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Any time I’m in any store, I inevitably make it over to the electronics section if there is one. Obviously a local craft store (probably) doesn’t have an electronics section, but I’m surprised at what stores do. Pharmacies usually carry a few pieces of tech. Some convenience stores, do. Even my local grocer carries the occasional tech, to say nothing of the rotating middle aisle at Aldi.
And yes, dollar stores do, too. Dollar General, for example, carries a modest selection of tech that includes cell phones and prepaid phone plans. Family Dollar stocks a couple of radios and TV antennas. Five Below has entire walls devoted to cheap technology.
Then there is Dollar Tree. Even though everything is (currently) a dollar, you might be surprised to know that the store carries a few tech accessories. Most of it is under the E-Circuit label, which is a Dollar Tree house brand, exclusive to the store.
Not long ago, I found myself floating around Dollar Tree when I ventured into that part of the store. I spotted mostly earphones and cables. So I decided to grab a couple of things to try out. One of them was this model.
E-Circuit Earphones — which, like I said earlier, are a Dollar Tree exclusive — are $1. They come in a plastic container and include one pair of earbuds and nothing else. There are no spare or alternate sized tips, no microphone, and no manual.
There are earphones (or earbuds, if you prefer) at one end and a 3.5mm plug on the other end. The cord between them is 48 inches. The earphones, which have silicone tips, connect together by way of a Lego-style connector, which the packaging advertises as letting you wear them around your neck if you need to.
The earphones are advertised as being in stereo. They are, but the individual buds don’t have left or right markers on them. I did a left/right test and determined that the one with the protruding button is left, while the one with the button hole is right.
The big question is going to be about performance. You probably don’t expect great performance and I didn’t get it, although I would note that I’ve actually used worse earbuds than these, and for more money. To be sure, the sound coming out of this is mediocre: it feels a little like listening through a tunnel. Bass is minimal, and the rest of the sound is merely tolerable.
What’s more, my earphones seemed to have a small difference in volume between left and right, with left being a little lower. Both I and another tester both noticed it independently of one another. It wasn’t throw-in-the-trash-immediately bad, but it certainly didn’t solidify these buds as something I would want to use regularly.
But the mids and upper had less distortion than I was anticipating. For talk, especially, they do adequately enough. For music, they’re not exactly going to give you the sound the music studio intended you to, but I also didn’t get some of the weird tinny tonal distortions that I’ve gotten in other super-cheap buds. I wouldn’t use these by default if I could get away with it, but if I was trapped in a bus for eight hours and these were all I had, I could survive.
The best thing I can say about these Dollar Tree earbuds is that they aren’t the worst earbuds I’ve ever used. They do put out sound, and are tolerable if you need to listen to someone talking. You can even listen to music as long as you’re not too fussy about things like bass or a crystal-clear sound. If you need throwaway earbuds, especially for someone who you don’t trust to take care of earbuds, these are pretty low-risk.
But, hey, they’re still $1 earbuds. That means sound that sounds like it’s coming from down a hallway, accompanied by mostly nonexistent bass. My pair also appeared to suffer from a difference in volume from the two sides, which may just be the ones I have. I couldn’t tell you how long these will last.
If you need earphones you can afford to lose, these might be worth a look. On the other hand, if you need quality, you can find ones that are leaps and bounds better than these for under $10.