Zit Seng's Blog

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Sudio Elva Review

Neckband-style wireless earphones may seem “old”, but some people may prefer them over truly wireless ones. Swedish earphones manufacturer thinks there’s still a market, and will soon launch their new Elva neckband-style wireless earphones designed for travellers.

What does it mean for earphones to be designed for travellers? First, the Elva has active noise cancellation (ANC), which is probably not unexpected. More interesting, though, is that it comes with a flight adapter bundled. You know, those dual-prong plugs that airlines like to use instead of the regular 3.5 mm plugs? This flight adapter is the Flyg travel audio transmitter adapter which takes audio from an airline audio socket and transmits using Bluetooth to a Bluetooth earphone like the Elva. More about this later.

The Sudio Elva features a minimalistic Scandinavian design. The neckband is semi-rigid, and it is designed to hang over your neck, weighed down by two elliptical cylinders at the end, from which wires rise up into the earbuds. The neckband is mostly covered in silicon material, except for some accents on cylinder.

The elliptical cylinders are quite interesting, particularly the end with the 3-button controls. You can pull it apart to reveal a USB Type-C plug. This is how the Sudio Elva is charged. I was almost quite happy to see this Type-C plug since it would mean charging the Elva would be extremely convenient. Unfortunately, it did not charge with any USB Type-C ports I have (dedicated USB charger, power bank with low-current charging support, Dell dock, PC’s USB port, etc).

The Type-A to Female Type-C cable included in the box, which is meant for charging, works as expected. I don’t know, but if a proprietary cable is still required, the use of Type-C doesn’t seem to be helpful. Maybe Sudio has some future plans for it. I’ve reached out for their input.

A single LED on the other side of the buttons indicate charging and Bluetooth pairing status. There’s no light if the Elva is simply “on”, which is good, since I don’t fancy walking around with a lit LED, even if a small one.

The 3 buttons offer all the basic controls for play/pause, volume up/down, skip track forward/backward. ANC is turned on and off and double clicking the middle button. Voice Assistant is activated by long press on the centre button.

The earbuds have silicon tips at the end, and like Sudio does with their other earphones, they ship them in a generous variety of sizes (6 pairs in total, including the one already fitted on the earbud).

There’s a magnetic attachment along the wire on each side, which you can slide around. These are used to stick the two wires together. Unlike magnetic earbuds which clip together only at the earbuds, this design lets you choose how you prefer to keep your earbuds organised when they aren’t in your ears.

Let’s talk about ANC first before sound quality, because the Elva sounds very different depending on whether ANC is on or off.

The Sudio Elva’s ANC works, but just don’t expect wonders. The effects of the ANC is quite noticeable, an it removes ambient noises quite nicely. The Elva doesn’t manage so well in noisy urban environments. Given its price point, I think it’s ANC performance is good.

The sound quality with ANC off is mediocre. The bass is weak. The treble is too bright. The sound is “cold”, to put it bluntly, and really not something I had expected from Sudio.

However, things are so completely different when ANC is on. The sound is different, and that’s not because of noise cancellation. The lack of noise surely improves sound quality, but in this case, that isn’t the reason for the improved sound.

With ANC on, the bass is awesome. It is powerful, and kicks a punch. I do find it a tad boomy. This is probably going to be something bass heads will love. The mids are still strong, but now the trebles seem to be be a little subdued by the punch from the lower frequencies. Overall, music sounds good.

Oddly enough the Sudio Elva also apparently tries to boost volume when you turn on ANC. It’s almost as if volume was boosted to help drown out noise, though this isn’t what I’d want.

Call quality on the Elva is very good. I was on quite a long conference call while at a somewhat noisy Starbucks cafe. The other party had no complaints about noise from my end, so it seems the Elva did a good job picking up my voice without the background distraction.

The Sudio Elva supports Bluetooth 5.0. It’s battery will run for 10 hours with ANC, or 11 hours without ANC. It has IPX5 water protection.

The aforementioned Sudio Flyg flight adapter included with the Elva is essentially a Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter. It is rated for 12 hours of battery life, and it is charged using the USB Type-C port on its side.

We’re probably not flying now given the going COVID-19 pandemic. The good thing with the Flyg is that it’s not just for airline seats. One of those prongs also work as a standard 3.5 mm audio plug, so you can plug this into your PC’s audio jack, or other device that you want to listen from. It will work with any Bluetooth 5.0 headphones.

There’s just one button on the Flyg, which is used to turn on, off, and initiate Bluetooth pairing. The small LED indicator below that tells you if the Flyg is on, off, charging, or in pairing mode.

Included with the Sudio Elva and Flyg, you’ll get one USB cable each for charging the Elva and Flyg, as well as a total of 6 pairs of silicon tips (XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL).

The Sudio Elva sounds great, if you use it in ANC mode. ANC is decent. Call quality is good. The neckband is comfortable. For people who are afraid to use truly wireless earbuds for fear that they might fall off, the Elva is a great alternative. The bundled Flyg flight adapter makes the Elva a great deal.

The Sudio Elva will retail at S$199 when it officially launches worldwide on 14th September 2020. You can get 15% off with the wireless15 discount code (good for all products) when you shop directly with Sudio. The Elva comes with 12 months international warranty, plus an additional 6 months when you sign up for Sudio Sphere.

Considering that the Sudio Flyg flight adapter retails at almost S$70, the Elva’s price is quite attractive.

Summary

The Sudio Elva sounds great, works very well on calls, and has decent ANC. It’s an excellent choice for those who prefer neckband-style wireless earphones.

Highlights:

  • Great sound in ANC mode
  • Handles calls very well
  • IPX5 rated
  • Basic ANC is decent
  • Includes flight adapter

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