Its phones might have made more headlines last year (and well this year as well, so far) but one of the key developments of 2020 was Oppo’s increasing focus on the audio segment. The brand came up with a number of value for money offerings throughout the year, and by the time we were through with 2020 (thank God!), its Enco range was one of the best options for anyone wanting good sound on a relatively tight budget.
Well, the brand has started off 2021 with another Enco product. This time, it is aiming higher than the value for money budget segment. With their price tag of Rs 9,990, the just-launched Enco X train their audio guns very squarely at a more premium segment – one populated by the likes of Samsung, Apple, Jabra, and Sony.
Looking routinely smart…
And to be fair, the Enco X do bring a fair bit to the battle. In terms of design, they lean a little towards the AirPods Pro with an in-ear design (which lodges inside your ears) and tiny stems. They are lodged inside a rectangular charging case with rounded edges, which will fit into most pockets and palms quite easily. The case and the buds both have a very glossy finish, which will attract some smudges and scratches, but they look smart enough, although they are unlikely to stand out in the crowd. There are additional rubber tips in the box for those who want a more precise fit. The buds are splash and dust-resistant with an IP 54 rating, but the case is not.
That said, the case does come with a metal frame, which is a rarity in TWS and gives it a very solid feel indeed. The back of the case has Dynaudio branding on it, which will make audiophiles stand and stare – more about which later. There is also a tiny LED on the case to indicate battery life – green is good, yellow is middling, and red is time to recharge. We would have liked more lights as a better indication, but that is just us. These are less obtrusive.
At less than five grams each, the buds are very light, and even the case is about forty grams. The whole package is a little over fifty grams – that’s about a third the weight of most smartphones.
…and pretty featured packed too
The Enco X are however no lightweights when it comes to audio. There is a lot going on inside those very tiny buds. The buds have been made in association with Danish audio company, Dynaudio, which has a formidable reputation in the audiophile crowd. And it shows when it comes to the attention paid to the audio quality of these earbuds. We believe that the Danish team was given a lot of control over the innards of the Enco X and the result is a rather elaborate arrangement that involves a triple-layer composite 11 mm driver and a 6 mm balanced membrane driver. Without getting way into jargon, what it very roughly means is that the 11 mm dynamic driver will be handling the lower and mid frequencies and the 6mm balanced membrane driver will handle the higher ones. Honestly, that is a lot of audio engineering inside a TWS.
What’s more, these can support the LHDC codec, which allows you to stream high-resolution audio wirelessly. Of course, you do need compatible phones ad fortunately, a number of them do support it now. Oppo says all its devices running ColorOS 7.1 A.49 and above will support it, with an OTA update for many of those that do not – is recent flagships do support it. It also supports AAC and SBC, although there is no support for aptX.
All this with Bluetooth 5.2, multi-device connectivity (including the ability to switch between two), triple microphones in each bud for noise reduction during calls, and well, not just active noise cancellation, but two levels of it. No matter how you look at them, the Oppo Enco X are stacked with features.
Stunningly good sound
All this comes together to deliver a sound experience that is frankly stunning in terms of clarity. Even when we did not use LHDC (and many people will not – the files are heavy), we found ourselves just swept away by the sheer quality of the audio output of the Enco X. No, those who love bass and thumping beats might find them a little underwhelming, but if you are the kind that likes to hear every component of a musical composition, from drums to strings to keyboards to vocals, you are just going to love the Enco X. The bass is present but it never overwhelms, vocals are very clear and surprise, surprise (in TWS), the higher frequencies (treble) were very well handled.
In fact, some of us who are accustomed to a slightly warmer, bass-friendly sound even found the Enco X being a little sharp at high volumes – audiophiles would nod in approval. In terms of balanced sound quality, we would say these are very close to what we have heard from the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless series, and in fact are better at handling treble, though some would prefer the slightly deeper sound of the Momentum. Yes, we know some will complain about the absence of aptX support but honestly, we were too busy being amazed at the audio quality to notice.
There is hardly any latency in videos and although we could see a hint of it in some games, we generally ended up wearing them even for gaming sessions because they sounded so good. This is very high end and premium audio in terms of quality. Volume levels are good. So good that we almost never played anything at beyond 75 percent.
ANC that actually works…
Then there is active noise cancellation. If you pick the right tips (the pairing software can help), the Enco X are very good at keeping a lot of external sound out. But turn on the ANC and things get discernibly better. And unlike the very token ANC we get in most TWS in this segment, the Enco X actually kill a fair amount of external sound. We found it drowned out a fair bit of the noise even in a park with a number of walking around, and it is great to wear them in a cafe, although if you are at a place at Starbucks, wearing them with ANC maxed could mean missing hearing your name when they call it out. No, it does not match the kind of ANC you will get on high-end over the ear headphones, but it comfortably beats the kind of ANC we got even on the Sennheiser HD 458 BT!
The Enco X come with two levels of ANC – maximum noise cancellation and noise cancellation. And they are both actually very handy, but the maximum noise cancellation is the one that works best, although the sound on the earbuds themselves gets a little affected when you opt for this. There is also a transparency mode which lets you hear external sounds. By default, the TWS are set to flip between transparency mode and maximum noise cancellation, and that is an arrangement that should work for most people.
…and so does calling and connectivity
We were also very pleasantly surprised by the level of call quality on the Enco X. TWS by and large are not the greatest options for phone calls, but these worked very well indeed. Oppo has talked of a special microphone arrangement that recognises your voice and tries to minimise other external sounds. Well, it certainly seems to work, as everyone we spoke to had no complaints about hearing us clearly and we even used them for a few video conferences. We would say that these are just below the AirPods in that department.
Bluetooth connectivity is very impressive. We were able to make calls and listen to audio very comfortably even when twenty feet away from our devices, and sometimes even past a wall in the middle. Whether we need to thank Bluetooth 5.2 for this, we know not, but this is high-end stuff.
A well executed touch interface
In terms of controls, Oppo has gone for a tap, swipe and hold system on the buds. Credit where it is due – it actually gives you a fair bit of control over the buds. You can swipe up and down to control volume, a single long press lets you switch between two different levels of noise cancellation (you can set the ones you want from the app – by default you get the maxed out ANC or transparency mode) . Double tapping lets you either move to the next track or take or end a call. A triple tap will take you to your virtual assistant. Finally, a long press lets you switch between two connected devices,
If you are not happy with this arrangement, you can change it by either heading to the settings on an Oppo device or using the HeyMelody app on other Android devices. Alas, that app is not available for iOS devices, so you are pretty much stuck with the default settings. The response is good, so there is not much to complain about – just make sure that you adjust the buds in your by holding the buds and not the stem, as that can accidentally trigger some controls.
Pairing is straightforward – you flick open the case and see the buds appear on your phones display. If you want to connect to a new or additional device, you open the case and press the button on the side of the case to take it into pairing mode.
Decent battery life as well
The one area where the Enco X are a little mortal is the battery life. If you are using ANC at maximum, you will perhaps get something in the vicinity of hours. Switching it off adds another hour and a half or so. The case has another four recharges in it, so you can bank upon battery life of about 20 hours and above all in all, which is not crazy exceptional but is more than adequate for most users, and very much in the AirPods zone. The case incidentally can be charged wireless (it supports the Qi charging standard) but we preferred using the USB Type C port – it gets charged in about two hours off a normal 15W charger.
Champ in its price, challenger for those beyond
At Rs 9,990, the Oppo Enco X is simply the best TWS you can buy for under Rs 10,000. Unless you are a basshead, want really long battery life or want a truckload of controls on an iOS device (that companion app remains an Android-only affair). In terms of audio quality, it easily outguns the Sony WF-XB700, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and is way more polished than the budget-friendly audiophile TWS favourite, the Lypertek Tevi. In fact, we would even say that the Enco X lay siege to the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Jabra Elite series and the Sennheiser Momentum series, as well as THE AirPods, and we include the Pro in that range. And if that does not tell you something about them, well, nothing will.
After showing us what it could in the budget TWS segment, Oppo has just delivered proof that it can mix it with the best in the premium segment. Without charging a crazy premium price. The Enco X are a fistful and an ear of sheer audio dynamite.
Make that Dynaudio dynamite.
- Superb balanced sound
- Very good ANC
- Good call quality
- Multi-device connectivity
- Battery life could be better
- Not for bassheads
- No app for iOS
- Some might not like the gesture interface
|Build & design||
The Enco X represents Oppo's first real attempt at the premium TWS segment in India. They come with sound engineered by legendary Danish company, Dynaudio, and a very interesting driver arrangement. They also come with adjustable ANC, which is a rarity in the segment.