Fairphone True Wireless Review: appropriate and ethical earphones

Manufacture and accessories

The design of True Wireless is not original, but it has self-proven merit. Durability is key, with a design entirely in matte plastic, soft to the touch and pleasant to handle. There’s the manufacturing quality: the assembly tracks are pretty careful and the headphones are just as sturdy for us. They are also IPX4 certified to withstand rain and sweat drops. Of course, it is necessary to ensure that it is well maintained after each sports session.

The case is very nice, but remains compact enough to fit in a pants pocket – which still needs to be big enough. It’s also easy to use with one hand thanks to the hinge system similar to that found on Apple AirPods cases. The True Wireless case is covered in the same matte and soft-touch coating as the headphones, but it’s likely to get dusty here. On the front, 4 LEDs indicate the remaining charge level.

If the Fairphone headphones have 3 pairs of silicone tips of different sizes, the loss of a charging cable will be noticed. The ecological argument to limit electronic waste or simple stinginess, we allow you to form your own opinion.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

User experience

True Wireless is controlled using a touch surface located on top of each earphone. This area is easily accessible, reactive, but sometimes quite sensitive. The touch controls allow you to perform all the actions essential to the proper operation of the headphones: navigate between tracks, manage playback, control the volume, activate the phone’s voice assistant or even to juggle between 3 available listening modes (noise reduction. on, ambient listening mode, off). Other actions are also accompanied by voice prompts of poor quality.

Pairing is done when you first leave the box or use the button placed at the bottom of the box. The Fairphone headphones then communicate with Bluetooth 5.3 and are compatible with SBC and AAC codecs. However, no multipoint function is implemented in these headphones. A proximity sensor allows the music to stop automatically when one of the earphones is removed from the ears, but no mono switch is made when wearing only one earphone, which loses half the stereo signal.

Unfortunately, that’s all to get your teeth into because Fairphone True Wireless doesn’t benefit from any companion mobile app to access a possible equalizer, various customization options or even the right level of remaining battery. . Without an app, it’s also impossible to update headphones, which can prove to be a problem if there’s a software problem.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

Audio

Fairphone’s True Wireless opted for a bassy and somewhat blunt signature sound, not the most musical. However, it is possible to get a more pleasing translation, but it requires placing the headphones in an unreasonable way and is not really comfortable in the ears. In fact, the design of the headphones means that, when placed in their “logical” position (see photo below), the speaker will never align with the extension of the ear canal, which affects translation.

On the left, the placement

On the left, the “logical” placement corresponds to the black frequency response curve (see below). On the right, the position to obtain an optimistic listening experience corresponds to the green frequency response curve (see below).

In the “logical” position, the Fairphone True Wireless particularly emphasizes the lower end of the spectrum, causing excessive bass, especially when noise reduction. Removing the high mids will tilt the balance even more in favor of the bass and give the overall interpretation to a very soft, very soft sound, which can be described as blunt. The sounds struggle to stand up properly, the sources rich in harmonics (cymbals, overdriven guitars, some brass …) are rapidly weakened; harmful behavior, despite accurate reproduction of the entire reproduced spectrum.

Measurement of frequency response (normalized by 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  With active noise reduction (purple), with no active noise reduction (black), in position

Measurement of frequency response (normalized by 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). With active noise reduction (purple), with no active noise reduction (black), in the “good” listening position (green).

In these cases, the soundstage copy obviously lacks depth (foreground elements are restored) despite its proper width. The imitation of the dynamics is ensured to be correct, no more.

As mentioned above, it is possible to obtain a more satisfactory interpretation by adjusting the position of the headphones to the ears. By raising the headphones and pushing them slightly into the ear canal, the rendering can return a more welcoming sharpness and enthusiasm, but, once again, at a less comfortable cost.

Measurement of harmonic distortion (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Measurement of harmonic distortion (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Active noise reduction

True Wireless is more efficient when it comes to slowing down short frequencies. The skill is that they will reach, or even better, the performance of the best students in the field, namely the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Devialet Gemini. So they are able to almost completely eliminate the engine noises of the car, bus or train, to the delight of the ears. The lower parts of the human voice are also commendably well -tuned.

Measurement of isolation: reference signal (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction (purple), listening mode for ambient sounds (orange).

Measurement of isolation: reference signal (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction (purple), listening mode for ambient sounds (orange).

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for midrange attenuation. The noise reduction algorithm will lose significantly more effectiveness when confronted with higher pitched sounds, such as shouting wheels, sliding on a railroad track or specific alerts. sound. The sounds are also slightly attenuated, allowing you to fully hear the voice announcements made by the metro or train driver. Fairphone headphones also face a problem that is rare with this class of headphones: they are less able to handle sudden changes in pressure (e.g., going through a tunnel on a train). or meter) which causes a parasitic noise that is not good.

Finally, the way of listening to surrounding sounds is correct. It transcribes the different sounds of space very well, but the translation is clearly devoid of naturalness and aeration.

Strong points

  • Good overall sound accuracy.

  • Fearful active noise reduction at short frequencies.

  • Very good feelings of comfort.

  • Easy to manage.

Weak points

  • The “Boomy” translation of the sound, lacking clarity and sharpness.

  • Sounds a bit giatras.

  • No companion app, no customization possible.

  • Do not switch to mono when using an earphone (truncated stereo).

Conclusion

Global brand

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

How does grading work?

For the first true wireless headphone, the Fairphone makes a right copy that will satisfy a large number. True Wireless stands out from the competing models not only in their ethical and ecological promise, but also in excellent comfort and impressive noise reduction for headphones in this price range. On the other hand, Fairphone headphones show some weaknesses in terms of sound and also suffer from a lack of customization options.

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