These Budget-Friendly Earbuds May Not Impress, But They Still Get The Job Done


WFH arrangements and virtual meetings have provoked my frustration with the quality of my current earbuds’ microphone pickup.
I’ve been using Sudio Elva for the past few months, and while I’ve enjoyed them, I find that I have to speak very loudly for my colleagues to hear me in virtual meetings or calls.
So, when the Sudio Nio arrived at my doorstep, I was pretty excited to test it, mainly because the brand claims it has adaptive dual microphone technology.
Sudio Nio is the company’s newest true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds, with the last ones being Ett . The Sudio Ett and Elva will be the pairs I’ll be using as a point of comparison in this piece.
The earbuds look similar to the AirPods, aside from the removable silicon wingtips that wrap around the heads.
We got our hands on all 4 colours the Sudio Nio comes in: black, white, green, and sand.
The case is simple and resembles the Ett. However, there’s only a single LED battery indicator instead of the previous 4.
It shines white if the case has over 25% battery and orange when it’s low. The same battery indicator can be found on each of the earbuds. On the right of the case, there’s a USB-C port for charging, while its bottom has a factory reset button.
Sudio boasts 5.5 hours of playtime from a 1.5-hour charge, and 20 hours for a full charge. The Bluetooth pairing was straightforward and it’s the only pair of earbuds I’ve tried that have ever connected to my devices instantly.
The plastic case feels solid and satisfying to flip open and close one-handed, although getting the earbuds out of the case is a little difficult since they’re slippery and curved.
But that’s a quick fix when its wingtips are attached, as the silicon provides better grip. The wingtips come in 4 sizes to fit different ears and they’re not the regular type of wingtips either.
Most earbuds have wingtips that hook around the concha cymba (Google it and you’ll know) of your ear which allows the earbuds to sit more securely. Nio’s wingtips have a simpler mould that fits snugly into the cavum.
I believe that’s meant to mitigate the otherwise “loose” fit some might feel with these types of earbuds that don’t fit in-ear. I actually prefer this shape as they’re more comfortable for me to wear for long hours.
The silicon tips actually made it more secure while working out too. Never once did I feel like the Nio would slip out of my ears while jumping around doing aerobics. With an IPX4 rating, it’s also splash, rain, and sweat-proof which made it suitable for my workouts.
However, as they don’t slot inside the ear canals, they come with some sacrifices in the audio experience.
To put it simply, it was a mess. With the wingtips on, its bass sounded muddy and muffled as if the music was playing behind a glass wall. Its trebles and highs were clear, albeit metallic.
Bear in mind that my music taste mostly consists of pop and musicals, so I’m mostly focused on vocals here.
All that changed when I took the wingtips off. Its bass sounded much fuller, louder, even. Mid-tones and trebles were better balanced. The overall listening experience became much warmer.
In terms of how it fares against the Ett and Elva, I would say it’s pretty similar. But because of the Nio’s shape that lets it sit just outside your ear canal, there are no noise-cancelling capabilities.
You can, of course, adjust the volume of your music to block out more noises with the Nio. And this can all be done with the earbuds’ touch controls:
The Nio has good touch sensitivity and I was able to control my music easily. However, it might be a little too sensitive as it pauses my music whenever I’d adjust the earbuds.
In terms of its performance with calls, I was underwhelmed. The Sudio Nio claims to have “adaptive dual-microphone technology that filters out unwanted background noises while you’re on a call.”
I did not find that it was the case as I could hear everything going on around me. If this filter is meant for my colleagues on the other end of the call though, they shared that they could still hear the background noises from my end too.
Despite that, the sound quality of the call was rather decent and I sounded clear on their end as well. Though still a bit muffled, the pickup was much better than the Elva.
Unsurprisingly, I’ll be replacing my frequent usage of the Elva with the Nio from now on. For one, it’s more comfortable in my ears and fits into my bag and tiny lady pockets hassle-free.
I do find it odd that the Nio comes without a noise-cancelling function, especially when most audio tech seems to be heading in that direction.
Though, I honestly prefer that this pair comes without. While blocking out surrounding noises enhances my focus, it’s embarrassing to be oblivious to those yelling my name across the room.
Hence, it’s also suited for those who want to be more attentive to their surroundings. For example, a parent who needs to focus on work while being able to hear their kids when they call.
Overall, the biggest flaw of the Nio to me is its Bluetooth range. Though Sudio claims it can cover up to 10 metres, whenever I close a door behind me, my connection is dropped immediately.
As Sudio is positioning the Nio as its “earphones for the people,” it’s priced at RM359, a whole half-price cheaper than the Ett at RM699 when they were released.
That could be one reason why it lacks a few features from the Elva and Ett, but if we’re talking budget-friendly earbuds, these are a decent contender.
VP Verdict  is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.
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