Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
For all audio products we review at APH Networks, it takes quite a bit of experience and training of the ears before we can assess with fair judgment. Even for many audiophiles, it can be hard to produce an exact or accurate evaluation of a product without a familiar product to use as a reference. There are no true objective measurements for audio sound quality, but as a reviewer, I will put the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating as I can. The audio tests were conducted with the PN505 connected to my Samsung Galaxy A50 via Bluetooth 5.0.
After taking some time to break in the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505, I put these earbuds to the test. All tracks are uncompressed or high bitrate audio files. Equalizer settings were set to flat for testing purposes. I watched videos to test for latency.
Because the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 has active noise canceling, let us touch on this first. As this is my first pair of ANC earbuds, I was not too sure what I should be expecting when comparing them to my Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC, which also features active noise canceling. As it turned out, I was quite impressed with the active noise canceling feature on the PN505, as it was able to cut out a surprising amount of background noise. Constant low frequency noise was noticeably canceled too. The ANC went far beyond that of passive noise cancelling that I have become accustomed to for earbuds of this type. This is very useful for plane, train, or bus rides, which I will be excited to be able to do this fall, assuming the University of Calgary opens for the coming semester.
I will base most of the evaluation with ANC on, given the Philips Wireless Neckband PN505 are active noise cancelling earbuds. Turning on ANC mode does affect the character of sound output, mainly feeling like the bit rate of the song was being lowered. In this case, I actually found the bass to be fairly similar. Usually, when toggling ANC on, the opposite effect will occur and increase the bass instead.
Keeping all of this in mind, I kept ANC on and I would say the sound character of the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 has noticeably more bass than neutral, likewise to many other earphones in the market today. Breaking down the “big three”, we have the bass, midrange, and treble. With ANC on, I still found the bass to be reasonably deep and round in the tracks I listened to. I personally am not a fan of overly bass boosted earphones or headphones, but I found the bass to be quite deep, solid, and round. The delivery of lower frequencies was generally smooth and well-articulated. The quantity was quite a bit though.
The midrange was generally quite decent, but not perfect. I found the midrange to be a little muffled. Personally, I would have enjoyed a thicker midrange, but in terms of the general sound produced, it was still quite good. On the lower-midrange, sounds became a little more recessed. The higher midrange came out reasonably natural, warm, and rich. I was pleased when having a good listen to voices in the midrange. Despite having a bass boost, the midrange still came out very well pronounced; not being overshadowed by the treble or bass.
Moving on to the treble, I found it was a little rounded out. Instruments like violins were produced very clearly without being too dry, but not as sharp as they could be. I think Philips achieved a satisfactory treble, being a little weaker and looser than normal, while not being uncomfortable. Everything was pretty clean overall. When it comes to the balance between the three, you will notice the bass boost as aforementioned. The higher frequencies were generally well balanced in a general sense, while being a bit recessed as you hit the top.
As expected, the soundstage of the Philips Wireless Neckband PN505 was quite narrow with little width and depth. It is quite hard to achieve good soundstaging with smaller drivers, and ANC further hinders this. There is still a small sense of dimension, but it was very closed and limited. This is common among wireless earbuds, especially those with active noise cancelling. Despite this, the imaging still stayed faithful to the original recording for the most part.
The layers were produced with a good amount of detail and precision for wireless earbuds. There were still some points where you could notice a lack in precision. In messy or complicated audio circumstances, some parts may become a little fuzzier due to the lower resolution. As for frequency separation, I felt like each of the three regions was distinct enough and clear. However, I felt as though the transitions between the frequencies could have been a bit smoother, as the transition between the bass and lower-midrange was a bit rough. The general output from the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 was acceptably clean.
The Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 actually comes with five sets of earsleeves as opposed to the specified three sizes. The extra sizes help in finding a proper fit for my ears. After a short while, my ears became accustomed to the fit of these earbuds. As I have mentioned previously, I found the PN505 did not have any problems staying in my ears, and it generally felt pretty comfortable compared to other earbuds I have tried. I personally enjoy this design better for running, as I do not have to worry about the possibility of the off-chance an earbud falling out, given they are permanently attached to a neckband.
The Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 has a bit of background hissing noise when turning on or idle. You probably will not notice the noise when you are actually listening to music. In terms of lag, for the most part, I found there to be no significant level of delay; the audio appeared to synchronize properly with the videos I watched on my phone. There was a very random case where I did notice half a second worth of delay, but it was good the rest of the time.
In the sample recording above, the microphone of the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 worked fine when walking outside. I thought it was acceptable for day-to-day conversation. My voice came through quite clearly, being easy to understand. The microphone was not overly sensitive to background noise; only picking up a bit of the breeze blowing by me. Generally speaking, it is fully usable for voice calls and not much change is needed.
The company estimates the battery to last around 9 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on. I got about 11 hours at 50% volume from my tests, which was better than advertised. With ANC turned off, the battery life was 16 hours 30 minutes according to my tests. The rated wireless range is 10 meters, and from my measurements, this was quite underestimated. After testing with an LTI Ultralyte LIDAR device, we have found the line-of-sight range to be 40.78m. During my normal use, I never experienced any wireless inconsistency issues when paired to my phone.
Overall, the audio performance of the Philips Wireless Neckband ANC PN505 was pretty good for the average user. The active noise canceling is excellent in terms of isolating you from the rest of the world.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis