The Strauss & Wagner SW-TW401 is a TWS featuring a single 6mm dynamic driver, Bluetooth 5.0, and a standby time of 120 hours. It is priced at $59.95
Disclaimer: The Strauss & Wagner SW-TW401 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Strauss & Wagner for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about True Wireless Systems we have reviewed on Headfonics, click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
This is an entirely new TWS brand for us and we have had quite a few actually since we started our TWS story arc at the beginning of the year.
Strauss & Wagner hail from New York City and if you know your music then you will know their name is formed after two very famous 19th Century classical composers, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. Yup, the two Richards and both from Germany.
The SW-TW401 is their debut True Wireless System and while not as impressively named as some of the works fo the two Richards, it is priced well under $100 so imminently affordable for most of us.
A Realtek Bluetooth one chip solution is used in the Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401. The Realtek chips have taken a back seat over the Qualcomm chips however, they seem capable enough of competing.
The chip is capable of a 32-foot range according to the specifications using Bluetooth 5.0 and in a straight line. The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 in a straight line test gave me a range of about 28 feet which is average for TWS models with this same or similar chip. Of course, that was using a 5.0 transmission source.
The Realtek chips Bluetooth transmission operates at the usual 2.402 and 2.480Ghz ranges.
The list of profile support is rather short and basic. Only four are listed in the Strauss and Wagner specifications on their website and in their literature. HSP1.2 and HFP1.6 are available and so is A2DP1.3 and AVRCP1.6.
aptX and AAC profiles are preferred but at the price point that is nitpicking. You cannot expect LDAC at the asking price either. The available Codex will most likely keep your music to a 320kbps or below level and I think it holds back the drivers. A2DP profile can reach bitrates of up to 345kbps.
The Strauss and Wagner TW401 uses a single 6mm dynamic driver in each earbud. This driver is listed as having a frequency response of 20hz to 20khz. Most TWS units lack volume and these are no exception. They do play louder than some, however.
The 16Ω rating of the driver is usually an indicator of an efficient driver, but, the 90dbm efficiency rating is on the low side of efficiency. Or perhaps Strauss and Wagner mean a maximum total output of 90 decibels.
This section is added for a good reason because the Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 has no waterproof rating.
Strauss and Wagner warn that these are not made to withstand heavy sweating and do not recommend these for the gym, sports or fitness use or any use in where they might be exposed to water or moisture directly on their website.
They do recommend you look at their SPW301 sports earphones for that type of use so remember, do not get these wet. If you get them wet you might not be covered by the available one year warranty if they get damaged.
The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 have touch controls and they work very well with good enough sensitivity as to not trigger accidentally but stay highly functional. All the functions you need are there. Volume up and down, previous and next track, pause and play and shut down are there also.
There is also a touch control voice command with a press of two seconds and you could even boot pair by holding for three seconds. The touch controls here are fully featured and I cannot think of anything else I would want to do from the earbud touch control. The Strauss and Wagner TW-401 excel in this area.
The SW-TW401 case is rather small. It is made of plastic but seems very sturdy. The earbuds go into their corresponding left and right side which is a plus. For those people looking for a small TWS model then you should include these on your list of prospective candidates.
The case was measured and it gave us 2” ¾ x 1” ½ x 1” ¼ and although the small size it is still capable of holding the two earbuds and a 300mah battery comfortably. Strauss and Wagner list a 120 hour standby time and it takes one hour to fully charge at a rate of 500mAh or higher at 5 volts.
The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 earbuds are made of plastic. They are very light and comfortable. I could wear them for hours. The shape fits my ears well.
If there is one thing to nitpick at it would be the flanges and output tube shape which is not a common or a standard size. So, unfortunately, you cannot use any foam tips, 4.2mm, or 4.5mm tips.
The black shells are very smooth and non-irritating. They each have a 40mah battery which according to specifications gives you three hours of talk time and up to four hours of music playtime at 80% volume.
More playtime compared to Strauss and Wagner’s specifications was obtained. We got up to four and a half hours almost reaching five hours. It is not stellar battery performance but it seems Strauss and Wagner are conservative with their specifications in this area.
These are tricky to pair. The best way was after the initial pairing, power them off and power them both back on simultaneously and at that moment is when they paired. If you fail or go out of range then at times you will probably have to reset them with a procedure that is not listed in the user manual but rather it is only printed on their website.
The procedure involves 5 taps on the touch panel and then you have to put them back in their case and this procedure will reset them fully.
The built-in microphones perform rather well, especially in one particular area. These tend to suppress wind noise well. They probably have a good microphone wind filter built-in. The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 do not have ANC or CVC however they perform well enough without the need for any. Isolation is also pretty good.
The microphone works well for making phone calls and is at home in an urban and even in some noisy environments.
Unboxing and Accessories
The SW-TW401 box is small but well illustrated. It has all the specifications listed on the back. Inside the box, you will find a user manual, a short USB-C charging wire, and of course the charging case with the earbuds inside.
Note. If you get a set, remember to remove the tapes that cover the contacts on the earbuds before charging. It is also recommended to fully charge the case before using the set to maximize battery life.
SW-TW401 Sound Impressions
The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 has a heavy bass tilt. The midrange is in the middle and the highs are third in volume and quantity. Usually, TWS models have a higher emphasis in the midbass region and these are no exceptions but with a small twist.
The bass tilt is heaviest in the bottom octaves of the bass, unlike other TWS units that in general emphasize and boost the midbass. My routine customary tone generator test was done and it did not show any anomalies in frequencies and no shifting was detected so it is safe to say the drivers are balanced and well-matched.
No anomalies or noise were heard in the highs either but they did sharply roll off after 15khz.
The SW-TW401 bass is heaviest in the bottom octave. This TWS model has very prominent bass all the way to the midrange. There is some amount of bleed into the midrange but not much. This is because the highest output is in the lower region of the bass.
This tuning works well for Dance music and Hip Hop where the lower bass regions are mostly needed and somewhat essential. The bass has a medium amount of impact, and a decent tone. The tone generator test took these all the way down to 14hz audibly so the driver is very capable of deep bass.
Once you manage to tame the bass down a bit with an equalizer, which is almost necessary, the midrange comes out because it is usually masked by the stock sound signature bass and takes a second-row seat.
The midrange here is very soft and nonoffensive. The midrange never shouts or screams at you and always performs with this same smoothness in character. The midrange has a decent tone and some decent amount of detail but lacks presence.
The SW-TW401 high frequencies are very recessed and way too polite. The highs take a third-row seat. There is very little sparkle and shine. The highs are capable of reaching at least 15khz audibly running the tone generator test but are rarely heard while listening to music.
On the plus side, most TWS models I tested have a very noisy top end and these seem to have a much darker background with the absence of noise in the upper regions.
Soundstage and Imaging
The SW-TW401 soundstage is somewhat narrow and there is not too much depth either. On a positive note, one thing the SW-TW401 does well is instrument placement. Although the soundstage is narrow, however, they do positioning well.
Imaging is precise also, and as mentioned earlier, these drivers seem to be well-matched and these two qualities are probably attributed to that fact.
There is a good aspect of having a Codec set that works on a 345kbps rate. The bad aspect is that you will never get high bitrate playback.
Everything tends to constantly sound like a good quality MP3 file which to most is indistinguishable from higher quality FLAC files. This also gives them a permanent character no matter the source. This might be a plus for the average consumer.
The SW-TW401 can mask bad recordings and tend to be forgiving and sound similar regardless of source quality and recording quality.
These paired well with all my sources. They did run into trouble a few times when they fell out of range. They simply refused to pair up again and had to go through the five click reset method for them to work again.
Pamu Slide Mini
Here is a match between two small factor charging cases with earbuds that use 6mm dynamic drivers and their cost is also very similar. If you look at the charging cases they almost are identical in size. So then let us look at the differences in the earbuds and battery life.
The Pamu slide mini has excellent battery life lasting almost eight hours and gives you more playtime from each time you charge the earbuds.
The stem style earbuds do have better midrange but barely notable. The high frequencies are somewhat better on the Slide Mini audibly but I remember getting an awful noise with the tone generator test beyond 14khz. The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 did well in that test hitting beyond 15khz with the absence of noise plus it had a darker background.
The sub-bass is better on the SW-TW401 for sure. Another positive aspect of the TW401 is that they seem to have drivers that are better matched. In the end, they both have positive and negative traits and it comes down to battery life and bass response with better touch controls so you choose according to your needs and taste.
The Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 seem to be a competitive enough TWS earbud set to take a stake at this huge market. The low asking price for a set with very few flaws makes them attractive.
Although they seem to be cost-effective, there are very few negative claims that can be made of the SW-TW401. Only the typical flaws inherent with TWS technology until the technology breaks certain barriers in sound quality. Plus the off standard flanges. That is it.
The positive aspects of the Strauss and Wagner SW-TW401 are the deep bass if that is what you like, plus the small form factor of the case and earbuds that are light and comfortable. The touch controls are also a positive factor.
The positive aspects outweigh the negative aspects three to one here. At the asking price point, what more can you ask for?
SW-TW401 Technical Specifications
- Bluetooth Realtek, 5.0
- Profile Support HSP1.2, HFP1.6, A2DP1.3, AVRCP1.6
- Standby time about 120 hours
- Talk Time 3hrs/charge
- Music Play Time 3-4hrs/charge (@ 80% Volume)
- Case Charging Capacity 3x charge
- Charging Time ~1hr
- Transmission Distance ~32ft (10m)
- Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz
- Impedance 16Ω ± 15%
- TYP Sensitivity -90dbm
- Driver 6mm
- Charging input 500mAh/5V
- Headphone Battery 40mAh/3.7V
- Charging Battery 300mAh/3.7V
- Frequency Range 2.402 G – 2.480 G