats, for example, come in at only $15, and were rated by CNET as some of the best headphones for under $25.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||40mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
|Maximum input power
||No||Cable length||1.5m (4.9ft)|
|Weight||Unknown||Colors||Blue, orange, green, beige|