Truly wireless earbuds are the newest tech trend sweeping across the audio peripherals category.
A detailed guide for choosing the perfect wireless earbuds
With the Apple AirPods announced alongside the iPhone 7, several companies have been trying to release similar earbuds costing almost half a fraction of what Apple had priced for the same.
It seems the hard work has been paid off quite well, as these truly wireless earbud sales are gaining traction in all the major markets around the world, thanks to the mass production and resultant decrease in the prices.
But, what actually do these truly wireless earbuds deliver over the traditional wireless earphones?
What factors should one keep in mind while purchasing a wireless earbud?
We’re here to answer all the above said questions and much more in this article.
We hope this post will provide much-needed insight into this truly marvelous piece of audio accessory and make your purchase decision much easier.
Without any further ado, let’s begin!
Wireless earbuds are a type of wireless earphones minus the physical hardware wire connecting the two earpieces.
The two earpieces stay physically separated from each other and are connected via Bluetooth to your devices such as a smartphone or laptop.
How do wireless earbuds work?
But how to control these earbuds without an inline remote might be the very first question that pops up in your mind right now.
Well, most of these earbuds have some sort of gesture support, allowing you to control the volume, accept and reject calls and even to skip the music tracks. For more technical knowledge on wireless earbuds refer to this article.
Some brands even allow you to customize these gestures from the assisted smartphone app according to your liking.
In the current Indian market, you can purchase a good pair of wireless earbuds for just under Rs.2,000. If you wanna try out more premium wireless earbuds, the price goes up to even Rs.15,000.
Factors to keep in mind while purchasing a truly wireless earbud in 2020
Not all earbuds deliver similar sound quality. This remains the same for all other audio peripherals as well. But as an informed buyer, you can make certain educated guesses to make the most out of your money.
In this section, we are discussing a few factors which make up for an excellent quality wireless earbud.
1. Wearing comfort
Even before speaking about the audio quality of a wireless earbud, wearing comfort determines the effectiveness of your purchase.
An excellent sounding earbud which causes irritation to the listener’s ears is nothing but a dead stick.
Keep in mind that if you don’t choose a perfectly snug fit earbud specifically for your ears, there is a chance that these devices will fall off easily.
If you’re not too sure about the fit, make sure you choose a model with ear-clips such as the Sony WF-SP700N which will provide extra support and keep the earbuds from falling.
If you had any skin infections or allergies before, make sure that you wear the earbuds in person from an offline store and test the outcome beforehand.
2. Sound Quality
The factors determining sound quality stays the same with wireless earbuds, earphones, and headphones.
Even without hearing the sound output from these devices personally, you can make a certainly informed guess by looking at the specification chart detailing the hardware capabilities.
So, here are some of the main factors which determine the sound quality of a wireless earbud.
A driver is the primary component of any speakers which you might have your hands on.
The driver is a rounded element with a cone diaphragm at the top.
Whenever an electrical pulse is detected, the diaphragm moves up and down, pushing the air column above, making audible vibrations which our ears decipher as the sound.
The larger the driver, generally better will be the sound output. Most of the earbud driver sizes range from 7mm – 12mm.
In the case of audio devices, the frequency response is a spectrum defining the extreme limits of audio frequencies a speaker can deliver.
The lower limit represents the bass and the mid equates to the vocals while the higher limits denote the treble.
The audible limit of human ears ranges between 20 Hz – 200000 Hz, but there are speakers delivering a much wider response range, which can be felt by the ears, adding to an immersive audio listening experience.
As a thumb rule, ensure that the earbud you’re about to purchase covers the basic 20-20000 Hz spectrum.
If you are the one who loves the bass, check for devices having response ranges beginning from less than 20Hz.
In simple words, sensitivity is defined as how loud can a speaker get for a given signal.
It’s measured in dB/mW.
More is the sensitivity, the louder will be the speaker. But higher sensitivity comes with a catch – sound distortion.
This is particularly felt when you are playing music through a device in its maximum volume.
For electronic gadgets such as earphones and wireless earbuds, its preferable for the sensitivity levels below 100dB/mW offering the best of both worlds – clear and loud sound output.
Bluetooth is the primary mode of connection for wireless devices.
Similarly, wireless earbuds to rely on Bluetooth for connecting with a host device such a smartphone or a laptop.
There are different versions of Bluetooth protocols in use, Bluetooth v5.0 being the latest.
Having the support for the latest Bluetooth stack makes sure that the device connections use less power and greater will be the quality of sound output.
There aren’t many wireless earbuds with Bluetooth v5.0 in the Indian market at present, but we expect it to become the standard soon.
Aim for a Bluetooth v4.0 earbud and don’t settle for anything below that. Older Bluetooth versions are known to be power-hungry and less reliant on signal transfer.
So if you end up purchasing a wireless earbud with an older Bluetooth stack version for saving a few bucks, it is very likely that you are going to disappointed with the outcome.
4. AptX support
AptX is an audio compression algorithm from Qualcomm aimed to provide high-quality wireless audio experience.
You should make sure that the wireless earbud you’re about to purchase has AptX codec support.
This will make your audio listening experience a delightful experience.
Enhanced codec support also makes the device to consume lesser power and deliver much cleaner audio output – be it music or voice calls.
5. Near Field Communication
NFC is a wireless radio technology similar to Bluetooth but for communication between devices at a much shorter distance.
It’s quite advantageous for your wireless earbud to have NFC support.
NFC aides in super quick, hassle-free pairing between the devices. With Bluetooth, you’ll be required to pair the device often and it’s much of a hassle at times.
With the NFC enabled earbuds, you can pair it with your smartphone just by lightly tapping it on your phone. That simple.
While some may find it fancy, having an additional feature is really worth it, provided you’re paying a premium for the wireless earbuds.
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6. Battery Life
Battery Life is one segment where the truly wireless earbuds actually trump the traditional wireless earphones not just because of how long it holds up, but with the comfort of charging it without any external power banks or power sources.
All the earbuds, since they are truly wireless comes in a carry case which itself has an inbuilt battery.
So every time you take out the earbuds out of these cases and replace it after the use, it will start charging from the case.
Generally, these carry cases can almost charge the earbuds two times completely over.
With one full charge, most of the wireless earbuds last between 5 to 8 hours, depending upon your use cases and with the help of carrying case, a typical earbud delivers from 15-24 hours of playtime.
7. Brand name
Truly wireless earbuds are still an evolving piece of technology.
There are thousands of Chinese companies manufacturing these products which cost as little as a traditional wireless earphone or headphone.
In such a scenario, should you go for branded products that cost a premium?
Well, if you’re a serious audiophile and is fascinated by the portability and compactness of a wireless earbud, we’d suggest you should look for products from established brands such as Bose and Jabra.
And if you’re just a casual listener who is into this stuff more because of its novelty factor, try your luck with a cheaper product and later if found interesting, purchase a better one.
8. Build Quality
Due to weight concerns, the majority of the wireless earbuds are made from plastics.
The quality of these plastics widely varies according to the manufacturers, however, it is found to be generally of decent quality for the most part.
If you’re planning for taking the wireless earbuds for jogging or outdoor recreations, be sure to check out the waterproof/water resistance compatibility.
For gym uses, sweatproof designs work well.
9. Active Noise Cancellation
Active Noise Cancellation is a method by which the outside noises are eliminated in order to ensure the best possible listening experience while enjoying music or taking voice calls.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t blink twice on spending a few extra bucks for such an experience, do look for wireless earbuds with ANC built-in.
ANC also helps make your voice calling experience much better than ever before. You will be able to talk to the other person online peacefully even while standing in the center of a loud and busy environment.
Choosing whether to buy a truly wireless earbud over the traditional wireless Bluetooth earphones is purely a personal choice.
While nothing much changes when it comes to sound quality, owning a modern piece of technology is worth it along with the wire-free usage experience.
With the fear of tangled wires and damages now at bay, you can peacefully carry this gadget safely in your pocket or backpack and be sure to know that it will work every time your pair with the smartphone, provided the earbuds gave sufficient battery.