The true wireless earbud market is being flooded with entry-level options, each seemingly offering up eye-catching specs and features without breaking the bank. Entry-level truly wireless earphones are improving at a meteoric rate. Just a couple of years ago, one couldn't imagine a sub 5K earphone sporting features such as touch controls, low latency gaming mode, and day-long battery life. These were features usually found on much more premium TWS earbuds and the entry-level ones were usually plagued by dismal sound quality and wireless connectivity. Times are truly changing. Today, numerous budget truly wireless earphones under 5K offer compelling sound quality, decent Active Noise Cancellation performance, and reliable battery life. This year, we received many budget truly wireless earphones to evaluate for our annual Digit Zero1 Awards. In fact, this category is so widely popular, especially in a price-conscious market such as India, that this category had the most nominations out of any audio category this year. The competition in this category is extremely cutthroat and is paving the way for audio manufacturers to make better and better products at an affordable price point. However, there can be only one winner that is crowned as the Best Performing Budget Truly Wireless Earphone in 2021. Let’s find out who takes the title.
Not only does the Realme Buds Air 2 offer up some of the enticing features present in mid-range truly wireless earphones, but it also comes very close to matching up to the performance of its more expensive competitors. The Realme Buds Air 2 sports a 10mm driver and the company selected a diamond-like carbon diaphragm that is usually found in higher-end headphones. In terms of sound signature, the Buds Air 2 have a V-shaped sonic signature tuning with a slightly boosted bass response and boosted highs in the 2kHz-3kHz range of the frequency spectrum. The bass response is exaggerated but it sounds punchy and lively without messing with the details of the mids too much. The mids are accurately reproduced resulting in vocals and lead instruments sounding clear and pristine. The battery life is pretty good and we got about 4.5 hours of listening time with ANC turned on from the earbuds alone, which is pretty impressive at this price point. The microphone’s performance isn’t stellar but you can make calls with no issues in indoor settings. The Active Noise Cancellation is great for the price and overall these earphones severely undercut many of the expensive TWS on the market, making it a deserving winner in this category.
The Soundcore R100 managed to grab both the runner up spot in this category as well as the Best Buy recommendation from us. Priced at Rs 1,999, the Soundcore R100 produces pretty impressive sound quality for its inexpensive price tag. You get a consumer-friendly V-shaped sound signature with punchy bass response, sufficiently detailed mids and crisp highs. The highs are produced quite well and even manage to beat out the winner in this segment in terms of clarity and accuracy. However, the bass response is slightly more overexaggerated and the mids are slightly more recessed, therefore, the Realme Buds Air 2 snagged the win away from the Soundcore R100. Nevertheless, the sound signature you do get is impressive for the price with good staging and imaging. Additionally, the battery life performance is also impressive, coming in at 24 hours of battery backup with the earbuds and charging case combined. The Soundcore R100 is our pick for the best value for money truly wireless earphone under 2K since it offers relatively good sound quality without breaking the bank.
Since the budget truly wireless earphone category was a heavily populated one in this year’s Digit Zero1 Awards, we also decided to mention the second runner up in this category since the point difference between the first runner up and the second runner up was marginal. The second runner up in this segment is the Oppo Enco Buds. The Oppo Enco Buds house an 8mm dynamic driver and support the SBC and AAC codecs. They have a darker sound signature than the winner and runner up, so the bass is more pronounced while the mids and highs are more underemphasised, so there is a hit to the clarity and accuracy. However, these earbuds sound good with many popular genres of music such as pop, rap, Bollywood and hip hop. They also have excellent passive isolation and the microphone performance is commendable for the price as well, therefore it lands at the the second runner up position in this category.
With a legacy of 20 years, the Digit Zero 1 Awards is recognized as the Industry’s only performance-based awards. Digit rewards brands for putting in years of research in developing and introducing performance-driven products for their audience. All products are made to pass through a rigorous and scientific test process and compete with competitor brands in the same category. The Winner in each category is announced on the basis of their total score, post complete performance analysis done across an average of 56 tests, conducted for every category, across key performance parameters. The test process for the Zero1 Awards does not consider scores for features, price or design. The aim is to identify the very best products that money can buy, celebrate the innovations that push the industry forward, and reward the products that dare to disrupt the market.