Earlier this year, we reviewed the Costar Mateband N300 wireless neckband earphones and found it to be a good value-for-money product. It had all the basics covered like acceptable sound quality for the segment, ingress protection, good battery backup, USB-C charging, and the works. What more can one expect for a price tag under Rs. 700? A couple of months back, the company approached us with its second wireless audio product, the Costar Mateband Champion LE01. The price was just Rs. 100 higher and it promised everything that the Mateband N300 offered with one big upgrade—the battery backup. And when we say big, we mean a crazy 120 hours BIG! Does it really offer that kind of battery life? What is the tradeoff to achieve that? How good is the sound quality? It is time to answer all those questions and more about this Costar wireless earphone.
Good build quality, but bulky and heavier than ideal
The build quality of the Costar Mateband Champion LE01 is pretty good. It feels sturdy and the finish is quite smooth with no unevenness or rough edges. We got the black variant for review, which doesn’t look striking, but there’s nothing bad about it either. However, this wireless neckband is one of the heaviest around and the battery modules are quite bulky too. That’s the trade-off for the extra battery life.
The silicone band sits comfortably on the neck without any skin irritation, but you can feel the weight of the two modules on your collarbone initially till you get used to their presence. The right module hosts four buttons and a USB-C charging port, while the left module sports the company logo. You get three sizes of silicone ear-tips in the bundle including the medium-sized pair that’s preinstalled.
The earbuds feel comfortable in the ears and cause no discomfort even after prolonged use. The soft fins help with a snug fit; you don’t get extra fins in the bundle even with this product. The passive noise isolation is average at best, and I tried using all the bundled tips to try and make it better, but in vain. This neckband has an IPX5 rating for splash resistance and can be worn during workouts or jogs
Basic features, insane battery backup, support for AAC codec
The inline remote is integrated into the right module and the four buttons have a soft key press that feels just right. You get the volume rockers, a multi-function button (MFB), and a call button. The MFB lets you play/pause the audio with a single click, jump to the next or previous track with a double and triple click, respectively, and also serves as a power button with a long press. The call button lets you answer, end, and reject calls and also switch between Bass Booster mode and normal mode with a double click.
Just like the Mateband N300, the back of the buds have magnetic tips, and they pause the audio when stuck together and resume when separated. Unlike Realme or OnePlus neckbands, they do not act as an on/off switch. A USB-C port for charging this neckband is covered with a flap that protects it from dust and moisture. Each earbud is fitted with a 10mm dynamic driver. It does not support dual pairing, which can be overlooked given its price tag.
The Costar Mateband Champion LE01 is Bluetooth 5.3 compliant and supports SBC as well as AAC codecs. Interestingly, there is no mention of AAC in the spec sheet or on its product page; an oversight on the company’s part probably. The latency figures haven’t been mentioned either. The claimed battery backup stands at a whopping 120 hours of audio playback with support for fast charging, wherein 10 minutes of charging provides you with 10 hours of playtime.
Decent sound quality for the price but nothing special
Pairing this neckband with a smartphone is a standard process. You need to press the MFB for a few seconds to get it into pairing mode, find the neckband in the list of Bluetooth devices on the phone, and pair them. The wireless range is standard with the neckband retaining a strong connection up to 10 meters with a clear line of sight, and half of that with a concrete wall in between. No issues there.
The Costar Mateband Champion LE01 supports two sound profiles – Normal and Bass Booster. Both are high on bass, and it would be best to stick to normal mode. Switching to Bass Booster mode makes the output extremely bass-heavy and far from enjoyable, probably even for bass heads. There is a clear distortion in the audio too in this mode. In normal mode, the bass is much tighter and the output is noticeably better.
It produces a V-shaped sound with boosted bass and highs. The highs sound a bit too pronounced and the S sounds tend to sound harsh in certain tracks. The midrange frequencies get attacked from both sides and feel a little subdued. But let’s not forget that we are talking about a highly affordable product priced well under Rs. 1,000. While the sound signature is largely similar to that of the Mateband N300, we felt the N300 sounded a tad better overall.
The support for AAC codecs here doesn’t help its case; the tuning needs to be a little better. These earphones are sufficiently loud and rarely did I need to push them beyond 60% volume level. While we do not know the exact latency figure, there was no noticeable lag between the audio and video when streaming videos from various OTT platforms, which is good.
You may need to charge this neckband once a month
The call quality on the Costar Mateband Champion LE01 is acceptable indoors with both parties audible to each other. When outdoors in noisy areas, the neckband manages to reduce a lot of background noise, if not all, but it impacts voice clarity too. My voice sounded a little soft when outdoors, probably because of the aggressive noise reduction algorithm.
About time we spoke about the USP of this product – its crazy battery backup. As I mentioned earlier, the company promises 120 hours of playtime for this wireless neckband. We could not measure the battery life down to the last hour or even close to it, as this thing simply refused to run out of juice. We used this neckband for an entire month for at least a couple of hours a day, and yet only managed to deplete half the reserves as per the battery figures displayed on the paired phone.
We also tried playing music continuously on it from a phone, but the phone ran out of battery before it could bring the battery reserves of this neckband down by 20%. Yes, I should have kept the phone on charge all along; my bad! As I mentioned earlier, this neckband also supports fast charging, but we did not get a chance to test that feature either as the neckband did not run out of battery after an entire month during testing. Long story short, the LE01 is a champion of battery backup.
If battery backup matters to you more than anything else
The Costar Mateband Champion LE01 sells for just Rs. 799 with a one-year warranty on Amazon India. That makes it perhaps the second most inexpensive wireless neckband we have tested that is worth buying on a tight budget. The sound quality is not great but certainly passable for the segment, especially if you like extra bass. But if you are looking for wireless earphones with insanely long battery life, this is the one for you.
If 20 odd hours of battery backup is good enough for you and would prefer slightly better sound output, then the Costar Mateband N300 may suit you better. As for alternatives beyond this brand, there aren’t many under Rs. 1,000 that sound significantly better. If you are looking for better sound quality, you will have to push the budget beyond the Rs. 1,000 mark and opt for either the Boat Rockerz 330 or Realme Buds Wireless 2 Neo.