Sony Xperia Ear Duo True Wireless Headset

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“Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo keep you safe and connected, but at the expense of audio quality.”
Very comfortableStrong battery lifeSafer than traditional earbuds in certain situationsGreat for outdoor pursuits

What do you wear headphones for, & what vì expect from them? These are two important questions you must ask yourself before even considering the Sony Xperia Ear Duo. Your answers will impact any buying decision more than the vast majority of audio products out there and are as important as, say, confirming you know how to lớn drive before buying a car.

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Think we’re exaggerating? Perhaps a tiny bit, but we’ve been wearing the Xperia Ear Duo for a few weeks now & know them pretty well — warts & all. Here’s our reviews of Sony’s unusual “hearable” that’s very different from other pricey headphones out there.

Design

What makes the Xperia Ear Duo different? These true wireless audio devices are designed from the core to keep you aware of the world around you by not isolating you from it, while still letting you listen to music, plus take phone calls and chat khổng lồ your voice assistant of choice. The headphones reproduce sound using what Sony calls a Spatial Acoustic Conductor, where audio units hide inside a small chassis that hangs behind your ear, while sound is pumped into your ears through little tubes, which over in rubber rings to tư vấn them.


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See what we mean? This sounds less like headphones và more like hearing aids, and that’s exactly how the look has been described by several people who’ve seen me wearing them. The major difference in the look when compared khổng lồ other true wireless headphones is that the headphones hang behind your ears instead of poking into them.

You need to put them on differently than other headphones, too. It’s complicated enough that Sony provides instructions on how to vì so, even using your phone’s camera to lớn make sure they’re positioned correctly. You have lớn twist them around your earlobe, but I found it easier lớn put the ear part in và gently pull the earlobe into place. It’s a weird, & not very comfortable process.


You can wear them for hours without any fatigue, overly sweaty ears, or risk of infection.


Once they’re on, the 10-gram Xperia Ear Duo are comfy. They hang a little from your ears but are not heavy enough to be distracting. They don’t feel lượt thích headphones, true wireless or otherwise, & as alluded to above, are probably more lượt thích wearing hearing aids. Because the rings don’t actually go in your ear canal, we’d often unconsciously try to lớn push them deeper into our ears, because they feel lượt thích wearing in-ears that are about khổng lồ fall out.

This approach has its benefits. You can wear them for hours without any fatigue, overly sweaty ears, or risk of infection. Air flows freely around the Xperia Ear Duo, therefore they are a very safe and sensible alternative for anyone with ears sensitive to the increased heat generated by wearing headphones for extended amounts of time. They refused khổng lồ fall off, even when cycling or using a treadmill.

The real reason Sony has made the Xperia Ear Duo this way, however, is to lớn keep them from blocking out the world. You can hear absolutely everything going on. Conversations, traffic, birds singing, everything. This means there is a time & place for wearing the Xperia Ear Duo. We loved using them when out cycling, as we could hear the sound of impending doom & avoid it, as well as in the office where we could still hear our name called out.

Wear them in an enclosed and noisy environment, though, and it’s not so much fun. The Xperia Ear Duo are pointless on the subway, as you can’t hear anything they play, & it’s the same in a noisy gym. Even places with lots of ambient noise, like a busy cafe, can upset the delicate listening balance of the earphones. In essence, the Xperia Ear Duo are a waste of time in terms of listening to music in any situation where you’d normally benefit from noise cancelation.

Gestures and app

Controlling the Xperia Ear Duo is done via touching the body toàn thân sections behind your ears, or by some head movements. The left Ear Duo is for all the music controls. Tap for play/pause, swipe up và down for volume, và double tap lớn advance khổng lồ the next track. There is a trick for doing this properly, and that’s lớn hold the in-ear piece with one finger while using another khổng lồ tap or swipe the body. Otherwise, you over up mostly tapping your ear due khổng lồ the body hiding behind it.

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You also have to be considerate with these gestures. It’s a slow swipe along the length of the body to adjust the volume. If you don’t, it’s all too easy to lớn annoyingly keep playing & pausing tracks. The earphones can be slow to lớn react too, resulting in maddening play/pause loops.

Press và hold the right Ear Duo module to hotline up the voice assistant on your phone. We used the Ear Duo connected khổng lồ an iPhone X, so it was Siri at our beck & call. It worked extremely well, and the Ear Duo’s microphones don’t require you to shout, plus they picked up our voice even in noisy public environments. Voice assistant control worked well when walking or cycling around, though this is not a feature chất lượng to the Xperia Ear Duo.


The Ear Duo have their own phầm mềm for Android và iOS phones that Sony recommends downloading. We received one firmware update in our time with the headphones, which was performed through the app. It has a guide on how lớn put them on, instructions on the different gestures, and a chance lớn turn on the head gestures. Activated, you turn your head khổng lồ the right khổng lồ advance tracks, or to the left khổng lồ answer an incoming call.

Unfortunately, it’s a pronounced head movement, & it makes you feel rather self-conscious. A tap was more preferable for us, but the feature did work as described.

If you connect the Xperia Ear Duo to lớn an android phone you can use the Daily Assist feature, which isn’t available through the game ios app. This is Sony’s own AI assistant, which tells you traffic, weather, calendar, message, và other information right into your ear. It’s decent, và because you can tailor the information it provides in the app, it remains relevant. The female voice is clear as she relays emails and messages. The roundup of the day isn’t a huge perk though – it’s very similar to the “Hey Google, how’s my day,” command for Google Assistant, just not as personal.

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you have friends with the Xperia Ear or Ear Duo, Anytime Talk works like a walkie-talkie, enabling conversation between you & three others. It uses a data connection, but we haven’t been able to chạy thử this feature.

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Battery, connectively, và calls.

The Sony Xperia Ear Duo connect using công nghệ bluetooth 4.2 LE, & we had no issues with stability, và the connection was instant và automatic on our iPhone X and a BlackBerry Key2. The battery inside each Ear Duo has a capacity of 56mAh, and happily lasted several hours. We always took them out before the battery expired, even after three or more hours, showing they’re good for the claimed four hours use time.


A charging case with specially molded sections inside keeps the Ear Duo secure when not in use, offering three extra charges for the earbuds while on the go. This is in-line (if not slightly behind) with what we expect from true-wireless headphones at the moment. There’s a handy quick charge feature too, where seven minutes of charge time returns an hour of music. The case is charged using a USB Type-C cable.

Once placed into the case, LEDs light up on the Ear Duo to show charging status, which can also be seen through the case itself. When no lights come on, the case needs charging up.

Sound quality

You’ve got the Xperia Ear Duo on, & you’re in an environment that suits them. How vày they sound? It should already be clear these aren’t designed for the audiophile, so if you’re concerned with “hearing sounds you’ve never heard before” after putting on a pair of ‘phones, you’re going lớn be very disappointed. Headphones don’t like waving around in the air, they lượt thích being sealed, which helps reproduce bass và make detail more apparent. The Xperia Ear Duo don’t “do” bass, and detail escapes into the air around them.

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

These are not — we repeat, absolutely not — headphones for those who care about high-quality sound. They simply don’t reproduce it. It’s not a fault, it’s just not what they’re designed for. Is sound terrible? No, but it lacks bass. When the environment is right, the Ear Duo vày provide clear sound, và music with which you’re familiar still sounds lượt thích it should — just tinnier. Crucially, though, they’re not annoying lớn listen to like bad chất lượng headphones are. You just won’t put these on & be enthralled by a wide soundstage, sparkling detail, or thumping bass.

What will happen is you’ll still be able to lớn carry on a conversation, listen lớn others in the background, or simply be in cảm biến with the world, while still listening to lớn background music. That’s ultimately what the Xperia Ear Duo produce — background music to lớn set a mood or cut down on outside noise with the music of your choice, where you are unlikely khổng lồ listen that closely. They vày it very well. Yes, you can whack the volume right up, but when you vì there is substantial sound leakage, và the sound does become quite shrill.


Now vị you see what we mean about asking yourself key questions? If audiophile sound unique is something that’s right up at the đứng đầu of your danh sách for any headphone, then the Xperia Ear Duo won’t be for you. Similarly, if a traditional design is important, then the unusual look of the Ear Duo will also be a turn-off. So, what are they good for? All those times where wearing any other type of headphone would be rude, dangerous, or annoying. That’s where the Xperia Ear Duo come into their own.

Anyone who loves constant musical accompaniment to life will adore the Xperia Ear Duo. You can still interact with everyone around you, avoid being knocked down by cars when you cross the road, và still have your music follow you everywhere. You can realistically wear them at work, within reason, & still be present enough to be a productive employee. It’s hard to lớn say that about any other headphone available.

Warranty, price, và availability

In the U.S. & the U.K., Sony covers the Xperia Ear Duo with a one-year warranty for any manufacturer defects. The price is a rather hefty $280, or 250 British pounds in the U.K., và you can purchase them through Sony’s own online store, Amazon, or a wide variety of retailers. Finding them won’t be a problem. Justifying the price may be though — $280 is a lot lớn spend on headphones of any type, let alone ones that will only satisfy some people, and even then, not in every situation.

Our Take

The Sony Xperia Ear Duo are not your average pair of headphones, and certainly won’t be for everyone, but they do have genuine niche appeal. Wear them in the right situation, and few products come close lớn matching them for blending the real world in with your favorite music.

Is there a better alternative?

Those looking for simpler design, better value, & impressive transparency mode will want to kiểm tra out Jabra’s Elite 65t và Elite Active 65t, which offer a more traditional fit & great sound chất lượng to boot, all at a great price, making them our favorite true wireless earbuds. The transparency mode is accomplished using microphones, meaning you hear the world around you almost artificially and on demand, unlike the unfiltered, constant sound offered by the Ear Duo. That said, transparency works quite well in practice và is much more versatile.

Bragi’s Dash Pro are another obvious competitor lớn the Xperia Ear Duo, offering head gestures as well as their own microphone-dependent transparency mode. They cater lớn a very different audience due khổng lồ the fitness tracking features, waterproofing, & higher sound quality, but they also have their own quirks that knock off some points – especially since they cost $330.

The Xperia Ear Duo may actually be closer to lớn the táo khuyết AirPods. Apple’s true wireless headphones don’t seal very well & let in plenty of ambient sound. We’ve found they’re also relatively poor performers in noisy environments. Their quirky looks have a degree of gravitas which the Ear Duo don’t have, and lượt thích the Elite 65t, they’re cheaper too.

How long will they last?

Build unique is superb, & there are no concerns over the pipe leading from the body to your ear bending or breaking. Sony has rated the Xperia Ear Duo IPX2, giving them protection against a few drops of rain or some sweat, but not for use in the shower, or swimming. We expect the Xperia Ear Duo khổng lồ last for many years with sensible treatment, or until the battery stops accepting a charge.

Should you buy them?

No, but this is primarily only because of the price. The Sony Xperia Ear Duo work very well, & we have enjoyed using them, but only in very specific situations. Oddly, for a pair of headphones, these situations didn’t really include concentrating on listening to lớn music. They aren’t the all-round, high-performance headphones you’d want, or likely expect, after paying $280. When the situation & environment were right, it was hard khổng lồ imagine any other audio device matching the Xperia Ear Duo for ability, though. Sony just needs to price them around the same as the AirPods & other competitors lớn make them truly desirable.

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