Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.
As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox. For all tests, I used an Apple iPhone 12 Pro. This is a device that requires no introduction and will reduce its potential to be a limiting factor in our auditioning.
After over 50 hours of break-in time -- well above typical required time -- we put the Philips True Wireless ANC T8505 to the tests. All tracks are high bitrate AAC or LAME encoded MP3s.
Since these are earphones equipped with active noise canceling, let us talk about that first. Based on my past experience with the Philips Performance Wireless PH805, I could not say I had high expectations from the company. After all, the Performance Wireless headphones with ANC on at best shifted the audible frequency of the ambient noise slightly, but did not seem to really do much, if anything, to cancel it out. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the True Wireless ANC T8505's active noise canceling feature actually works -- and pretty well, too. Constant low frequency noise was noticeably canceled out in my tests, and if you are not a believer of ANC for in-ear monitors, I can assure you these went way beyond passive noise canceling inherent to products of this type. This is very important for plane and bus rides, assuming we are getting back to any of them anytime soon, haha.
I will base most of the evaluation with ANC on, given the T8505 are active noise canceling headphones. Toggling the ANC mode will affect the character of sound output. Mainly, turning ANC on felt like the bit rate of the song was lowered. The most unconventional part is deep bass was obviously reduced. Usually, toggling ANC on will increase the bass, but the Philips True Wireless ANC did the opposite. The midrange did not change much with ANC on, but it felt thinner and less saturated. Treble was thinner and less defined with ANC on. Activating ANC also made the soundstage narrower.
With all these in mind, I kept ANC on and I would say the overall the sound character of the Philips True Wireless ANC T8505 was generally neutral. To put it into perspective, let us break it down into the "big three", which is the bass, midrange, and treble. As aforementioned, deep bass was slightly reduced with ANC on. That said, I found the bass to be still reasonably deep, round, and solid in the tracks I listened to. Smoothness and definition in the low frequencies were generally well-articulated.
The midrange was probably the weakest part of these earphones, especially with ANC turned on. I am a big fan of midrange that is thick, saturated, and rich, but while voices appeared reasonably natural and clear in a neutral position, the T8505 is definitely low bandwidth in this category. The span was limited; coming in especially weak in the lower chunk. I cannot say the True Wireless ANC sound warm even though they are not quite cold either. Saturation has a lot of room for improvement and so does its richness.
The Philips True Wireless ANC T8505's treble was acceptably sharp. However, the relaxed output means they are not immediate nor tight. There simply is not a lot of energy in the treble. You can hear some scattering in areas that are supposed to be sharp. Furthermore, some parts of the output was clashy and artifacts were noted. As such, crispness and cleanness has work to be done. The treble also lacked depth -- thin, if you may -- and leans on the dryer end. The interesting thing is while all this sounds very bad, technical listening aside, the treble still somehow remained in the acceptable range in my books.
The soundstage of the Philips True Wireless ANC was narrow with little width and depth. Turning ANC on further reduced this. You can still perceive the dimensions to a very limited extent, but improvement in this area will really boost the score of these earphones. This seems to be a common problem with all true wireless in-ear monitors, especially for active noise canceling-equipped models, as I have never used one that scored even close to well in this category.
Closing off with the auxiliary auditioning results, the imaging of the Philips True Wireless ANC T8505 was realistic; staying mostly faithful to the original production or recording. The layers were produced with acceptable detail. However, you can hear artifacts where precision was lacking. Things were missed out in quality encoded tracks, and in complicated and messy situations, the small details became fuzzy due to low resolution in some areas. Deriving from this, the frequency separation has room for improvement. Some details had limited reproduction. That said, the entire spectrum was a smooth gradient with no immediately apparent banding effects, making it sound cohesive. I cannot consider them to be clean, especially with ANC on, because artifacts could be heard as aforementioned. Generally speaking, the T8505 will satisfy most listeners, but discerning users will find a bit to be desired.
The Philips True Wireless ANC T8505 are closed in-ear monitors and comes with three different sized sleeves for maximum compatibility. The earphones had a good fit in my ears and sound isolation was the highlight no matter where you are. As I have mentioned on the previous page, when I am running or walking, they do not lose its seal easily. After a few weeks of use, they have never fallen out of my ears. I tried shaking them out and they simply will not go anywhere. However, they protrude a bit due to its size; thankfully not as much as the 1MORE True Wireless ANC despite similar features.
The True Wireless ANC T8505 suffers from a problem common to all products in this category: Background hissing noise when turned on regardless of operating mode. You probably will not be able to hear it when you are out in public, but you will definitely be able to pick it up it in quieter locations. In terms of lag, I did not notice any significant delay; audio appeared to be properly synchronized to videos I was watching on my iPhone 12 Pro.
In the sample recording above, the microphone on the True Wireless ANC T8505 worked fine when walking outside, but it was mediocre at best. My voice came through, but sounded quite nasally and muffled in other areas. Some pronunciations were also not as clear as I wanted it to be. Furthermore, the microphone was very sensitive to background noise. You can hear my footsteps in the snow very clearly and a car passing by in the background was also audible. Generally speaking, it is usable for voice calls, but I can see key areas of improvement.
The company estimates the battery to last around 5 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on. I got 4 hours and 42 minutes at 50% volume from my tests, which was pretty close. The rated wireless range is 10 meters, and from my tests, this was quite underestimated. The maximum line of sight distance I was able to get, as measured by an LTI Ultralyte LIDAR device, was an impressive 64.68m. During normal usage, I have never experienced any wireless inconsistency issues paired to my Apple iPhone 12 Pro.
Overall, the audio performance of the Philips True Wireless ANC T8505 was acceptable for the casual user. The highlight of these earphones are its excellent active noise canceling capabilities. If you plan to be a frequent flyer post-COVID, you will come to appreciate an extra dose of silence as you go intercontinental.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis