Ameya DalviSep 03, 2020 15:07:04 IST
Time to take a closer look at two more products from the budget TWS (true wireless) category. A few weeks back, we shed light on earbuds from Boult and Soundcore that were priced under Rs 3,000. This time, we have a pair from Xiaomi and pTron that are priced under Rs 2,000 each. Of course, one cannot expect the world from these ultra-low budget earbuds, but it’s good to see (hear) the quality of sound steadily improve at this price point. So let’s see what one has to make do with, if you are on a tight budget.
Redmi Earbuds S Review
The Redmi Earbuds S have been around for a few months, but I happened to get my hands on them just recently. I am generally a bit wary about the audio quality of budget TWS buds, but these have a surprisingly good sound signature. Not just the sound, but the impressive build quality and finish also make you marvel at their price. They are IPX4-rated splash and sweat resistant, and it’s safe to take them along to the gym or for a jog. The tiny buds fit well in the ear and cause no discomfort. They offer a more than decent passive noise isolation with the correctly-sized silicone tips.
There’s a multi-functional button right at the back of each bud, but the functionality is limited. You can use it to answer/end calls, play/pause tracks or summon the virtual assistant. But the buttons don’t let you control volume or skip tracks. You have to use the source device for that. Quite strange that Xiaomi chose to skip that. The Redmi Earbuds S are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and there was absolutely no issue pairing them with the phone. The wireless range is close to 10 metres with clear line of sight, and over half of that with a concrete wall in between.
The sound quality is surprisingly good for this segment, despite the earbuds only supporting SBC codecs. The bass is adequate and punchy. Vocals are fairly sharp and the instrument separation too is acceptable, given its price tag. The highs are nice and crisp without any sibilance. The soundstage, expectedly, isn’t too broad. In short, the sound output hits a sweet spot and is quite enjoyable across different genres — something I don’t remember saying about any TWS earbuds under Rs 2,000 till date. The sound quality certainly transcends the price band, but keep it real and don’t expect it to perform better than something priced twice as much.
The call quality isn’t as impressive though. You can hear the person on the line clearly, but you aren’t heard as clearly by the other person. Also, quite a bit of ambient noise seeps through when outdoors. The call quality is acceptable in the quieter confines of your home or office. The battery life is average for today’s standards but the earbuds deliver what they promise in the spec-sheet. You get about 3.5 hours from the buds on a full charge and a little under 9 hours from the compact charging case, thus giving you 12 hours of audio playback. The case has a micro USB connector for charging, something I won’t hold against it, given its selling price.
To sum it up, the Redmi Earbuds S are arguably the best-sounding TWS earbuds I have come across under Rs 2,000 so far. What holds them back are average call quality, battery life and very limited playback controls.
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Good sound quality for the price
- Good build quality and finish
- IPX4 sweat resistant
- Quick and easy to pair
- Cannot control volume or skip tracks using the buttons on the buds
- Average call quality
Price: Rs 1,799
pTron Bassbuds Urban Review
pTron Bassbuds Urban are an even more affordable pair of true wireless earbuds. I have tested a couple of products from the company previously, and they were both pretty good for the price. So I was keen on trying these out. After having tested them a while, it seems to me that pTron has focused more on features than the actual sound quality here. They are fairly light and fit well in the ear with the correct eartips, but the noise isolation isn’t as good as with Redmi Earbuds S. Also, they look and feel a bit too plasticky. That’s not the case with the charging case though; it looks reasonably stylish with a leather-like finish and battery level indicator.
The sound quality of the Bassbuds Urban is average at best. There is a noticeable amount of bass but it isn’t tight or punchy. Similarly, the highs roll off a bit too soon and lack an edge. Vocals are fairly clear, but instrument separation is far from ideal. But again, we are talking about 1500-Rupee earbuds, and one needs to be realistic about what to expect at this price point. Having said that, the Bassbuds Lite from the same company that sells for Rs 899 sound almost the same. I see no excuse for not improving the sound further in this pair, with the higher price tag.
You get touch controls here, which you generally don’t see in this budget. However, I found them to be erratic. A single tap on the left/right bud decreases/increases the volume, double tap is used to play or pause tracks and triple tap for jumping to previous or next track. While single tap is not a problem and double-tap also works correctly half the time, triple tap is where the earbuds struggle to register the three inputs. I tried changing the frequency of taps but could only get it right 20 percent of the time. On other occasions, it would either change the volume or pause the audio. It’s best to skip tracks from the phone itself.
The pTron Bassbuds Urban are pretty good when it comes to call quality, with both parties being heard loud and clear when indoors. When outdoors, a bit of ambient noise seeps through, but you are still audible. They fit well in the ear and generally do not pop out during a jog or a workout. However, there’s no IP rating for sweat or splash resistance, so there’s a question mark over its durability if you sweat it out with these earbuds on.
The battery lasts for about 4 hours of audio playback for the buds, and the bundled charging case manages to charge them a little more than twice. Thus, you get an overall battery backup of around 13 hours, which is reasonable for this budget. Another good part about these Bluetooth 5.0 buds is that they are easy to pair, and there were no syncing issues between the left and right buds, nor was there an issue with the wireless range (close to 10 metres). These too only support SBC codecs over Bluetooth.
All said and done, you get what you pay for here, but nothing more. If you want better sound quality in this budget, then you can opt for the Redmi Earbuds S for Rs 300 more. For even better audio quality, a wireless neckband like the pTron Zap that sells for a few hundred less sounds way better and will serve you better; it lasts for over 20 hours on a single charge.
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Good call quality for the segment
- Cool-looking charging case
- Quick and easy to pair
- Plasticky build
- Erratic touch controls
- Sub-par sound quality
- No IP rating for sweat/water resistance
Price: Rs 1,499