|Truly Wireless Earphones
||Dynamic / 6.0 mm
||20 Hz – 20 kHz
|76 mm x 34 mm x 34 mm (LxHxW)
||6.3 g each
||Hands free functionality, voice assistant, IPX5 waterproof
PRICE R1 490.00
SUPPLIED BY Balanced Audio 011-259-7850
My previous experience of in-ear earphones is limited to the use of my successive iPhone earphones. I never really took to them and quickly came to prefer my on-ear Marshall earphones, which were more comfortable to wear with better sound quality. The Apple “earpods” tended to fall out at inopportune moments and the wires seemed to have an uncanny ability to snag on otherwise inoffensive pieces of clothing.
In-ear earphones have however come a long way and seem to be an essential accessory now. I just had to look around at the gym to see the wide range being swanned around to make me wonder whether they are actually worth it or not.
So, when I was offered the Yamaha TW-E3B Truly Wireless Earphones for review I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. First, “Truly Wireless” … really? Being a bit of a cynic (or so I’m told) I had good laugh at the thought of “truly” wireless as opposed to say “partially” wireless and held it as marketing speak at its best. A bit of Google-assisted edification later I felt comforted to know that Truly (or True) Wireless earphones have no wired connection between the left and right units, whereas Wireless earphones have a wired connection between the two. There you have it.
The packaging for the earphones prominently displays the Yamaha logo, is visually appealing and easy to open without being finicky. Sliding the inner case out of the box first brings the earphones into view followed by a very emphatic instruction that step one is to place the earphones into the charging case.
The charging case is used to simultaneously store and charge the earphones. In my mind, charging cases are to truly wireless earphones what the internal combustion engine was to the wheel. The practicality and portability of the charging case makes the earphones accessible for everyday use without having to worry about battery levels all the time. I almost admired the concept of the charging case as much as I did the earphones.
Measuring 7 cm (L) by 3.5 cm (W) by 3.5 cm (D) the carry case is small enough to comfortably fit into a handbag, but just bulky enough to be bothersome in the pocket of your jeans. Regular use might necessitate the purchase of a man bag. I liked the understated battery charge display on the face of the charging case, which shows the remaining charge on a scale of four small LEDs when the earphones are placed into it. Useful to avoid the dreaded no charge situation. The earphones themselves display a red LED to indicate that they are charging.
Yamaha claims 24 hours of listening time from a set of fully charged earphones and carry case. The earphones themselves have a 6-hour battery life and the charging case will allow three full recharges. I did not test this claim but can attest that the earphones and charging case easily met the requirements of my extended listening periods.
To ensure a comfortable fit, the packaging included four sizes of eartips, ranging from extra small to large. After some experimentation, I settled on the medium eartips. I asked my wife, who has never been able to wear her Apple earpods as her ears are too small, to test the extra small eartips. To her own surprise, she found them comfortable, and they did not fall out despite being subjected to a test bout of vigorous dancing. Bonus points to Yamaha on that front. However, continued testing showed that energetic head banging was a bridge too far.
Being truly wireless, Bluetooth pairing of the earphones are sequential, with each earphone being paired separately. Pairing was simple enough, although the user manual is far more informative than the schematic quick start guide. A slightly unusual result of the distinct pairing is that both earphones show on my iPhone Bluetooth connections, but only the right earphone shows as connected although both are playing.
This significantly messed with my OCD, but I eventually tried to just not notice it. This was helped by the fact that the earphones’ Bluetooth connects automatically when taken from the charging case. The earphones go as far as to announce their battery status and the fact that the right earphone is connected in a polite female pseudo-British accent. I must admit that the relief of not having to listen to an American accent was enough to dissuade me from verifying whether the language preference could be changed.
Tempted by the promise that it would allow me to make detailed settings on the earphones, I installed the Yamaha IOS earphones controller app (also available on Android). In the case of the TW-E3Bs these turned out to be somewhat limited. The app showed battery status, allowed me to switch Listening Care on or off and change the auto power-off timer.
According to the user guide, Listening Care would allow me to enjoy rich sound quality even at low volume by correcting the sound balance for the optimal sound to match the volume. Toggling it on and off I honestly could not discern any difference, so decided to just leave it on. I eventually ended only using the app as a means to access the user guide.
I used the earphones during a two-week period in a variety of settings. Quietly sitting in the lounge, while hammering away in the workshop, while barely avoiding cardiac arrest in the gym and even whilst typing this review in my study.
I did have some initial reservations. On the one hand, the TW-E3B earphones are light, comfortable and allow you to take your music with you without the annoying impediments associated with wired earphones. On the other hand, the sound quality felt diminished and more suited to background listening than immersive musical enjoyment. I must admit that my listening observations were influenced by long-term experience of my pricier wired Marshalls. To be fair to the TWP-E3Bs, they do offer a credible sound performance within their pricing bracket.
I found listening to in-ear earphones insular, and not suited to an environment where interaction with other people is required. Although the earphones can be muted with a single tap, conversation with the earphones in is uncomfortable, as if trying to talk whilst wearing earplugs. So, if there are people about, it is an ongoing juggling act of earphones in and earphones out.
The earphones were therefore best suited to solitary pursuits, where the music was more an accompaniment than the focus of my attention. Sitting in the autumn sun, polishing my boots while listening to the latest AVNews podcast. Painting the 12m2 of planking needed to fix the gate with some easy jazz to help me along. Using some insane rave tracks to to burn of the excesses of the weekend on the rowing machine. This is where the TW-E3Bs and I became friends, and I came to appreciate what they could offer.
The verdict? Yes, I am convinced that there could be place for a pair of truly wireless earphones in my already embarrassingly extended range of listening devices.