The EKSA H1 is a Bluetooth speaker designed with a very specific core function in mind and that’s to provide the means to talk on your phone or listen to music while driving, hence the trucker headset appellation. Its use (obviously) isn’t limited to only truck drivers, considering that you’ll see this type of headsets in call centers as well and in most retail stores.
And that’s because these devices should be able to ensure that the sound during a call is crystal clear even if there is a lot of noise in the background. The EKSA H1 promised to do so using a particular implementation of the noise canceling technology.
To be specific, it relies on an ENC chip and some machine learning algorithms to filter external noise, while ensuring that the voice remains clear. Obviously, we’re going to test the microphone performance in a minute, as well as the overall sound quality. But do know that everything is going to be in mono mode. That’s because you only get one earcup and the headband, so one of your ears is always going to be free, allowing you to hear everything that happens around you.
The way you can connect the headset is via Bluetooth only, which is sensible when driving your car and there is a 500mAh rechargeable battery which EKSA says that it should last up to 45 hours while listening to music and 25 hours when taking calls. That being said, let’s have a closer look at the EKSA H1 and see if it’s indeed a reliable trucker headset.
The Build Quality and the Design
The EKSA H1 follows the blueprint behind the other trucker headsets, so expect just a single earcup with a microphone and the headband because the idea is to keep the other ear free. And it can be either the left or the right ear because the microphone can be rotated about 270 degrees (the rotating movement feels very satisfying). The microphone can’t be detached, but you do get the option to adjust the way it’s angled (to bring it closer to your mouth).
And there is an LED at the end of the microphone that lights up and stays solid red when you’re in a call. The headset is mostly made of plastic with some silicone portions and there’s a metallic slider. Also, the EKSA H1 has adopted a very conservative look which means that it’s covered by a black matte finish and there is no flashy design element.
Maybe with the exception of the LEDs, but the idea is that this doesn’t look like a gaming headset in any way. Which is a good thing considering the targeted audience, but is the EKSA H1 actually comfortable to wear for a long time? It’s fairly comfortable for maybe an hour or two, but you’ll need to adjust its position after that. And the reason is the silicone piece at the opposite end of the earcup. But before expanding on that I need to mention just how lightweight the EKSA H1 actually is.
At 2.6 ounces (or 75g), it actually weighs way less than the EKSA Air Joy Plus and it makes sense since it only has an earcup, but the idea is that there should be no pressure points. And I was a bit skeptical of the headband since it’s a piece of plastic coated by rubber, so how would it actually be comfortable on the head? Well, it actually is and even after sliding the earcup to the maximum, it would still not push on the top of my head (thanks to the light weight).
But, I am not really fond of the silicone replacement for the secondary earcup. It’s fairly soft and thick, but it does have a harder portion in the middle, where it gets attached to the arm. And it’s there that I could feel it push against my head. Again, it’s not that much of an inconvenience at first, but it adds up after an hour or so.
The cushion on the earpad was nice and thick enough considering the weight of the headset. And it seems that it’s made of protein leather, but it doesn’t seem like you’d be able to replace. I tried detaching it using a prying tool, but after some weird noises, I quickly got discouraged. Before moving to the controls, I do need to mention how smooth the slider is and that it never got stuck, which is excellent at this price point. Also, the earcup pans and tilts up to about 120 degrees (so does the silicone section but at a much limited range).
All the controls are on the only existing earcup which is not surprising. And the first button is located on the microphone, allowing you to mute it if needed. Then, there’s the Volume Up and Down buttons that also work as Next and Previous track if you press and hold the buttons for a couple of seconds.
In the middle, there’s the multi-function button which you can click once to Pause or Play a track, press three times to enable the voice assistant or press and hold for two seconds to turn on or off the headset.
In case you get a call, simply press the button to answer and if you click again, it will hang up. It’s also possible to answer a new call while you’re on a call by pressing the multi-button once (which will hang the existing call), but you can also put the first call on hold by double clicking the multi-button. If you press and hold the button, it will reject the new call. As for charging the battery, EKSA has added a USB-C port and there is also a type-C to USB-A cable inside the package.
Internal Hardware and Connectivity
I was unable to actually open the earcup, so I could only rely on the official website to see the type of internal hardware. And it uses the Qualcomm platform that supports Bluetooth 5.0 for the wireless communication. The manufacturer says that the EKSA H1 should be able to reach up to 32 feet (or 10m) if there are some objects in between the source and the headset.
And that’s pretty much what I saw as well – true for most Bluetooth 4+ TWS earbuds or headphones. But there is a feature that simply refuses to become the norm with the inexpensive headphones and it’s the Bluetooth multipoint.
Fortunately, it is supported by the EKSA H1, so you can connect the headset to two Bluetooth devices at the same time and switch between them when you get calls or listen to music. And all of these are done in a seamless manner if you press and hold for 2 seconds on the multi-function button.
The Sound Quality of the EKSA H1
Since it has a single earcup, the EKSA H1 is going to play any song in mono mode, so there is going to be an impact on the sound quality for this reason alone. Obviously, this headset wasn’t really designed to produce high fidelity audio, but it doesn’t sound that bad either. Before listening to some songs, I wanted to check the driver quality, so I played a sweeping tone that goes through frequencies. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any buzzing, so the tone should remain clean and smooth.
Unsurprisingly, there was some buzzing, but it’s actually common at this price point. I usually check some binaural recordings, but it didn’t really make that much sense in this context, so I decided to check out some bass-focused songs. The first one was Faded from Zhu and the bass is definitely pronounced and full, but it is also dominating the entire scene. The voice is a bit recessed and echo-y.
Next, I checked System Of A Down – Mr Jack and this is a very busy song, so considering the experience with the previous track, I didn’t have high expectation. And yes, the imaging and the instrument differentiation is not that great, the bass is again dominating and partially covering the mids. Also, since so much is going on, it can get a bit fatiguing to listen to. Then I checked Sofi Tukker – Déjà Vu Affair and I admit I liked the bass beats, but the bass remains dominating, while the female voice is a bit more forward than the male one (still sounds echo-y though).
I also checked a mid-bass-focused song called Morph The Cat by Donald Fagan and it sounds a bit flat, the mid bass is again covering almost everything, so no clear instrument differentiation. It wasn’t that great, but not terrible. Lastly, I checked a treble-focused song, Paradise City by Guns n Roses and I have to say that the treble is under powered. This means that the entire song is a bit anemic, but it’s not fatiguing.
I may have seemed overly critique of the sound quality and it’s true that it’s not that great, but the EKSA H1 should still be enough for some light music listening sessions when you’re in the car. Still, know that this wasn’t the focus of the headset, it was the microphone performance.
Is the microphone great?
The whole point behind the EKSA H1 was to provide a good call quality even in a very noisy environment and in my tests, it has proven to be up to the task.
I have talked with multiple people using the headset and two out of three people said that my voice become a bit more distant when using the EKSA H1 than when using the phone. Nothing dramatic and no problem in terms of clarity, just a bit more distant. But, the interesting thing was that even if there was a lot of noise, even high-frequency sounds, it would get canceled quite efficiently. So the person on the other end of the call could not tell that I was in a very busy coffee shop or that I was hitting nails with a hammer a few inches from the headset.
The Battery Life
EKSA says that the 500mAh internal battery will last up to 25 hours if you’re using the H1 headset for calls and up to 45 hours if you only listen to music at 70% volume. I haven’t talked for 25 hours, but I did for a couple of hours and the battery went down by 15%.
This means that you should get a bit over 13 hours on a single charge, which is more like half the advertised amount. But it is true that the battery did held up better when playing music, so I could listen to music for a bit over 24 hours. It’s not a bad performance by any metric, but not really as the advertised amount.
The trucker headsets are definitely a niche product, serving very specific needs and I do think that the EKSA H1 is able to rise up to the expectations. The built quality is good, they’re fairly comfortable and the battery life is decently good. Sure, the sound quality is not the best out there, but the point of the EKSA H1 is to provide a good call quality even in a noisy environment. And it can provide just that, so, considering the price tag, it’s able to serve its purpose.
- The microphone is great at canceling external sounds
- The call quality is really good
- Decent battery life
- I like the controls
- The sound quality is not that great
- The rubber piece that sits on your head is not that comfortable