Oppo’s Enco X true wireless earbuds see the Chinese brand partner with European hi-fi audio stalwart Dynaudio. It is a combination has us mightily intrigued.
While they look like Apple’s true wireless series, to call the Enco X ‘AirPod killers’ would be to get the wrong end of the stick. They’re primarily for Android smartphones, designed to integrate tightly with Oppo’s own smartphones.
So with Dynaudio’s expertise in the sound department, active noise cancellation and support for high-res audio, what do we make of these true wireless earbuds?
Oppo Enco X price and availability
The Enco X went on sale November 2020 in the UK for £169. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed for the US, Canada, WEU (Western European Union) or Australia, though you can find them on Amazon.de for €180.
Oppo Enco X design – Loose fit, sleek looks
- Comfortable, if slightly loose fit
- Decent, responsive controls
- Nice looks
The design route Oppo has favoured is the ‘stem’ approach popularised by the Apple AirPods where the earbud sits in the ear and the stem sticks out. It differs from the other popular design – what I call the ‘ear trombone’ look – seen in the likes of the Sennheiser CX 400BT and Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW.
The design has good points and not so good points. Unlike Apple’s true wireless, the Enco X slot more into the ear. The less good aspect is the consistency of the fit and seal. The Enco X don’t quite burrow in – some may prefer that – but the result is they come loose even during walks. Oppo has marketed the Enco X as fitness ready, and while they don’t fall out I imagine many will push them in to make the fit tighter. The Enco X comes with small and large ear-tips to help achieve that fit.
The control scheme uses swipes, presses and holds and at first can seem somewhat chaotic, but eventually becomes fairly intuitive and responsive. Swipes up and down are for volume, a double tap for skipping tracks (or play/pause) and a triple tap for activating a device’s voice assistant.
A touch and hold on the top part of the stem switches between ANC/transparency modes, while a touch and hold for three seconds switches to another device. Voice assistant activation can only be assigned to a triple tap, while a double tap can be either track skipping or play/pause, and that’s rather awkward.
You could have play/pause on one earbud and skip forward (or back) on the other but that feels like an ill-fitting compromise. Fiddling with the earbuds can also cause an accidental skip a track or send the earbuds into a different mode. In that sense it is a bit messy.
They do look stylish though; svelte in shape and sleek in look there’s a choice of glossy black or white finishes. The Babybell-shaped charging case matches the earbuds, attracting plenty of smudges. Extracting the earbuds can also lead to some slippery moments, too.
Oppo Enco X features – Plenty of features for Android Oppo smartphones
- Decent noise cancellation
- Oppo smartphone-centric focus
- High-res audio support
£170 for an ANC earbud seems good value given most premium efforts start north of £200. The sobering reality is that the Enco X’s ANC can be good but is very dependent on the seal it creates.
When it’s tightly embedded in the ear, the Enco X are effective at nullifying sounds; but the looser the fit becomes, the less impact the ANC has. Cars whoosh by, sounds of people are still audible and I find myself having to tuck them back in yet again to get that suppressive effect.
The earbud’s transparency mode is quite good, presenting sounds around the listener in a very natural way. Even better is that it has little effect on audio quality.
Rated at IP56, the Enco X are protected from splashes of water and dust, so they’re a good shout for people looking running/fitness earbuds but that doesn’t mean you should give them a bath or that dust protection is total. The case is not water-resistant either, something to consider for sweaty hands after a workout.
Bluetooth connectivity is 5.2, and there’s support for SBC, AAC and – interestingly – the LHDC codec. LHDC stands for Low Latency High-Definition Audio Codec (also referred to as HWA) and achieves the same objective as Sony’s LDAC in enabling transmission of high-quality audio over Bluetooth.
At the moment support is not widespread – you’ll find it on recent Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi smartphones. If you have a compatible smartphone you’re in line to get high quality streaming (from music services that allow so, of course).
Battery is 25 hours with noise cancellation off, falling to 20 hours with it on. That is towards the low end for ANC earbuds – still higher than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds’ 18 hours – but enough to get through a few days. With the option of charging via the case’s USB-C connection, a Qi wireless plate or even reverse charging from a smartphone, there are a few options for boosting battery.
To add to the list of features there is Oppo’s Binaural Low-Latency Bluetooth, which reduces audio latency. I can’t say I’ve noticed even the slightest bit of latency streaming video, and that’ll be useful for keen mobile gamers too.
Finally, there’s the HeyMelody companion app for non-Oppo Android smartphones. Quite why it’s called HeyMelody I’m not sure, and for iOS users there’s no equivalent option. In the app you can update firmware, check battery levels, customise controls and perform the Earbuds Fit Test to determine if the fit is loose or secure.
All things considered, Oppo has stuffed a healthy amount of features into the Enco X – but an Oppo smartphone would be handy to take advantage of it all.
Oppo Enco X audio quality – Characterised by its energy and confidence
- Crisp tone can result in slight sibilance
- Confident, smooth, upfront sound
- Could be more spacious
The collaboration between Oppo and Dynaudio appears tight-knit – the case even bears the mark “co-created by Dynaudio”. Plenty of emphasis has been placed on sound – so what of the Enco X?
Right from the off there’s a confidence about them. Using a coaxial dual-driver set-up, there’s a 6mm magnetic balanced membrane driver for the high frequencies – based off the planar magnetic drivers in the dearly departed PM-1 – combined with an 11mm triple-layer composite dynamic driver that handles the mids and low frequencies. The result is a buoyant, lively sound.
The mid-range is detailed and natural in its portrayal, as well as home to solid vocal clarity. The George Michael/Mary J Blige version of As is smooth enough in its rendition, though there’s a crispness to the midrange that results in a hint of sibilance in male vocals.
Bass might be best described as slightly soft, but there’s a sense of warmth and texture to it, with Tinie Tempah’s Simply Unstoppable given a weighty enough low end that avoids muddying the mid-range. Treble is also nicely defined; sharp and detailed in GoGo Penguin’s Raven adding to the Enco X’s entertaining tonal balance.
The soundstage appears condensed, and that tighter feel has an effect with busier tracks – several of which appear in John Powell’s Solo: Deluxe Edition. It gives the impression of everyt