QCY – an acronym for “quality,” “creative,” and “youth” according to their sales page – is yet another relatively new Chinese audio company that has gained significant market share thanks to the boon of global ecommerce. They’re the first audio company I’ve seen that, interestingly, explicitly markets to young people, which is certainly a demographic that’s driving the exponentially increasing demand for wireless portable audio, and for an affordable price at that.
Enter the T17 wireless earbuds, which is the fist QCY product that I’ve personally tested and reviewed. They’re a bit dated now, released circa 2021 with Bluetooth 5.1, but have been discounted to under $20, which is really cheap for full featured true wireless earbuds. The brand and its products have received some high praise in the audio community that I’ve seen, so I was definitely interested to see how the T17 earbuds sounded.
The packaging is pretty minimal and relatively on par with how ultra cheap earbuds come. The box is relatively thin and flimsy. The earbuds and case are embedded in a single piece of contoured packing plastic, and the accessories are underneath that. I’m not sure why companies sometimes don’t just ship the earbuds inside the case – that is the easiest way to ensure they won’t get damaged during shipping and handling. Oh well. The T17 earbuds arrived to me in fine condition, and as long as that happens I’m perfectly OK with companies cutting corners with packaging to keep the cost of budget gear as low as possible.
What Accessories Come With The QCY T17?
two additional pairs of silicone replacement tips
short USB type C charging cable
The inclusions are also pretty minimal. I do like to see a variety of replacement tips in different styles – more than just two small/large variants – even with budget earbuds. Some companies have started to be better about that.
headphone front and back
nozzle and with tip
in ear fit
How Good and Comfortable Is the QCY T17 Fit?
The T17, despite being a little shallow and uncontoured, actually fits very well. I used the largest of the three tips (I’m almost always a medium-ish guy) and they do a nice job of creating a nice firm seal in the outer part of the ear canal (the concha) rather than inserting deeper into the narrowing part of the canal like most in-ear headphones need to be. The seal and fit maintained with zero issues no matter how I moved my head or jaw around.
I normally dislike shallower feeling earbuds, but the T17 fit is uniquely good and, I think, a great and much desired option for those who prefer shallower earbud fit or are otherwise squeamish about things going deeper into their ears.
The buds are easy enough to put in but a little tough to take out – the tips had a penchant for flipping over on themselves if I just yanked them out. If you pull them out lightly while twisting them slightly it solves that problem.
Does the QCY T17 Have Good Touch Controls, and Is It Easy to Use?
The T17 honestly does not have great touch controls or usability. The first issue is there’s no touch commands to adjust the volume, which, at the time of this writing/update, is just a pretty unacceptable omission (I’ve only ever seen one other true wireless earbud that I’ve reviewed not have volume touch controls). I also found the tracking commands to be pretty finnicky – they often didn’t seem to go through, and, it took me some time to figure out that you have to double tap pretty fast and touch the right part of the earbud (kind of towards the top) for the command to work.
List QCY T17 Touch Control Functions:
track forward – touch and hold right earbud for 1.5s
reset/track backward – touch and hold left earbud for 1.5s
pause/play – double tap either left/right earbud
answer/end call – double tap either left/right earbud
ignore incoming call – touch and hold either earbud for 1.5s
Pairing the T17 is easy and straightforward – they automatically enter pairing mode when you open the case or take the buds out after the initial charge. Then you you simply select “QCY-T17” from the Bluetooth menu and you’re good to go.
Durability: Is the QCY TT7 Waterproof And/Or Dustproof?
The T17 has an official ingress protection code of IPX5 – the final “5” digit means it’s water resistant up to moderate jets, but not full immersion; and the penultimate “X” digit means it has no certification for resistance to dust or debris. True wireless earbuds with double digit IP codes that do have dust/debris resistance are still not all that common but some do exist and they’re generally more expensive. See the links at the end for some such alternative recommendations. IPX5 certification is sufficient protection for working out and other basic active/outdoor use.
Does the QCY TT7 Have Good Isolation And/Or Active Noise Cancellation?
QCY claims the T17 has “active noise cancelling for clear calls” on their sales page, but doesn’t elaborate on what that technically means, at least anywhere that I could find. But even assuming there isn’t actual anc technology, the isolation of the T17 is decent, solidly medium I’d say. These will be fine for basic commuter use.
The case is decently compact and has a nice rounded oval shape to make taking it in and out of a pocket fairly easy. The case and lid feel a little light and flimsy, but, for something that’s available for less than $20 it’s perfectly solid in my opinion. I wish the charge port had a protective cover and I don’t know why companies are seeming to omit that more and more.
plugged in and charging up
How Good Is the QCY T17 Battery Life?
The T17 earbuds can hold up to 7.5 hours of charge, and the case offers up to an additional 18.5 hours for a grand total of 26 hours of battery life before needing to plug back in. This is OK battery life for the bare minimum price, but, there are other true wireless earbuds that have significantly longer battery life that aren’t all that much more money.
Does the QCY T17 Have Good Warranty Coverage?
All QCY earbuds have a 30 day no-questions-asked return window and a one year limited warranty against manufacturer defects, the latter of which is the fairly standard minimum for budget audio electronics in general.
The Important Question: Does the QCY T17 Sound Good?
True wireless earbuds available for under $20 are honestly a crapshoot, but, I will say that the QCY sounds very, impressively good for the bare minimum price.
The sound, overall, is nicely even, and the tone and clarity is quite good. The T17 does not have any major deal-breaking issues or suffer any of the common pitfalls that ultra-cheap headphones are prone to.
The T17 sound signature follows a Harman/U-shape, which is fairly standard for budget and/or mass marketed headphones, but is a bit skewed on the bass side. The bass is tuned up and the mids are noticeably recessed, and so are the highs but less so.
QCY doesn’t publish any sound related product specs, like response range, that I could find. The bass extension is OK, about on par with most budget earbuds. The drops I normally test fell off a little bit but the bass was otherwise pretty consistent. The bass was a little loose and muddy, with some pitch and tone loss and the so called “rumbly” effect.
So how does the T17 compare to industry leading anc true wireless earbuds that cost more than ten times as much?
I have to admit, I went back and forth between the two on my usual segments quite a few times. The T17 isn’t as full and detailed as the Galaxy Buds Pro, and the mids and highs sound a little sucked in behind the bass and otherwise flat, but, other than the inferior (in my opinion) tuning, the T17 held its own. The sound of the instruments remained consistent and the clarity remained consistent (the latter is not an easy feat by the way). I couldn’t really find any specific nitpicks, just that, overall, the T17 just doesn’t quite have that full soundstage with separation sensation that something like the Galaxy Buds Pro can offer. Again, I’m quite impressed with the engineering QCY has managed to accomplish at this price-point. I’m definitely excited to review some of QCY’s higher end products in the future to see how they stack up.
Final Verdict: Is the QCY T17 Worth Buying?
The T17 is arguably one of the best sounding true wireless earbuds now available for under $20. Possibly the best. If you want wireless earbuds with the best possible sound at the bare minimum price that are otherwise decent enough to wear and use, the T17 is likely the best choice.
The unique fit that’s relatively shallow but still creates a nicely firm seal is also a great selling point for those who dislike things going deeper into the ear.
My only complains are, one, no touch controls for volume adjustment, and two, that the controls are a little finnicky and didn’t seem to go through consistently.
Pete Anthony has had a lifelong affinity for music, and more recently has become an anti audiophile snob who wants great sound to be accessible and enjoyable by anyone. Without needing to break the bank. Read his full author page here.