Updated: Aug 21, 2021
These earbuds come with something that you rarely see, even on flagship earbuds, mind you, and they cost just S$99 or approximately US$74.
The Oppo Enco Air is essentially the younger brother of the Enco X that I reviewed previously, with an open-fit design, and they worked surprisingly well with calls.
Let’s talk design. These have a pretty interesting look to the case. It’s pretty standard matte white plastic on the bottom with a slight pearlescent sheen, but the top is a translucent plastic that lets you look into the case. It doesn’t really serve any practical purpose, but it’s an interesting design.
Thankfully, the case comes with a USB-C charging port. Oppo has been pretty good with including USB-C on their charging cases, but there’s always that fear that because it’s a cheaper earbud, they might go microUSB. Not the case here.
As mentioned earlier, the earbuds are open-fit, which means no silicon tips or pressure on the inside of your ear and they’re just really comfortable. Weighing in at slightly under 4 grams per earbud, I was able to wear these for quite a few hours without feeling any discomfort or fatigue.
I do have to note here though, that my HeyMelody app couldn’t find the Enco Air. I reached out to the folks at Oppo and they informed me that the Enco Air will only be available on the app in mid-July.
So, unfortunately, no firmware updates for me, and you also get touch control customisation in the app, but yeah, I couldn’t try any of that. Anyway, touch controls are simple, they’re on the stem of the earbuds. Double-tap on either side controls track skipping, long press and hold on the left lowers music volume and long press and hold on the right raises music volume. Triple tap pulls up the voice assistant, and unfortunately, right out of the box, there’s no single tap for play/pause.
There doesn’t seem to be wear detection enabled out of the box either, so remember to pause your music manually. I’m not sure if it’s an option that can be enabled in the app, but yeah. The touch controls can be a bit finicky though; you do need to tap near the top of the stem quite firmly, and it doesn’t always register if you just tap a bit too low. Just something to take note of. I do think that stemmed earbuds should use press controls like how the AirPods Pro do it since it’s much easier than attempting to tap on a particular spot on a thin stem.
Oh, another good point to note here is that the volume controls on the earbuds are independent of your source device’s volume, so I recommend turning the onboard volume all the way up, then using your phone to adjust the volume directly. Some people might find that their earbuds tend to sound really soft, and this is usually the reason why. Make sure you adjust the volume on your earbuds if there’s a volume control option.
Oppo claims these are the world’s first earbuds to receive the high-performance/low latency certificate for true wireless earbuds from TUV Rheinland, and I didn’t notice too much of an audio delay when playing games on my mobile, so that’s nice.
There’s Bluetooth 5.2 on these which is really excellent. Many more expensive flagship earbuds like the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 and Devialet Gemini are still using Bluetooth 5.0, so seeing Bluetooth 5.2 on a pair of earbuds under S$100 is really nice. There’s SBC and AAC support on these, but it’s a bit of a shame that Oppo decided not to include their LDHC codec here.
You get four hours of battery life in the earbuds, which is a bit on the low end, although you do get five charges in the case for a total of 24 hours. There is fast charging though, so if you plug the case with the earbuds to charge for just 10 minutes, you get a total of eight hours of playtime. No wireless charging here, but I really didn’t expect it to be in a pair of earbuds under S$100.
There’s IPX4 water resistance, so if you’re planning on using these for some exercise, they’ll stand up to sweat and even a light drizzle. They do sit relatively securely in the ear, for me, at least, so if you’re not exercising super vigorously, these should be fine.
One thing that really shocked me was the microphone performance. As many of you might know, plenty of people in my apartment block have been renovating their flats. It’s a major problem when I’m on calls with my colleagues. With these though, Oppo claimed they have “intensive AI call noise-cancellation technology”. Most brands claim something like this, so usually, I don’t pay too much attention to it, but when I was on a call, I asked my colleagues if they could hear the construction noise. Nope. They said my voice was really clear and audible, but they didn’t hear the construction noise. Even when it was super loud, all they could hear with a low rumble that didn’t really affect the call. That being said, because it’s open-fit, I could hear the construction quite clearly. So if you’re working in noisy environments, this might be something to consider.
Moving on to sound quality, you do have to keep in mind that with the open-fit design, bass will always be compromised to some extent. You need a good seal to get really impactful, thumpy bass, and it’s just not really possible with an open-fit design.
That being said, the audio quality out of these are definitely better than their S$99 price tag suggests. The bass is present, but I definitely found myself pressing the earbuds into my ears from time to time to get some sort of seal and feel the bass better. You get a relatively balanced sound, with the midrange being the star here. Vocals are a bit more laidback, and I do wish there was a bit more energy in the highs. Surprisingly, I actually preferred male vocals over female vocals on these. All in all, the tuning is more on the energetic side and pop does pretty well on these.
The soundstage is pretty average, it’s not too cramped, but it’s not wide either. Instrument imaging is pretty accurate though, and although more complex pieces might start to blend together a bit, generally the separation is quite well done.
You won’t be looking at these for detail or accuracy, but I think Oppo has kept the sound quite consumer-friendly on these and they’re perfectly fine for casual listening.
Content by Cheryl Tan