our full review of true wireless headphones

After the Enco Free, W51 and W31, Oppo presents the Enco X, its fourth pair of True Wireless Stereo headphones. Like the W51s, they are equipped with active noise reduction. And like the Enco Free, they are positioned in the premium segment with a selling price close to 180 euros. Is the quality there? Answer in this comprehensive test.

Almost a year ago, Oppo stepped up its strategy to capitalize on building an ecosystem of products. Smartphones remain the center of the Chinese brand’s offering. But they are now accompanied by accessories that enrich the experience. At the start of the year, Oppo introduced the Enco Free, his first pair of TWS headphones (English acronym for True Wireless Stereo, or in Molière’s language “true wireless stereo”). We’ve published a full review of these earbuds that do with top honors.

Also Read – AirPods Max Review: Are Apple Headphones Up To The Price?

Over the next few months, Oppo stepped up its accessory offering. A connected watch, the Oppo Watch (powered by Google WearOS). Two pairs of headphones, the Enco W31 and W51, the latter being compatible with active noise reduction technology. In a get-started session with Oppo back to school, we found the effect to be very interesting, but not yet pronounced enough. Too bad, because the W51s are quite inexpensive. But the competition is considerable. In a few months, we have seen the arrival of the Huawei Freebuds Pro and Freebuds 3i, the OnePlus Buds and Buds Z, etc.

To find a place in the sun, you need an iconic product. An attractive product, well made, with good performance, especially in sound quality and active noise reduction. That’s when Oppo revealed this fall the Enco X, a fourth pair of “premium” headphones with an even higher price than that of Enco Free. On paper, this new audio accessory, which benefits from a partnership with the Danish brand Dynaudio, has all of a great product. We spent a few months with headphones in our ears. And here’s what we think about it.

Price and availability

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The Enco X have been available since the end of the month of november 2020. They are sold in all the usual brands, as well as on the official Oppo website. The price of the Enco X is 179 euros. They are thus positioned as the most expensive headphones in the Oppo catalog, above the Enco Free, at the start of summer 2020 at 129 euros, and W31 and W51, both positioned below 100 euros.

The Enco X faces competition from Apple’s AirPods Pro (279 euros), Huawei Freebuds Pro (200 euros), OnePlus Buds (89 euros), as well as the very recent Galaxy Buds Pro (229 euros), presented by Samsung at the launch of the Galaxy S21. As always, Oppo is therefore betting on a price positioning generally below the competition (Samsung, Huawei, Apple). The Enco X are therefore relatively attractive for the wallet. It remains to be seen whether they are also suitable for the ears.

Headphone design

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Now let’s get to the heart of the matter with headphones. And let’s take a look at their design. With the Enco X, Oppo slightly deviates from the standards imposed by AirPods, unlike the Enco Free, which used its almost identical design (but embellished with a few fancy touches). Here, we find a more rounded and curved design, focusing more on ergonomics than practicality.

The shell of each earpiece, protected against splashes (IP54 certification), is polycarbonate of course. But the finish is shiny and not mat, like on the Enco Free. The loudspeaker part consists of an ovoid part with a slight protuberance to fix a tip and enter the auricle without forcing.

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This part of the earpiece is bulkier than that of the Enco Free. With an advantage and a disadvantage: the earpiece will not necessarily adapt to all ear shapes, but if it does, the support will be good and pleasant, even after several hours of listening.

On the growth of the egg-shaped part of the earpiece, you can attach a soft silicone tip. They are the ones that provide sound insulation and passive noise reduction. It can be removed to replace it (if it is damaged) or to opt for another size. In the photos you can see the size medium. The headphones also come with two additional pairs of ear tips: small and large. The ends of the Enco X are larger than those of the Enco Free. They are softer and easier to remove. On the other hand, they are more fragile.

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The other important part of every earbud is the stem. It’s still circular, but it’s also much smaller than that of the Enco Free (and AirPods). In it, you will find many elements: a small battery of course, a tactile surface (for the various controls), the connectors for recharging and two small microphones. Touch surfaces allow you to take a call, control music and volume, or activate active noise reduction or transparency mode. We will come back to that.

Let’s talk about the two microphones for a few moments. The first is located at the top of the rod. It is responsible for active noise reduction. And the second at the bottom of the rod, between the charging connectors. He is responsible for taking sound during calls or to converse with Google Assistant. We will also come back to the technical qualities of these two elements a little later.

Charging box design

Like the headphones, the box delivered with the Enco X is based on a more rounded design than that of the Enco Free. And like the headphones, the case is dressed in a shiny, non-matte polycarbonate shell. Its format is ovoid. It is wider than it is high. And, at no point can you guess that this is an Oppo product. While the case of the Enco Free is marked with the brand’s signature, that of the Enco X only indicates that the product was developed in collaboration with Dynaudio.

There are some similarities, however. Starting with its rather vertical ergonomics: the headphones are stored upright and not lying down, unlike the Enco W51 and W31. A USB type-C port is present under the case (when you hold it upright). In addition, a hardware button is present on the edge to activate the pairing of the headset with a smartphone. Find some information on this subject in the “smartphone application” section.

Finally, the notification LED, here very discreet, is positioned opposite. It is red to indicate that its battery will soon be discharged. It is orange when it is charging the headphones. It is green when a certain level of charge is present in the headphones. And it is white when it is in the process of pairing.

Audio quality

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The quality of the audio experience is generally good. But it is very variable. It can be very good, just as it is maybe passable. It will mainly depend on the smartphone with which you connect your headphones. If you go for a high-end Oppo (Find X2 Pro, as in our video test or in some photos accompanying this article, Find X2 or Oppo Reno 4 Pro), you will have the richest experience . The headphones are LHDC compatible, a high definition Bluetooth audio codec. It greatly enriches the sound and offers a nice roundness, even in the bass, where in-ear headphones usually do not perform well.

If you have an Android smartphone compatible with Bluetooth 5.1 or higher, you will not benefit from the LHDC codec. You will have to make do with standard stereo Bluetooth codecs. The experience is however very good, since the sound is qualitative in the mids and treble. However, you will have less richness in the bass, the volume will be lower and you will experience a little additional latency. This is not unique to the Enco X, since the Enco Free are also victims of the phenomenon.

If you have a Bluetooth 5.0 or lower compatible Android smartphone, you will experience lower quality mono sound. It’s quite a shame to buy headphones for 180 euros for mono sound. Likewise with the iPhone. No iPhone is Bluetooth 5.1 compatible, let alone LHDC. For AirPods, Apple uses a customized version of the Bluetooth protocol, allowing for richer sound. That’s why iPhones offer stereo sound with AirPods, and not with other TWS headphones.

Active noise reduction: an almost magical effect

Whether you are equipped with Oppo, Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung or even Apple, the Enco X offers active noise reduction. This is not the noise reduction offered with the Enco Free, but more of a technology comparable to that of the Freebuds Pro or AirPods Pro. As soon as you put an earpiece in one ear, you can feel the work the mics and the speaker do.

The technology is relatively easy to understand. Each earpiece is equipped with three microphones. We saw two of them when we detailed the design of the headphones: the first at the end of the shaft and the second inside the earpiece. The third is inside the earpiece, near the pinna. The external earpiece, the one at the top of the rod, records sounds. And the internal earpiece does the same with what you listen to. And the earpiece emits an opposite signal that cancels out ambient noise.

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The microphone dedicated to active noise reduction

Immediately, ambient noise is reduced. However, they are not canceled. If you turn off the music and listen carefully, you will distinguish between cars, public transport, voices, etc. On the other hand, it will allow you to concentrate on your music and even lower the sound volume. Which is appreciable. Some sounds pass through the filter. The dry and sharp noises. The voices. And some noises too loud to cancel. A firmware update also helped reduce wind noise. We hope other updates continue to refine the result.

Another small downside, during hands-free phone conversations, we experienced a decrease in voice clarity. Our correspondent could hear us less well, when active noise reduction is working. On the other hand, we could hear our correspondent perfectly well. It is possible that this is due to the microphone dedicated to noise reduction.

Also note that the Enco X offers a transparency mode, which allows external noise to be heard, as if you had no headphones in your ears. This can be useful for starting a conversation or for walking on the street while remaining vigilant to traffic (pedestrian, car, bicycle, scooter, etc.). This is a very useful mode.

Smartphone app: HeyMelody

The Enco X can be used globally like any other TWS headset on the market. You activate the Bluetooth of your smartphone. You start a search for compatible accessories. You open the small case of the headphones without removing the headphones. You press the button for a few seconds to launch the headset detection mode. You tap on the name of the headphones in the list of devices detected by your smartphone. And the pairing is then automatic.

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Remember that the headphones are Bluetooth compatible. If your smartphone is Bluetooth 5.1 compatible, you will have stereo sound. Otherwise, you will have mono sound (the same channel on both ears). From now on, and without needing anything else, you can use the headphones. Obviously, it doesn’t stop there …

In our tests of the Enco Free and OnePlus Buds, we noted with regret the lack of an app to install on a smartphone to customize touch functions and improve the user experience. Since then, water has flowed under the bridges and we were delighted to see that an app is now available with Oppo’s TWS headsets. The application is not unknown to us, since it is HeyMelody that we were able to test with the OnePlus Buds Z.

The arrival of this app is triple good news. First, it dramatically improves the experience with previous helmets from both brands. HeyMelody is indeed compatible with all Enco and Buds headphones released to date. You can therefore update the firmware of the headphones and take advantage of new functions. Then, it has been improved since the publication of our test of Buds Z: it is now possible to customize the touch controls. Of course, it will all depend on the capabilities of each earpiece.

Finally, the app allows owners of a third-party smartphone to take full advantage of the headphones. Until now, the Finds and Renos have sounded much better than other Bluetooth 5.1 compatible smartphones. It is now a little less the case. We still note a slight difference between an Oppo smartphone and a smartphone from another brand (we tested the Enco X with the Find X2 Pro and with the ROG Phone 2), especially in terms of power.

The functions of the application are, as of this writing, still basic, but very useful. Once the headphones have been paired with your smartphone, you must activate the connection again in the app. First choose your model from the list of compatible headphones. Then tap on it to open a configuration screen. There you can check the charge status of each earphone. You can also find the one on the box provided that the headphones are placed in it. If not, it will be greyed out.

You can also update the firmware. You can choose the touch controls (1 second touch and hold, 3 second touch and hold, slide up and down, single tap, double tap and triple tap) left and right. Finally, you can perform a basic audio sustain test. These are relatively simple actions. HeyMelody still lacks a real equalizer so that we can consider the application to be truly complete. But it’s a great improvement.

Note that if you pair an Oppo smartphone with the Enco X, you will get all the functions offered by HeyMelody, directly in the ColorOS operating system. We have experienced it. And you can find all the captures opposite.

Autonomy and recharging

Last part of our test, autonomy. Let us recall some important information. Each earpiece is equipped with a battery of 44 mAh and the case of an additional battery of 535 mAh which allows headphones to be charged on the fly when needed (and you will definitely need them as the day progresses). Officially, the headphones have a battery life of 4 hours listening to music with active noise reduction and 5 hours and 30 minutes without noise reduction.

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We have experienced autonomy quite close to the figures announced. Sometimes a little less. Sometimes a little more. But it will depend on your usage (calls or music only) and audio volume. The case, meanwhile, offers four to five full recharges of the headphones. Oppo explains that the overall autonomy is 20 hours with active noise reduction. A figure that corresponds well to our experience. We are therefore in the good market average. Another excellent point.

It takes just under an hour and a half to fully charge the headphones when they are in their cases. For the box, you have the choice between wired or wireless charging, if you are equipped with Qi. It’s the little icing on the cake. With a USB cable or a Qi charging base (or a smartphone compatible with wireless reverse charging), it takes you almost two hours to fully charge the case. It’s a bit slow, but it’s still reasonable in relation to the autonomy offered.

Conclusion

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The Enco X may be more expensive than the Enco Free, but they also offer a lot more. Audio quality is on the rise. The noise reduction is very effective. The autonomy is increased without noise reduction and remains comfortable when the feature is active. The product is compact. And the arrival of the HeyMelody app dramatically expands the number of smartphones that support touch control customization and firmware updates.

Faced with the Enco Free, the Enco X therefore benefit from a consistent positioning. And in the face of the competition, it is also very relevant. The main competitors are generally positioned above 200 euros, while the Oppo proposal remains measured. So here is a very promising product, which it would be a shame to adopt without a fully compatible smartphone (at least Bluetooth 5.1, if not an Oppo).

We expect the next generation to deliver deeper bass, a built-in HeyMelody equalizer to further refine the audio experience, better compatibility with other brands of smartphones and even more precise active noise reduction. We are sure that our wishes will one day be granted.

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