Jade Audio / FiiO EW1 - True Wireless

General Information

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CK Moustache

100+ Head-Fier
Link to my review and measurement index thread where one can also find a full review overview, more information about myself as well as my general-ish audio and review manifesto: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/956208/




I only give full stars. My ranking/scoring system does not necessarily follow the norm and is about as follows:

5 stars: The product is very good and received the "highly recommended" award from me.

4 stars: The product is very good and received the "recommended" award from me.

3 stars: The product is good/very good, but not outstanding/special enough to get any of my two awards. ["Thumbs Up"]

2 stars: The product is only about average or even somewhat below that and somewhat flawed/flawed in some areas. [neither "Thumbs Up" nor "Thumbs Down"]

1 star: The product is bad/severely flawed to outright bad. ["Thumbs Down"]





JadeAudio EW1


Source:

Review sample.


Miscellaneous:

JadeAudio is a new online direct selling sub-brand of FiiO.

Very nice amount of features at the low price point (aptX, touch controls, touch volume adjustment).

Only average at best unboxing experience – uninspired brown cardboard box with thin black plastic mould (that holds the ear pieces and charging/carrying case) inside.
Four pairs of silicone tips.

Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC and aptX support.

No wireless charging of the charging/carrying case.
Micro USB charging input.

The charging/carrying case’s inside (not the outside that is absolutely fine, though) and the EW1 feel fairly cheap.
The battery indicator consists of one LED that flashes in different patterns to signalise the battery status.

Fairly uninspired and generic shell design. I really like the faceplates’ very dark blue metallic colour, though.
No battery status indicator when in the shells (the only thing that indicates that the batteries inside the ear pieces are not fully charged yet is when the ear pieces’ individual LEDs are on).

Good fit.

Nicely stable and good Bluetooth connection without any dropouts on my smartphones (BlackBerry Classic and Apple iPhone 4).

One 6 mm dynamic driver per side.




Sound:

Largest included silicone tips.

My main Bluetooth sources used for listening to music: BlackBerry Classic (aptX), Apple iPhone 4 (AAC), ZOTAC ZBOX CI547 (SBC).

Unfortunately, and it is very audible, the built-in audio architecture doesn’t have the best signal-to-noise-ratio, so the EW1 are definitely quite hissy.

Volume Control:

Very convenient: touching the left earphone’s faceplate once lowers the volume whereas touching the right earphone’s once raises it. Well, at least in theory, as the touch gestures don’t work all the time, and by far the biggest inconvenience and design mistake is that the touch-sensitive surfaces are so large that when the EW1 ear pieces are in my ears, it happens quite frequently that random touch commands are performed by the EW1 touching my tragi, which is highly annoying and also unpleasant as the audible feedback (beep) when a command is performed is very loud.

By the way, the volume control is not independent but synced with the playback device.
As a result, which is unfortunately true for nearly all Bluetooth in-ears, the EW1 are far too loud for me even at the quietest possible volume setting above mute.

Very bad as well: extraordinarily loud status info (“power on” etc.) whose volume, as it seems, cannot be changed, and cannot be deactivated either.
Also, it’s annoying that each time a touch gesture (except for volume attenuation) is registered, there’s an absurdly loud beep, too.

Tonality:

Warm v-shape with very, near absurdly, strong upper treble peak.

The bass elevation starts to rise around 700 Hz, is about 10 dB north of flat-neutral (reference: my Etymotic ER-4S) around 100 Hz (upper bass), and climbs even a bit more towards the true sub-bass where it reaches an elevation of around 12 dB above flat-neutral.
Therefore, the bass is punchy and warm, but yet gentle-ish enough to not become too boomy in the fundamental range.

The lower mids are on the fuller, warmer side, perhaps comparable to those of my Shure SE215m+SPE.
The upper midrange and presence range are on the darker, more relaxed side, wherefore bright voices are reproduced in a more relaxed manner.

The treble is generally somewhat more on the relaxed side as well but not by much; it’s not what could be considered as a dark presentation but rather one that is somewhat below neutral in quantity and mostly inoffensive.
However, this only holds true for the treble frequencies up to 6 kHz, since above that, the level rises again, and forms a very strong and bright elevation around 9 kHz that is neither very narrow nor really wide. As a result, the upper highs are very bright and splashy; thankfully this very strong elevation is at a very high frequency wherefore it is not really annoying and high enough to avoid exaggerated sharpness, and it isn’t the most relevant frequency for real-world music reproduction either, nonetheless this peak is undeniably much too strong and therefore plasticky and artificial (subjectively, it is most likely placed there to create an impression of “air” and details, but due to the nature of its absurd exaggeration, it just doesn’t really fit in).
Above that, in the super treble past 10 kHz, what can be heard is a generally very bright sound, too.

Frequency Response:


ER-4S-Compensation


ProPhile 8-Compensation

Resolution:

For what it’s worth, to me, the best sound quality could be achieved using the aptX codec.

Nonetheless, even with aptX, the EW1 don’t reach the sound quality of cheap wired in-ears and it is fairly easily audible that they are wireless Bluetooth in-ears (audible compression, grain and a sound that appears forced – which it probably, and likely, also is (most wireless in-ears take advantage of tailoring the frequency response to a certain target curve through DSP as this technology has become fairly inexpensive over time, which is generally a thing I appreciate, but not if it sounds as if the technology were pushed above its limits), as the measured impulse response is definitely, and by quite much, inferior to other recent “true wireless” in-ears such as the Shanling MTW100 (BA version) or EarFun Free).
To keep it short, the EW1 simply don’t resolve as well when connected to an aptX source as other “true wireless” in-ears that are not capable of aptX reception.

To start with the bass, it sounds somewhat compressed and forced.
It is neither really tight and fast, nor slow and spongy – it just falls somewhere in-between, and is probably a bit closer to the latter, and nowhere close to the speed and tightness of my Shure SE215m+SPE.
Details in the lows don’t seem as separated, nonetheless bass lines are still distinguishable as such, although there’s definitely room for improvement. However, the lows and lower register details sound more compressed than when compared to cheap wired in-ears, which quite easily gives away that the EW1 are Bluetooth in-ears.

Going up towards the midrange, the details and sound appear a bit grainy and compressed, and I am sure that the EW1s’ audible hissing additionally contributes to this.
It’s clearly not a well-separated or detailed midrange.

The treble and its separation sound rather soft, which in this case is however beneficial to the sound due to the strong upper treble peak that the EW1 possess. Nonetheless, the note separation and details appear somewhat grainy as well, and are only concealed but not actually improved by the peak’s brightness.

Soundstage:

Large and wide, which is quite typical for a v-shaped tuning like this.

Due to the subjectively perceived soundstage size, the instrument placement seems to be fairly accurate. Nonetheless, with more complex material, the soundstage starts to collapse and the spatial details begin to show some smear.




Conclusion:

Their colour is beautiful and they offer many features for the low price point, however the JadeAudio EW1 are unfortunately clearly flawed in several areas (hissy, too loud, status info too loud and cannot be attenuated or disabled, beeps to indicate that the touch inputs were recognised too loud and cannot be attenuated or disabled, touch inputs are not recognised all the time, touch-sensitive surfaces too large wherefore touch control actions are often accidentally performed by the user’s ears’ tragi, fairly compressed sound that appears “forced” even with an aptX connection).


Photos:



Zelda

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Comfortable design
Decent battery performance
Good Bluetooth quality
Warm, rich and fun sound
Good value for the price
Cons: Mid-bass can be too dominant / missing some treble presence
Review – Jade Audio (FiiO) EW1



Website – Jade Audio


Specifications


Price: ~$40.

Available directly from Jade Audio online store.

Credits to the FiiO team for providing the EW1 for review.




Design

For a first wireless earphones model, the EW1 have simple and compact design with decent build quality. The earpieces look like round capsule with just the extra nozzle. They are made of two plastic pieces, very lightweight with very smooth surface, matte black colored inner part and shiny on the outer part with the ‘Jade Audio’ writing printed on both right and left sides. Like many other true-wireless sets, the EW1 are supposed to withstand more active use with IPX5 rating.




With the very straight design the fit on the EW1 is quite easy even with the standard single silicone tips. It may not have any special ergonomic shape and the package does not any silicone fins to completely lock the earbuds, but even so they sit securely enough in the ears. Getting the best seal may be a bit difficult at first and the ear tips don’t provide an immediate seal but it is simply a matter of getting used to. Comfort is very good and barely noticed when worn, while isolation is about average for what in-ear models can offer.




The storage charging case is also compact and light compared to other true-wireless cases I’ve tried. The long tube shape makes it easy to store and carry around. It is made mostly of plastic and the weight is probably from the magnetic part and battery inside. The charging port is of micro USB.


The EW1 feature touch control on both sides. They power on once taken out of the case but can also be turn on and off separately by long press on touch panel; a good feature when not willing to carry the case along. Every TW set has its own touch control panel and so are the EW1. Single touch on the right or left side will turn the volume up or down, respectively. The volume jump is fine, not too abrupt but not small either. Long press will get to next (right) or previous track (left). To pause the music it only possible from the right side by a quick double touch, and it is resumed by single touch on any side. Phone calls can be also handled by the touch buttons.


Battery and Wireless performance

Battery working time rates about 6~7 hours, and while in practice it will depend on the volume set, the numbers are fairly accurate. Considering the standard average time for true wireless sets now of around 5 hours, the EW1 performance is good. The charging case will add a few extra charges but does not support quick charge for the earphones.

Bluetooth version is of 5.0, already adopted on many true-wireless. Supported wireless codecs are not only the usual SBC and AAC but the EW1 also feature AptX/AptX-LL, and actually the first TW set I’ve tried with AptX. An extra good feature on the EW1 is that each earpiece can be used as single earphone as each will recognized by R and L on the available Bluetooth devices list.


Sound

Sources: FiiO M6 & M5, iBasso DX160

The EW1 sound signature is warm and thick, with a strong lift on the bass and yet well present midrange and smooth more laid-back treble. If it was tuned for the more active on-the-go use, then it seems to fit well to its current price tag, putting less emphasis on micro detail and more towards the fun factor and musicality with a slighter bias towards the darker presentation.

The low end is powerful, rich and well-bodied. Bass depth is fairly good considering the small driver inside and the total wireless tech. There a typical mid-bass enhancement that tends to sound more intrusive and a touch bass-heavy, resulting less balanced with the sub-bass which being more reserved and limited. The mid-bass lift is not too overwhelming but very present when the track allows, yet keeps good control on less bass heavy music leaving room for a more forward midrange. Speed is average, acceptable for the price and form factor; certainly focused in sounding more fun than accurate.

With the extra bass intensity, mid and upper-bass, the midrange results very warm and thick. Despite the bass bleed, the whole midrange is not recessed but rather overshadowed if there is a strong low-end on the music played. The lower midrange is more affected by the bass power, losing in layering and separation, while upper midrange is cleaner and a bit airier. Instruments have a drier texture whereas vocals are more upfront and nicer textured, mainly female vocals. In fact, with less bass boosted kind of music, the EW1 is not too far from sounding mid-centered and vocal focused, smooth and rarely sibilant.

Treble is mostly smooth. Emphasis is more in the lower treble area with moderate energy and very little sparkle to complement the midrange but overall sits behind the lows and mids. There is little to no harshness, at least on moderate comfortable listening volumes. Detail is about average with decent control for a more laid-back nature and rolls off at the upper treble freq., not rare on a TW set and fine for the price. Presentation is more intimate and narrow in stage with the warm to mid-centered signature.


Comparisons

Zolo Liberty+ ($100~150)

In build quality these both models are not far away from each other. The Liberty+ may have the upper hand a bit as the included silicone fit ‘wings’ may withstand less care. Fit and comfort goes for the EW1; they’re simply more compact and easy to fit, less intrusive and give a similar level of isolation.

In sound quality, the Liberty+ are v-shaped, more even in the whole bass, more sub-bass presence and with more mid-bass control. Midrange is more distant but also clearer and detailed, more energy put on the upper midrange being less forgiving. Treble is much brighter too, extended if a bit sharper, but overall offers better balance. Sound on the EW1 is more mid-bass focused, thicker in the low midrange and more mid-forward on the whole. It sounds more congested and laid-back but also more relaxed and forgiving.





Jays m-Seven ($130)

Build quality still one of the best among true-wireless models on the Jays, and the fit is just excellent. EW1 are quite fine for the price and very comfortable too and just isolation is about average. Both sets have touch controls with pretty much all the needed functions, however the EW1 can be turn on without the need of the case. Also, the EW1 features better BT codec with AptX and more stable wireless connectivity than the m-Seven or even the above Liberty+.

In sound, they are close. Low-end focused, powerful, unforgiving and engaging bass with an overall dark, laid-back presentation. m-Seven are more extended on the lows and have more sub-bass gain, while the EW1 are still greater on the mid-bass kick. Midrange is more linear and neutral on the m-Seven, a bit more detailed but drier and less present; the EW1 instead, are thicker and more midrange forward with nicer texture on vocals. Treble is almost identical, lacking in extension and very dark; EW1 have a bit more upper-mid energy, whereas the m-Seven better width and depth on soundstage.





Soundcore Spirit Pro ($30~50)

Not true-wireless but still a wireless set and also similar priced to the EW1. The Spirit Pro have AptX too and like the EW1 a very good Bluetooth connectivity. Build quality is tougher on the Spirit Pro with all metal housings versus the plastic build EW1. Isolation is around the same if using the silicone fins on the Spirit.

In terms of sound, the Spirit Pro are more v-shaped. Bass response is very similar, powerful and forward mid-bass impact, with some bleed into the lower mids. Midrange is thinner and more distant on the Spirit Pro but also a bit cleaner. Instruments are better presented on the Spirit Pro, while vocals are more highlighted and enjoyable on the EW1. In treble, again, the EW1 are laid-back and smooth and the Spirit Pro more energetic and brighter.
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