The TWS market. Where do we start? It exploded. The Wireless World has taken over. Yes, we cling on to the cabled IEMs and headphones and hi-fi’s we love, but are we still represenatative? Let’s face it – we’re not. Audio companies of repute have recognised the need to cater for the growing interest in a life without the need of lots of wires. No-one in the audio industry can afford to ignore what is happening. Everyone eants less clutter – less fuss. Therefore, bluetooth is the way to go. And you and I should encourage it. The reason? Because the more hype there is about wireless, the better the technology will get, the more products will be sold, and the cheaper the tech will sell for. Sermon over, let’s get down to business.
Many products that are sent to the Subjective offices are now wireless products. This is where the innovation is coming from. This is where the manufacturer can see the market going. This is where we can see your interests are changing – you, the discerning punter. Why shouldn’t you deserve proper audio products without wires, without fuss? It can be done. It is no longer the future. It is now.
Which brings us to the TWS market. I have heard some nice TWS products. Even the Galaxy Buds Pro are a decent sounding set of earphones. But, there is alway compromise. No-one is gonna put a $1000 IEM into a tws shell and try and sell it for $1100. No-one would buy it, becaus it won’t sound as good as the wired version, and for that type of money, it would HAVE to be hi-fi. Fiio have had a thik about this. They have come up with this. The UTWS5 contains no IEM or earbud. It is the same as those earhooks supplied to guide your cables around the outside of your ear for a better fit. With a very subtle difference. These contain a DAC and a Bluetooth chip. You can put whatever IEM you want in them subject to them conforming with the MMCX or 2 pin standards, that is.
I took my Meze Rai Penta Flagship IEMs out of their cabled prison and gave them freedom. It was utter madness, I know, but I just had to know how they’d perform with the latest TWS (dongle?) Snapping them into place was a cinch. The fit was as good as the cabled variety. Once out of the box, the Fiio’s set to work on befriending my smartphone and we were away. This is how we got on….
First up, features. After all, you have this TWS, it’s got to be user friendly to make life on the road smoother to be of any benefit, am I right? The UTWS5 has looked at this issue and has come up with some really good solutions to making life just that little bit easier. First of all, it’s a breath of fresh air not having to try and find the button on each of the TWS buds to do stuff. When you’re on a run, it’s too small and fiddly and it often goes wrong. The Fiio has sensibly put a larger button at the bottom of each of the left and right hooks and they work with more success tan any of the other TWS I’ve used. 1 button accepts a call, on either the left or right side. 1 button will be volume down on the left or up on the right. 1 button will be play on either side. 2 presses of either side is pause. 3 presses releases alexa, bixby or your chosen companion. 3 presses is a little harder to achieve on the gallop than the other stuff, but is doable for the determined. For those of you less energetic, the Fiio Control App is a must. Download that from Google Play etc. and you can change all sorts, from the digital filtering of the dac chip, to the graduated ambient sound options, which let you listen and communicate with the outside World when needed, but immersed in your own when not.
Seconds up, sound quality. Listen, (and I’ve done lots of this) I was happy with the Rai Penta on the move. There was a good fit. No cable noise, there’s no cable. No movement in the ear discerned, there’s less to move, of course. The sound stays stable, brings out the rich, organic qualities of the Penta, and really important, makes you WANT to exercise. Think about that, for a second. This is something that you will want to head outside with. We all know the benefits of being outside. We all know the benefits of exercise. We all know the healing power of music. There is more than a good chance that this sort of device will score a hat trick – outside, exercise, joy. What sort of a price would you put on that? Fiio already know the answer. At all good shops this will retail at £99. I’m a fan of Fiio, I think they make good quality products and they consistently surprise me with what they come up with. I am the proud owner of Fiio M11 DAP and hae previously reviewed the M11 Pro and the BTA30. That being said , no money changes hands here; Fiio have kindly supplied Subjective Reviews the UTWS5 in return for an honest opinion.
Conclusions – and I hate to say farewell, but all things must pass. The UTWS5 is the go to for TWS wannabees with good IEMs. This will beat any TWS I’ve yet tried. No-one comes close to a Rai Penta through AptX; it’s that simple. If it get’s you off your chair and into the open air, Fiio have won, you’ve won and I’m a happier person for it.