It’s hard to find something that sounds good when you’re on a tight budget and value audio quality, but the Edifier TWS1 are some of the best cheap earbuds around. These buds support aptX for high-quality listening on Android devices, and they’re among the of few earbuds to support Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus, for a stable wireless connection. They’re not without their faults: build quality is cheap and the case uses microUSB for charging, but if corners must be cut, these are ones I can do without.
Editor’s note: this Edifier TWS1 review was updated on March 17, 2021, to include information about the best true wireless earbuds under $50.
Who should get the Edifier TWS1?
- Budget buyers should take the Edifier TWS1 into consideration because these earbuds afford important premium features (e.g., aptX and Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus) at an accessible sub-$50 price.
- General consumers may want the TWS1 earphones because of their economical price and stylish design. The black or white colorway looks good with any outfit and the lightweight frame makes the buds comfortable to wear until the battery drains.
What is it like to use the Edifier TWS1?
The Edifier TWS1 are similar to other economical totally wireless earphones: they and the case are made of plastic and premium features are limited. While the plastic construction keeps costs low, it also keeps the earbuds lightweight, making them a pleasure to wear throughout their seven-hour battery life.
Aesthetes may bemoan the glossy finish since it attracts an insane amount of fingerprints and scratches easily, but I didn’t find it problematic. That said, I did mind how slippery the finish makes the earbuds. There were multiple times when one or both buds fell to the floor as I removed them from the microUSB charging case. While they’re durable enough to withstand the drop, it’s never fun to brush floor dirt off your earbuds.
Touch controls aren’t consistent; often, I tried replaying a song but it was registered as a skip command instead.
Edifier includes three pairs of ear tips (small, medium, large), which doesn’t provide as much customization as with Sony’s noise cancelling earphones, but most listeners should be able to achieve a fine fit. The only other included accessory is the microUSB cable; it’s not much but you’re paying for audio quality and connection stability when you buy the Edifier TWS1, rather than a gimmick-laden feature set.
Are the earbuds good for working out?
The earbuds have received an IPX5 rating, meaning they’re certified to withstand all the sweat and water sprays your workouts can throw at them. As long as you avoid complete submersion, water damage should be a non-issue. The company forewent a dust-resistance certification, but I had no trouble using them while indoor rock climbing with chalky hands. That said, if I had my choice, the TWS1 would not be my first pick. When exercising, I prefer a more comfortable, stable fit; this means I look for a pair of earbuds with an ear hook design or silicone wing tips to help stabilize the buds in my ear.
How do you connect the earbuds?
Removing both earbuds from the case for the first time initiates pairing. Once the LED on each earbud alternates between red and blue, you’re set to select the buds from your smartphone’s Bluetooth menu. From then on out, the earbuds automatically connect to the last-used device.
The Bluetooth 5.0 TrueWireless Stereo Plus earphones don’t support multipoint, so if you want to hop between your phone and computer, you’ll have to do so manually. Although the lack of functionality is disappointing, Edifier makes up for it by shelling out for Qualcomm’s advanced true wireless connection technology; this facilitates a more stable, reliable connection within the 10-meter range. It also reduces latency, because device communication is simultaneous rather than linear.
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The earbuds support aptX for high-quality streaming on Android devices. iPhone users will have to settle for SBC streaming as AAC isn’t compatible with the Edifier TWS1 earphones. This isn’t a huge deal since many of us are unable to identify differences between codecs, especially when casually listening. To optimize sound quality, focus instead on finding the right seal: blocking out external noise does wonders for clarity and bass reproduction.
Do the Edifier TWS1 have good battery life?
It took 7 hours, 10 minutes for the earbud batteries to deplete, which is slightly less than the claimed eight-hour standalone playtime, but still ahead of the true wireless average. It takes 1.5 hours to charge the earbuds completely, and fast charging isn’t supported, so patience is certainly a virtue when using the Edifier earbuds.
The included charging case is like much of what we’ve seen before: magnetic closing mechanism and connector pins for securing the earbuds into their cutouts. There’s just one LED on the charging case, differing from others with multiple LEDs that act as a battery meter. With the TWS1, you never really know how much charge is left in the case. Said case houses a micro-USB input, which is a shame to see but makes sense seeing how Edifier packed in alternative premium features while managing to keep the price below $50.
How do the Edifier TWS1 sound?
The drivers emphasize low-end reproduction, something we’re accustomed to seeing in standard consumer audio products. The amplification is just above the threshold of hearing: we typically don’t notice changes less than 3dB and notes from 20-200Hz are ~5dB louder than the lower end of midrange frequencies. If you’re not one for numbers: just know that some vocal and instrumental detail may be lost to auditory masking. This is when relatively loud sounds make it difficult to perceive quieter ones, because our brains have limited bandwidth for auditory processing. That said, the Edifier TWS1 earphones perform exceptionally well for their price point and handle instrumental separation well so long as there are fewer than five instruments, vocals included, at a time.
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Isolation is fine for in-ears, but your mileage is highly dependent on finding properly fitting ear tips. Our test ears have fairly small ear canals, so I had to swap the default medium tips out for the small alternatives. Most low-frequency noise will still be heard with the earbuds in, but high-pitched sounds like a steaming kettle will be difficult to hear while wearing the TWS1.
Lows, mids, and highs
Singer-songwriter Rozzi’s song Joshua Tree opens with a simple picking pattern on the A and then low-E strings. The first two D5 note picks have a fundamental frequency of 587.3Hz with its subsequent harmonic resonances ringing at higher and higher frequencies. This repeated note can be heard clearly even in tandem with Rozzi’s palm mutes on the acoustic guitar. I’m pleased by how audible the D5-C#5-B5-A5 note reproduction is even as Rozzi begins singing at 0:09. There’s next to no auditory masking of the guitar resonances from Rozzi’s vocals, something the less adept JLab JBuds Icon Air struggle with.
Though you can't expect pristine audio quality with a $39 pair of earbuds, these have a pretty decent consumer-friendly sound.
If you aren’t privy to the acoustic genre and instead prefer bass-heavy music or rock with plenty of kick drum, then you may notice detail missing from low-midrange frequencies (e.g. male vocals and low-pitched guitar chords). This masking isn’t egregious enough to knock the Edifier TWS1 earbuds’ audio quality, especially when reminded of how affordable they are and how they support aptX streaming.
Can I use the Edifier TWS1 for phone calls?
The microphone attenuates the lower half of the human voice band, making most males and low-register females sound unnatural. This is because the lowest portion of their register, from which harmonics resonate, is rendered four-to-two times quieter than normal. In short, this attenuation until the 500Hz-mark results in distant vocal reproduction, but is still usable for casual calls. If, however, you intend to take long professional calls, you and others may benefit from switching to your smartphone’s mic.
The microphone is housed in the left earbud, the same one which relays call audio. Upon our review, the Edifier TWS1 only relayed call audio through one earbud. This is something that could be updated through the Edifier Connect app. If single-earpiece call audio is a nuisance to you, you may benefit from getting the JLab JBuds Icon Air instead.
Edifier TWS1 microphone demo:
Edifier TWS1 vs. Edifier TWS6
An obvious comparison to make is with the Edifier TWS6, which is slightly more durable than the earbuds in question: IPX5 compared to an IP55 rating. The TWS6 earbuds are very similar to the TWS1, but the charging case is larger and supplies more on-the-go battery life.
Isolation is better with the more premium variant because there are more ear tips included, so listeners are able to achieve a better fit. Sound quality is very good, thanks to the Knowles balanced armature drivers. Bass notes are more amplified by the TWS6 drivers; even still, clarity is more apparent with the TWS6 than the TWS1.
Edifier TWS1 vs. Edifier TWS5
The Edifier TWS5 offers additional features over the TWS1, including single-earbud operation, integrated touch controls, improved wireless performance, and automatic connect and power off. Also, the charging case of the TWS5 has 3 LEDs instead of just a single LED, which shows you how much battery your buds have left with a quick glance. These true wireless earbuds are available for $79 USD, which is roughly double the price of the Edifier TWS1.
Edifier TWS1 vs. JLab GO Air
The JLab GO Air is a direct competitor of the Edifier TWS1: both are capable, super cheap earbuds. Unlike the the TWS1, the JBuds GO Air are IP44-rated, meaning they resist both dust and water. This is great for anyone who engages in beach sports or rock climbing. JLab’s earbuds are a bit larger than Edifier’s, but both remain compact and comfortable. iPhone users may prefer JLab’s earbuds because they offer AAC support but lack aptX, meaning we Android users are booted down to SBC streaming.
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Should you buy the Edifier TWS1?
The Edifier TWS1 are some of the best true wireless earbuds under $50. If you can forgive the remarkably slippery earbud housings and half-baked charging case, there’s a lot to love about the TWS1: they’re lightweight, fashionable, and reproduce great sound. If I were to buy just one pair of earbuds for casual, daily use, it would be the TWS1. They offer so much for so little.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately, the TWS1 doesn't have any method of updating its firmware. Although Edifier has a mobile app for Android and iOS, neither program currently supports the earbuds.