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History of Tech ~ OnePlus Wireless Audio

  1. suhantm
    Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 7, 2021

    suhantm , Oct 7, 2021 :
    OP Banner.jpg

    If there’s one category of products from OnePlus I always get excited about, it's audio. Since their wired audio product development was short-lived due to the death of the headphone jack, the development of the wireless audio products has been pretty magnificent if you look at it from a macro perspective.

    Before I jump in, for transparency sake I want to note that this thread is part of a series of three and that I received a pair of the OnePlus Buds Pro for creating the trio. The topic was mutually agreed upon, but all thoughts and opinions shared below are completely my own. The next and final thread in this series will be the Nothing ear (1) vs the OnePlus Buds Pro, which I’m sure will be a fun read. ;)

    I’ve been fortunate enough to own and experience almost every wireless audio product OnePlus has put out, so I hope that fact gives me a little credibility in writing about the journey of this category of products.

    I’ll split this topic into two parts as there are two distinct sub-categories of products, which is a) Bullets Wireless and b) Buds.

    Bullets Wireless Journey

    Bullets Wireless launched alongside the OnePlus 6 back in 2018, it was the company’s first ever wireless audio product. I personally started using them from the day I got them at the 6T Launch Event in late 2018 and I had them around my neck pretty much every time I stepped out of my apartment after.

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    Even though it was their first wireless audio product, OnePlus got SO MUCH right. The build quality (for the most part) and design were distinct and functional. Magnetically clipping the buds worked excellently with my supported 5T. Battery life was excellent for the time, with an average of 8 hours playback on a full charge. They even had dash charge (RIP) support. All in all they were just convenient to have on you!

    There was a lot of room for improvement though. There were no notable audio codecs supported, BT 4.1 (even though 4.2 & 5 were available standards back then), cables that were far too frail/thin and a proper fit being reliant on the fins.

    Fast forward eight-ish months and the updated Bullets Wireless 2 launched alongside the 7 Series. So many of the issues that the OG Bullets Wireless had were addressed with the introduction of its successor. The accessories team smashed it out of the park with the design as they managed to create an identity for the next year or so of wireless audio products, which is something not many realize. They ditched the fins for a natural ergonomic fit, went for a more fluid look, and had a solid build.

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    Sound Quality also improved on paper with the introduction of three drivers in each ear piece. I personally didn’t notice a massive difference, but I will admit the sound stage felt more mature since it was balanced really well.

    Let's talk about the huge leaps now: first and foremost. battery. We’re talking about a 75% increase in the rated hours (which was 13-14H on a single charge during my testing) in addition to the support of the upgraded Warp Charge. Next, they finally supported a high quality codec, aptX HD! And finally BT 5.0, which opened the doors to not only better range but one of my favourite features, Quick Switch. The ability to switch from one device to another with a quick double press of a button felt magical. Still feel the same to this day, waiting for this to be supported on my Buds Pro now. :(

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    Fast forward another year, the Bullets Wireless Z are introduced to shake things up a little.

    The Bullets Wireless Z just seemed like a cheaper plastic version of the Bullets Wireless 2. Which they were… BUT they punched above their price range and seemed to become a more favorable version of the previous two Bullets Wireless products. They were and are still my favorite pair of Bullets Wireless.

    Let's start with the sound, they packed a P-U-N-C-H (Stole this from my Bullets Wireless Z thread, sue me). Even though they contained just one sound driver as opposed to three on the Bullets Wireless 2, they still sounded phenomenally close to them and excelled especially with low-ends, proving that on-paper specs don’t always matter. They were louder and just more energetic sounding, which seemed fitting with their new colorful design. The design just had minor tweaks to accommodate for the new design elements following OnePlus' brand update.

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    The build and design of the Bullets Wireless Z was definitely less premium than the Bullets Wireless 2, but they did look strikingly more appealing because of all the unique colour options accompanied with matching accents. Now because of this plastic build and the single driver, they weighed considerably less making them feel pretty seamless when on your neck and in your ears. Even at their low price point, they managed to even feature an IP55 rating giving you a little peace of mind while using them to sweat it out.

    Get this, the Bullets Wireless 2 and the Bullets Wireless Z had the EXACT same battery capacity but the Bullets Wireless Z had a 40% longer playback time. Now I still don’t know how this happened but my guess back then was the single driver probably just consumed a lot less power. 20 Hour Battery Life on the Bullets Wireless Z was bonkers because I pretty much just had to charge every 1-2 weeks depending on usage (for less than an hour because of Warp Charge, again… nuts).

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    The Bullets Wireless Z are still honestly such an underrated product, they’ll always be among my favorite OnePlus products. Sadly they seem to have been discontinued along with the Bullets Wireless 2 and replaced with the Bullets Wireless Z - Bass Edition which were launched later in the same year.

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    Not too many comments to be made about the Bullets Wireless Z - Bass Edition since I don’t own them and haven’t used them extensively. They feature essentially the same hardware ear tips but were re-tuned to pump out even more low-end which seems unnecessary. The remote was removed from being in-line and to being squeezed onto the neckband, this is something I really detested because it makes absolutely no sense. The battery life was reduced by 3 rated hours probably because of the re-tuning, no complaints here though because 17 hours is still insane.

    I really just wish that OnePlus kept the Bullets Wireless Z and reduced its price by leveraging higher production instead of replacing it with a clearly inferior product. Build quality was definitely affected because every time I visit the local service center I see a stack of replacements waiting to be given out. 😬

    Sadly, I don’t personally think the Bullets Wireless line is in development anymore since OnePlus seems to be pivoting to completely focus on truly wireless audio products. This is unconfirmed and just an assumption.

    Buds Journey

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    Just a few months after the Bullets Wireless Z, OnePlus unsurprisingly introduces their first truly wireless audio product: the OnePlus Buds. Looking back, personally the Buds felt like a rushed or half-baked product. Not much stood out about them.

    [​IMG]

    The design was generic with hints of the Bullets Wireless line. The only design standout was the Nord Blue variant they introduced, which was quite an iconic color but a little too loud for most people.

    Don’t get me wrong though, it was still a good product on paper with BT 5.0, decent battery life / Warp charge, big single audio drivers, a compact case, and negligible weight. It just could’ve been great with improved ergonomics, better sound isolation, better mics, a unique design, but the most needed improvement being more controls (volume, play/pause functionality, etc).

    2020 was probably an insanely tough year for the accessories team because OnePlus launched the Bullets Wireless Z, Buds, Bullets Wireless Z and the Buds Z all in that one year. Now there’s one 2020 audio product I haven’t discussed yet, the Buds Z.

    I don’t own them and haven’t used them even once, so I am just going to share an opinion based on what friends who own them have said and of course how they compete on paper. Now I haven’t heard much negativity about the Buds Z because they were essentially what the Bullets Wireless Z were to the Bullets Wireless 2 - featuring punchier sound and being more affordable.

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    Credits: PC MAG

    I was really happy to see OnePlus taking the in-ear approach for TWS which generally made much more sense for sound isolation, this made me more hopeful for the inevitable premium TWS product. But they still didn’t feature a very unique design, still looking like the iconic AirPods. The drab color options didn’t help their case, with only a white and really light gray option available at launch. I will respect the Steve Harrington Colorway that came out a bit after launch, that did make the design overall feel a lot more distinctive in a quirky way. I remember they got mixed reactions with people either hating them because they seemed too obnoxious or loving how fun the palette was. Really hoping for more limited edition collaborations in the future!

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    Buds Pro launched just a few months back being the first audio product of 2021 and my oh my did they deliver. These are the expectations for a premium Buds product I shared at the end of my Buds review:

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    Definitely sounds like the Buds Pro right? The Buds Pro are my favorite wireless audio product from OnePlus and they probably will be for at least a year. The design is incomparably unique when looking back at past wireless audio products, showing a pivot in the design language and setting down a stepping stone for future products. Kinda gonna miss the CD-pattern though, that was one of my favorite design elements!

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    The Buds Pro over-delivered in almost all areas from hardware to experience. Perfection is impossible to achieve in a category like audio which caters to personalized perceptions of sound but these did come close. It is clear that this was a product with considerable time spent on development. To all the people who worked on the Buds Pro, you are legendary humans.

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    As with any product, there's room for improvement. The Buds Pro lack profile customization, volume controls and quick switch from the Bullets Wireless line (but that has already been confirmed to be featured in an upcoming firmware update).

    OnePlus Audio Products, according to me at least, have been the best consistently delivered products. It is the category of products that still excites me more than any other and experiencing the Buds Pro has amped up my excitement and optimism for future audio products.

    If you'd like to check out my past reviews on the products I have owned and experienced click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

    Rumour has it there's another audio product right around the corner, I’m eager to z what that’s all about. ;)

    ~

    Hopefully you enjoyed this thread and it put OnePlus' progress of audio products into a better perspective. I’m really pumped to see what comes next in OnePlus’ world of wireless audio.

    To conclude I have two questions to ask you:

    1. What are your expectations for OnePlus Audio Products in the future?

    2. What company / product category should the next History of Tech be about?
     

    #1
  2. SRD.
    Lollipop Oct 7, 2021

    SRD. , Oct 7, 2021 :
    Hey, there audio expert. Thank you for sharing about the journey of audio products.
    Though I have used 5 of the audio products, Bullet Wireless Z is my personal favourite. ( Price check price check )
    Buds Pro.... didn't use it so far, maybe I'll get one ( Someday)
    Rest all... DNME.
     

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  3. Starcommander
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Oct 7, 2021

    Starcommander , Oct 7, 2021 :
    I expect a better sync with all devices.
    In my opinion, buds pro has almost perfect sound signature and an option for slight tweaking will be icing on cake.
    What I really miss is absence of volume control. Being a user of OnePlus neckband, I miss this functionality a lot. TWS seems incomplete without volume gesture support.
     

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  4. g.srinivasa7
    Cupcake Oct 7, 2021


    #4
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  5. Iamhasannaqvi
    Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 7, 2021


    #5
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    suhantm likes this.
  7. YRJ
    The Lab - OnePlus 7T Reviewer; Community Hero 2020 Community Expert Oct 7, 2021

    YRJ , Oct 7, 2021 :
    Cannot agree more! The convenience that a neckband style brings is unparalleled. It's too bad that OnePlus might never make more of those :oops:

    The transition to TWS is inevitable but I'm still clinging on the the BWZ and I will continue to do so until it snaps due to my weight. (Ugh, stay at home hasn't done my belly any good)
     

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  8. Abdul Basith2
    Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 7, 2021


    #8
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  9. GuitarBart , via OnePlus 5 Midnight Black , Oct 7, 2021 :
    Very nice read. I always enjoy the audio threads here.
    In the beginning I thought I didn't need any wireless buds but now I own the Wireless Z (after the first gen wireless died within warranty), 2 pairs of buds Z and one pair of Buds. said:
    Still very curious to try the pro, but I'm waiting on a nice deal for them. Also curious to Z if OnePlus will implement more active noise cancelling in future budget releases 🙂
     

    #9
    suhantm likes this.
  10. Gamingtime1121
    Honeycomb Oct 7, 2021

    Gamingtime1121 , via OnePlus 9 , Oct 7, 2021 :
    Nice thread, my fav one is Oneplus buds pro black and i do really like Steve Harrington's as well. Oneplus came a long way with audio tech. As far as your questiob is concerned i haven't used Oneplus audio tech yet but i sure have my eyes set on Oneplus buds pro.
     

    #10
    R1635675718069 and suhantm like this.
  11. anunayC
    The Lab² Reviewer - Insta360 GO 2 Oct 8, 2021

    anunayC , Oct 8, 2021 :
    Obligatory sentence but - like always, well written I really love the intricate little details it's such a vibe 🤣!

    MAN YES! I need this, I somehow managed to my ear 1s, it's so hard to get it here I swear to God😂! Should be here next week. Mostly will not be experiencing Buds Pro but whatever! Eager to *hear* your thoughts about Ear 1s vs Buds Pro. And I'm so excited to test them myself : D

    Haha! True! I really wanna know the bts how the process is and even how the accessory testers were involved in this! (Not sure if you're allowed but yeah)
     

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  12. anunayC
    The Lab² Reviewer - Insta360 GO 2 Oct 8, 2021

    anunayC , Oct 8, 2021 :
    People in my college look at these and are like WTF are those they're SOO cool!! And a lot people even know Steven Harrington so it gets better! As an "Artist", I feel OnePlus really did a great job with these Buds Design Wise.

    @Daniel D. @dsmonteiro I would love to work with such artists for Special Editions! It would be great if you can get the community involved in these collaborations! Just for the experience! ;)
     

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  13. DileepMuvvala
    Honeycomb Oct 8, 2021


    #13
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  14. Santhosh_Ravi
    Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 8, 2021


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  15. manojl_94
    Gingerbread Oct 8, 2021


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  16. kushal__12
    Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 8, 2021


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  18. KaustubhNaik95
    Honeycomb Oct 8, 2021

    KaustubhNaik95 , via OnePlus 7T , Oct 8, 2021 :
    I would like to expect some more listening hours for OnePlus Buds Pro.

    Also I would wish to see more history of OnePlus device regarding Sound in phones from OP 1 to OP 9Pro
     

    #18
    suhantm likes this.
  19. Touhid789
    Cupcake Oct 8, 2021

    Touhid789 , via OnePlus 6 , Oct 8, 2021 :
    My device is OnePlus 6 but Bluetooth audio codec can't support on my wireless headset. My device are running on oxygen os 11.1.1.1
    It's very very disappointed for OnePlus lover 😐😐
     

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  20. KDKakwani
    Gingerbread Oct 8, 2021


    #20