When you think of fully wireless earphones, you probably think of the Apple AirPods. The OPPO brand will not come to mind quickly and yet they have developed the OPPO Enco X, which have to compete against the AirPods Pro. Whether these are the wireless (bluetooth) earphones that you should buy? Read it in my review .
OPPO Enco X
Completely wireless earphones were developed in the distant past by manufacturers who focus entirely on audio. Under the leadership of Apple, however, there are more and more companies that are independently working with wireless earphones. Samsung has been offering its Galaxy Buds earphones for many years and OnePlus has been offering its Bullets Wireless and Buds earphones for several years. The fact that OnePlus has stepped up the wireless boat is partly due to OPPO’s experience with producing (wireless) audio products.
OPPO itself has increasingly entered the market of wireless earphones in recent years and was tempted to launch its first high-end earphones, the OPPO Enco Xs, last year. The development of the fully wireless earphones took place in collaboration with Dynaudio, a Danish audio company that focuses on HiFi products. It’s hard to say how much impact this has had on the final product: many of these collaborations are mainly sales-related, with the added bonus of adding an extra audio profile to enrich the sound.
In addition to the promised superior sound compared to other wireless earphones, OPPO also offers its first pair of wireless noise canceling earphones with the Enco X. For this OPPO uses its dual microphone noise cancellation. For this review, the noise cancellation of the Enco X with various noise canceling earpieces was compared, including the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Elite 75t from Jabra. Finally, OPPO’s Enco Xs should offer an impressively long battery life: with noise cancellation enabled, the battery life would reach 20 hours, while you can do up to 25 hours without noise cancellation, OPPO states on its website.
Naturally, OPPO’s claims are addressed in this review as far as possible. For the review, the wireless earphones were tested in combination with the OnePlus 8 Pro, a phone that supports Bluetooth 5.0. The ears were tested for a total of three weeks. The Android app, HeyMelody, was used for the tests, which OPPO supplies with the Enco X earphones to keep the software up-to-date.
OPPO Enco X – the pluses
1. Small, but really very small
With some wireless earphones you get problems with your ears even before they are in your ears. I had that with the Sony WF-1000XM3, mainly because of the weight of the ears. In addition, a large part of those wireless earphones hang outside your ears and therefore it can look strange when you wear them. OPPO’s fully wireless earbuds took all my worries away when I took a first look at the contents of the charging case.
Most of the ears fall away in your ear canal. What remains outside your ears is the ‘trunk’, as we know it from the Apple AirPods. Compared to the AirPods, the trunks on the Enco X’s are slightly smaller and, above all, a lot less thick. As far as I am concerned, it looks better than on the AirPods, but this of course remains subjective – that also applies to the question of whether stems are beautiful at all.
The fact that the ears are so small and also incredibly light, means that I can easily wear them for four hours in a row in daily use. Even at that point I get little or no trouble with the ears. I did get a bit of a pain at first, but that was mainly because I picked the wrong earplugs – they were a bit too big for me. When I switched that, the problem disappeared very quickly.
What has struck me somewhat negatively about the ears is that OPPO is very attached to its shiny plastics. Although that does not have to be a problem, it is somewhat unnecessary on earphones that sell for 179 euros in the Netherlands and Belgium. They are therefore less expensive than the AirPods (Pro), but it would still be nice if the plastics feel a bit higher quality, such as on the Sony WF-1000XM3 or Jabra Elite 75t, which use matte plastic.
2. Battery life to live on
The wearing comfort is therefore good, especially with the low weight of the ears. At the same time, the question is whether the low weight has an impact on the battery life of the Enco X and that is actually just how you look at the results. In practice, I usually used the Enco X’s in the morning hours while sitting at my home office. In addition, the earphones are then connected to my phone and I constantly play music at 50 to 60 percent of the maximum volume until the lunch break. Noise canceling was both on and off for testing.
Testing with noise suppression switched on gave me a final result of about four hours; on average I came to a result of 3 hours and 51 minutes. With noise cancellation turned off, the results were slightly higher, on an average battery life of 4 hours and 37 minutes. However, that’s not the advertised 5.5 hours per battery charge. You can use the Enco X for a total of 19 hours and 15 minutes (with noise cancellation), or 23 hours and 5 minutes (without noise cancellation).
Although these are not earth-shattering results, they are still results to move forward with. If you need to wear them to the office or while traveling for a while, the battery life is fine. I wear them for the full battery life for these tests, but the chance that you do this too is small and that is actually not what fully wireless earphones are intended for. Over-ear headphones might be the better choice in such cases.
If you regularly use them for a short time, then there will be a good battery life for the Enco’s. You can probably easily get through the week with 20 hours. Whether it makes sense to turn off ANC just depends on how long the battery should last. You can just get through the week three hours longer. Fortunately, you can also easily charge the earbuds by charging the case with a USB-C cable, or by charging the case wirelessly – OPPO says the Enco X works with the Qi standard. In practice, charging worked fine, but it is not very smooth. The complete package is only filled after almost two hours.
3. Sound from the Enco X’s is phenomenal
A brand name like Dynaudio, which is known for its HiFi products, on the packaging immediately brought me high expectations. Although such a collaboration does not have to say anything in principle, OPPO showed with its product pages that it is more than an EQ that they have applied to make the earphones sound a little better. I dare not say what influences Dynaudio had on the way in which the final product was shipped. I can say that the combination of two drivers of 11 mm (dynamic) and 6 mm (balanced membrane) produces exceptional sound.
The sound of the Enco X is extremely balanced and provides a nice overview of both vocal and instrumental parts of the music you listen to. Voice is very clear and so is the ‘instrumental spectrum’. In Jack Curley’s song I’m Here for You, the instruments were easy to distinguish and were not masked by vocals. At the same time, the X’s offer sufficient bass, without it being too pushy. Bass is full and gives warmth to songs where it is appropriate.
Especially considering the price point of the earbuds, OPPO can knock itself on its shoulders. These are actually the earphones to buy at this price point. We’ll look at the whole picture later in the conclusion, but when it comes to sound, there’s little at this price point that the Enco X surpasses. Of course, these are in-ear headphones – the comparison with on-ear or over-ear headphones is therefore out of place.
4. Wireless race against noise
Perhaps active noise cancellation (ANC) is still one of the most important functionalities of the OPPO Enco X earphones. Once you’ve experienced noise cancellation that works well, it takes some getting used to returning to earphones without active noise cancellation. I also had that with OPPO’s Enco X. Maybe it’s not a direct opponent of Sony’s WF-1000XM3 – it can filter out more ambient noise – but at this price point it really remains a sublime performance.
Indoors there is actually very little noise to filter out, but I was lucky that I was still allowed to travel with the Enco Xs. Both on the street, when cars speed past, and in the train, they know how to filter out the main noise from the environment. In the train I sometimes had to look around to see if the train was moving. Voices of the call or others in the train were further partly restricted, but were still intelligible. Yet the sound that remains is not disturbing.
If you turn on your music or another media source differently, an even larger part of the sound will disappear and you have to put in a lot of effort to hear something. Perfect if you like to work on the train, for example, or if you are in busy places and still want to do something different in peace. On the street it also works with cars passing by, although the Enco’s are unable to filter out all the noise from the cars passing by. Perhaps it has to do with the irregularity of sounds.
If you want the strongest active noise cancellation in fully wireless earphones, then these may not be the earphones to buy. At the same time, there are few fully wireless earphones at this price point that can compete with the Enco Xs. After all, you will quickly exceed 200 euros.
OPPO Enco X – the negatives
1. HeyMelody app is very limited
Up to this point only positivity, but that unfortunately ends with the HeyMelody app that you will have to use to set up the OPPO Enco X. Via the home screen of the application it is, among other things, possible to read the battery life of the individual earphones. There is an icon for the charging case, but I have not been able to see the battery percentage there.
Directly below you see the three only setting options of HeyMelody: first you can update the firmware of the earbuds, then you can adjust the control options of the earbuds. With the third option of HeyMelody you can perform the fit test. For this, the app sends a number of tones and tries to determine how well the ears are in your ears based on that. Although the earbuds feel good, I always get the advice to try other earbuds. I got that message both with the first pair of rubber earplugs, and with the second pair of caps, which have a good fit.
On the one hand, functions in the app do not work as expected, but I also miss more basic options. For example, there is no option to enable or disable the ‘active noise cancellation’ via the app. What is also missing is an EQ to adjust the sound to your liking, or a possibility to find the location of your earphones via the app. You may never use the included app that comes with your wireless earphones, but this is one of the ways in which Sony can distinguish itself with its more expensive WF earphones from cheaper earphones, which often only offer a limited range of functions in their apps .
2. Touch controls are … annoying
The thing that annoyed me a lot about these earphones is the touch control that is present. The gestures are set up via the HeyMelody app, unless you own an OPPO phone. For the gestures you have different setting options: double tap, triple tap, Touch and hold, Touch and long hold and finally you can swipe up and down.
In principle, these are a lot of possibilities, until you realize that you are only offered a few options per operating option. For example, tapping three times only allows you to activate a voice assistant. Tapping twice does offer more options, which can be set via HeyMelody; these settings can be set individually for each earpiece. Furthermore, OPPO already uses the ‘Tap and hold’ function to switch noise canceling on and off and that the long-tap function is already used to switch between Bluetooth devices.
Bottom line, you only have a few setting options, while OPPO might well have chosen to let users choose from a list of apps. In addition, the touch-sensitive stem of the Enco X is so short that touches are often not registered, especially in the first week of testing. After a while things got better, but it is sometimes difficult to find the right place on the trunk to click. When you walk outside, it quickly looks crazy if you keep clicking on your earpiece to adjust settings. It works (usually), but you will certainly have to take a learning curve into account.
OPPO Enco X Conclusion
If you are going to purchase fully wireless earphones for around 180 euros, there are a number of models that you should not forget. Jabra’s Elite 75t’s are part of this list, and OPPO has managed to join this list in one go. What makes OPPO’s Enco X so special is that they are very small, and therefore actually very nice. Even if you wear the earphones for four hours, which is the regular battery life with the Enco X when ANC is on, you hardly feel it wearing them. There is some weight on your ears, but that is very minimal.
The low weight does not immediately give a familiar feeling, but when you start wearing them you will notice that OPPO has delivered an audio-technical spectacle in collaboration with Dynaudio. In almost all circumstances, vocals are clear and in instrumental parts separate instruments can be distinguished from each other in no time. At the same time, the bass experience is solid, without sacrificing vocals or instrumental parts – a direct result of OPPO’s design of its dual-driver system.
I have little to say about the battery life and the ANC present is very useful if you want to work in peace. The noise reduction is not at the level of, for example, the WF earphones from Sony, but they also have a price tag of over 200 euros. What is really less about these ears is the included app. With only three options in the bundled app, OPPO simply cannot keep up with its competitors – even at its own price point.
Furthermore, these earphones lack extensive customization options for the controls on the earphones. You can perform actions by touching the trunk, for example to switch the noise suppression on or off. In addition, the control surfaces that are present on the Enco X do not always respond to your requested action. Sometimes it comes to the point that the phone has to be taken out of the pocket, while the operation on the earphones should prevent this.
The bottom line then remains the question: what has priority for you? Good battery life, a pleasant ANC experience, great sound or the app and controls? As far as I am concerned, the app is of secondary importance and this is all about the sound, the ANC experience and the battery. For all these elements, I can say that I am pleasantly surprised by the OPPO Enco X and that I would like to order them, especially for the suggested retail price of 180 euros. As far as I am concerned, the Enco X are the best ears for 180 euros.