More recently, the phrase “TWS-headset” (True Wireless – completely wireless) among most “real” music lovers “caused only an indulgent grin and arrogant” in a wireless headset, the sound cannot be good. ” But time passes, and more forward-thinking electronics lovers with an open-eyed view clearly understood: TWS is the future. This was proved by the wild popularity and avalanche-like growth of sales of Apple AirPods, and behind them the entire segment of fully wireless headphones, transferring the entire class of such devices from the category of “gadgets for geeks” to a mass product.
However, sound quality is still the cornerstone for such devices. It’s all about limiting the width of the wireless data transmission channel between the sound source and the headphones. To resolve this issue, various codecs are currently used to expand the channel and ensure data transmission with less loss. One of these codecs is aptX. It is a codec capable of transmitting music at full bandwidth at 16-bit / 44,1 kHz (almost like a CD). Almost, because it’s still not full CD quality, because aptX also uses compression to reduce audio encoding latency. And despite the compression, aptX is noticeably superior to SBC, the basic Bluetooth codec.
In addition to using more advanced codecs, another way to affect the sound quality is to use emitters built on a different principle than the usual dynamic emitter, for example, a balanced armature, or in the slang “armature”. Despite the huge number of TWS headsets that have appeared recently, fittings are still an infrequent guest in this type of device. Another option with unusual technology used in portable audio is planar emitters, but this is a completely different universe, and the price tag there, as a rule, is inhumane, so today it’s not about “planars”, but about “anchors”.
All of these options have their pros and cons, but, as a rule, headphones built on the basis of balanced armature technology and using the aptX codec and higher are considered to be of better quality and better than their dynamic counterparts.
And today we will just look at one of these options for a TWS headset with a double armature emitter and support for the aptX codec – AC Robin Mist.
- TECH SPECS
- Packaging equipment
- Appearance and materials
- Ergonomics and ease of use
- Management and nuances
- Headset mode
- Battery life
- Type: vacuum, fully cordless
- Emitter type: double armature
- Communications: Bluetooth v5.0
- Supported profiles: SBC, AAC, aptX
- Environmental protection standard: IPx7
- Control type: touch pads on the earphone
- Earphone weight: 4.6g
- Headphone material: plastic
- Charging case dimensions: 63x40x25.5 mm
- Case material: steel
- Case weight with headphones: 75 g
- Ports: USB Type-C on case
- Duration of work: 8 hours
- Number of full charges from case: 4
- Recommended retail price: 10990 rubles.
There are literally a couple of words about the packaging – a thin flat box with an image of headphones on the front side and characteristics on the back.
On the side edge of the box there is a round hole, by pressing into which, you can push out from the outer light-colored box the inner, dark gray, which opens like a casket.
Inside we see a case and another dark gray box, inside which is a poor set of instructions, a charging cable and a set of replaceable ear pads in five sizes and two shapes. Another ear pads are already on the headphones.
By the way, from the inside on the lid there is even a thin layer of foam rubber, which immediately sets us up for a kind of premium product – manufacturers rarely spoil us with foam rubber (no matter how strange it may sound) 😊.
Appearance and materials
The outside of the case is covered in matte gray paint and looks like plastic. And if you do not read the characteristics before unpacking, then you will experience very unusual sensations when you take the case in your hands for the first time. It’s heavy! Nearly 75 grams. It is also metallic. And yes, apparently it’s not aluminum, but steel. It feels very cool and solid in the hand. It is felt directly – a thing. Infrequent sensation lately. I immediately remembered the legendary Nokia 8800.
Yes, then you begin to understand that you have to carry this weight in your pocket and it would be better if the case was lighter. But the feeling … Gorgeous. And it also fits perfectly in the hand thanks to its successful ergonomic shape and compact size, which is a huge plus for me personally, since the smaller the case, the more convenient it is to carry it in my pocket.
The price for compactness is usually the small battery capacity of the case, but not in this case. According to this parameter, there is complete order – 350 mAh, which, according to the manufacturer, should be enough for four full charges of the headphones.
But stop admiring the case, it’s time to open it.
And here’s another surprise – the lid hinge. She is strange. At the first moment it seemed to me that it was broken, it works so strangely. In the video below I tried to show what exactly the loop is unusual.
I can’t figure out if I like it or not. On the one hand, this is cool and evokes thoughts about vintage watches of the pre-electronic era, on the other hand, subconsciously, you want more confusion and clarity. Although in fairness it is worth noting that the mechanism is made with high quality – the halves are precisely fixed in the grooves intended for this and do not play when open.
The lid also closes with a characteristic metallic clang, which is more like it than not like it.
Inside the case, each in its own lodgment (after the materials and the hinge, it is impossible to find another word), there are headphones themselves of an unusual drop-like shape, the same as the case, matte gray. The headphones are held in the case very tightly due to the powerful magnets and do not fall out of the case even with strong shaking.
Between the headphones there is a three-point indicator of the case charge and the designations of the left and right headphones at a distance from the indicator.
Also noteworthy is the inner surface of the case – it is textured, pleasant to the touch.
The earbuds appear to be metallic, but they are not. They are plastic, since metal poorly conducts a radio signal, but we still have a wireless gadget.
The headphone case is made according to the traditional scheme of two halves. On the outside there is the manufacturer’s emblem, which is also a touch pad, as well as two microphone holes and a status indicator light that blinks when connected and pairing and does not manifest itself in any way the rest of the time.
At the end of the leg there is another microphone, the main one.
And on the opposite end of the headphones there is another microphone hole.
It seems that the declared function of noise reduction is really there. The only question is why it works, only for headset mode or while listening to music. If it is, then there is not a word about how to turn it on in the instructions. And while listening to music, no hint of active noise isolation is heard.
On the inside of the leg there are contact pads through which the headphones are charged in the case.
The sound guide is short, without compensatory ducts and holes, which is why sometimes, after insertion into the ear, you have to wait for the pressure to equalize.
The sound guide outlet is covered with a red cloth sulfur filter, standard for such devices, 4.5 mm in diameter. If anything, you can pick up filters from other devices (it’s a pity that they are not included).
Thanks to the short sound guide, the headphones sit deep in the ear and do not bulge out of it. Personally, in my opinion, this is better than when the headphones stick out strongly from the auricle and look like something foreign.
And because of the short sound guide, the complete ear pads have a short core, so not all replacement ear pads are suitable.
Due to the powerful magnets and sloping geometry of the earbuds, the easiest way to get them out of the case is by first pressing the earphone leg and slightly turning them to the side.
Ergonomics and ease of use
I will say just a few words about the fit in the ear. They fit perfectly. They do not press, do not press and do not bulge. Everything I love. And thanks to their drop-shaped shape, they are very easy to position correctly in the ear.
Also, due to the tight fit, passive noise isolation is also pleasing, which cuts off external noise well.
When worn for a long time, they do not crush or rub. For sports, they are relatively suitable, like any headphones without struts and mounting wings – for me personally, during active movements and sports, after my ears sweat, the headphones gradually begin to creep out of my ear. What they lack is some kind of retainer or spacer in the ear.
As for the quality of the connection, there are no complaints. There were practically no stuttering during the operation, except for one place with a very clogged broadcast, but in that place all the headphones stutter. The connection with the phone is not lost, even when the phone is in the back pocket of your jeans.
Management and nuances
When removed from the case, the headphones are connected to the phone for a couple of seconds and notify about this in English in a pleasant female voice. Once connected, the status bar displays the headphone charge level, which is convenient. This feature worked for me on Huawei P30 Pro, Honor 20 Pro, and also on Samsung Galaxy S8 and S10e.
However, this feature must be checked individually, since its availability may depend on the specific model of a particular manufacturer.
Touch control, not intuitive, as it has its own nuances. Instead of a thousand words, I will cite an excerpt from the instructions, after reading which everything becomes clear.
I had to get used to the peculiarities. After several days, I got used to it and already took such a management implementation for granted.
What is really missing is an infrared in-ear position sensor. Without it, you have to pause the music manually, which is not always convenient, given the touch controls.
When using in headset mode, the interlocutors almost never complained about the quality of speech transmission and did not ask again what I said. Most did not even understand what I was saying through the headset. The interlocutor is also heard well, although there is a feeling that the voice seems to be in the distance, not directly in the ear.
There is only one lead earpiece, left or right, but during a conversation the sound goes directly to both earpieces, which is good news. You can use one earpiece, any one. If you put one earphone in the case, even the presenter, then the second one will automatically take on the role of the presenter, connecting to the phone as the main one.
The manufacturer claims to work for 8 hours in music playback mode and up to four times a full charge of the headphones from the case. That gives us about 40 hours of playback in total. In fact, measuring the duration of continuous playback with charging from the case turned out to be very problematic, but it was possible to measure the work from one charge – the headphones lasted more than the stated 8 hours and turned off after 8 hours and 12 minutes of continuous music playback at a volume of about 60%. With daily use and listening on the way to and from work, as well as during walks, the charge of the headphones and the case lasted for a week and a half, which I think is an excellent result. It turns out that you can take headphones with you on vacation or on a short vacation. The only thing they lack is the presence of wireless charging in the case so that you can recharge them from the phone, but this is a fee for a metal case.
Well, by tradition. The very last point is about the sound.
Let me remind you that dual armature drivers and the aptX codec are used here.
I will not bother you with all sorts of sibilants and other audiophile delights and will try to tell you in understandable language about my impressions of the sound of the headphones.
To begin with, I must say that I liked the sound. It is juicy, full-bodied and not as dry as you would expect from the fittings. The bass is also surprisingly pleasant, not buzzing, not drumming, moderately springy.
And, as always with good fittings, there is very good detailing, thanks to which all the instruments and nuances of reproduction are heard. Due to the presence of two radiators, neither high nor mid frequencies are lost.
By the way, the middle here is not as pronounced as one might expect, and the high ones are not piercing.
The stereo panorama is wide and deep. When listening to instrumental music, you get the feeling that the musicians are sitting in front of you, and not in your head, which is rather a plus, since with this setting, the sound feels more realistic.
Overall, the sound is very balanced, with no part of the range dominating. The only complaint I had was the purity of the sound, which, despite the excellent detail, at some points may seem a little dirty. Why this is happening is unclear, but the feeling that you want a little more transparent, or something, does not leave. And yet – not the highest maximum volume. There is enough of it, but there is no stock.
As a result, we have a very good balanced and detailed sound, which lacks a little headroom and clarity. However, despite these shortcomings, with daily listening you enjoy and enjoy the good sound. The difference in detail in favor of the armature is felt in direct comparison, for example, with the Samsung Galaxy Buds + headset, which uses a dynamic emitter at a comparable cost.
Among other advantages, it can be noted that this headset sounds better than the two-driver wired armature headset from Xiaomi. Yes, in itself this is not such an advantage, but if you remember that the Mist is still a wireless headset, then this advantage starts to be perceived differently.
And with all this, despite the presence of two armature drivers and the aptX codec, thanks to which you can get a completely different impression from listening to familiar compositions, this headset has a huge number of competitors. After all, two parameters are most often important to an ordinary consumer – the price and brand recognition, and all these beautiful and, of course, important for the initiated abbreviations remain just strange abbreviations. This is why AC Robin will have to work hard to make this headset popular.
May I recommend this headset for purchase? Yes, especially if you know what “armature” is and love this sound. Other advantages include a metal case with an unusual hinge, attention to detail in the form of build quality and materials, and a very pleasant sound, and all this for an adequate, competitive price.
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