If you want to buy a pair of true wireless earphones, here are some things you need to know and some considerations to remember. This type of headset differs in shape, weight, type of headset itself (the part that enters the ear), autonomy, controls, audio quality when listening to music and during calls, and cost. All of these true wireless earphones have a case that houses them when not in use, often with a magnetic contact that facilitates its positioning, which has the double function of recharging and power bank, considerably increasing the autonomy.
Some cases, like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, even allow wireless charging from a charging cradle or a top-of-the-line smartphone like the Note 10. Some devices also have a smartphone app that lets you sound equalization and management controls and provides the remaining autonomy. All the earphones are more or less resistant to dust and sweat (and God forbid!) Complete with IP certification. In reality, it is rather unlikely that they will be used in extreme conditions, and in any case, none of those considered can be used underwater or in a swimming pool.
True Wireless Earphone Design
There are three types of truly wireless earphones: the open-fit ones, with the “stick” like Apple AirPods, equipped precisely with an end that descends towards the cheek and which houses the microphone, the “in-ear” ones, which tell the truth, they look like aids for the deaf from a few years ago, rather “chubby” and equipped with rubber tips that fit inside the ear, and those with a bow that goes behind the ear and which are usually dedicated to sports.
Weight And Shape
Although they contain both the speaker, the batteries, and the wireless connection circuits, the miniaturization of the components has made them light. They range from 4.5 grams of the Huawei Freebuds to 3 to 14 grams of the House of Marley, but it is different from the weight that bothers once worn, but possibly, the headset’s design. The shape is the most important element for a truly wireless headset, even if the comfort is personal and varies from ear to ear (it can even be different between the right and the left).
In general, after a few hours of use, those with rubber pads are likely to cause more discomfort because they must be pressed inside the ear to remain stable. On the other hand, there are also good memory foam tips: this special sponge must be compressed before inserting the headset and then takes the shape of the ear by expanding. More convenient but only sometimes easy to find.
The open ones, AirPod-style, are more comfortable, but they don’t completely isolate from external noise, and some sometimes give the sensation of slipping out: in this case, by arranging them, the controls may be involuntarily activated. The ones that we find most comfortable are those of the Bose type, with a fin that stops them in the semi-external part of the ear, or even those with the bow that passes behind the head, but in this case, a lot depends on the construction quality of the ‘headband.
True Wireless Controls
True wireless earphones can integrate small buttons or touch-sensitive surfaces for volume control, for answering and ending a call, and, sometimes, for pausing and restarting listening to music: each brand uses its controls, and of course, there is no standard. The problem with the push-button ones is that they are to be used. It would help if you always pressed the earpiece towards your ear, which becomes annoying in the long run.
On the other hand, the common problem for all those with touch controls is their involuntary activation when the headset is placed in the ear or with clothing (for example, a cap, ski helmet, or jacket collar). Fortunately, some headphones are compatible with voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri. If used, they prove to be valid aids both in managing the earphones themselves and as real assistants and with much more discretion than a Bluetooth speaker.
Autonomy And Recharge
Earphones of this type have an autonomy ranging from three to nine hours, and the convenient power bank function of the case allows for two to five additional recharges. Some models also allow fast charging: House of Marley, for example, promises four hours of listening with just 10 minutes of charge. Once again, standards don’t exist: some cases use a USB Type-C input, others the old micro USB. If you don’t want an extra cable around the house, choose a pair of earphones with the same type of connector as your smartphone.
Audio Quality And Call Quality
The earphones are designed both for listening to music or the sound of a film watched on a tablet or PC and obviously for telephone calls. The ideal headset should have one microphone to listen to your voice, one to listen for, and therefore reduce, ambient noise so the speaker can hear you clearly, and one to cancel ambient noise so you can hear the speaker. Each manufacturer has its solution, but the result is not always excellent, even if you choose “branded” earphones.
True wireless earphones that offer good music quality often need to improve the audio rendering of calls and vice versa. Audio also proves to be an extremely important factor in using voice assistants. Noise-canceling systems are effective (and expensive) only if you use earphones that close the ear, like in-ear ones. Finally, some cannot be used to follow the speech of a film because the different noise reduction systems create a significant delay in the audio, which creates a delay of more than a second compared to the video.
Almost everyone uses Bluetooth 5.0 low-energy connections energetically; in this case, the difference between one model and another is in managing the connection between the two earphones. Usually, only one of the two connects to the smartphone and then communicates with the second. This affects the stability of the connection and means that when you remove one earpiece, the other is automatically deactivated. Furthermore, if you only use one, you will necessarily have to use the main one, and one headset may have different autonomy and weight from the other.
With almost all the headsets tested, we sometimes lost the connection with the smartphone, only to recover it automatically. Other times I had to restart my headset and even my smartphone. It is true that during the tests, we had many Bluetooth devices connected, which inevitably created some interference between them. The AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and atpX standards are a technology that compresses audio as it travels from your smartphone to your wireless earphones without compromising its quality.
Considering the cost may seem trivial, but given that there are earphones for 30 euros and others for 300 euros, the question is: is there a difference? The answer – without a doubt – is yes. It can be seen in all the elements we have described, and the gap in terms of quality is immediately perceived. The sound is metallic; further away, the earphones detach more often (from the ear and in terms of connection) and are less comfortable, especially after a few hours of use. Is it worth buying a “branded” product?
Here the answer is more subjective and linked to the value each of us gives to our favorite brand. Certainly, the differences between the high-end products are minimal, and they are always very good devices. During the tests, we realized that the prices of this type of object are incredibly variable: not only are there very different prices for the same object, but We have also reported “realistic” prices keeping Amazon as a reference to having a unique term of comparison.