Shoutout to Mark over at HIFIMAN for sending this review unit!!
Originally published 12/11/19.
- 12/13/19. Article cleanup.
- 12/15/19. Added Video Review.
- 3/25/22. Article revisit.
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the HIFIMAN TWS600 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
I’m Here to Help!!
Table of Contents
- Price: Check Amazon!
- Type: Bluetooth 5.0
- Weight: 5.9g (each)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Ear Bud Battery Life: 5.5 Hrs.
- Case Battery Life: 33 Hrs.
- Charge Time (Buds): 1 hr.
- Charge Time (Egg Shell Case): 1.5 hrs.
- Standby Time: 110 hrs.
- Transmission Width: Up to 150m (depending on environmental conditions)
Build & Design
There aren’t many things that get me more excited than a well-built product from a reputable company. See: iFi Zen Amp/DAC Review [A New Entry Level Standard?]
The TWS600 is one such product. Even at its somewhat modest price point, it feels premium and elegant.
We’ve got a beautiful elongated-looking eggshell case with a non-slip rubber bottom that feels fairly substantial in your hand, even without the earbuds inside charging. Its magnetized enclosure ensures your little buddies are never going to come out while on the go, and it’s fairly easy to open and close.
Just put your thumb on the left-side tab (you’ll see an arrow pointing up), and pull. It’s that simple. It’s a bit of a challenge at first but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Don’t give up!
The inside of the encasement reveals R and L indicators, and a battery icon in the middle. Inside of the battery icon are 4 circular orange lights, indicating how much power is left (I’ll let you figure out how to tell).
Charging is a breeze. Just use the supplied USB Type-C charging cable, and drop the buds into the crevices. It was a bit weird at first putting them in; they’re kind of almost hovering there, but after a while, you’ll come to find that you can just give them a nice little tap-a-roo and the lights will come on. Be gentle!
Edit: You don’t need to tap them in. Just put them in and chill out. 😀
Since receiving the unit, I’ve only charged it once and didn’t even really have to (The battery life of the case is rated at 33 hours). It was at 50% but I decided “Better safe than sorry.” We like to live life on the edge, but only in moderation. 😛
As far as the battery life of the earbuds, they’re rated at 5.5. hours. Just make it a habit of charging them after each session and you should be fine.
I haven’t come close to listening to them for 5 straight hours. I mostly use them at the gym for about an hour, and sporadically otherwise. For this review, I’m racking up the album listening, but normally I would never do this. “Never mind what you normally would do.”
The only issue with the case itself is the fact that not all of the buds will fit inside when attached to the tips. For a couple of the larger ones, you’ll have to take them off first and attach something different (or just take them off) if you want to charge the earbuds.
Even with that said, I’m not entirely sure why HIFIMAN decided to include the 2 pairs of large tips. They are essentially useless for me, but your mileage may vary if you have ginormous Dumbo-sized ears or something.
The rest of the tips vary slightly in size and shape, and I was easily able to find a pair that fit my ears fairly well. In fact, they all feel pretty good (minus the 2 giganto ones), and you likely won’t have any trouble finding a pair to suit your own ears. There are 9 pairs total including an ugly duckling (the clear pair).
The actual buds themselves are futuristic as all get out, looking like something you’d find in a Terminator movie.
When I first received them, I thought there was a hole in the top! It kind of looks at first like some particles could get stuck in there, but don’t fret. They are covered.
Those spots on the tops that look like holes are actually buttons that do various things.
Let’s take a look:
- Press once on the left or right side to pause.
- Double press on the left side to lower the volume. Double press the right side to raise the volume.
- Triple press the left side to go back a track. Triple press the right side to fast forward a track.
Calls are initiated and answered with either the left or right earbud.
- Press once to accept an incoming call, or press and hold 2 seconds to reject.
- Press once to end the call.
- When you are talking on the phone and receive another incoming call: Press once to end the first call and answer the new incoming call.
- Press and hold two seconds to activate the phone’s voice control.
All in all, the build of the earbuds is excellent. They’re solid but still lightweight enough to be magnificently transportable. When I hit the gyme, I simply pop the Eggshell case into my pocket and I’m off. Simple as pie, guy.
But what’s a gyme?
Comfort is good for the most part.
At the gyme, I’m finding that the buds sometimes come close to falling out. Fortunately, they haven’t yet, but it’s a bit concerning as I have to kind of push them back in place. This only occurs when I’m in a weird position (like a DB bent row, Incline DB press, Ab Crunch, etc.) They may start to slip out a little, but a simple push gets them back in and ready to go. It’s more of a minor inconvenience than anything.
Since using these for almost 3 years, I found that they did fall out from time to time which was rather annoying, but something I learned to live with.
The other issue I’m having is that they kind of make the insides of my ears itch, to the point of ripping them out and vigorously rubbing my ear canals for relief. I don’t know if this is a personal issue or not, but Headphone Guru had a similar problem. You may or may not experience the same thing. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. Perhaps it depends on what you had for breakfast that day. 😀
This sensation went away over time and was likely a result of the tips’ newness. Probably not the most encouraging news in the world, but I’m sure whatever chemical was used in the tips likely faded over time and/or seeped its way into my ears and will likely destroy my body from the inside out. No big deal.
Sound & Imaging
This is where things get a bit dicey. Upon first listening, you’ll likely be amazed at the sound of the TWS600. Initially, I was tempted to call it a sort of Budget Ananda (Ear Bud version) when I first heard it.
Note: As soon as you take the buds out of their charging case and put them in your ears, you’ll be greeted with: “Power On. TWS Connected.” Then another cute Asian lady says “Connected” just in case (no pun intended) you were unaware the first time.
It honestly makes you feel like you’ve just partaken in an incredible event. You feel sort of like you’re in a movie or something. Like your listening habits matter (they don’t). Lol. Everyone cares, everyone understands.
If the device doesn’t pair right away, she will say “pairing.” Just go into your phone and pair it real quick and she’ll then say “connected” again. This may happen if you put the buds back into the case and come back to listen later. Other times, they will automatically be ready to go again.
When charging, they will light up red. When they are done, you’ll see blue. Do you want the red pill or the blue one?
Anyways, let’s talk briefly about the good.
The sound is incredibly tight, crisp, and cool sounding. In some ways, it does remind me of the Ananda. There’s a pretty nice sense of Imaging, and instruments are placed correctly.
Soundstage isn’t particularly wide or anything, but there is some decent depth to the sound; it doesn’t come across like it’s trapped in a vacuum which is always welcome.
Upon further listening is where problems start to arise, however.
During a heated gym session, it’s harder to identify the TWS600’s problems, but you’ll really start to notice them in a quiet environment (such as at my desk as I’m writing this).
The frequency response isn’t bad by any stretch, but it’s uneven. I’ll feel myself wanting to let loose and rock out, only to have the mid-range hold me back from doing so.
Before we get into that, let’s talk about the bass and treble, and how they come into play.
Bass & Treble
The bass here is good. There’s not too much roll-off, and there’s clearly a lot of nice texture and nuance. I’m finding an adequate amount of thump for the most part, and I don’t really desire more save for some isolated cases. In that sense, I’m reminded of the Ananda, although bass-wise, the Ananda’s are still in another league.
The treble here is subdued, with no sibilance to speak of. What does Sibilant mean?
On Common’s “Faithful”, there’s a nice sense of detail (perhaps one of the best examples of the TWS600’s capabilities with regard to said detail). I’m enjoying the pan of the organ to the left as a backing soundscape to an absolutely wonderful sounding vocal performance from Common and an equally stunning production from Kanye West. Instruments are generally spaced out very well.
The problem is the mid-range, although it’s not as prominent of an issue on this track as others. Common simply sounds too pushed forward. You’ll notice that this problem tends to spoil the majority of tracks; it’s just too much.
Think of the HD600’s mid-range issues magnified, which is ironic considering they both have 600 in their name.
At times it literally almost feels like Common is yelling at you, which is a significant problem. This issue is readily apparent in other tracks as well. Instruments are sometimes grating and honky sounding, getting in the way and ultimately spoiling a very good bass and treble response.
Not entirely sure why HIFIMAN decided to push the vocals so far forward, but it’s not pleasant.
It doesn’t render the earbuds entirely un-listenable, but it is an issue that needs to be pointed out.
There are other times when the earbuds just sound flat-out awful, but that has more to do with your tip selection. There is a certain pair of tips that I would completely just stay away from altogether (pictured below). They make the bass sound even more anemic, and pretty much suck the life out of the sound.
The good news is that it’s the only pair that I’d stay away from. Let’s get into range real quick before wrapping up sound impressions.
At the gym, I can walk the length of the floor near the water fountain and music is still playing. However, as soon as my back is turned and I bend over to drink, the signal starts to cut out (sometimes). Other times it doesn’t.
So just make sure you do the moonwalk when you go to the bathroom, fill your water bottle backward, and everything will be just fine. XD
I had no issues with the signal dropping upon leaving my room, even on the other side of the wall, so that’s pretty nifty. Walking outside and closing the door still results in music playing. As soon as I start to walk towards my car it begins to cut out.
All in all, the connection is very solid, with a few minor hiccups every now and then. I find the signal at the gym sometimes cuts out intermittently for no good reason, even when my phone is right there with me between sets. This usually happens with the right bud, but can happen with the left as well.
Back to Sound
Even as much as I complained about the mid-range, you can always EQ it down a few dB. The overall sound has so many good qualities going for it; it just needs some minor tweaking. Ricardo Robecchi over at Soundphile agrees:
If one takes ~2.5 dB away from the 2 kHz area using an equaliser the voice goes back to normal and the other parts (lower midrange and bass) appear to be present again. I don’t question the fact that there may be specific songs and genres where this added emphasis could be beneficial; most tracks will sound a bit off, though. And this is despite very good technical ability: speed is very good, detail is phenomenal in this price range of the TWS market, physicality is remarkable for a TWS.
Treble is thankfully not as prominent as the upper midrange, so it is not fatiguing. It’s still very much present in the mix and it’s easy to hear it. It has decent extension which lends it some air, though I wouldn’t describe as it “really airy”. It has a great level of detail, which makes it really attractive as it comes with a lot of things to hear; you won’t hear all micro-details, but the amount of detail is fairly impressive for TWS earphones.Ricardo Robecchi - Soundphile
In listening to one of my all-time favorite tracks by Tycho, “Past is Prologue” the intro mid-bass rumble should sound like it’s preparing you for something special. I know this to be true because I’ve heard the song hundreds of times. It just doesn’t hit quite as it should with the TWS600.
It still sounds good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s lacking zest and energy. The drop is overcompensated for in the too zesty mids that come in at around 1:04, rendering the bass kind of anemic by contrast, with the overall sound coming across as just a bit too hollow (and frequently edgy enough to make you want to turn it down).
The issue is most apparent on “Disconnect”, of the same album. The synths and voices are so in your face that it just kind of ruins the overall experience. I’m finding myself lowering and raising the volume too much, which is never a good sign. It essentially means there are balance issues.
Michael Jackson’s “Baby Be Mine” also suffers from similar shouty vocal issues. Being my favorite song by the late King of Pop, I always get excited when his vocals come in. Unfortunately they just kind of grate the ears instead of gracing them.
You’re ready for an exciting, dance-infused, head boppin’ good time, but instead are met with some semblance of a frown. Still an enjoyable listen overall, but the vocals tend to stand out too much.
This is the TWS600 in a nutshell. A somewhat strange sound signature with the opposite problem of most consumer-level products. Most companies prioritize bass and treble while sacrificing the mids and making them recessed. The TWS600 inverts that, making the mids overemphasized and comprising the quality nature of the bass and treble (which again, are done very well).
All in all, this earbud could have been better, but I know HIFIMAN will improve on this in future iterations or separate versions. Case and point: The HIFIMAN Sundara was a true upgrade in both build and sound from the 400i and 400S.
True Wireless Technology is really something to behold, as the earbud functions like a headphone would: Each piece contains its own DAC, wireless chipset, amp, battery, and dynamic driver. What is a Headphone Driver?
It’s super hard not to recommend it because of all that it does right. I’m fairly certain there are people out there who will enjoy this audiophile-type sound, as I myself do under the right circumstances.
In the middle of a heated lifting session, these are a dream. Although very good at isolating you, the ambiance of the gym and all the sounds therein help to mitigate the issues we’ve discussed today.
It’s like they add a nice thin layer of syrup, helping to alleviate the harshness that will inevitably arise. Cautious’ Clay’s “Blood Type” is a perfect example of a track that sounds phenomenal in a gym environment or otherwise with these Ear Buds.
Leave me some love! <3
Click to see the TWS600 in action!
Going to have to give these a solid B overall. Maaaybe B+. Not entirely out of the question as a purchase strictly meant for on-the-go or gym sessions.
If you’re going for something that fits that sort of mold, and need some high isolation BT buds, these are really hard to beat when you take the package as a whole into account. In other words, your mom would love these and probably wouldn’t complain at all.
In a studio/quiet space? Not something I’d recommend for casual listening in that sort of environment without some EQ, or the aftermarket tips mentioned in the article (and below). Headphone.Guru mentioned the comply tips, and the Amazon Reviewer below did as well.
Overall? I still think they’re a sound investment, especially if you try them with the comply tips (Thanks Tech Junkie!)
In addition to these albums at home, I also listened to countless tracks at the gym and out driving. Too many to really list out.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN TWS600 Review & Discussion.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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All the best and God bless,
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- Excellent Build Overall
- Pretty Comfortable
- Really easy to use
- Super convenient and portable
- Mid-range issues that affect bass/treble
- Sometimes cuts out intermittently
- Tips may cause ear sensitivity
- Some tips aren't necessary/won't fit in case