OPPO is no stranger to the audio accessory category, entering that market back in 2014 but a review of its newest gadget, the Enco Q1 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones shows that it has come a long way since that introduction. Designed by OPPO's Blu-ray team, these headphones offer a unique array of features and a premium sound. They also won't cost an arm and a leg at an average of just over $100.
Not only do these headphones offer 'hybrid' active noise cancellation and long battery life. They also deliver a comfortable fit, easy AI assistant access, and sound engineered to rival much more expensive devices.
It's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of listeners across every entertainment medium is not going to be disappointed. There is a total of three listening modes, to suit every circumstance. Whether that's music, movies, tv shows, podcasts, or immersive gaming, these headphones do it all. And they do it well.
The caveats here derive from design decisions that have nothing at all to do with the intended use of these headphones. In fact, finding anything negative to say about them in their price bracket was nearly an exercise in futility.
That's a claim that warrants a closer look into what exactly OPPO is bringing to the table with its oddly-named Enco Q1. Fortunately, since OPPO has provided a review unit of its Enco Q1 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, that's precisely what we're here to do.
OPPO Enco Q1 sounds better than it should, even at its price
When it comes to wireless headphones, there are three main areas of utmost importance. That includes connection strength, battery life, and audio quality. The latter of those is arguably the most important and it's an area where OPPO's team truly shines.
Despite the relatively low entry cost associated with OPPO Enco Q1 headphones, the experience of using them is stellar. The frequency response here is wide, running from 20Hz to 20kHz, so every instrument, sound effect, and word is heard clearly.
It didn't matter whether I was watching a movie flick or a podcast or whether I was listening to rock, pop, or rap. This is audio that's much closer to intended than many competitors offer.
Of course, there is some debate about whether wireless audio can live up to wired. That's not a debate we're going to get into here because even listening to some of my favorite tracks, I was able to clearly hear tones and notes that go completely unheard with otherwise good audio equipment. After all, the best thing about great headphones is that they allow you to hear what you'd miss in a car audio system or via a Bluetooth speaker.
Throughout my review of the OPPO Enco Q1, I was unendingly impressed by how balanced the audio is but clarity is another area where I was pleasantly surprised. OPPO reports an impedance rating of 32-Ohms. That effectively weeds out any unintended distortion or audio artifacts that appear with many headphones. That remained true at every volume with the exception of just one click above off — which wasn't unexpected.
Bass response isn't overbearing but does hit hard enough to be felt, with great satisfaction, at even the middle-volumes. It doesn't hit quite as hard at lower volumes but is still clear and powerful.
All of that is thanks to the 11.8mm dynamic driver OPPO centered the design around as well as the active noise cancellation (ACN).
A strong connection means a consistent experience
Bluetooth 5.0 is at the center of all connectivity for OPPO Enco Q1. That version of Bluetooth equates to a lower energy requirement and that's a big advantage but it's one we'll discuss later on. For now, the big benefits from that are that it allows transfer speeds up to 2 Mbps and that it has a much longer range.
At 10 meters — just under 33 feet — the connection between a source device and OPPO's latest listening accessory is superb. That's if the line of sight is maintained. Objects, particularly metal objects, placed between the two ends of the connection present obvious issues for any Bluetooth device.
But where the connection is strong, audio pushes through with all of the same clarity and volume that's apparent when Enco Q1 is sitting right next to a source device. That holds true across every manner of Bluetooth device I tested this with. That includes everything from smartwatches to computers and smartphones.
Better still, these OPPO headphones didn't experience the signal interference I've seen with some wireless listening devices. For example, it isn't uncommon for another Bluetooth-enabled device to cause cut-out or even drops if placed between the source and the headphones. But over the course of my review, these headphones didn't cut out even once.
For those with OPPO smartphones, there's an added benefit from that connectivity too. Via a feature called "Quick-Pairing," OPPO Enco Q1 will connect to those gadgets with a single click when it recognizes them nearby. That's as opposed to the standard three or four click setup required with other devices. That worked seamlessly in my test, pairing the gadget with the OPPO Reno 2.
On every device, these headphones connect automatically and almost immediately to the most recently paired source for convenience. That's a feature almost all Bluetooth headphones have but it's nice to see it wasn't left out here.
Listen all day, and then some with OPPO Enco Q1
Battery life for this device can vary quite a bit depending on how it's used. For instance, the user manual claims that using the headphones in either Gaming or Cinema modes — which we'll discuss momentarily — will reduce battery life. Based on my experience, that's a minor impact but is worth considering.
Leaving the device on standby with active noise cancellation turned on has a much larger impact, dropping that time from 300 hours to just 22. But those aren't really the important figures here.
Over the course of my review of the OPPO Enco Q1, I left volume up at around two-thirds its maximum. That's actually a bit much since the headphones are loud enough to drown out background noise. That's even without active noise cancellation active.
For my test, I stayed in music mode for the bulk of listening, just as most users likely will. More directly, I kept Music mode on for approximately nine hours and twelve minutes out of a total listening time that fell just ten minutes shy of fourteen hours. Game mode stayed active for two-and-a-quarter hours while Cinema mode was used for nearly two-and-a-half hours.
OPPO rates these at 15-hours under optimal circumstances on music mode only at half volume. The source device was typically within six to ten feet of the headphones but that's actually quite impressive anyway.
When the remaining battery hit ten percent, a voice kicked on with a warning. OPPO used a different voice tone everybody else seems to. The voice here sounds understated and natural. So it wasn't as annoying as many other devices. That kicked in approximately every ten minutes so it didn't become too annoying on that front either.
Charging via the rubber-flap-covered USB-C port took just under two hours via the included cable.
You're not going to be uncomfortable with these headphones
The comfort of any wearable is another aspect that ranks high on the list of important attributes. These earbuds deliver that by starting with shorter-than-usual speaker posts.
Users can choose from a total of four different sized rubber tips to cover those too, whereas most companies only provide three. OPPO has pre-installed the large nubs out-of-the-box with OPPO Enco Q1 and those are what I used for my review. But there are also extra-large, medium, and small nubs that can be installed. Those slip on easily but don't come off without effort.
Build quality is high with these earbuds too. The neckband weighs just 42g and is barely noticeable. OPPO built that from a memory material that I could flex in any direction to extremes without losing shape. The wires jut out of the outside edge at the ends of those arms and show no indication that they're easily broken, especially since they're thicker than average.
Meanwhile, the USB-C charging port shows absolutely no wiggle whatsoever. Buttons click in and out with a satisfactory click. Those are soft to the touch for added comfort.
The earbuds themselves are magnetic. That doesn't add any functionality, per se, but it's a nice touch to prevent tangling and keep the neckband in place while moving.
Aesthetically, there's not a lot going on here to set these headphones apart. The OPPO logo adorns one neckband arm while "DESIGNED BY OPPO" adorns the other. Three colors are available and mine was the Midnight Black version, accented with red on the earbuds. That's a combination of matte blacks and shiny bits. It doesn't stand out too much. Sunny Orange and Silver White are available too for those who want to show off extra style.
The biggest caveat to these headphones is that they offer only moderate sweat or water protection via an IPX4 rating. They aren't designed for working out but that's still disappointing.
Special features abound with OPPO Enco Q1
Now, active noise cancellation is common enough and really requires no explanation at this point. The feature works better with low-frequency noises but also does comparatively well blocking higher frequencies from being heard.
That worked as advertised throughout my review of the OPPO Enco Q1 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Far superior features to that, at least with these earbuds, are the three on-board listening modes.
Music mode is on by default and works just like its name implies. It balances audio out for a crystal clear listening experience that lets every frequency through.
At a double-tap on the function button, these headphones switch over to the "Cinema Surround" mode. Again, that works as might be implied. In effect, it bumps up the bass tones and tosses in 3D effects where media supports it. There is plenty of channel management in the Music mode but this takes that to an entirely new level making movies far more immersive than they'd otherwise be.
Finally, Game Mode seems to take away that extra bass boost to focus more intensely on what OPPO calls "acoustic positioning." In effect, that takes 3D audio effects up a notch so that it's easier to hear in games where the sounds are "coming from."
Stepping past the audio enhancements afforded via OPPO's Enco Q1 headphones, there is at least one issue here. It's an issue that's present with nearly all wireless headphones but still not addressed by most. Namely, the buttons aren't as easy to interact with as might be hoped because tactile button cues are missing from all but the volume keys. That leaves a multi-function power button and the other multi-function button without such cues.
Thankfully, finding my bearings wasn't ever too difficult to manage because there are also voice cues when noise canceling is turned off or on. Those same cues are in place for switching modes. It's not a perfect solution since for some users it's going to mean figuring out which button does what after pressing it. But it's better than not having any kind of cue at all.
That's all made better by the fact that these headphones revert to music mode at each startup. So there's never any need to thumb through trying to remember which mode OPPO Enco Q1 was left on.
Is it worth the money or just overhyped?
Hearing tends to be different from person to person. So whether or not an audio device is truly great can be a matter of subjectivity without any real conclusions. With that said, the battery life and technical attributes of OPPO's Enco Q1 are near the top of the class in the sub-$200 price bracket.
Stacking in mode switching is something that plenty of companies do. They don't generally include that alongside active noise cancellation and a top-tier design. Build quality also often suffers to keep pricing down. But it isn't uncommon. Neither is the inclusion of extra mics for better voice assistant control and improved use with a phone at the tap of a button.
What OPPO has created here is a high-value, no-frills design that also happens to be loaded to the brim with frills — at least under the hood. It has almost all of the features, excluding better ruggedization against liquids.
OPPO seems to have just started out with the basics. The company found a design that worked and then balanced the audio. All the while, it put obvious effort toward balancing the audio for clarity and quality. OPPO laid out a natural-sounding, toned down voice instead of annoying beeps or robotic phrases. Then it implemented that for all interactions to keep users on track while using the device.
The extra features on top of that take an obvious but not unwelcome backseat to that initial quality. As a result, those features shine when they are put into use because they have a great foundation to stand on.