Oppo has put out a few decent pairs of earphones over the years but this is the first time they’ve added noise cancellation to a pair of wireless earphones. The Enco Q1 are meant to serve the everyday person so to speak - from commuters and runners to those who want untethered access to audio on their devices.
The market for affordable wireless in-ears is a tough one though, with budget-friendly ANC devices popping up all over the place. Oppo aims to stand out by cramming in extra tech like hybrid active noise cancellation, big battery life and sound modes - all of which should make for a versatile pair of earphones good for most situations. In the end however, they try to do too much and this results in not excelling at anything.
Price and availability
You’ll be able to buy the Oppo Enco Q1 for AED 499 starting October 30 across major retailers in the UAE. They come in two color variants - Midnight Black and Sunny Orange. It’s a high price considering the average performance of these earphones, and other over-ear models deliver far superior audio quality in a similar price range.
When it comes to noise cancellation, wireless earphones hardly come close to their over-ear counterparts, unless you’re willing to shell out AED 900 or more for a pair from Sony or the Bose QCs. But even if all you want is oise cancellation to drown out the crowds and engine hums on your daily commute, there are much more budget-friendly neckband wireless options out there like the COWIN HE8D or the Phiaton BT 120 NC.
Design and fit
Oppo Enco Q1’s have a flexible U-band that sits around your neck. It’s pretty lightweight at just 42g, but it’s not like you’ll be able to ignore it completely. They’re also not pocketable in any way, but will fit into a backpack or purse comfortably.
The band’s smooth, matte texture feels nice against bare skin and is easy to wipe down if they get wet. We love that it’s not stiff like other neckbands that follow this design, and no matter how you contort them, they’ll be able to retain their shape.
A thin, cheap-looking cable connects to the earbuds, which are bulky and house two microphones each for dual feedback ANC. If you’ve never found in-ears comfortable, don’t expect that to change with the Enco Q1.
They can sit comfortably in your ear with the bulkier part of the earbuds forming an effective seal. But since the major part of the earbuds sit at the small base outside the ear canal, some will find the fit too tight, and won’t be able to wear these for more than ten minutes without feeling sore. We recommend trying them out in a store before buying them.
The earbuds have magnetic backs that snap together when they’re dangling freely, keeping them from ending up in a tangle. There’s no added benefit to this, such as on the Huawei Freelace, which pauses media when the earbuds snap together.
As with most neckband wireless earphones, the controls on the Enco Q1 are awkward to reach. All buttons can be found on the left side of the u-band, starting with a textured circular power button on the bottom followed by two dash-style volume buttons separated by a tiny groove. There’s also a multi-function button than you use to run through the various sound modes.
Sound quality and noise cancellation
The Enco Q1 sound bright and clear enough, but we had higher expectations from a pair that costs AED 500. They use 11.8mm dynamic drivers, which means they’re capable of hitting loud volumes with decent punch. Sadly we’ve heard better and more balanced audio quality on other wireless earphones.
These headphones tend to slant towards treble more, with reedy sibilance on vocals and cymbals which might be a little annoying to some, but manageable if you keep ANC on and turn the volume down. Bass is punchy and potent, but play Drake’s Legend and you’ll notice that they lack heftiness and depth at low frequencies that’s easily found in some budget wireless earphones.
Sound clarity is good, and each tone is noticeable. It slightly suffers at high volumes with certain songs getting muddy at the high-end. The Enco Q1 also has a decent soundstage, and if there’s a specific spatial sound you’re after, you can mess around with the three built-in presets accessible through the mode button on the u-band. First is the Music mode that’s turned on by default. A double-tap on the mode button takes you to Cinema mode that switches to 3D surround mode, and finally a Game mode that used 3D spatial sounds to pinpoint where certain sounds are coming from.
The Enco Q1 uses dual feedback system with two mics in each earbud that take in internal and external noise to provide hybrid noise cancellation. It’s an impressive amount of tech in a pair of mid-range earphones, but there’s nothing remarkable about the ANC here. If you gave us a pair of budget wireless earphones with basic 95% effective ANC and the Enco Q1s, they would only marginally beat out the budget pair.
That’s not to say it doesn’t work. Travelers and commuters will enjoy the isolated audio free from noisy crowds and droning engines. However, if you’re in an exceptionally loud environment such as large airports or metro stations, then ambient background noises seep in.
Call quality is excellent on both sides. The mic’s noise reduction works like a charm, and we were impressed with the clarity of voices that only dip slightly in noisier environments. This was also useful for interacting with Google Assistant. We also liked the steady connectivity that remained stable as long we stayed within 8m of the source device - beyond that the connection falters and peters out completely at 10m.
Oppo has rated the Enco Q1 to last 15 hours with ANC on at moderate volume, and 22 hours with ANC turned off. For the most part, they routinely came close to hitting that mark at prescribed volume setting.
Cranking up the volume with ANC on drops Oppo’s estimate to a little over 12 hours, which is still higher than most wireless earphones in the market. Getting these back to full juice is a quick affair, with a 10 minute charge resulting in five hours of normal playback. Otherwise you have to wait around two hours to get them fully charged.
Oppo’s efforts to cram in a lot of tech in a mid-range pair of wireless earphones is respectable but we’re hesitant to recommend the Enco Q1 because of their middling performance and price tag. Those planning to listen to music in isolated environments should give the Enco Q1 a hard pass. There are better earphones out there with more versatile and nuanced audio performance, and these earphones can feel cumbersome to wear over long periods.
Sound quality is bright and clear, and while noise-cancelling isn’t stellar, it does work. These do have decent battery life and if modest with your usage, the Enco Q1 can easily get you twelve and a half hours of playback with ANC on.
It’s a tight race to affordability for wireless earphones, and we think the Huawei Freelance and Sennheiser CX 6 (which are AED 200 cheaper) did a better job of delivering dynamic sounds despite lacking ambient pass-through features. If ANC is what you’re after then you should either save up a few hundred AED for a pair of Sony or Bose for best-in-class noise cancelling, or consider budget options from Cowen and Phiaton.