Ameya DalviAug 20, 2020 13:44:21 IST
We are back with ‘Review Snapshots’ where you get info about two or more products for the price of one. If you haven’t come across one before on our website, snapshots are essentially compact reviews of multiple products from the same category in a single article.
Today, we have for you a couple of affordable true wireless (TWS) earbuds under Rs 3,000 from Boult Audio and Soundcore (Anker) that boast of some interesting features, generally seen on more expensive earphones. They both look to address the mediocre battery life issue that plagues several TWS earbuds, and claim to deliver high-quality audio beyond the price range. Let’s take a closer look at them and see if they can stand out from the crowd.
Boult Audio AirBass Tru5ive Pro Review
Boult Audio AirBass Tru5ive Pro are sporty-looking true wireless earbuds that are meant to be your gym or jog companions. Their exterior as well as the bundle scream of this intent. While you get three shades of earloops in the package, they may not appeal to those looking for a more sober or elegant design. If you are in for something funky, you will like them; the middle path being the grey loops. The earbuds feel a bit too plasticky for my taste, but the construction is pretty solid, and the IPX7 rating for water resistance is great to have. They should comfortably survive a drop in a puddle less than a metre deep.
They fit nicely in the ear using the correct size silicone ear-tip from the three pairs bundled in the package, and offer a good seal. The rubberised earloops do not cause any discomfort behind the ears, and make the grip more reassuring. Thanks to this, they stay put in the ear even during a workout or a sprint. One major problem is the placement of the multi-functional button, which is right at the centre, at the back of the buds. Every time you push it, you push the buds more into your ear, and it gets painful before long. To make matters worse, the buttons are tiny and quite stiff, and at times you need to triple press them to execute certain functions. Ouch!
The best way to minimise the pain is to hold the buds with your thumb and middle finger and press the button using the nail on your index finger. Make sure you don’t chew it off. The buds let you answer/end calls, play/pause tracks, jump to the previous/next tracks and increase or decrease the volume; so all the basic functions are covered. The Boult Audio AirBass Tru5ive Pro are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and there was absolutely no issue pairing them with the phone, or with the wireless range that spans close to 10 metres with a clear line of sight, and up to 6 metres with a concrete wall in-between.
These earbuds support SBC and AAC codecs and have 9 mm graphene drivers. Support for aptX was wrongly-mentioned on its product page at launch, but that’s fixed now. The sound quality is decent for this segment, and if you are someone who prefers extra bass, you will like it. But there’s too much emphasis on boosting the low-end frequencies, making the sound a bit too bass-heavy for my liking. As a result, there’s a noticeable impact on the midrange response, and the mids feel overly recessed. Vocals are fairly sharp, but instruments often sound muddled. The highs are quite sharp and what we have here is a typical V-shaped sound signature.
The call quality isn’t all that impressive. Though it’s serviceable and you can hear the person on the line reasonably well, you tend to sound a bit too boomy to the other person. In addition, a lot of ambient noise can be heard too. The company claims a battery life of 8 hours for the buds on a full charge. They lasted for 7 hours in our test ― which is quite impressive ― after which one of the earbuds ran out of juice. In comparison, TWS buds in this budget generally give you around 3 to 4 hours of playback. The charging case can charge these buds twice more, thus giving you a total battery backup in excess of 20 hours, which is pretty good for the segment. One minor issue here being that the battery indicator drops from 30 percent to zero rather quickly.
All said and done, the Boult Audio AirBass Tru5ive Pro are a decent pair of earbuds meant to accompany you during physical activities. They are priced at Rs 2,999 with a one-year warranty, and are suitable for those who like their earphones a bit funky, and their music with a lot of bass. If you don’t like either, move on to the next product.
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear; they stay put during a jog/workout
- Above-average sound output for the segment
- IPX7 water-resistant
- Good battery life; over 20 hours with the charging case
- Multi-coloured earloops bundled in the package
- Sound too bass-heavy; below par midrange response
- Button placement is far from ideal; pressing them can be a painful experience
- Average call quality
Price: Rs 2,999
Soundcore Life Note TWS Earbuds Review
The Soundcore Life Note could not be more different from the Tru5ive Pro on most fronts. To begin with, it has a completely different design that’s a lot more elegant than sporty. We got the white variant for review that has a smooth matte finish on the body, with a touch of gloss on the buttons. Though the buds are quite light, the build quality feels sturdy and are IPX5 water resistant. While they feel comfortable in the ear, they don’t fit as snugly as the Boult pair and tend to get loose or pop out during jogs or workouts. They are better suited for more leisurely activities like a peaceful stroll or a comfortable commute, or when listening to music at home.
These too are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and I am happy to report that they actually support Qualcomm’s aptX codecs; something extremely rare in this price segment. The bundle has 5 pairs of silicone eartips, and it is extremely important to choose the right pair for your ears to get a good seal. Do spend a few minutes trying out each of them till you find the perfect pair. I am emphasising this point because these earphones produce just the right amount of bass, and if the seal around the ear canal isn’t good enough, the sound feels a bit too bright with inadequate bass.
The physical multifunction button is placed right at the back of each earbud, something that I am not very fond of. While the buttons are a lot easier to press than those on the Tru5ive Pro, it still puts unwanted pressure on the ear. It’s about time manufacturers opt for a common sense approach and change the location of these physical buttons to the side of the earbuds from the back (like in case of Sony WF-XB700 TWS buds). The buttons let you answer/end calls, play/pause tracks or go to previous/next tracks. There is no volume control here; that can only be done from the source device ― something I didn’t like.
Pairing the Soundcore Life Note with an Android phone was a breeze and aptX is switched on by default on compliant devices. The sound quality here is quite impressive for its asking price. As I mentioned before, the bass is just adequate but punchy, and the highs are pretty sharp without being harsh. The vocals are crisp and overall midrange output, though better than what the Boult produced, is just above average at best. The soundstage isn’t too broad either. But let’s not forget that the Life Note is a sub-3K pair, and its overall sound quality is better than a lot of popular TWS pairs you get in this segment, such as the Realme Buds Air Neo.
The goodness doesn’t end there, the call quality is quite impressive, with both parties being properly audible to each other with very little ambient noise seeping through. Just make sure the earbud stems are angled in the direction of your mouth. No complaints about the Bluetooth range either, with a steady connection over 12 metres without any obstruction, and a little more than half of that with a concrete wall in-between. Another big plus is the battery life. While the buds can go on for a shade over 6 hours, the charging case ― that feels like a small bar of soap ― can recharge it 4 to 5 times over. This takes the total battery backup into the 33 hours ballpark, which is excellent. When the earbuds run out of juice, putting them back in the case for 10 minutes gives you over an hour of play time, which is quite a handy option to have.
The Soundcore Life Note is available on Flipkart for Rs 2,999 with an 18-month warranty. That spells great value for money, given its overall performance, sound and call quality, aptX support and impressive battery backup. It would be hard to not recommend this to anyone looking for an affordable pair of TWS earbuds that he or she doesn’t intend to take to the gym or for a jog.
- Very good sound quality for the segment
- Support for aptX codecs
- Impressive call quality
- Lightweight, compact and comfortable to wear
- Excellent battery life; over 30 hours with the charging case
- IPX5 sweat and splash resistant
- 18 months warranty
- No volume control option on the earbuds
- Button placement
- Tend to pop out of the ear during jogs or workout
Price: Rs 2,999
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