Chinese companies are really coming up with interesting takes on tried and true technology. A true wireless pair of Bluetooth earbuds with replaceable batteries? Who woulda thunk?
Syllable D9x Review
I’ve been following the Bluetooth earbud market very closely and while many companies are busy refining their true wireless Bluetooth technologies (like Jaybird with their new Runs), Syllable is busy innovating. As such, they’ve come up with a rather ingenious yet simple way to overcome the battery life dilemma, replaceable batteries. That being said, Syllable’s innovation comes at the cost of refinement which does show in a couple of rough spots, nevertheless not enough to mar an excellent and truly innovative product.
Syllable D9x Specifications
|HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP
|20 feet (6 meters)
|5.50 x 1.50 x 2.50 cm
|13.50 x 9.00 x 5.50 cm
Big thanks to Gearbest for providing this review unit.
Syllable D9x Hardware
Although I praised Syllable quite highly in the introduction, the first thing I see already irks me a little. The earbuds come in a carrying pouch that contains the earbuds, some accessories, and a cigarette lighter case with four batteries inside. I would have much preferred a single cigarette lighter case that was able to hold the batteries as well as the earbuds themselves. Nonetheless, the pouch and case are of decent quality and don’t disappoint.Snap the battery into the earbud and the earbud automatically powers on. The magnets are strong enough that you can attach the battery without even looking, leaving them in your ear. The left earbud is the main earbud, and the right one (slave) automatically pairs to the left when powered on, no need for shenanigans.My first instinct was to worry that the magnetic batteries would fall out if you bumped it, but these magnets are strong. Nothing short of yanking it out or a hard faceplant into concrete would completely disconnect the battery from the earbud, and even then, a faceplant might not be enough to disconnect them.However, there is a very annoying side effect, if you accidentally push them sideways, they won’t fall out completely but that will be enough to disconnect the earbud from power, causing your earbud to power down before powering back up when it sits properly in the slot again.
Tolerances aren’t as tight as I would like them to be, you can see that the battery pack doesn’t slot perfectly into the magnetic holder, nonetheless it still works well.
Syllable D9x Battery Life
Because there are four magnetic batteries in total, its easy to get all day battery life with these earbuds. Yank the dead one out and put a new one in. Place the dead one in the case and it will charge, taking about 30-40 minutes to fully charge. You can charge the battery chips and charge the case at the same time (which takes about 2 hours to fully charge), so you could listen to music forever if you so desired. The battery case can charge each chip about three times before needing a charge.I was given information by a source who mentioned that the earbud itself had a very small battery inside that could keep operating for 10 seconds while you switched batteries, which would provide you seamless, infinite use. However, it seems like that source was wrong, these earbuds contain no batteries whatsoever, meaning that every time you change batteries, the earbuds will shut off and turn back on, definitely not a seamless experience. I hope that Syllable is able to address this issue in the future.
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Syllable D9x Connectivity
Connecting the earbuds to your phone is supremely easy, just snap a battery in to turn the earbud on, and look for the Syllable D9x in your bluetooth menu. If you want to pair these to a second device, you need to press and hold the single button on both earbuds to enter connection mode.I did experience a couple of dropped connections during playback, which would result in the audio cutting in and out. However, Syllable has wisely caused the audio to fade out if disconnected and to fade back in when connected. I have a love/hate relationship with this fade in/out feature. Its great for music, it doesn’t jar you out of a reverie, however its horrible for podcasts and movies (or anything with speech). Because the fade out/fade in transition takes about 1-2 seconds, you lose an extra 2 seconds of listening time compared to a headset with no fading, which results in a rather large gap where you have no idea what was being said.
Bluetooth range is about 20 feet (6m) with no obstacles in the way, and about 10 feet (3m) if you have lots of walls and doors inbetween.The single physical clicky button serves multiple functions, long press for 5 seconds to turn it off, single tap to pause and play, and double tap to skip songs. If someone is calling you, one click receives the call, another click after that hangs up, and a double click rejects the call. It works well, however the click of the physical button when depressed can be fairly loud and annoying.
Syllable D9x Audio Quality
Audio quality here is average. Its slightly better than my previous Syllable D900 Mini true wireless earbuds, but they weren’t anything to write home about either. I would say that these earbuds match regular $25 earbuds in terms of treble output, beat them in terms of clarity, but fall behind with bass. They are definitely worse quality than the Airpods, Jaybird Runs, and the Bragi Dash also.In fact, they are outperformed by the older D900 Minis in terms of bass output also.
That being said, the audio here is good enough for the regular person looking to make the transition to true wireless earbuds, as they won’t find exceptional sound, merely acceptable sound.
Syllable D9x Verdict
Syllable has made an excellent true wireless earbud. It has somewhat solved the battery issue that plagues many wireless earbuds, giving what is essentially around 8 hours of battery life with one caveat, swapping the batteries will require a few seconds of powering off and back on. Plugging the case into a USB outlet will provide you with essentially infinite battery life, something truly awesome. However, for true wireless earbuds, these things are not cheap. Starting at $80USD, you could buy lower end earbuds without replaceable batteries for as low as $15USD, a positive steal. The older versions of Syllable’s wireless earbuds such as the D900, D900s, and D900 Mini range from $30-$50, significantly cheaper than this while providing similar audio quality but poorer battery life.
However, if you compare these to expensive options such as the Bragi Dash Pro, Jaybird Runs, and Apple Airpods, $80 is a small price to pay for a good pair of true wireless earbuds.
Update, these earbuds are on sale for $60, and at that price I do truly recommend them. Link down below.
Infinite battery life