I was lucky enough to receive a new pair of August EP636 Bluetooth wireless over-ear headphones as a Birthday present several years ago. Having reviewed August’s much-improved EP650, I’m now reviewing the August EP636, and will explain why the EP650 is a much wiser purchase, and well worth the small price increase.
Disclaimer: The review below is based solely upon my own experiences. The experiences had by other users and reviewers may vary. As always, it is highly recommended to watch and read multiple reviews from multiple sources before making a purchasing decision.
1 X August EP636 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
1 X USB-to-Micro-USB cable
1 X User manual, safety guide, warranty information etc.
At a Glance Pros and Cons
Standard micro-USB charging
Strong Bluetooth connection
Uncomfortable for some
Very noticeable audio lag
May feel ‘insecure’ on smaller heads
Longevity is questionable
No plug included inbox
Varies by vendor, but generally under £35
The EP636 are obligatorily wireless as they lack a standard 3.5mm audio-in jack.
Sound quality is good for an entry-level non-audiophile set of headphones. They handle highs reasonably well, the mid-range is decent, and the bass is smooth and ‘thumpy’ without being overpowering. However, the EP650 has a superior sound all round, especially when using a wired connection.
Unlike the EP650, the audio lag of the EP636 was very noticeable. This isn’t a problem for listening to music, since there is no video to be out of synch with, however, it is very distracting when watching videos or playing games on a smartphone or tablet. This creates a less than stellar and immersion wrecking experience.
I imagine the audio delay is even more problematic when playing certain games, such as the mobile versions of Fortnite and PUBG, as it would negate the ‘early warning’ the in-game sound provides, resulting in otherwise avoidable in-game deaths.
The EP636s can be connected for charging via a micro-USB-to-USB cable. However, unlike the EP650, they cannot be used as an audio-out device when doing so. Therefore, they can only be used with Bluetooth enabled PCs or laptops.
The EP636s are not noise-cancelling. Their closed-back over-ear design helps to keep out some unwanted noise and prevents some sound leakage from irritating people nearby. However, the EP650’s over-ear design fares far better on both fronts.
The EP636s are non-collapsible, therefore they take up more ‘room’ than the EP650s despite being smaller. They will not fit in a pocket, or small carry bag. Therefore, if using them ‘out and about’ you will likely have to wear them around your neck when not in use.
The headphones have a built-in mic, thus allowing them to be used as a hands-free device for taking calls.
The EP636 headphones use NFC technology, which enables the headphones to sync with a device by being close to it, or in this case, tapping the headphones and the device together when the headphones are in pairing mode.
Activating paring mode is achieved by simply holding down the play/pause button for about four-to-five seconds.
Paring via the more conventional Bluetooth route is also relatively fast, easy and reliable, so connecting to non-NFC enabled devices is relatively trouble-free - aside from the excessive pressure needed to activate the multi-function-button.
NB - Unlike the EP650, the EP636 does not support multi-point connectivity.
One area the EP636 truly shines is the strength of its Bluetooth connection. Although it is not as fast as the EP650’s - hence the lag - general use suggests it edges them out in raw signal strength.
I have often used the EP636 in a different room to the paired device (iPhone 7 in most cases) and even when in the garden when the phone is charging in the house. Unless your use-case involves regularly being further than 10 meters from your paired device you should have no problem maintaining a stable Bluetooth connection.
August state the EP636’s internal battery will last for 14 hours of constant use, and up to 20 days if left on standby - both less than what is advertised for the EP650. I have yet to test these claims ‘scientifically’, however, I have often experienced the battery running out completely whilst using them if I haven’t been especially diligent in charging them.
A nice touch (which is shared by the EP650) is that when paired, the paired device will show how much battery charge the headphones possess. (Tested with iPhone - results with other devices may vary.)
Unfortunately, due to their lack of a 3.5mm audio jack, there is no way to use them ‘powered down’.
Time to charge is approximately two hours. Charging is via standard micro-USB, thus ensuring maximum compatibility.
The EP636s are light for wireless headphones, weighing in at only 140 grams (approximate).
They feature a respectable amount of foam padding on the headband and the on-ear pads, however, both are far less generous than those found on the EP650.
The headband has approximately one inch of expansion on either side to accommodate different head sizes, although people with larger heads may find them a little tight and uncomfortable.
I have a somewhat smaller head and I found they did not fit securely to my head and ears. Indeed, they have fallen off several times when bending forwards or looking down (such as when washing the dishes in the sink.) Thankfully, I have always caught them in time as falling into said sink would have been disastrous since they are not waterproof.
Despite this loose fit, I have found them quite uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods, however, this might be due to their on-ear design. (Full disclosure - I'm not keen on on-ear headphones in general as I tend to find them uncomfortable.)
Their physical longevity is unfortunately somewhat suspect. I noticed that on my pair at least one speaker became noticeably quieter than the other over time. They do not tolerate sweat particularly well either - the leather-like covering of the ear pads began to flake off after about four years. Note in the image below the covering has worn off completely.
The on-headphone controls are simple and reminiscent of the old iPod controls. The ‘ring’ contains the next track / last track and volume up / down controls, the circle inside the ring is the multi-function play / pause button, which also serves as the power button and the pairing button. It is large enough and indented enough to be located easily by touch alone, therefore you needn’t take them off to use the controls - in theory.
In practice, I have found the central multi-function button requires an excessive degree of pressure to activate. I have found this somewhat uncomfortable for the fingertip and even more so for my head and ears since I have had to press so hard on it that it pushed the on-ear pads against my ears to a painful degree. This discouraged me from using this button whilst wearing the headphones, and I ended up removing them first, then squeezing the button and the ear pad together between forefinger and thumb.
I am happy to report that August has resolved this problem admirably in the EP650s.
Thankfully the volume and playback controls surrounding the power button do not require such excessive pressure to function, and their location makes them easy to find by touch with a fingertip.
Fit and Finish
The overall design strikes a good balance between utility and aesthetics. Their outer surface has a pleasant satin/velvety texture which I assume to be coated brushed aluminium. The chrome borders of the ear pads are a nice touch as well. Aesthetically they are clearly from the same ‘extended family’ as the EP650s.
According to August, they are available in red, white, silver and black
The EP636s are an acceptable set of wireless headphones with decent sound, strong base and a very strong Bluetooth connection. However, the EP650s are superior in almost every way and are well worth the small price increase. I would highly recommend investing in those instead.
Overall Score 3 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐
‘Scientific’ battery life test: Charge the headphones up to maximum, pair them with a device and leave the device and headphones running until the headphone’s battery runs out. Time how long this takes.
‘Scientific’ standby mode battery test: Charge headphones to maximum, then leave them on standby until the battery runs out again. Time how many days this takes. Do not use headphones during this time.
I haven’t had time to do the latter and I am reluctant to do the former partly due to environmental concerns and partly because I need to use the ‘pairable’ devices for other things.
Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to online multiplayer. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/IainBaker17, and contacted via email at email@example.com
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