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> Tronsmart Onyx Neo TWS Bluetooth Earbuds, Qualcomm® aptX™ & cVc™ 8.0 NCT, DSP tech (Review)

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TSvoncrane
post Feb 28 2020, 12:44 AM, updated 3y ago

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From: Wakanda


Hi all... This is yet another review, my take of the Tronsmart Onyx Neo TWS Bluetooth Earbuds. I've had it for the better part of a month and used as daily driver. A few reviews are already up about this and so I'll gloss over the generic/expected stuff and instead try to convey how it feels to actually own one as a primary device. I would have put this up earlier but ran into a couple bugs and delays, as such, I didn't want to put out an incomplete real world review. Alright then, let's get on with it.

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Specifications
Model: Onyx Neo
Input: 5V/500mA max.
Chip: Qualcomm® QCC3020, supports aptX, AAC, SBC
Bluetooth Version: 5.0
Bluetooth Compatibility: HFP/HSP/AVRCP/A2DP
Transmission Distance: Up to 15 meters / 50 feet
Battery Capacity: Earbud battery: 35 mAh; Charging case battery: 350 mAh
Play Time: Earbuds: Max 7 hours (at 50% volume level and on SBC audio format), Max 4 hours (at 100% volume level); Charging case: up to 24 hours (at 50% volume level and on SBC audio format) *Actual results may vary depending on different music genres and volume.
Standby: 90 days
Charging Time: Earbud: 50 mins; Charging case: 2 hours
Frequency Range: 20-20K Hz
Speaker: Φ6mm
Impedance: 16Ω
Microphone Sensitivity: -42dB
Dimension: Earbud: 27 x 17 x 8 mm / 1.06 x 0.67 x 0.31 inches; Charging case: 63 x 32 x 43 mm / 2.48 x 1.26 x 1.69 inches
Net Weight: Earbud: 3.6g / 0.13oz; With charging case: 45g / 1.60oz

Box Contents
1x Onyx Neo wireless earbuds with charging case
3x Ear-tip pairs (a pair has been placed on the earbuds)
1x Charging cable
1x Warranty card
1x User manual

Box & Hardware (Images)
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

Testbed
The Onyx Neo was tested on the following devices;
*Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running a custom Android 9.0 Pie ROM. Sports Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP, EDR, LE
*Samsung Galaxy Note 9 running stock Android 10 and One UI 2.0 ROM. Sports Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX, etc (Primary test bed)
*iPad Air 2 running stock iOS 13.3.1. Sporting Bluetooth V4.0, A2DP, and EDR.
*Lenovo K5 Pro running stock CN Android 9.0 ROM, ZUI V11.1.099 ST. Sporting Bluetooth: 4.2, A2DP, LE, aptX, etc.
*Lastly, connected to a TV via Ugreen Bluetooth 4.2 Transmitter & Receiver.
*Media: Phone Calls, Astro Go, Netflix, iFlix, YouTube Videos, Music, Audio Podcasts & local media files playback.

Screenshots
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

From the images above, we can see that the Onyx Neo packs a few differences from it's often referred to "twin"...Tronsmart Spunky Beat and also the previous Tronsmart Spunky Pro earbuds. Personally, I still prefer the opening mechanism of the Spunky Pro, as it seemed more robust. Fortunately the shape, size and feel of the Onyx Neo's case makes up for this. Additionally, I love the red glow of each earbud as it charges inside the case. Looks cool. I waited to see if the LEDs pulsates? Sadly it does not. Perhaps an idea for future upgrade? icon_idea.gif

Right off the bat, I was impressed with the quality & size of the earbuds. Being a new shape and design, it took awhile to get comfortable wearing them, I can't place an exact timing as to how long though, but It didn't seem very long. The default rubber tips didn't feel like they fit properly, good thing there are 2 other sizes to fumble with. So I switched between all 3 and eventually settled on the medium sized pair. No long distance running for me, and so I did my best to simulate the necessary forces by headbanging to music. Felt some movement, but they didn't fall out. So that's good. A gentle nudge back in and we are back in business. For daily regular usage, buds fit snug enough and won't slip out. Which leads me to another pro; It's easier to fidget with the earbuds in without accidentally triggering the preset touch/tap actions. Much later on I performed drop tests onto wood flooring from about 6 ft and the earbuds are still in great shape. Tried to simulate them being mistakenly dropped while putting them on. Didn't dare try it on harsher/harder flooring such as concrete or gravel. Like our mobile phones, try not to drop them though.

Now onto the case itself. It's simple matte black color all around and made of hard plastic (hinges too). I tried squishing them hard by the sides, to simulate scenarios where it'd be pressed or knocked against a hard surface, i didn't notice any flexing. I like that the Tronsmart wording is embossed on the top versus just "printed" on. The case has a USB Type-C port (offering faster and more stable charging) and can be charged using any compatible Type-C cable. Sadly, unlike the Spunky Pro, there's no wireless charging here. Neither are multiple LEDs indicating the battery level of the case. Due to individual preferences, one might consider this a pro or a con. There's just a red color to indicate it's being charged, same LED switches to blue when the case is fully charged (about 2 hours). This is just the case, if you want to know how much left for the earbuds within to fill? You'd have to open the lid and check. Although, if charging both the earbuds and case at the same time, the earbuds will fill up faster before the case.

Sound-proofing (without any sound playing) is poorer than I expected.. At 50 dB (likened to sounds such as light traffic, conversation at home & refrigerator), the snug ear buds are not able to effectively block out those sounds. Even late at night in a quiet room with just the fan, I can hear it's rotating noises. In this regard, the Ugreen CM338 is the clear winner. Looking at both earbuds, I'm going to attribute this advantage to the Ugreen having longer stems that goes deeper into one's ear. Fortunately, with music playing though, you'd be hard-pressed to hear anything below say 55-60dB. After a full charge, I was able to consistently get 6hrs+ (Close to manufacturer's stated 7 hours) of listening pleasure. But with an issue.
**It appears that despite both earbuds being fully charged and brought out just mere seconds apart, I'm still able to get different playtime off each. One earbud is able to play non-stop for over say 5 hours, runs out of power and shuts-down. The other still has some juice left to go on..Lasting anywhere from extra 1 - 2 hours longer. Begs the question as to why such a big difference in playtime. hmm.gif I initially observed this from a earlier provided unit, did a couple factory resets and still experienced the same. Discussed with the good folks at Tronsmart, had those returned and got another brand new unit. While the second unit performed better. Given some other similar reports online, I'm still forced to chalk this up as a technical issue plaguing the Onyx Neo. I sincerely hope it's just some "bad luck" that I happened to receive units that performed as they did. Fortunately, I didn't experience any dropped Bluetooth connections and performance across around 40ft is excellent. As such, minimum 5 - 6 hours of reliable stereo output? Works for me.

Fortunately, the Tronsmart wizards introduced a few clever and functional tricks with the Onyx Neo, some of which sets it apart from previous Tronsmart earbuds and that of competitors in it's price range.
**Fully compatible with Android Smart lock feature.
**Automatic power off after 5 minutes, if the earbuds are left unpaired outside the case... Okay la, this isn't as unique..But valuable as it's absent on the Tronsmart Spunky Pro.
**Manually powering off one earbud, automatically powers off the other bud too. Nice unique feature. thumbup.gif
**In Mono mode, you can connect each earbud to 2 different devices and use them independently of each other. For true stereo experience, you'd have to connect both to the same Bluetooth device.
**After a manual power off (i.e, outside the case), both earbuds will need to be powered on independently of each other. After which both re-connect with each other and the dominant earbud enters pairing mode.. How to know the "dominant" bud? It's the one that flashes red & blue quickly.
**Lets take for instance that the left bud is the dominant one, which during my usage, it was majority of the time. After syncing up, it connects to the Bluetooth device's "L" specific network/connection. However, if the left suddenly runs out of power before the right bud, it powers itself off and the right earbud just keeps on playing. Don't worry, the earbuds have several voice notifications features. A voice comes on to inform you that the battery is low (dying earbud starts flashing red/orange) and around 5 - 6 minutes later, another comes on to inform it's powering off. Sometimes, even when both were initially connected to the (L) specified network. Should the left earbud power itself off, the right earbud immediately auto-connects to the "R" specific Bluetooth listing. You know the saying, "The show must go on"... nod.gif

**Charging times:... It takes about an 1 hour (manual reports 50 minutes) to fully charge the earbuds within the case. And yes, the case can fully charge the batteries at least 3 - 4 times per its full charge. Which is plenty hours of additional usage (Tronsmart says up to 24 hours). I've had the case on standby for 20+ days on a single full charge. Even after 3 full use and drain cycles (earbuds only). If I take the earbuds out for a bit and plonk them back in, the case still has juice left to resume recharging them immediately.

**These are some of the single/multiple taps and the desired actions they trigger. For a newbie, it will take some getting used to, particularly the double and triple taps to increase or decrease the volume respectively. Rest assured, you'll get the hang of it soon enough and appreciate the intuitiveness. Though I can see how some might nitpick/complain of having to strategically pause in between repeatedly tap twice/thrice in rapid succession to increase/decrease the volume multiple times. To avoid triggering the wrong desired action. Nevertheless and as I reported earlier, I find it easier to trigger my desired action on the Onyx Neo than it was on the Spunky Pro.

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Conclusion
So how well does the Tronsmart Onyx Neo sound & perform? Well, it's IPX5 splash-proof and packs excellent battery life. Tronsmart claims 90 days standby time. I've only managed to stretch it to above 20 days and it still packs a charge. For normal almost daily usage, this is more than sufficient. So I'm inclined to believe the manufacturer's claims. Now, obviously thanks to an advanced Qualcomm® Bluetooth audio SoC, Qualcomm® aptX™ audio, DSP & Qualcomm® cVc™ 8.0 noise cancellation technologies, Onyx Neo one of the most affordable true wireless earbuds delivering studio quality audio and ultra-clear calls. Qualcomm® cVc™ 8.0 tech helps to suppress background noise for clearer calls. While the inclusion of Qualcomm® DSP reduces high & low frequencies noise for more immersive sound. I encountered no sudden dropped connections or AV sync lag. Not even while it's connected to a TV via Ugreen Bluetooth 4.2 Transmitter & Receiver. I was pleasantly surprised to see both tech working seamlessly together. On compatible devices, Qualcomm® aptX™ technology works with the custom graphene-coated drivers to deliver lossless hi-fidelity audio with CD level experience. Drivers delivering rich bass (don't expect crazy boom boom bass here), detailed mids and clear treble. Lastly, I'm glad to report that the voice calls experience has improved to much usable levels. The other side had no issues hearing me.. So barring the battery "issue" & passive noise blocking, I'd say this are an excellent pair of TWS earphones. I'd definitely recommend the Onyx Neo over the Spunky Pro and Spunky Beat.

Listed on Qualcomm aptX website
Official Tronsmart Onyx Neo Webpage (Detailed specs & FAQ)

Currently listed at RM159 at the following official Tronsmart Malaysia online stores.
Shopee Malaysia
Lazada Malaysia



This post has been edited by voncrane: Apr 1 2020, 11:47 AM

 

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