Since the day AirPods first graced the shelves of the JB Hi-Fi I worked at years ago, I have been eyeing off a pair of true wireless earbuds. But, on account of the fact that I would rather untangle my EarPods every single day than fork out $250 to buy a pair of AirPods, I have never actually tried a pair of true wireless earbuds.
So naturally, when Oppo gave me the opportunity to test not one but THREE pairs of wireless earbuds, I jumped at the chance. For those playing along at home I tested the Enco Air ($149), the Enco Free2 ($199) and the Enco X ($349).
As I expected, true wireless earbuds are an absolute dream come true and I now feel like a total idiot for not at least buying a cheap pair years ago. But what I didn’t expect is that the cheapest pair would actually be my favourite.
Enter: the Oppo Enco Air.
Oppo Enco Air
WHAT IS IT?
Oppo's most affordable true wireless earbuds.
Affordable. Comfortable. Fast charging is a game-changer.
You get the audio quality you pay for. No active noise cancellation.
Straight out of the box it’s clear that the Oppo Enco Air is attempting to be a dupe to Apple’s AirPods (and honestly, most true wireless earbuds seem to be doing the same). But my main question when trying these was if trading out the Apple branding and quality for a $100 discount was going to be a decision I’d come to regret.
Connectivity and Fit
The Enco Airs are super easy to set up, and thanks to the 10-minute fast charging feature, I had these bad boys in my ears and absolutely obliterating my eardrums with Lorde’s Solar Power within minutes.
It really is as simple as connecting the Bluetooth and choosing the song, which is super handy if you’re buying these as a gift for someone who is about as tech-savvy as a loaf of bread.
The Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity was solid enough that I didn’t encounter any issues when making calls. And with a 10-metre range, it sits pretty much on-par with the AirPods. Nothing huge, but it’s enough to mean you don’t have to carry your phone in your pocket while filling up your coffee.
As you’d expect from a pair of earbuds that visually look near-identical to the Apple AirPods, these are really comfortable to wear, which means even on my two-hour walk along the Yarra, I’m not dealing with awkward-fitting earbuds.
However, a quality of life issue I encountered pretty early on is that the buds aren’t super secure. Perhaps this is just a result of the shape of my ear and the fact that this model doesn’t include interchangeable buds to fit your specific ear shape and size.
This wouldn’t be a huge issue, except for the fact that when I tried to readjust them in my ear, I accidentally hit the skip button on my music, which is a frustrating experience to say the least.
Overall, I just wasn’t stoked with the touch-sensitive controls. I found them to be too easy to activate when I didn’t want them, and near impossible to activate when I actually needed them.
The Enco Airs offer up to 4 hours of playtime on a single charge, which is pretty standard across the board when it comes to true-wireless.
The case itself offers up to 24 hours of battery life, and with the 10-minute fast-charging capability you can get a full day’s worth of use by just remembering to put them back in the case when you run to the bathroom or duck into a meeting.
Realistically, if you’re charging at night and remembering to put the buds back in the case when not in use, you shouldn’t ever run out of juice with these bad boys.
And trust me, as someone who is notorious for leaving my earbuds *juuuust* outside the case, rather than actually just putting them away, the 10-minute fast charge is an absolute life saver when you’ve gotta duck out on a quick call.
You really can’t fault the design here because they’ve essentially mirrored the AirPods. If you like the AirPods, you’ll like these.
Personally, I received a pair of the black version, which I think looks cheaper than the white (which could easily be mistaken for the more expensive AirPods). But I’m not unhappy with the black because they’re far from ugly earbuds.
The buds themselves are lightweight and comfortable because, like I said, they’re essentially just the same as the AirPods.
Unfortunately, this means there’s no replaceable silicone tips, which I personally don’t care about, but if you find the Apple design is uncomfortable for your ears, then these aren’t for you.
However, the case looks particularly cheap as a result of the semi-translucent design and matte finish. When I compared it with the case of the other two models I received, there was a noticeable quality difference that honestly made me think the quality of the buds would’ve been lower than it actually was.
Ultimately, a cheap-looking case is a pretty minor fault, but I probably would’ve been happy to pay closer to the $200 mark if these had a nicer looking case. Am I a sucker for packaging? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing for my bank account? Probably.
The sound quality of these is just okay. I wasn’t disappointed by the sound quality of a pair of $149 earphones, but I wasn’t blown away either.
When listening to Lorde’s latest album, which blew me away listening through my speakers at home, I felt nothing particularly exciting. The sound quality wasn’t terrible, but it just sort of gave me the bare minimum I’d expect.
When I switched over to Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bullet In The Head’ to test out the bass, it was there, barely. Same goes for The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and just about every other bassy song I tried. You can enjoy the song on a surface level, sure, but that’s about it.
Jessica Simpson’s 2006 hit ‘A Public Affair’ is my go-to for testing audio because — on top of being a certified bop — it also has more layers and depth than you’d expect from a pop song. But unfortunately, it felt pretty flat through the Enco Airs. Sure, I was tempted to get up and have a boogie, but I didn’t feel the layers of different vocals and instruments that I wanted to experience from the track.
This isn’t to say the sound quality is bad, it’s just okay. You’re not going to feel like you’re front and centre at a Rage Against The Machine concert while you’re on your morning jog, but the Enco Airs do a solid job of giving enough oomph to put a spring in your step. And honestly, for $149 that’s all I really expected.
There’s no active noise cancellation, which is… a choice. Personally, I don’t love exercising with active noise cancellation because I like to be able to hear my surroundings, but this isn’t the case for everyone, so this could be a deal breaker for some people.
However, it does offer AI-powered noise cancellation for calls, which is particularly useful if, like me, you like to call your mum and vent about your day while on your windy morning walk by the river. This offers crisp audio quality on calls that exceeded my expectations for the buds.
Pricing And Value For Money
At $149, the Oppo Enco Airs are considerably cheaper than Apple’s AirPods ($249), Samsung Galaxy Buds2 ($219) and Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series ($159), making them a great entry to the market. But, as you’d expect, you get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of the Enco Airs.
These are a base-level earbud. You’re not going to get all of the bells and whistles like active noise cancellation and top-notch audio quality you’d expect from a more expensive set, but for $149 they exceeded my expectations in terms of quality.
To put it simply: it gets the job done. If you just want a pair of true-wireless buds to chuck in your ears while you’re at the gym, or an easy-to-use pair to buy for your non-tech savvy parents, these are for you.
Yes, these buds have average audio quality. But personally, I’m not using headphones for top-tier audio experiences, that’s why I have speakers and soundbars galore. When it comes to headphones, I want easy-to-use, comfortable and convenient buds to chuck in and give me a satisfactory audio experience for music and a solid connection for calls.
And honestly, these headphones did that for me.
Sure, you can get a lot more for an extra $100, but if you’re in the market for a pair of true-wireless headphones that you’ll only really use on your morning walk, or buying them for someone who isn’t particularly tech-savvy, these do the job.
If you can afford to (and WANT to) spend more money, you can get all of the bells and whistles, but as someone who has been quite literally debating dropping my hard earned cash on a pair of true-wireless headphones since the day AirPods entered stores, these do the job for me.