Yamaha TW-E3B Review | PCMag

Yamaha's $99.95 TW-E3B true wireless earphones may not look or feel premium, but they sound great, with surprisingly accurate audio for the price. They also support the AptX Bluetooth codec, which adds to their appeal for audiophiles on a budget. If you prefer a bit of boosting in your bass, there are plenty of other sub-$100 models worth considering, many of which offer more in the way of features. Anker's $79.99 Soundcore Life P3 earphones, for instance, offer active noise cancellation and a higher-quality build for $20 less, making them our Editors' Choice in this price range.

An Uninspiring Design

Available in black or multiple pastel shades (including lavender, light blue, light green, or pink), the TW-E3B earphones sport a slippery plastic design that feels a bit cheap. They stay in place quite well even if you don't fully insert them, but it’s important to twist the earpieces until each is in the same orientation to ensure the best sonic performance. They ship with four pairs of silicone eartips in different sizes.

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Internally, 6mm drivers deliver a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. The earphones are compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 and support the AAC, AptX, and SBC codecs.

We noticed some quirks with the design that contributes to the low-budget feel. For example, magnets in the earpieces that help with the docking process also cause them to repel from one other when you place them close by. And the pairing behavior hearkens back to the early days of true wire earbuds, in which one earpiece connects to your phone (or other audio source) and then the other attempts to pair with it. Now, most wireless earphones can pair independently (or simultaneously) with the source.

Yamaha TW-E3B

The outer panels of each earpiece feature push-button controls. A single tap on either handles playback and call management. A long press on the left earpiece navigates backward a track, while on the right, it skips forward. Double-taps on the left and right earpieces respectively lower and raise the volume. The controls are somewhat prone to misfires, especially when you attempt to perform double-taps, but they work fine and we appreciate the presence of volume controls.

An IPX5 rating means that the earpieces can withstand splashes from any direction. Neither sweat nor light rain should be an issue, but avoid submerging or exposing them to anything more than light water pressure. The rating doesn’t extend to the charging case, so make sure to fully dry the earpieces before you place them in the charging docks. 

The charging case, like the earpieces, has a slippery plastic exterior. An LED indicator sits on the front, while the back houses a USB-C port for charging via the USB-C-to-USB-A cable that comes in the box. 

Yamaha estimates that the earphones can last roughly 6 hours on battery. The charging case provides an additional 18 hours of charge. Neither rating is particularly impressive, but your battery results will vary depending on your volume levels.

The Yamaha Headphones Controller app (available for Android and iOS) offers firmware updates, the ability to adjust the auto power-off timer, and the option to disable “listening care,” which is just digital signal processing (DSP). We would have liked to see an EQ option here at the very least.

Surprisingly Accurate Sound

Although the TW-E3B earphones offer little to get excited about from a design standpoint, their sound quality will appeal to certain listeners, as the drivers accurately recreate audio. Bass comes across with rich clarity but isn't exaggerated. The concept of accurate, flat-response-style in-ears has all but disappeared in recent years, but Yamaha does its best to stay neutral here. And because the earphones also support the AptX Bluetooth codec, they could be a good option for musicians and engineers who need to check their mixes.

On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the bass depth is less pronounced here than it is on most pairs we test. The earphones don't sound thin or brittle, but they take a more even approach to the lows, mids, and highs.

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, better reveals the TW-E3B’s sound profile. The drums on this track sound clean, clear, and accurate—they have some thump, but nothing that approaches the thunder we hear from bass-forward competitors. The sound signature here is bright and clear, with lovely low-frequency anchoring.

yamaha tw-e3b side view

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives an ideal amount of high-mid presence; this allows its attack to retain its punchiness. The vinyl crackle and hiss are also audible because of a clear focus on the high-mids and highs, but the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat come across with laudable power. No, they don't sound as if a subwoofer has been planted in your skull, but the earphones reach down and grab the deep bass rumble when it’s in the mix. The vocals on this track sound clean and clear, too, with perhaps a little extra sibilance.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound crisp and bright. The lower-register instrumentation isn’t emphasized much and plays a supporting role to the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals. The lows are slightly more pronounced on jazz recordings, like Miles Davis’ “Pharaoh's Dance,” which gets a lovely natural low and low-mid delivery for the drums and the bass.

The built-in mic, on the other hand, is mediocre. When we tested it using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone, we could understand every word we recorded, but the signal was notably weak. On a decent cell signal, your words may be clear, but your voice will sound distant.

Excellent Audio With Few Other Frills

Although we don’t care for the budget stylings of Yamaha's TW-E3B earphones, they're one of the more accurate true wireless pairs we’ve tested recently. For $100, however, we expect a more capable app and additional features. If you can find them on sale or value sonic accuracy above all else, these shortcomings are easier to overlook. In the sub-$100 category, we’re also fans of Jabra's $79 Elite 3 earphones, as well as the noise-cancelling Anker Soundcore Life P3. And for under $50, the Tribit Flybuds 3 deliver surprisingly good audio in a fully waterproof design.

The Bottom Line

The no-frills Yamaha TW-E3B true wireless earphones skimp on extra features, but deliver a relatively accurate sound signature that will appeal to audiophiles on a budget.

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