While the premium truly wireless IEM segment is flourishing, Indians are usually price-conscious and a large percentage of people in this country tend to lean towards more economically-priced gadgets. Therefore, the Indian market has seen a boom in the affordable truly wireless IEM segment which features TWS earphones from companies such as Boat, Boult Audio, Noise, Realme, Oppo, and others. There are even some established brands such as Sony, 1MORE, Creative, Lypertek, and others that have offerings in this price segment which means that users don’t have to compromise heavily on quality if their budget is tight. So, let’s get right into revealing the winner in this popular category.
Note: We recently updated our test process for IEMs to include objective scoring in addition to our subjective assessment. We utilise an innovative product from SLS Audio (Denmark) which is specifically designed to test in-ear headphones called the 07mm MiEMi-M & iSEMcon EMX-7150 Measurement Mic. This is plugged to our audio interface device - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. To measure the frequency response of the earphones captured by the microphone, we hook these devices up to a PC running the comprehensive SMAART-Di v2 software. We measure pink noise to get a frequency response graph of the earphones and pit them against each other. Once we have the frequency graph, we can look at it to determine how the audio device is colouring the sound, and arrive at the objective sound profile of the device.
Uncompensated frequency response graph of the winner, first runner-up, second runner up and Reference IEM (Sony WF-1000XM3) in the Budget TWS category.
We’ve never really associated the mid-range true wireless segment with stellar sound quality, until now. Housing 6mm graphene drivers, the Lypertek Tevi was a true shock to us, a welcome one at that. We were astounded by the openness and naturalness of the sound, something that is just not present in the array of other earphones we’ve tested at this price range. The sound is close to neutral and is well-balanced, allowing users to listen to most genres of music how the creator intended them to be heard. Our objective testing showed that the Lypertek Tevi’s frequency response is extremely close to the Sony WF-1000XM3, which is our winner in the premium segment of this category. Where it differs from the Sony is the dip in the high frequencies, however, that is past the 10K range in the graph and doesn’t affect sound quality too heavily. Overall, the Lypertek Tevi impressed us with its tight and controlled bass response, detailed mids and highs, and excellent imaging. These earphones provided us with the highest price to performance ratio in this category as well, making it the winner and the best buy.
The 1MORE Colorbuds are the successors to the popular 1MORE Stylish True Wireless Earbuds and provide compelling sound at the sub 10K price range. While these aren’t as packed with detail as the Lypertek Tevi across the frequency spectrum, they do a good job staying balanced across frequencies. The earphones reproduce vocals excellently, with most vocal performances sounding full-bodied and detailed. Furthermore, the solid stereo separation and passive isolation enhance the performance of these earbuds as well. The earbuds come with AAC and aptX codec support, which bodes well for both iPhone and Android users. We were pretty impressed with the Colorbuds and the improvements in sound 1MORE has made when compared to the device’s predecessor which already sounded pretty great for the price.
Sporting 5.6mm graphene-coated drivers, the Creative Outlier Air certainly has an ‘oomph’ in their sound while still keeping all the frequencies relatively balanced and under control. The earphones have slightly extended lows and highs, making it a V-shaped sound signature which sounds pretty good with most genres of music. In the frequency graph, we noticed a peak in the 2K-4K range which allowed for detailed reproduction of high-frequency instruments and some female vocals. However, at higher volumes, this became slightly jarring to listen to, especially over extended periods of time. Where the Creative Outlier Air seriously impressed us was its instrument separation and reproduction of a three-dimensional space, which is surprising considering that Creative did bring us the acclaimed Super X-Fi amplifier and the SXFI technology. However, the boosted lows slightly soured the overall experience for us which is why we preferred the 1MORE Colorbuds’ sound profile over it, granting it the 2nd runner up spot in this segment.
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