There has been a bit of a rumble about how audiophile the TEVI tuning actually is. Even Lypertek has been quick to roll out the Harman Target Curve and compare it to the TEVI to show how close they have come. Notwithstanding the overly compensated FR, the measurements are actually very good and play out fairly accurately to my ear.
One important thing to note is the dynamic range of the aptX capable chipset and driver is excellent. It has none of that warm mushy fullness I tend to associate with a lot of aptX dynamic driver tunings. This is definitely not as sub-bass heavy as the TW5.0 from HELM or the MPOW M5.
What you do get is a slight low-end lift with a linear sub-bass to mid-bass curve drop, a very smooth lower-mids delivery and yes, a heightened vocal presence or forward upper mids from 1-3k. Yet, that lift is no way dominating which I really like. It has power and PRaT but it is not overly warmed up gloop with a huge decay tail. Nor does it dominate the lower-mids with too much bass bleed and richness.
Combine that with the most consistent treble I have heard yet on a TWS and you end up with a great level of bass/treble contrast without the loss of any timbral texture. That means there is enough body to instrumental and vocal notes to prevent it from sounding lean or hollow sounding.
In summary, a good harmonic balance from top to bottom with an emphasis on vocal delivery, coherent treble, and a punchy bassline. This is a very good all-rounder TWS.
The overall timbre is neutral to ever so slightly warm with a tight but still unmistakable dynamic driver texture. In the context of the TWS I have reviewed thus far it is the most accurate or the least colored of the lot. I can understand why audiophiles will be attracted to the TEVI performance.
What the TEVI does so well is delivering a credible harmonic balance. Pretty much every instrument sounds realistic except perhaps kick drums which lack a little bass fundamental.
Still, the TEVI is actually very EQ friendly. Lypertek’s own app EQ does a nice job of extracting even more bass out of that dynamic driver than the stock tuning allows for. If you are on HiBy’s app or DAP then MSEB will tweak even more warmth or treble zing if that is your preference.
Now, this is one heck of a staging performance from a TWS and for my money, the best we have heard thus far. It is not about the depth, however. The TEVI is not the most powerful with the TW5 and MPOW’s M5 showing more muscle and extension from their sub-bass tuning.
Rather it is the sense of space and the level of instrumental separation the TEVI can create. Vocal clarity and presence are also helped by being pushed forward, much like the EW1’s positioning.
By comparison, the HELM TW5.0 and MPOW M5 sound a little smeared and suffering from too much bass bleed and softness. The TEVI sounds tighter, faster and certainly cleaner. That helps with spatial cues that seem to be afforded more space or room to resonate in the TEVI soundstage.
I am not sure if the driver is technically more capable than the other aptX capable drivers but certainly, it is tuned to draw out a better sense of detail.
Despite the True Wireless Stereo Plus advantage, I found the pairing process to be quite similar to any TWS out there. It does seem the default one to connect first is the left driver, or at least that what was happening with my laptop BT connection. You can connect both drivers separately but it is not wholly necessary to sync other than ensure one driver is always connected to the source.
Aside from that pairing via the traditional route is pretty straight forward. Connecting via the TEVI app thereafter I had some teething issues. It does not always find the drivers, even when placed quite close to the source as advised. When it does connect sometimes the pairing gets dropped and you have to start again. I do realize the app is still beta status and when it works is really good, but that is when it works.
Stability & Distance
This was the one disappointing area of the TEVI performance and what prevents it from getting better scores on performance and features. Stability and distance were not great at 10-15m marker compared to the M5. Definitely the performance was not as strong as the HELM TW5.0.
The HELM TWS has some extended antenna tech that is a difference-maker for this test and it had no issues far beyond the TEVI. I found the TEVI could get a signal at about the same distance as the MNPOW M5 but the stability was not what I had hoped for.
This was tested with a Samsung Note 9 and a Huawei P20 so not exactly weak sauce DAP BT chipsets. The iBasso DX160 and HiBy R5 DAPs did far worse. Up close, the TEVI had no issues with rock-solid stability so I would not worry about weird drop out issues with phones in bags.
Paired with a Windows 10 PC the latency on the TEVI is as good as the HELM TW5.0 and lower than the MPOW M5 and the EW1.
With the M5 and EW1, we had to push the audio forward by 0.2s to properly sync with the video. However, testing a 448 Kbps AC3 5.1 encoded movie proved to require no real latency adjustment for the TEVI.
If I was being super picky I would perhaps throw on 0.1s hastened on VLC for the TEVI, the same as HELM TW5.0 but any sync issues are not that obvious without it.
HELM True Wireless 5.0
On paper, the HELM is the strongest competitor to the TEVI with BT5.0, aptX, and excellent 6-8 hour battery life. Both also have a physical control button system with single dynamic driver configurations.
However, it lacks True Wireless Stereo Plus and any sort of app integration. Of course, most music apps have their own DSP and EQ these days so that might be slightly moot. However, the TEVI app is more complex than that with control configuration options, language, and a battery status checker.
The TW5.0 also suffers from being stuck with a super large cradle with a lower battery life of 30-40 hours compared to the 70-hour range of the TEVI and micro USB as opposed to USB-C.
Both TW5.0 drivers are also much bigger though I think the design is more striking than the TEVI’s black jellybean look. Do not let the size fool you though, the TW5.0 is excellent for comfort and seals better than the TEVI. I will give props to the TEVI charging case cloth finish which is more appealing than the HELM’s fiddly transparent case lid.
The TW5.0 pairing is slightly more OCD on which to pair first though the Lypertek seems to also prefer the right over the left for initial pairing.
The big performance difference between these two is stability over distance. The TW5.0 is the better performer the great the distance with its better antenna inside. The TEVI was a bit disappointing compared to the TW5.0 with some dropout and instability long before the TW5.0 started to sound unstable. This was tested with both the P20 and Note 9 smartphones and aptX.
Latency on the TEVI was the same as the TW5.0 at 0.1s hastened on VLC which is pretty good but not perfect.
The TEVI seems easier to drive if there is such a thing in Bluetooth audio. In both smartphones, I could drop the volume to a lower level on the TEVI and still, volume match the TW5.0. The HELM sounded a little soft and distant at the same volume as the TEVI.
In terms of frequency bias, the TW5.0 has more midbass warmth and bloom and a slightly heavier sub-bass presence. However, it sounds a little smeared and slow and not as well balanced as the TEVI low-end. You can soup up the TEVI low-end with DSP quite easily also and get a nice bit of presence there and it will not sound as soft.
The TEVI treble is cleaner, further forward and better extended than the HELM TW5.0 tuning. The TW5.0 is more relaxed sounding softer and wetter. It produces a fairly smooth but slightly dark timbre to its presentation. Whereas the TEVI is cleaner, better balanced, and more accurate sounding.
Mids on both exhibit a bit of vocal forwardness but the additional headroom on the TEVI allows its vocals to breathe better. Instrumental separation also comes across as cleaner and clearer on the TEVI.
Ok, so I have spoken about the similarities between the TEVI and M5 a lot and to be fair they seem born from the same ‘peapod’. But to say they are the same is far from the mark. You can tell the TEVI is a labor of love where the M5 is but an asset, a good one but not as good as the TEVI.
Let start with the similarities. The two TWS systems use a single dynamic driver, BT5.0, and can decode up to aptX and AAC. cVc 8.0 noise suppression technology is also hard-baked into their Qualcomm chipset SoCs. You will also find both also have IPX7 waterproofing certification.
Both systems have similar design cues though the cutting on the TEVI is to a slightly higher standard. Both have the same cradle, however, the TEVI exterior differs with its grey nylon branded exterior as opposed to the crinkled leather of the MPOW M5. The TEVI’s USB-C is a big advantage compared to the M5’s micro USB port.
The final key difference is the use of TrueWireless Stereo Plus on the TEVI whereas the M5 has no Plus technology so it deploys a stricter Master/Slave relationship. That does mean a lower battery life by a few hours on the drivers and only half the cradle capacity at 35 hours compared to 70 on the TEVI cradle.
The M5 just shades it for a little in terms of stability over distance compared to the TEVI. I get the same distance with both, either walled or straight line at about 10-15m and 1 wall. Both crap out with 2 walls in the way. However, with 1 wall at 10m, the M5 does not break up as much as the TEVI.
Near field stability on the M5 was not as strong as the TEVI. This is partly due to the 3-4 BT devices I had lying around that interfered with the left-right connection stability. The TEVI does not suffer from that.
Pairing on both is relatively straight forward. You just have to bear in mind that you can double-tap either left or right on the TEVI and pair whereas the M5 uses non-Plus tech so you need both to pair with each other.
Latency for video and audio on the TEVI is better at 0.1s hastened on VLC with movie files compared to 0.2s on the M5.
The M5 is much more v-shaped than the TEVI. It has more sub-bass elevation, presence and quantity whereas the TEVI is comparatively more controlled. Not by a huge amount, I still rate the TEVI low-end as fairly potent, just with a better balance.
The M5 has huge bass as a result but sounds more disconnected and thinner in the mids because of the enhanced dip. The TEVI sounded more engaging in the mids with better separation and more forward vocals.
Much of that is due to the treble tuning which has a bit more upper treble lift than the M5. The M5 seems to fade away a bit more with less of a 1-3k rise so its not as clear sounding in the mids. The timbre is a shade softer and warmer also with that enhanced bass response.
I would pick the M5 if you want an all-out bass attack with EDM or simpler mids composition with modern R’n’B. The TEVI’s cleaner mids, tighter bass, and cleaner treble is the better all-rounder.
Jade Audio EW1
$32.99 – US $62.48
The EW1 is FiiO’s first TWS offering under their Jade Audio sub-brand. Price varies a bit but sometimes as low as $33 on Amazon. It has plenty of competing features for that price also including touch controls, aptX, BT5.0 capability and cVc 8.0 noise suppression. The IPX rating is better on the TEVI which is a 7 compared to just IPX5 on the EW1. The TEVI should do a better job protecting against ‘gym juice’.
The form factor of the single dynamic driver EW1 driver is quite a bit smaller than the TEVI equivalents. That size difference also includes the diminutive EW1 cradle which is more pocketable than the TEVI case.
The TEVI case is more dashing in its looks, however, and built to a higher standard. The cradle of the EW1 is also stuck with micro USB compared to the TEVI’s USB-C and has a vastly inferior battery capacity of just 21 hours. The EW1 drivers do better at 6-7 hours though that dips on aptX and higher volumes.
The EW1 does not use TrueWireless Stereo Plus so its a stricter master/slave driver to driver connection compared to the Plus tech of the TEVI. Finally, no app for the EW1. Not a deal-breaker but a nice value add to the TEVI package.
Pairing with the EW1 was a no go with the Note 9 – still! I have no clue why which means the TEVI gets an easy win for pairing compatibility. Both will pair with a Hauwei P20 no issues but bear in mind the EW1 is using a master-slave left-right relationship so a slightly less flexible process.
Stability over distance is slightly better with the EW1. Much like the M5, the EW1 will go toe to toe with the TEVI for distance.
With aptX, you get an easy 10-15m with one wall before complete loss of signal with both TWS. That corner of the kitchen I spoke about on the HELM TW5.0 review is out of bounds for both of these units. However, the TEVI still has more drop-out than the EW1 at the max distance which is disappointing.
Latency for audio and video sync using a Windows 10 VLC player is better on the TEVI at 0.1s hastened compared to 0.2s with the EW1. You have to suspect the Plus technology for pairing is playing a role here in the lower latency of the TEVI as it is far less noticeable than the EW1.
The EW1 has a similarly controlled low-end and a more open and vocal forward midrange. However, a few differences. The first is the EW1 treble It sounds edgy and strident with an unnatural timbre that upsets the harmonic balance of both percussion and vocals. Less so for lower-mids instruments where the mid-bass warmth of the EW1 corrects that imbalance somewhat.
The TEVI treble is forward but not as spikey with a little more elevation at 7-10k. There is also less of a huge upper mids lift to amplify any percussion upper harmonic order so it never gets to a grating level. The EW1 percussion timbre is just a shade too hot in comparison and tends to drown out vocals when it gets busy.
The TEVI has more low-end thump or power with better sub-bass extension compared to the EW1. The EW1 has some warmth in the mid-bass but not quite the same PRaT as the TEVI.
Timbre on the TEVI instrumental is slightly warmer, less edgy and more rounded with the better body. The EW1 is leaner, cleaner with more sparkle but the less forgiving of the two.
Ok, I get why this might be an audiophile’s choice. The dynamic range is decent and the tuning is very balanced with a superb level of instrumental separation. The mids sound alive on the TEVI and there is just enough PRaT to make this a very good all-rounder TWS for almost any genre.
Do you see? It just takes a bit of sensible tuning expertise to turn these little wireless wonders into something an audiophile might pick and use. Heck, enjoy would be a more relevant term. I was initially quite worried given the physical similarities to the MPOW M5 that the TEVI would be much the same also. Boy, was I wrong.
Just a shame though on the stability and performance over 10m of distance which is its Achilles heel. In all honesty, I don’t really have a use case for BT playback that far away but worth mentioning.
I tend to find BT stability with my phone in the pocket or bag the number 1 priority. And the TEVI does very well when near to the source. There is less interference from any maelstrom of electronic devices close to hand.
Overall, an easy to recommend good sounding TWS, even for audiophile tastes.