BEST EARBUDS UNDER RS 5,000 IN INDIA

I have been testing many TWS earphones over the past month or so to figure out if any of them were good enough to book a slot on our best budget TWS earbuds of 2020 list. However, I haven’t had the time to write as many reviews, something I intend to correct this month. Of the two feature-rich true wireless (TWS) earbuds we have for you today, one already made it to that list. It is time to tell you more about the Oppo Enco W51 and see what the new Zebronics buds have to offer.

Oppo Enco W51 Review

Oppo Enco W51 is an attractive product, right from its stylish, square case to the buds themselves, especially the blue variant. To my eyes, it looks more dark grey with a bluish tinge than any popular shade of blue that I know of, but it is elegant nonetheless, along with the dash of champagne gold at the back of the buds. The white variant looks more generic, but the smudge marks may not look as conspicuous. The buds are well-built yet quite light and feel comfortable in the ear with the silicone tips entering the canal and the rest fitting nicely just outside.

Oppo has opted to load them with every popular feature present in TWS earbuds currently. You get active noise cancellation (ANC), wireless charging, wear detection (audio pauses when you take them off and resumes when you put them back in the ear), programmable touch controls and IP54 dust and sweat resistance. Quite commendable for a pair of TWS buds priced under Rs 5,000. While ANC isn’t at the same level as its Sony or Sennheiser counterparts priced four to five times, it is functional and cuts down on ambient noise quite a bit. It is more like noise reduction and perfectly acceptable in this price bracket.

What I did not like where the limitations on the touch controls. By default, you can turn ANC on/off and jump to the next track by double-tapping the left and right bud respectively. Triple tap on either bud brings up the voice assistant on the phone. And that’s it; no play/pause, no going back to the previous track, no volume control, nothing! A handful of Oppo phones let you customise the controls a bit, while the rest have to use the HeyMelody app to do the same.

The app lets you assign a function each for double-tap on either bud. In addition to ANC toggle and jump to the next track, you get options to play/pause, previous track or summon the voice assistant. Practically speaking, you need the ANC toggle, and that leaves you with just one of the remaining functions to choose from. Even worse, you can either assign the voice assistant function to triple tap on either of the buds or nothing at all—quite a strange decision on the company’s part. Hopefully, a future update of the HeyMelody app will let you do more. The app lets you update the W51’s firmware and display the battery level of each bud.

Moving on to the performance, the sound output of the Oppo Enco W51 is crisp and lively. The 7mm drivers deliver fairly balanced output. Lows haven’t been boosted, but the bass is sufficiently punchy and tight in most cases. Mids are quite strong here with sharp vocals and pretty good instrument separation. The highs have ample sparkle but could have been tempered. Some may find the sound a bit too bright for comfort at times, and it is more noticeable in tracks that are low on bass. But generally, I like the overall sound signature of the Oppo Enco W51, with excellent detail in audio and more than decent soundstage.

The call quality of these buds is excellent, with both parties clearly audible to each other. A bit of ambient noise can be heard, but it doesn’t hamper the conversation. The wireless range is fine, delivering a solid connection up to 10 metres with a clear line of sight, and a little more than half of that with a concrete wall in between. The battery backup is not a strong point of these buds, especially with ANC on. They last just a shade over three hours with ANC on, and just under four with ANC off at 70% loudness. That’s quite low by today’s standards. The case manages to charge them four times over, taking the overall battery backup in the 15 to 18 hours range with intermittent use of ANC; which is average at best.

The Oppo Enco W51 sells for Rs 4,999 in India with a one year warranty. For that price, you get your money’s worth, given the wide range of features on offer and impressive sound output. The product is good enough to feature in our list of best budget TWS earphones of 2020, as very few TWS buds at this price point manage to deliver the kind of detail in audio that this pair can. This is a great option in this budget if you are looking for a balanced sound output. However, if you are used to or looking for extra bass, you may find the W51 a bit bright for your taste.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Elegant design
  • Good sound and call quality
  • Functional ANC
  • IP54 dust and water resistance
  • Wear detection
  • Wireless charging support

Cons:

  • Sound is a tad too bright in certain tracks.
  • Limited controls on the earbuds and very few configuration options
  • No support for aptX codecs
  • Average battery life for the buds

Rating: 4/5

Price: Rs 4,999

Zebronics Zeb Sound Bomb Q Pro Review

The Zebronics Zeb Sound Bomb Q Pro is another feature-rich pair in this segment. Priced at a thousand Rupees lower than the W51 offers some comparable features like Bluetooth 5.0, touch controls, a USB Type-C port and support for wireless charging. These buds try to go a step further with support for Qualcomm’s aptX codecs, IPX7 water resistance, access to all key playback controls and better battery life.

While it’s good to have controls for play/pause, next/previous tracks and volume on the buds itself, they should have ideally left single-tap unassigned. The buds let you play/pause a track or answer/end a call via a single tap, and you often end up accidentally pausing the audio or ending a call if you can’t keep your hands to yourself. The earbuds have a compact footprint with a nice snug fit and offer good passive noise isolation with the right pair of silicone ear tips.

No issues with the wireless range either. The call quality is average at best, and not as good as the Oppo pair; the voice sounds a bit boomy and at times distant. However, the battery life is noticeably better, with the Sound Bomb Q Pro lasting just over six and a half hours on a full charge at 60 per cent volume level, which is sufficiently loud. The bean-shaped case with battery level indicator (LEDs) can charge it at least thrice more, taking the overall battery backup to close to 26 hours, which is good.

The sound profile of these Zebronics buds could not be more different from that of the Oppo Enco W51. While the sound felt a bit bright on the Oppo, the bass is abundant here, excessive and loose. The bass dominates the sound profile and overshadows the mids. The lower-mids feel overly suppressed, and vocals though serviceable, aren’t the cleanest I have heard in this segment. I wouldn’t call it a V-shaped sound signature, as the highs are also modest. They roll off a bit too soon and lack sparkle, making the sound a bit too soft for my liking. The soundstage is fairly narrow too, and things seem a bit cramped.

There is a semblance of balance in tracks that aren’t bass-heavy or instrument-heavy. But on other occasions, it’s bass, bass and more bass. Yes, these earbuds support Qualcomm’s aptX codecs, but that’s not a magic wand that can make wireless earphones sound better than they are. The problem is how these earbuds are tuned, and there isn’t much aptX can do for them. What good is a broad highway if the car has a faulty engine?

Having said that, if you love the bass-heavy sound and primarily listen to Bollywood tracks or non-instrument-heavy music, these Zeb buds are pretty decent for the price. Even more so if you are looking for a pair to take along to the gym, given its IPX7 water resistance. You can even wear them while jogging in the rain if you wish to. Good battery life, wireless charging support, and access to most playback controls on the buds also favour the Zebronics Zeb Sound Bomb Q Pro. But if sharp, balanced sound with ample detail is your top priority, look elsewhere. There are far too many better options in the sub-5K range that provide that — Oppo Enco W51, Realme Buds Air Pro, OnePlus Buds Z to name a few.

Pros:

  • Comfortable to wear with a snug fit
  • Loud sound output with good passive noise isolation
  • Touch controls cover all key playback functions.
  • IPX7 water-resistant
  • Support for aptX codecs
  • USB Type-C and wireless charging support
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Overly bass-heavy output
  • Not enough resolved detail in sound
  • Average call quality
  • Prone to accidental touch gestures

Rating: 3.5/5

Price: Rs 3,799 to Rs 3,999

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