The budget wireless headsets market is very saturated thanks to numerous Chinese manufacturers producing hundreds of headphone modifications, often with their advantages and exciting features. And, of course, with several nuances and compromises that are inevitable for inexpensive devices. There have always been and will be in this segment, and their leaders with the most acceptable price-quality ratio.
Some time ago, on the first lines of the “budget top,” several models of Xiaomi and friendly companies at once – particularly the extremely popular Redmi AirDots, with which many compare the heroine of today’s testing – the Realme Buds Q headset. And the latter wins in this comparison due to several “chips”, which we will talk about in detail below, but we will list for now.
First, José Levy has collaborated with the Hermes fashion house and was also responsible for design at Cacharel, Nina Ricci, Holland & Holland, and Ungaro. He was invited as the art director of the newly formed Realme Design Studio – he has an excellent track record. One of the first projects implemented at the new location was the new Realme Buds Q design.
The model tested today is slightly more compact than AirDots, and even weighs very little, but less – 3.6 versus 4 g. Simultaneously, the Realme headphones house a speaker with a diameter of 10 mm, while the Redmi product has only 7.2 mm. Of the exciting features, it is also worth noting the ability to customize control through the application and a special game mode with a delay of 119 milliseconds.
|Declared frequency range||20 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Speaker size||∅10 mm|
|Codec support||SBC, AAC|
|Headphone battery life||up to 4.5 hours|
|Autonomy taking into account charging from the case||up to 20 hours|
|Case dimensions||60 × 45 × 30 mm|
|Earphone dimensions||20 x 18 x 23 mm|
|Weight of one earphone||3.6 g|
|Case weight||28.2 g|
Packaging and equipment
The headset is delivered in a bright yellow box made of medium density cardboard, which has the manufacturer’s logo, images of the device, and brief information. Inside is another box with a built-in plastic holder for a case with headphones.
The package includes headphones in a case, a pair of replaceable ear pads, a 15 cm USB-Micro-USB cable for charging, and a quick guide.
Design and construction
There are three color options for the headset – black, yellow and white. We had the first one for testing.
José Levi spent his youth on Normandy’s shores, where he loved to walk by the sea and collect smooth rounded stones, as the very picturesque description in the marketing materials for the headset says. They became the prototype for the design of both the case and the headphones. The upper part of the case has a not too conspicuous logo and does not violate the integrity of the design.
The front panel has a small battery status LED that glows red during charging and green after charging.
The case is made of matte plastic, which looks good and is resistant to dirt. To open the cover, a notable gap is provided on the front of the case.
The case is compact, the top and bottom surfaces are flat – it’s quite convenient to carry it in your pocket. In profile, it looks even more like a sea pebble.
On the back of the case is a Micro-USB port for charging. And, of course, even taking into account the low price of the headset, I would very much like to see USB Type C in its place.
The lid opens with a somewhat perceptible but quite pleasant effort. A magnet holds it; there is also a fixation in the open position. The assembly is excellent – no backlashes were noticed.
Inside the headphone slots are spring-loaded charging contacts. On the inside of the hinge, there is brief information about the device.
The headphones are well held in place by magnets. When walking, the case does not make a sound, but a rather audible knock still appears inside if you specifically shake it. There are no problems with removing the headphones – hook the upper part of their case with your finger closer to the lid of the case and pull it slightly towards you.
The earbuds also have a rounded shape while being very compact and lightweight – less than not only the already mentioned Redmi AirDots, but also Diifa Smallest WS-T2, which until recently were considered the most compact wireless earbuds in the world.
The exterior of the case is touch-sensitive, highlighted by a glossy logo patch. There is a hole under it, most likely serving to compensate for the headphones’ pressure when the speaker is working.
We see another compensation hole, contacts for charging, and designations of the right and left headphones on the inside of the case.
The seams between the body parts are quite noticeable, but they are not felt to the touch and do not affect the wearing comfort.
The sound guide is located slightly at an angle. The inner part of the earbuds’ profile has an ergonomic shape and ensures close contact with the auricle bowl.
When viewed from the side, a relatively long “nose” of the sound guide is visible, due to which it plunges relatively deep into the ear canal.
On the side face facing down, you can see another hole – most likely, behind it is a microphone for voice communication.
The ear cushions are removable, they are held securely in their places, but they can be removed without unnecessary difficulties. The opening of the sound guide is covered with a protective mesh.
The quality of the ear pads is good. A bright yellow core adds a bit of originality to their appearance.
The Realme Buds Q sound source is connected in a standard way. After removing it from the case, they try several seconds to connect to an already “familiar” gadget. If they do not find it, they activate pairing mode.
The multipoint headset does not support, which is quite familiar for a budget device. Having connected it to a PC running Windows 10, using the Bluetooth Tweaker utility, we got a complete list of supported codecs and their modes. In addition to the basic SBC, there is a slightly more “advanced” AAC.
As the manufacturer writes in the materials devoted to the headset, the R1Q processor built into it supports the technology of two-channel data transmission in real-time, which allows each headphone to be connected to the playing device independently of each other. Indeed, it is possible to remove any of the headphones in the case, continuing to use the remaining mono mode – without any interruptions in sound and pauses for reconnection.
A game mode has also been announced, which reduces the latency in signal transmission to 119ms. During testing, even without its activation, the “asynchronous” sound was not observed either while watching a video or playing simple games. I had to install several games that are very demanding on the smartphone’s resources, in some of which the delay was already felt quite strongly. Activation of the particular mode got rid of them in all cases except one. But a single mistake can be attributed to the features of the application itself. In general, the function turned out to be very interesting.
What was a little upsetting was the stability of the connection. Indoors, of course, no problem. But in the open air, sound “stuttering” happens quite often. This happens most often in places with substantial radio interference, which are well known to us from tests of other devices – in them, one or another problem appears in most wireless headsets. It’s just that Realme Buds Q has them a little more pronounced, appear earlier, and last longer.
Application and Software
As mentioned above, the device connected to the headset can be controlled using the touch panels outside of the headphone case. To avoid accidental triggering, a single press is not tied to any actions. The solution, of course, is radical. But effective.
Double and triple touches allow you to answer a call and scroll through tracks in the player, but there is no way to adjust the volume level. The quality of the sensor is average – you will have to get used to it, and even after a couple of days of active use, it periodically fails to perform the desired action the first time. But a budget headset can be forgiven for that.
In the illustration above, the item “Delayed press – delayed press” looks a little strange. It happened so because, by default, this type of pressing is not tied to anything but can be configured using the Realme Link App, which we will now talk about. It exists for devices running Android and iOS. We will consider the first option. We download, install, and optionally give specific permissions. You won’t be able to use the software without registration – you have to create an account. This can be done using a phone number or email address. Both options work quite correctly.
There are not so many possibilities for the application. You can see each of the headphones’ charging level, turn on the game mode, and, most importantly, configure the reaction to all supported types of touches. In particular, “hang up” on one of them a call to the voice assistant, with the help of which you can then do many useful things – in particular, change the volume.
As mentioned several times above, the headphones are very lightweight and compact. They are practically not felt in the ears, but at the same time, they sit exceptionally securely. Fitting comfort is on par with the best models tested, and not just from the budget segment. They stayed in their place after jumping, twisting, strength exercises, not to mention running. IPX4 water protection is also there – splashes of rain and drops of sweat of Realme Buds Q are not scary. In general, they are entirely suitable for sports and fitness.
According to the manufacturer, the headphones can work up to 4.5 hours of music playback from a single battery charge. Simultaneously, the specifications honestly say that they do it at 50 percent of the volume, for which a different respect. But here, it is essential to note that the headphone volume reserve is hefty. Half of it is enough even when listening to music on the street.
Accordingly, the declared level of autonomy is quite achievable in everyday use. The case can recharge the headphones 4 more times, and even with a noticeable margin. As a result, we have about 18 hours of battery life for sure. The specifications indicate 20 hours, which also do not seem unattainable – if you do not abuse voice communication and keep the volume at an average level, you can clearly “squeeze” more. The fully discharged case is charged for about 1.5 hours. The headphones in it are a little faster.
Microphone performance for voice communication is average and typical for budget fully wireless headsets. It is easy to answer a call and talk comfortably for a few minutes, but it is better to choose a specialized device for long conversations. It makes sense to choose a place for conversation that is not the noisiest. Otherwise, the interlocutor will not be very comfortable with you. There are no questions about the quality of voice transmission in a quiet room – our “test interlocutors” noted its quite intelligible and natural sound.
Sound and Frequency Response Measurements
Despite the small dimensions of the headphones, they have a large dynamic emitter with a diameter of 10 mm for this form factor. The description of which the manufacturer uses the term Bass Boost – that is, bass enhancement. The low-frequency range’s emphasis is so pronounced that the middle frequencies are somewhat lost against its background, especially their upper part. For electronic music and hip-hop, this can even be seen as an exciting feature. But listening to jazz vocals against the background of the rolls of an unnecessarily brought forward contrabass is no longer very interesting.
At the same time, the HF register is quite “sonorous” – fans of the bright sound of hi-hats and cymbals should like it. Sometimes, the notorious “sand” is heard in it, but this problem is not expressed very strongly and is well captured only in some compositions. In general, the sound is more adapted for any activity: the forced bass sets the rhythm well, and the slightly emphasized highs add dynamics. Let’s see how it all looks on the frequency response graph.
We draw our readers’ attention to the fact that the frequency response graphs are presented solely as an illustration to demonstrate the main features of the sound of the tested headphones. It would help if you did not conclude them about the quality of a particular model. Each listener’s experience depends on many factors, from the hearing organs’ structure to the ear pads used.
The frequency response graph in the illustration above is shown against the IDF’s background (IEM diffuse-field compensation) curve provided by the manufacturer of the stand used. Its task is to help compensate for resonance phenomena in the simulated auditory canal and the features of the equipment used, creating a “sound profile” that most accurately illustrates how the listener perceives the headphones’ sound. It can be seen as a device-specific analog of the so-called “Harman curve” created by the Harman International team led by Dr. Sean Olive. Let’s compensate for the resulting frequency response graph by the IDF curve.
In this form, the graph fully illustrates all of the above: the accent on low frequencies is visible, as well as a reasonably thoroughly “failed” upper-middle. And finally, let’s see how the AFC is affected by the inclusion of the “game mode.” It does not affect – the graphs coincided almost perfectly. At the same time, there are still subjective differences. The sound loses some of the detail. But it is difficult to call them critical, especially considering the presence of much more prominent features in the headset’s sound.
Conclusion: Should you buy Realme Buds Q?
Any inexpensive headset has its own set of drawbacks, for which the manufacturers are forced to reduce the cost. Today’s review begins with the stability of the connection with the source, which is slightly worse than average. And it ends not with the most “responsive” sensors. At the same time, all the controversial points are expressed precisely to the extent that they do not become an unambiguous minus of the headset, because of which I would not like to recommend it for use. But the main thing is that they are balanced by several exciting features – from compactness, lightweight and remarkable design to quite impressive autonomy by the standards of this form factor.
Separately, it is worth mentioning a very reliable and comfortable fit – in this parameter, Buds Q can compete with headsets several times more expensive. Again, the sound, albeit not the most “even,” is suitable for various activities and everyday use and will delight fans of forced bass. In general, for its price, the device offers significantly more than many of the competitors, which promises him considerable success – the extremely successful start of sales confirms this assumption.
Any inexpensive headset has its own set of drawbacks, for which the manufacturers are forced to reduce the cost. Today's review begins with the stability of the connection with the source, which is slightly worse than average. And it ends not with the most "responsive" sensors. At the same time, all the controversial points are expressed precisely to the extent that they do not become an unambiguous minus of the headset, because of which I would not like to recommend it for use. But the main thing is that they are balanced by several exciting features - from compactness, lightweight and remarkable design to quite impressive autonomy by the standards of this form factor. Separately, it is worth mentioning a very reliable and comfortable fit - in this parameter, Buds Q can compete with headsets several times more expensive. Again, the sound, albeit not the most "even," is suitable for various activities and everyday use and will delight fans of forced bass. In general, for its price, the device offers significantly more than many of the competitors, which promises him considerable success - the extremely successful start of sales confirms this assumption.
- Elegant Design
- Decent Price