TWS is the latest trend in earphones now. Although many companies produced TWS earlier, it was after apple AirPods that TWS got the limelight. So, I take, you’re planning to buy a TWS soon. But, how to buy a TWS earphone? I’m going to detail everything in this buying guide for TWS earphones. Let’s dive in.
Budget is the top priority in this list. You should set a budget first and then start to look for options. You can get a TWS for as low as $10 and you can get a TWS for over $500. Hence, setting up a budget beforehand is very important.
Once you set the budget first and start exploring, you will know what you get under the said budget. Then according to what you want, you can increase the budget or lower your budget. Better still, stick to the same budget.
There is always a better one for more money. Please, don’t get carried away as there is no end to this rabbit hole. Hence the budget comes to save you.
In-ear or On-ear
You might be surprised as the terms, ‘On-ear’ and ’In-ear’ are associated with headphones and not earphones. There is more to it. In fact, even earphones have in-ear and on-ear designs.
The ‘In-ear’ models have a silica tip and the silica tip goes deep into the ear canal and secures there. It also makes a good seal with the ear. I prefer this type of earbuds and so are many. You must make sure the ear tips are the right size to keep your ears comfortable. Its ear tips shouldn’t be big, it shouldn’t be small. Find the right size. So, you won’t hurt your ears.
Usually, the cheaper version comes with an on-ear design, and the expensive model from the same company comes in an in-ear style. The best examples would be Apple AirPods and Apple AirPods Pro.
On-ear TWS doesn’t have Ear tips. It just has a plastic end. You need to insert it into the ear canals. They partially go inside unlike In-ear TWS which go deep inside the ear canal mouth.
But there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Let us see them one by one.
Advantages of in-ear earphones
- Noise isolation
- It better fits in the ear with different types of ear tips.
- Secured fit so that it will not fall out easily.
- Good bass
- Earbuds with Automatic noise cancellation come only in in-ear style.
- More options across the budget range
Disadvantages of in-ear earphones
- Small driver
- Suction feeling on some earbuds
- Can feel its presence easily
- High chances of hearing damage listening to loud volumes
- Small soundstage generally
Advantages of on-ear earphones
- Comparatively wider sound stage
- Less strain on the ear
- Low chances of hearing damage with higher volume
- Less pressure inside the ear with earbuds on
- Big drivers
- Wide soundstage in most cases
Disadvantages of on-ear earphones
- Anxiety about falling off
- High noise intrusion
- Unsecured fit
- Can fall off easily
- Cannot fit onto all ear sizes
- Less bass
In my personal opinion, it is better to go with the In-ear style earbuds purely based on sound quality and availability.
Here come another important criteria on ‘how to buy a TWS earphone. It is its sound signature
So, what is this sound signature?
Each earphone sound different. Some have high bass while other has better treble. Sound signature is how the different frequencies sound on any audio device.
In the Hi-Fi kingdom, people often choose their speakers, amplifiers, etc based on the sound signature. They buy what is pleasing to their ears and themselves. We can follow the same on earbuds.
Some prefer bass music while others want good mids. So, you should choose an earbud that reflects your taste in music.
If you listen to Hip-Hop a lot, you already know that you need bass a lot. In that case, choose a TWS with good bass and great mids. If you like EDM a lot, look for a TWS with good bass and neutral sound.
So, based on personal preference and music styles, the preference for sound signature changes. Please keep it in your mind.
The million-dollar question is, I can find shops to audition HI-FI components and choose the only one I like. Where can I audition TWS earbuds?
There are shops where you can audition TWS earbuds, especially the top-tier ones. For example, you can go to apple stores to have a taste of AirPods and Airpod Pros. You can go to the Sennheiser shop to try out their momentum TWS. Similarly, you can visit Sony to test their XM series of TWS earbuds.
Unfortunately for lesser-known brands, you can only rely on reviews posted on sites like ours. It is better to buy TWS going by the reviews rather than giving it a blind shot.
If you’re an audiophile, this is by far the most important factor in this buying guide for TWS. The sound quality.
As said earlier, the TWS price range from under $10 to $500 and above. But the most expensive TWS doesn’t mean better sound quality. For example, AirPods Pro is expensive. But there are earbuds cheaper than AirPods Pro that offer better sound quality. Then why AirPods Pro costs more? It has more features. It has an ecosystem. It is a style statement.
Hence, you need to carefully choose a TWS for its sound quality. It is best done by auditioning and reading reviews.
Set the budget first and then look for a favorable sound signature in that price range. Then decide if you want more of it or not. If yes, increase the budget and check out other TWS with similar sound signatures with better sound quality. Do this until your maximum budget is reached. Also think, if this investment is logical for you. If yes, go ahead with the purchase and enjoy some music.
ANC and ENC
In my opinion, after sound quality, you should give importance to ANC a lot. Of course, if you’re in a dead-quiet room, you don’t really need an ANC earphone. You need to factor in your budget based on this option.
As far as I know, this ANC functionality is available in TWS that are in-ear and has ear tips of some kind.
Generally, TWS with ANC is a costly affair. You need to shell more money than a TWS without ANC and in my opinion, it is well worth it.
What is ANC?
ANC stands for automatic noise cancellation. It cancels the external noise leaving you with pure music. You will get a good dynamic range to your music as the noise floor is lower. It also improves sound quality again as the noise level is lower.
How does ANC work?
Each earbud of the TWS has dedicated microphones for this purpose alone. When you turn on this ANC, the mic captures the sound around it and sends it to a special kind of sound processor inside the earbuds. The processor process it and inverts the phase of the sound. This sound is sent to the drivers and the driver playbacks it.
You should also know that when the ear tips seal with the ear canals, the seal is not bulletproof. Some noise still creeps inside the ear. Hence, the sound escapes into the ear canal through the ear tip seal and meets the sound of the same kind but phase inverted coming from the driver. Since both sound waves are out of phase, they cancel themselves. The result is that there exists no sound at all. Hence, you will hear only the music played by the driver and not the sounds or noise from outside. That is how the ANC works.
Please note that the ANC system has high efficiency in canceling low-frequency noises than high-frequency noises. Hence, engine rumble, and wind gusts will be filtered more efficiently than say a whining noise of a drilling machine.
If you’re interested in this tech, please read more on how active noise-cancellation work, here.
So, what is ENC?
ENC is similar but works only with calls. This is an option you want if you make so many calls.
ENC stands for environmental noise cancellation. Unlike ANC, ENC can be found in the cheapest TWS too.
What it does is, during the call, it captures your voice along with outside noise. This outside noise is digitally removed. Only your voice along with little noise that escapes filtering will be sent to the person at the other end of the phone call. Hence, he will hear you better.
Usually, the TWS that has ANC also has ENC built in. The vice versa is not always true.
So, ANC is a must-have in my book and ENC is good to have.
Water and dust resistance
This is one of the major factors on the topic of, ‘how to buy a TWS earphone.’ In fact, it is one of the crucial points in this buying guide.
This is very important if you’re a gym user. Nowadays TWSs come with different water resistance ratings. Some are just dust resistant, some are splash resistant and there are TWS earphones that are water resistant as well.
You have to check the IP rating of the earbuds. The higher the rating, the better the water resistance. These days you can easily get a TWS earphone with IPX7 certification and water until the prescribed depth will not damage the earbuds.
This will give you peace of mind while working out in the gym. With such a rating, you can be sure that the sweat will not kill your beloved TWS.
This is another criterion in choosing the right TWS for you. Today, almost all TWS has fast charging. But how fast it is depends on your usage, your budget, and the company’s innovation.
There are many earbuds that do 100 hours of playback or above with just 10 minutes of charging inside the case.
Low-end TWS do fast charging of earbuds alone while some decent or high-end TWS have fast charging on the case as well. This is again important for your use case. With a case, you can charge the TWS multiple times. So, in my opinion, fast charging of the earbuds is a must-have and fast charging of the case is good to have. Hence, if fast charging is very important to you, get the TWS with the minimum minutes required to charge for a longer period of usage and of course in your budget.
Mono mode is a very useful mode if you’re taking so much of calls. With this mode, the TWS acts like a mono headset.
You can use only one earphone at a time and you can take calls or listen to music. The main advantage of mono mode is that while you use one earpiece the other earpiece remains inside the case and charging. If the battery in the earpiece that you’re currently using is dead, you can simply put that into the charging case and use the charged one and continue your calls.
It is such a handy feature and is very useful. Not all TWS earbuds have this feature.
One another good thing about this mode is that you can listen to music in mono mode and can still control the playback and even summon your virtual assistant by interacting with the touch interface of the earpiece.
Who doesn’t like great battery life? So, if battery life is important to you, get the TWS with a bigger battery. You see, there are two aspects to choosing it. There are batteries in the TWS and also in the case.
Ideally, choose the TWS with a bigger battery inside and also on the case. But, such TWS barely exist.
So, you have to choose between the bigger battery on the earpiece or the bigger battery in the case.
The TWS of this age has decent battery life. There are TWS that returns as much as 10 hours of playback with a single charge. There are TWS that can return only 5 hours of battery life.
I would suggest getting the TWS with decent battery life for the earbuds and also it has fast charging with a big battery on the case. This is the best of both worlds. Do you know why?
With a bigger battery on the TWS, you can get a few more hours of playback. But if you have a TWS with a big battery on the case, you will get much better overall battery life. But make sure the device has good fast charging capability so that the charging time can be reduced.
But if you’re riding or driving and you cannot or have no time to put the earbuds in the case for quick charging, you should go with a TWS with a big inbuilt battery.
The TWS available these days are mostly cross-compatible. Meaning, you can use it with android, iOS, windows, a Mac, or wherever without losing many of the features.
However, there are TWS EarPods made especially for one platform of devices.
The perfect example is Apple’s AirPods. Sure, they also work with androids. But most of its features of it can be reaped only with apple devices. As the device is made especially for apple devices and the other platforms are just an afterthought.
If you use those platform-specific features a lot and cannot miss them, you should go with the TWS that is most compatible with that platform.
For example, if you want a seamless switching of TWS between devices such as an iPhone, an iPad, or a MacBook Pro, you should consider purchasing an AirPods.
Like battery life and ENC for the ones who take a lot of calls, call quality also plays a significant role in choosing the TWS EarPods. If you take calls a lot, it is not a good idea to skip on-call quality. Get a TWS that has good call quality. Read through the reviews or watch video reviews to choose one. If you can have your hands on those devices, do check them out.
You should consider a TWS with a longer stem. This is because in most cases, the end of the stem houses the mic that captures our sound and sends it to other ends of the call.
If the stem is longer, it is closer to our mouth. With capable software features like ENC, a TWS with a longer stem gives better call quality for the users on the other end.
An In-ear TWS or the TWS with ear tips gives better sound quality during calls as it suppresses the noise well. If it has ANC, it is even better.
This is not an important factor in buying a TWS earphone but still important for some.
You see, we use touch to interact with the TWS device. Some use pressure sensors and some uses gestures. If you’re so keen on what to choose above all other factors, choose the one that is convenient for you.
Suppose, you’re upgrading from one TWS to another and you’re used to the controls of the old TWS, unless you want to unlearn and relearn the gestures, choose the TWS which has similar controls like your previous one.
Else, just buy a TWS that is just right for you and learn to use the new controls.
This is not an important thing but as a content writer, I am supposed to let you know this.
We had a detailed discussion on how to buy a TWS earphone. It is very important to follow this guide so that you will get the perfect TWS earbuds for your taste and functions. Most of the new TWS is value for money and they work exceptionally well on multiple occasions. But choosing the one based on your necessity will give your earbuds even more value for your money.
Hope you found this article useful.
Thanks for reading.
My name is Aju Vignesh. I am a professional copywriter with a degree in mechanical engineering and sound engineering. I am a music fanatic and listen to music every day. I love critical music listening and it makes my day better. Hope my posts are beneficial to you. Keep smiling