Active noise cancelling true wireless earphones for less than Rs. 5,000? Indeed.
By Ali Pardiwala | Updated: 2 November 2020 17:24 IST
The Oppo Enco W51 is priced at Rs. 4,999 in India
The Oppo Enco W51 is IP54 rated for dust and water resistance
Each earpiece has three microphones
The SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs are supported on the Enco W51
Active noise cancellation on true wireless earphones is a relatively new concept, only catching on in 2019 with premium headsets such as the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro. In just about a year though, it seems only natural to expect this feature, and an increasing number of affordable true wireless earphones now boast of noise cancelling. The product I'm reviewing today pushes this boundary even further – the Oppo Enco W51 is a pair of true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation, priced far below what you'd expect.
At Rs. 4,999, the Oppo Enco W51 is a full-fledge pair of true wireless earphones with premium features, including active noise cancellation and wireless charging; this is something I personally thought impossible until recently. On paper, this sounds like the absolute best pair of true wireless earphones you could buy for less than Rs. 5,000, but how are the Oppo Enco W51 earphones in practice? Let's find out in our review.
The Oppo Enco W51 is the most affordable pair of true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation (that we know of)
Active noise cancellation and wireless charging on the Oppo Enco W51
Although not quite as impressive-looking as the Oppo Enco Free true wireless earphones, the Oppo Enco W51 does look decent enough. The earpieces have a proper in-canal fit which is needed for functional active noise cancellation, and a glossy finish that I quite liked the look and feel of.
The earphones are available in white and blue colour options, both of which look pretty good. The fit was comfortable over long listening sessions, also offering a reasonable amount of passive noise isolation. Usefully, the earpieces are IP54 rated for dust and water resistance, and will be able to handle exposure to sweat and light splashes without any trouble.
The charging case has a matching colour and finish to the earpieces, and is compact and easily pocketable. The lid and earpieces stay in place magnetically, but I did find the lid to be a bit too loose, potentially making it prone to damage. A button on the inside is used for pairing and to check the approximate battery level. There is a USB Type-C port for charging and a charge indicator light at the back.
Interestingly, the Oppo Enco W51 supports Qi wireless charging – this is an impressive feature for a pair of true wireless earphones at this price. Although wireless charging is considerably slower than wired, it's nice to have the feature, and it worked well for me with a standard wireless charger. Included in the sales package are three additional sets of ear-tips in Large, Small, and Extra-Small sizes, apart from the fitted Medium ones, and a charging cable.
The earphones have touch controls, but these are only customisable if you have a compatible Oppo smartphone
The Oppo Enco W51 has touch controls, with the sensor on the upper part of the stalk of each earpiece. These controls are customisable, but only if you have a compatible Oppo smartphone; if not, you'll have to stick to the default settings which aren't particularly good. A double-tap on the left side controls active noise cancellation; a double-tap on the right skips to the next track or answers calls; a triple-tap on either side invokes the default voice assistant on your smartphone.
Oddly, there's no way to play or pause music or adjust the volume directly from the earphones, which I found very inconvenient. The controls were also quite unpredictable and unreliable, making it easier to use my smartphone for most functions. There are proximity sensors to pause and play the music when you take off or insert either earpiece, so this is one way to control playback without reaching for your phone.
The big feature on the Oppo Enco W51 is active noise cancellation. It uses a triple-microphone system for noise cancellation as well as noise reduction on calls, and Oppo claims to achieve a 35dB improvement. The earphones use 7mm dynamic drivers, and have a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. Bluetooth 5 is used for connectivity, with support for the SBC and AAC codecs.
I was able to get a little over three hours of listening time from the earphones with active noise cancellation enabled. The charging case added a little over four full charges, for a total battery life of around 15 hours per charge cycle.
Decent sound, workable ANC on the Oppo Enco W51
Although features such as active noise cancellation and wireless charging are more attention-grabbing for the Oppo Enco W51, it's nice to note that the earphones sound good as well. You get a largely balanced and detailed sonic signature, which sounds quite different from what I've heard on most options priced under Rs. 5,000. Although there's no support for advanced Bluetooth codecs, the Oppo Enco W51 works well with the AAC codec to ensure detail in the sound.
Starting with the fast-paced and energetic Fire by Ferry Corsten on Tidal, the Oppo Enco W51's detailed and balanced sonic signature was immediately evident. The bass was just enough to be felt, but the earphones also did an impressive job of adding some sparkle in the highs and definition in the mid-range, for a wholesome and full-sounding experience. The busy nature of this track also didn't seem to give the Enco W51 any trouble at all, with the earphones keeping things cohesive and orderly.
The case has a USB Type-C port, and also supports Qi wireless charging
With the slower but equally lively Hold Back Love by Kraak and Smaak, the Oppo's distinct sonic signature felt energetic, detailed, and wide, with a sense of sharpness that made the sound engaging without getting too shrill in this catchy track. The bass wasn't punchy by any means, but was definitely distinct, tight, and calculated, offering up plenty of detail across the frequency range, particularly in the mid-range. The soundstage was wide, giving various elements in the sound a proper sense of direction and feel.
Tidal's high-resolution music did help the Oppo Enco W51 bring out plenty of detail in the music, but compressed audio doesn't fall too far behind either. Listening to Velvetine's The Great Divide on Spotify was almost as enjoyable, but for slightly different reasons. Although the detail levels were just a bit lower and things sounded a bit shrill at high volumes, this did seem to amp up the power in the lows. The energetic sound worked well for this progressive techno track, and was still considerably more detailed than on the similarly priced OnePlus Buds.
The Oppo Enco W51's pace and attack are excellent for fast-paced tracks, and surprisingly good even with slower, gentler tracks such as If I Were A Folkstar by The Avalanches. With less activity to deal with in this easy-going track, the Oppo Enco W51 sounded even more detailed and cohesive, letting me pick up faint details in the various samples used to put the track together. At one point, about two minutes into the track, the whooshing of a car felt almost real as it moved from the right to the left, showing just how well tuned the imaging and soundstage are.
Priced under Rs. 5,000, this is easily among the best low-cost true wireless headsets you can buy
The quality of active noise cancellation is almost always tied to price; more expensive headsets generally have better ANC, while affordable options have noise cancellation that is usually only just about noticeable. This is somewhat true of the Oppo Enco W51 as well, with workable active noise cancellation that makes only a small difference. While there was still a bit of a hissing sound, and soft hums from things such as my ceiling fan and AC could be heard somewhat loudly, ANC did help to make the music a bit easier to listen to.
Active noise cancellation and environmental noise reduction did help to reduce noise and improve sound on both ends of voice calls. Connectivity is stable as well, with the earphones working well at distances of up to 15 feet with a clear line of sight between the earphones and the source device.
With features previously unseen on true wireless earphones at this price, and performance to match, the Oppo Enco W51 is quite easily the best pair of true wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 5,000. The detailed, balanced sound is a refreshing change in a price segment that is largely focused on aggressive bass, while wireless charging and workable active noise cancellation only serve to sweeten the deal.
Average battery life and unreliable controls aside, this is a great pair of true wireless earphones for Rs. 5,000. Spending a bit more will get you better-sounding headsets such as the Lypertek Tevi and Creative Outlier Air, but if you have a hard budget of Rs. 5,000, the Oppo Enco W51 is the one to pick.