Welcome back to Become a TWS Professional, the guide that aims to teach you everything there is to know about True Wireless Stereo. In Part I, we explored all the technical specifications behind TWS earbuds, from codecs to audio drivers.
Today we’re going to be checking out some functionality features of TWS earbuds and answering a few of your frequently asked questions. Let’s get straight into it.
How do you use TWS Earbuds?
Now that you’ve got the technical information down, you might be wondering how to actually go about using TWS Earbuds. Well, guess what… We’ve got you covered there too!
The majority of TWS Earbuds have very small integrated batteries. The result of this small size is that their average battery life is around 4-5 hours. To overcome this, most manufacturers now include a charging case with their products. A charging case neatly contains your headphones, and by want of a larger battery, charges them whilst they are sitting safely in your pocket. You will still need to recharge this case periodically, and the most common way of doing this is over USB.
The charging time for both the headphones and the charging case itself can vary a lot. Generally, it takes headphones around 1-2 hours to fully recharge inside their case, and the case normally takes less than an hour. If the charging case in question uses USB-C, this can be as low as 30 minutes.
Another feature common to pretty much every set of TWS Earbuds is touch control, though some lower-end models do still have mechanical switches. The exact input methods vary, but generally, the left and right headphones will both have touch controls assigned to various functions, e.g. left for volume down, right for volume up. Also, tapping, double-tapping, and a long press can all have different roles.
Touch control is all about convenience, but it can take some getting used to! Your best bet is to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with your specific device’s touch functions. You’ll be a pro in no time!
Many TWS Earbuds have been designed specifically for use with mobile phones, and therefore come with a microphone as part of their design. One particularly nifty result of this is that it can allow you to use your choice of voice assistant, for example, Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant – all without taking your phone out of your pocket. The command for this is normally as simple as a single tap to the touch-control.
When is TWS Tech Most Useful?
TWS technology is useful in any situation where you would rather not have to deal with the mess of tangled cables that come with using wired devices. Wires get in the way and it’s impossible to pretend they aren’t there, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to escape with music or a podcast.
Our favourite times to use TWS earbuds are:
- While relaxing at home
- When cooking
- When taking a flight
- In the gym or when out exercising
- On the commute to work
- When taking conference calls
- Anytime we want to escape for a little while!
Last but not least, TWS Earbuds are great for everyday use around the house. Because they are a comfortable and cable-free alternative to regular headphones, you can wear them while working, doing chores, or relaxing in the evenings!
TWS headphone design and material considerations
Apart from the internal workings and electronics, there are many other factors to consider when choosing the right pair of TWS Earbuds. We haven’t even got to materials, shape, design, and earbud fit yet!
The most popular material for the main housing of TWS Earbuds is plastic. However, some products use aluminum, or a mixture of the two. In theory, this can add a bit of strength and durability, but that comes at the cost of a little more weight. Plus, cold metal in your ear isn’t for everyone!
TWS Earbuds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the classic AirPods with their signature “dangly bits”, to ones with a smaller form factor that fit entirely inside the contours of your ear.
Not every device will fit every person, so you should definitely take your own preferences into account when making your purchase. Some headphones can seem comfortable at first, but after prolonged use causes sore or uncomfortable spots. Luckily, most manufacturers have pretty good return policies, so you can try them out and see how they feel.
Eartips come in two materials, silicone and foam, and a number of different shapes and sizes.
Silicone is the more common material, as it is cheaper and tends to last longer. Silicone is soft and flexible, and works fairly well for most people.
Earbud Shapes and Sizes
There are three standard sizes for earbud eartips: small, medium and large. Most manufacturers send all three alongside new earbuds, allowing you to find the perfect size to suit your ear. A snug fit gives you added comfort and sound insulation. The more complete the seal, the clearer your listening experience will be. This is because there’ll be less sound bleed and interference from external noises.
Increasingly, manufacturers are using memory foam instead of silicone for their earbud tips. Foam offers a better seal than silicone, as well as an increase in comfort. This is primarily because the shape of the ear canal isn’t fixed; rather, it changes as the jaw moves. Foam can change shape and adhere to these changing contours more readily than silicone because it is a more compressible material.
Memory foam earbuds are normally recommended only for audiophiles, musicians, or anyone for whom maximum sound isolation is important.
Frequently Asked Questions about TWS Earbuds
What is the price range of TWS earbuds?
TWS Earbuds, like any consumer electronics, can have a huge range in price. For example, the official apple AirPods Pro costs $249! Apple products have always commanded a premium price tag, and the AirPods Pro is undoubtedly a fantastic piece of kit, with active noise cancellation and water-resistance as standard.
If the thought of forking over a quarter of a grand for headphones gives you the cold sweats, you needn’t fret. There are plenty of other fantastic options available at a far less prohibitive cost. The Jabra Elite 65t headphones for example offer fantastic sound at around the $100 price mark. Even cheaper are the UGREEN Hitune wireless earbuds. These bad boys come with many features you would normally only expect to find on much more expensive products, such as noise-cancelling and a 9h playtime from a single charge. Right now, the UGREEN Hitunes cost less than $40!
Do wireless earphones also have good sound quality?
For a long time, going wireless meant sacrificing a large degree of sound quality. As we outlined earlier, advances in the Bluetooth standard and in the chipsets that transmit/receive audio data have meant that this difference, especially at the higher end of the market, is now pretty negligible. Even though wired headphones can technically support much greater bandwidths of up to 2,304kbps, you would be hard-pressed to find audio files with a higher bitrate than 520kbps, rendering this detail irrelevant.
Having said that, there are plenty of other factors that impact the sound quality and accuracy of your wireless earphones. These range from the frequency response and sensitivity, to impedance; driver type and size, and any noise-cancellation capabilities built-in.
For TWS earbuds, what does the different waterproof levels mean?
Headphones and earbuds are given a rating that outlines how well they can handle wet environments. This rating is known as the IPX rating. It describes the level of protection a device against water ingress: in simple terms that means its waterproofness or its water-resistance.
The IPX mark is followed by a number from 0-8, with IPX 0 meaning the device offers no protection at all, and IPX 8 meaning it’s fully waterproof and can be submerged in water up to 3m deep.
An IPX rating of 4 means that the headphones will be resistant to splashes of water from every direction. IPX4 rated devices should be able to resist all rain, as well as any sweat that might get on the devices if you use them while exercising.
How do I charge my TWS earbuds?
As outlined earlier, most TWS Earbuds on the market come with a charging case to top up their battery whilst you are on the move. Basically when earbuds run out of battery, they can be easily charged via the case; However, in order to recharge your case, you need to use cables like USB-C or Micro USB; Many devices now support USB-C, which provides a much faster recharge rate. And there are more TWS earbuds that support Wireless charging, too.
Why there are two different pairing modes?
For most of the TWS earbuds, there are two pairing modes: mono mode and twin mode. Mono mode allows you or your friends to use single earbud solely, so it won’t be difficult anymore if you want to share a call with a friend privately. While twin mode gives you better performance of the stereo sound;
Congrats, you’re now a TWS master
If you value convenience and good sound quality, TWS is undoubtedly the best way to go. The compressive nature of Bluetooth codecs means you may experience a slight reduction in quality compared to wired headphones, but unless you are a pro musician or sound engineer, this won’t be too much of an issue.
For TWS earbuds that won’t break the bank, come with Clear Voice Capture, are USB-C ready, and offer awesome sound quality, look no further than the UGREEN Hitune Wireless Earbuds. These support the aptX codec and come with different eartips, so you can be sure you are getting the best sound and fit possible for under $40!
What do you look for in a pair of TWS Earbuds? Let us know what’s important to you in the comments below! And if you are into our content, you are more than welcome to subscribe below for more tech insights!