Retailing at Rs 1,999 the Oppo Enco M31 Neckband comes with type-C charging, 12 hours of battery life, magnetic playback control, but what really got my eye was Bluetooth Hi-Fi. It’s one of the few neckbands that supports LDAC at this price.
So, now you wonder “Is LDAC really that glorious?” and more importantly “Should you buy the Oppo Enco M31?”. The short answer is yes and the long answer is – Sit back, grab some snacks, here’s a detailed review of the Oppo Enco M31 neckband.
Oppo Enco M31 Neckband Review
A Bluetooth audio device must ace 4 things – Build Quality (comfort included), Sound, Connectivity, and Call Quality. I’ll approach this review in the same way.
1. Build Quality
The topmost priority in any audio wearable is Build Quality & Comfort. Talking about the Oppo M31, the build is somewhere in the middle of cheap and premium. It’s built entirely out of plastic but the rubber coating on the wire and the neckband gives a bit of premium feel.
You have 3 buttons on the left side – Power, Volume Up, and Volume down. The Power button is multifunctional and does 3 things:
- Single Press: Play/Pause music, Accept/Reject Calls
- Double Press: Switch between bass mode and balanced mode
- Triple Press: Access Google Assistant or Siri
The buttons are entirely made out of plastic and aren’t clicky enough. The Volume Up button has a slightly raised dot which makes it easier to distinguish from the other 2 buttons. However, there’s nothing of that sort on the Volume Down button or Power button, and to this date, I accidentally hit the power button always.
Oppo Enco M31 is IP X5 water resistant.
The Oppo Enco M31 has a magnetic back which makes the buds snap back in place when not in use. This also power-offs the bud and they disconnect from your phone. This is a neat feature and sort of default on wireless neckband in this range. It works better than the Play/Pause button. Moreover, there’s no option to skip to the next or previous song which is a bummer. And in case, you are wondering you cannot use a third-party app like Button Mapper. It doesn’t work.
Coming down to the earbuds, similar to the entire neckband, they are also built out of plastic. The buds have a pill-shaped design and sit flush in your ears. These don’t pop-out like the usual Realme Neckband or One Plus Wireless Z. There’s no fins or rubberized finish for a good grip. But, surprisingly, they make a good seal in the ear and fit securely. I have been using them to listen to podcasts, audio-books during my long runs, and I had zero problems. I didn’t even have to adjust them during the run.
2. Sound Quality
This is the most exciting aspect of the earbuds and the sound quality is truly out of its league. The soundstage and stereo separation are so good that at times it’s comparable to the wired earphones. The instrument separation is really good. I was listening to “I am a hunter” from Gangs Of Wasseypur and the separation between the vocals, drums, and dhantal is pretty evident.
It’s been a long-time I have heard this level of clarity and stereo separation in a wireless audio device in a budget range.
Low, mids, and highs
Talking about the frequency response, I would say it has a more warm sound signature. If you like listening to hip-hop, or guitar covers, do try the bass mode (double-click the power button). It makes the guitar and beats in the song more lively. For everything else, stick to the balanced mode. The mids are good and the earbuds adapt well to the sound character.
The highs aren’t that great but that’s something to expect from a budget dynamic driver earphone. I was listening to “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky 3 which has a lot of cymbal in it. They mostly roll off right after you hear them. All in all, these are pretty versatile for most of the audio genre.
LDAC is the most hyped part of the Oppo Enco Wireless Buds. In case you don’t know, LDAC is a lossless Bluetooth audio codec. It can operate as high as 990 Kbps and this gives the Oppo buds an extended range of 20 Khz – 40 Khz. To give you a perspective, SBC allows a maximum transfer rate of 320 Kbps. Below is a graph to show you a comparison of maximum transfer rates of various Bluetooth codecs.
Now, in order to enjoy that ultimate Hi-Fi Bluetooth audio quality, you need a device that supports LDAC Bluetooth audio codec. Android devices running Android 8.0 and up supports LDAC, by default. However, iPhones don’t support LDAC. You also need music which is 960+ Kbps to stream at the highest bit rate.
I say offline because YouTube and Spotify stream normally around 196 Kbps with premium customers getting an option to stream at 320 Kbps max. In case you have a Tidal premium, you would get that 960 Kbps high audio quality, stick to that.
Gaming & Latency
If gaming is your priority, you shouldn’t be even thinking about Bluetooth earphones. But, for casual gaming, the Oppo ones do a sub-par job. I played a lot of GTA V (Story Mode) with these. The stereo separation is quite good and you would be able to distinguish gunshots and footsteps from either side. The volume is a bit on the lower side and you would always have to be around 80-90% volume. But, with real-time shooting games like PUBG or COD, it’s just horrible. There is enough latency and the whole experience is jarring.
In terms of Netflix and YouTube videos, you would be able to notice a slight latency, not as bad as gaming, but visible. I tried to measure the latency with the help of the Earbuds Delay Test Android app. It hovered around 250-300 ms which is too much. In a similar price range, you have the OnePlus Wireless Z that provides a low-latency gaming mode. It brings down the latency to 110 ms. So, that would be a much-preferred option for mobile gaming.
3. Call Quality
Most of the neckbands feature a 2 or 3 microphone array to perform hardware noise cancellation. However, the Oppo Enco M31 has a single microphone. So, it does software-based noise cancellation which isn’t that effective. To give you a perspective, below are microphone samples from my phone’s internal microphone and Oppo Enco M31 respectively.
Galaxy Note 9 Call Recording:
Oppo Enco M31 Call Recording:
It’s clearly visible that my phone’s dual microphone setup does a better job at canceling noise and making my voice more natural or human. Whereas the Oppo Enco M31 does some sort of processing and the audio sounds robotic. The call experience isn’t that bad but definitely not better than your mobile device.
4. Battery Life & Connectivity
Oppo promises 12 hours of continuous audio playback on AAC and 6-7 hours on LDAC. I wouldn’t complain about battery life because 10 minutes of charging can give you roughly 3-hours of LDAC playback and around 5-hours of non-LDAC playback.
It charges with any QC 3.0 or Type-C PD charger. You can get it from 0-100 in about 60 minutes. While it’s charging you would have a red subtle LED glowing near the power button. Once it’s fully charged, the LED turns green. But, I would like to point out that I had few problems while charging with a USB-C PD charger. At times, it wouldn’t charge and I had to flip over the USB-C cable to initiate charging.
Moreover, Oppo M31’s can switch between 2 paired devices at the same time. You just have to long-press the “Volume Up + Volume Down” button at the same time. I used it to switch between a Windows laptop and an Android device. It worked 7/10 times and the entire process takes a healthy 20-30 seconds. Not intuitive but manageable nonetheless.
5. Pricing & Competition
While I was using the device and bought it, it was priced around INR 1,999. But, at the time of writing this article, the Amazon listing shows INR 2, 499 which is a hefty price difference.
The OnePlus Wireless Z is priced at INR 1999 which is INR 500 cheaper. They provide much better call quality, 20-hour battery life, better overall build, and low-latency gaming mode. If you are looking for other options, there’s a previous recommended product – Realme Buds Wireless. It’s priced around 1,799, has the same magnetic playback control, and a metallic superior build.
Should you buy it?
Well, if audio quality is all that you care about, then even around the INR 2,499 price range, there’s no Bluetooth earphones offering LDAC or better sound quality. The choice is simply Oppo Enco M31. They offer great sound quality but an average build, call quality, and latency.
For everyone else, get the OnePlus Wireless Z. They offer better call quality, 20-hour battery life, quick device switch, and better build quality.
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