There’s no shortage of choice where wireless earbuds at this sort of price are concerned. However, Oppo has given its new Enco X one or two unique selling points that certainly help them to stand out, even if they don’t always make the most compelling case for actually parting with your money.
By teaming up with Dynaudio, and then giving the Danish loudspeaker specialists a free hand when it came to specifying the business areas of the Enco X, Oppo has given itself a bit of hardcore audiophile credibility. And the Dynaudio influence is obvious, both in the mechanical aspects of their engineering and in the sound that results. If you like a bold, confident sound, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.
If you like voice-control, though, a full suite of touch controls or, indeed, a control app, the case Oppo makes for Enco X isn’t quite so cut and dried. Not many comparably priced true wireless earbuds are quite this limited in their control options – and not many do without any kind of iOS optimization, either.
Oppo Enco X price and release date
- Available in the UK for £169
- US and Australian availability to be confirmed
The Oppo Enco X true wireless in-ear headphones are on sale in the UK now – they’re nominally priced at £169, but you won’t have to search too long or too hard to snag a worthwhile reduction. Whether you pay full whack or a little less, though, the price puts them into direct competition with some very well-regarded alternatives from the likes of Sony, Jabra and Bose. So it’s probably just as well Oppo has Dynaudio in its corner.
There’s no release date given just yet for an American or Australian launch – and consequently no idea of pricing either. But using the ¥999 price in Oppo’s native market as a rough guide, customers in the US might expect to pay around $150 and those in Australia something like AU$200.
- Protruding stems
- Coaxial dual-driver arrangement
- Comfortable fit
There are, broadly speaking, two shapes of true wireless in-ear headphones – and with the Enco X, Oppo has gone with the ‘dangling stem’ option rather than the ‘sticky-out lozenge’ alternative. It’s quite easy to blame Apple for the way the Enco X look – so why not? If Apple hadn’t decided it wanted its original true wireless AirPods to look like they had a bit missing, its numerous imitators wouldn’t have gone down this route either. But here we are.
By ‘dangling stem’ standards the Oppo are reasonably discreet, mind you, and at 4.8g per earbud they’re hardly a burden to wear. Oppo provides many sizes of eartip in a selection of hardnesses, so getting the Enco X comfortable in your ear shouldn’t be difficult or time-consuming – and once they’re in place, they remain comfortable for hours on end.
On the inside, Oppo has wisely let Dynaudio have free rein – and let’s not imagine this isn’t a bit of a coup for Oppo. Dynaudio has a pretty much impeccable reputation in Hi-Fi circles, and it seems a bit weird that the Danish specialist hasn’t already delivered a pair of headphones or two under its own steam.
The Dynaudio specification calls for a relatively complex coaxial dual-driver design. A 6mm balanced membrane driver, handling the higher frequencies, sits just slightly ahead of an 11mm triple-layer dynamic driver that takes care of the rest. By the standards of most similarly priced alternatives it’s an over-engineered solution, and more than a little promising where sound quality is concerned.
To facilitate noise-cancelling and calls, each earbud has three integrated mics plus wind-detection technology on board. And in practice, call quality at either end of the conversation proves perfectly adequate.
As far as control goes, the Enco X are rather an odd proposition. For instance, there’s no voice control – which is a feature any number of rivals offer as a matter of course. There are touch controls on each earbud, and they prove receptive and responsive – but functionality is limited to ‘volume up/down’, ‘skip forwards/answer or end call’ and cycling through the available levels of active noise-cancelling (‘off/on/maximum/transparency’).
Those Oppo smartphone owners are, to an extent, able to customize their touch controls, and Android users can download the ‘Hey Melody’ app to do something similar – but iOS users have no such option.
Battery life and connectivity
- Maximum 25-hour battery life
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Support for Hi-Res Audio
In terms of getting audio information on board in the first place, the Enco X use the newfangled Bluetooth 5.2 standard. Codec support runs to SBC, AAC and the extremely niche LHDC. LHDC is good news for owners of some Oppo smartphones, though, while the rest of us can relax in the knowledge that Bluetooth 5.2 is more than capable of dealing with our Hi-Res Audio files from the likes of Tidal Masters. Support for Bluetooth Low Latency is also included, so synchronicity between audio and video should be guaranteed.
As far as battery life goes, the Enco X fall quite heavily into the ‘good’ rather than ‘great’ category. With noise-cancelling set to maximum, the earbuds themselves should see you right for four hours or so – that increases to more like five and a half with noise-cancelling switched off.
There are roughly four full charges in the charging case (it weighs in at a trim 43g and, like the earbuds themselves, is available in either a glossy black or a glossy white finish) – so you’re looking at somewhere between 20 and 26 hours, all in before you have need to recharge. The Oppo are compatible with Qi charging mats, or there’s always the option of USB-C.
- Dynamic, assertive sound
- Decent noise cancellation
- Could conceivably sound more spacious
In almost every respect, the Oppo Enco X sound like the money’s-worth. Given the right stuff to deal with – by which, inevitably, we mean a nice big high-resolution audio file – the results are seldom less than impressive.
A 24bit/44.1kHz file of Thom Yorke’s Last I Heard (He Was Circling the Drain) illustrates the point well. The Oppo serve up deep, textured and well-defined bass sounds, with nice straight edges at the entry into and the exit from individual notes or hits and, consequently, no adverse impact on rhythm or tempo.
The midrange is detailed enough to extract all the nuance from Yorke’s vocal, while at the top of the frequency range there’s a great combination of substance and shine. Treble sounds will glint brightly when required, but even at considerable volume they never become hard or unruly.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the coaxial driver arrangement, the entire frequency range is integrated smoothly, with no area lack expression or given undue prominence. The sweep from the bottom of the frequency range to the top is clean and convincing.
There’s plenty of dynamism on display too, both of the glaring ‘loud/quiet/loud’ type and the more subtle harmonic dynamics – as a result, Thom Yorke sounds poised and immediate. There’s nothing in-your-face about the way the Oppo present music, but at the same time they’re no shrinking violets.
Switch down in file size to a 320kbps Spotify stream of Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill and there are the inevitable reductions in detail levels, while the soundstage loses a little of its unshakeable positivity too. But the Enco X remain eminently listenable, with plenty of observations to pass on about tone and timbre.
Throughout, the Oppo active noise-cancelling algorithms prove their worth. At ‘max’ there’s a slight, but definite, loss of top-end sparkle and a slight, but definite, sensation of ‘counter-signal’. But back it off a little, to the ‘on’ setting, and a lot of extraneous noise is removed without any discernible impact on the sound the Enco X make.
Compared to some similarly priced alternatives, the Oppo aren’t the most expansive or spacious-sounding earbuds you ever heard. The soundstage, though easy to understand and properly organized, doesn’t have the out-and-out width or depth the best rivals can deliver.
And while we’re no fans of an overheated presentation, there’s no denying the Enco X are, tonally, on the chilly side of neutral. But that’s about it for the demerits column – in every other respect, the Oppo Enco X are a thoroughly accomplished pair of true wireless in-ear headphones.
Should I buy the Oppo Enco X?
Buy them if…
You’re an early adopter
Name another pair of true wireless headphones that use Bluetooth 5.2.
You’re an Oppo fan
The Oppo’s specification eccentricities (LHDC, for example) are all geared towards Oppo smartphone owners.
You enjoy an upfront sound
They never get out of hand, but the Enco X are a pretty forthright listen.
Don’t buy them if…
You like the sound of your own voice
For once, here’s a pair of headphones that can’t be shouted at.
You’re an iPhone user
There’s no iOS control app available for the Enco X.
You want the most spacious sound available
There’s no shortage of audio information here, but it could be more open.