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Baseus Eli Sport 1 review: killer open-ear value

Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Baseus Eli Sport 1
MSRP $80.00
“The Eli Sport 1 are the best value so far in the open-ear category.”
  • Under $100
  • Comfy and secure
  • Very effective bass mode
  • Handy neck lanyard
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
  • No wireless charging
  • Lanyard must be removed for charging
  • Small touch-control area

I had never heard of Baseus before 2023. Then, the company sent me its Bowie MA10 wireless earbuds, and I became an instant fan. For well under $50, those earbuds have just about everything you could possibly want. So when Baseus asked if it could send me the Eli Sport 1 — its first set of open-ear wireless earbuds — I jumped at the chance to try them.

The top end of the open-ear category isn’t cheap, with prices ranging from $150 to $300. My hope was that Baseus would once again deliver a product that was far better than its price suggested. The $80 Eli Sport 1 didn’t let me down.

They sound surprisingly good and offer most, if not all, of the features you could want. Here’s what you need to know.

Open-ear design

Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Because open-ear earbuds and headphones are still a relatively new category, I’ll start by reminding you how they differ from typical wireless earbuds. As the name suggests, they’re “open,” which means that they don’t sit in your ear and won’t block your ear canal.

The two biggest advantages of this design are comfort and situational awareness. You could listen to the Eli Sport 1 at a very comfortable volume level and still hear important sounds around you, like car horns or someone calling your name. For runners, cyclists, or any others who find themselves in spots where hearing external sounds could make a big difference to safety, it’s a major benefit.

The downside is the other aspect of that equation. You can never totally block out external sounds, and sometimes, that will be annoying, especially when listening to spoken-word content like podcasts or phone calls. Still, for those who care about what’s going on around them, it’s a small price to pay.

The Eli Sport 1 come in three colors: black, white, and the green/white combo of our evaluation unit. Baseus says that the green color glows in the dark, but I’m inclined to think of it as high-visibility instead.

(Some) strings attached

Baseus Eli Sport 1 with lanyard.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The vast majority of open-ear earbuds are just like regular wireless earbuds in that when you pull them from their charging case and pop them in (or on) your ears, there isn’t an easy and obvious way to deal with them when they’re not being worn.

You either stick them in your pocket or bring the case along wherever you go — neither of which is ideal.

Simon Cohen wearing Baseus Eli Sport 1 with lanyard.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Eli Sport 1, on the other hand, come with a matching neck lanyard. Its plastic ends twist-lock into the back of the earbuds’ earhooks, and the lanyard itself has an optional plastic cinch so you can alter the fit from snug to barely there. I found the Eli Sport 1 so secure on their own that I didn’t feel the need to use the lanyard for fit reasons, but it proved very convenient for those times when I wanted to remove them temporarily. If you’ve ever been on a flight and been told to remove your earbuds for the safety announcement, you know what I mean.

I’ve only seen this hybrid approach on one other open-ear design: the $170 Soundcore AeroFit Pro. Those open-ears also come with a removable neckband, but Soundcore’s design is semi-rigid. It’s adjustable but not especially flexible, which means it tends to affect the positioning of the earbuds on your ears, which can really undermine sound quality. The Baseus’ lanyard may not be as rugged, but it’s far less intrusive.

Classy case

Baseus Eli Sport 1 with USB cable and lanyard inside the charging case.
The detached lanyard will fit inside the case — but just barely. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

My only critique is that once the lanyard is attached, you can’t put the earbuds back in the charging case. You can, however, get the detached lanyard in the case if you wrap it carefully around the buds.

I really like the design of the Eli Sport 1’s case. All open-ear cases tend to be a bit bulky — it’s the nature of the beast because of the size of the earbuds — yet this case looks and feels lighter and thinner than most. The Eli Sport 1 have a very distinct design, including what I’ve come to think of as Baseus’ trademark glowing LED ring indicators (the Bowie MA10 have these, too), and the transparent polycarbonate clamshell lid lets you see them (it also lets you see the case’s charging indicator LED).

Unfortunately, the case does not support wireless charging (though at this price, not many open-ear earbuds do) and I’m not sure how well that lid will stand up to scratches over time.

Comfy and secure

Simon Cohen wearing Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

In my experience, even the least comfortable open-ear earbuds are still very comfortable for long periods—usually far longer than semi-open (e.g., Apple AirPods) or closed (e.g., Apple AirPods Pro) wireless earbuds. And the Eli Sport 1 are definitely among the more comfortable open-ears I’ve tried so far.

Both the main speaker pod and the rear ear-hook pod/lanyard connector are covered in a soft-finish plastic, while the titanium connecting wire is wrapped in an even softer silicone. Both feel good against the skin, and the titanium wire is very flexible — it should conform to a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes.

As I noted earlier, they provide plenty of grip when worn, barely budging at all once they’re in place. This includes when you’re head-down (to pick up weights or other objects) or when lying down to do some bench presses (or maybe taking a nap).

As with all earhook designs, there are some compromises when wearing glasses. I found the hook wires thin enough that they could exist side-by-side with my glasses limbs if needed, but this did reduce the comfort a little bit. If the glasses thing is a big priority for you, you may want to consider ear-clip-style open-ears like the Bose Open Ultra Earbuds, though, at $300, I’m not sure I could justify that expense purely based on fit.

Basic controls

Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Touch controls can be, well, touchy. I’ve found that they work best when the touch area occupies almost the entire surface of an earbud — Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 4 are especially good — and when they don’t, that’s when you can run into difficulty.

Such is the case with the Eli Sport 1. They have a large outer surface, which looks like it should be entirely touch sensitive, but only the portion behind the round LED indicator can be tapped.

In practice, this means you’ll have to be more intentional when tapping and aiming for the rear of the speaker pod. And, since there’s no confirmation tone when taps are accurately registered, the only way to know if your tap worked is if it did what you expected it to do.

The good news is that, assuming you hit the right area, taps are almost always recognized.

Out of the box, you can control playback, track skipping, and volume. You can optionally add a command for low-latency mode or access to your voice assistant, but these will replace either a track skip command or play/pause. Only the volume control gestures remain off-limits for other commands, but you can turn it off if you don’t need it.

Behold, bass!

Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The one nearly universal area of weakness for open-ear earbuds is low-frequency sound. Bass tends to get lost in the transition from the speaker to our eardrum because that gap isn’t sealed — to many external sounds can wash it away. It’s why you’ll normally get the best bass response from a set of earbuds with snug-fitting silicone tips.

And yet, the Eli Sport 1 manage to preserve bass exceptionally well — better, in fact, than almost any other open-ear I’ve tried.

This is true using the default settings, but it becomes especially pronounced when you engage the optional low-frequency enhancement mode from inside the Baseus app. Doing so overrides any other EQ adjustments, and it produces a decidedly boom-y sound that’s heavy on the lows.

The corresponding drop in clarity throughout the mids and highs means you won’t want to use it for casual music listening. But if you’re in the gym or on a run and need a pounding rhythm to keep you moving, this mode will get you there.

The default tuning is perfectly fine for most music genres, with a nice balance and clear delivery. I found it a tad strident in the upper registers, but thankfully, the EQ Mode offers plenty of presets if you’re looking for something specific. As with many EQ presets, the labels aren’t always helpful. I’m not really sure what I expected before tapping the Theater, HiFi, or DJ buttons, but it wasn’t what I heard. So ignore those labels — just tap around until you find one you like and remember which one it was.

You may find, as I did, that the Eli Sport 1 don’t seem to get very loud, even at maximum volume. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but there’s a fix: in the EQ Mode settings, scroll to the bottom of the presets and tap the Custom button.

This opens up an eight-band equalizer that you can tweak to your heart’s content. But more important is that it gives a big boost to the current volume level. When I entered this mode at 90% volume on my iPhone 14, I was able to back it off to 60% to achieve the same level. Better yet, I was able to selectively reduce the level of those high frequencies that were annoying me while at the same time giving the bass a goose — a balance I wasn’t able to find using the presets.

Overall, the Eli Sport 1 can’t compete on sound quality with far more expensive models like the $229 Oladance OWS Pro or the $300 Bose Open Ultra Earbuds, but they don’t have to: for under $100, you won’t find anything that sounds better.

Windy calls

Baseus Eli Sport 1 with lanyard.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Open-ear earbuds are fantastic for phone calls and meetings when indoors because they’re comfortable and they let you hear your own voice as naturally as if you weren’t wearing earbuds at all.

The Eli Sport 1 are very effective when used this way, especially with their support for dual-simultaneous device connections via Bluetooth Multipoint. Outdoors, you’ll still benefit from that natural sound, but your callers may complain about wind noise. The mics don’t have much protection from the wind, and the software doesn’t do much to compensate.

This could be a problem if your goal is to take work calls while commuting on a bike or running.

Battery life

Baseus Eli Sport 1.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I’ve come to expect high battery life numbers from open-ear earbuds when compared to traditional wireless earbuds, but the Eli Sport 1 offer a more traditional level of stamina: a claimed 7.5 hours per charge and a total of 30 hours when you include the charging case.

There’s also a quick-charge feature that gives you two extra hours of playtime for 10 minutes in the case.

Baseus has priced the Eli Sport 1 at $80, which already makes them one of the best values in the open-ear earbuds category — I wouldn’t hesitate to buy them for that money.

However, Baseus is one of those brands that constantly keeps its products discounted on Amazon, with anywhere from 10% to 30% off that $80 price, making them extremely attractive. For that level of investment, even if you’re unsure whether open-ears are right for you, they’re worth it.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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