Fairphone True Wireless Headphones Test: A Successful and Ethical First Test

Manufacturing and accessories

The design of True Wireless is not original, but it has the advantage of proving itself. Sobriety is key, with an all-matte plastic design that’s soft to the touch and pleasant to handle. The build quality is there: the assembly traces are completely discreet and the headphones look solid to us. It is also IPX4 certified to resist raindrops and sweat. Of course, it will be necessary to ensure that they are properly maintained after each sports session.

The case is very imposing, but still compact enough to slip into a trouser pocket – which should still be big enough. It’s also easy to use with one hand thanks to its hinge system similar to that found in Apple AirPods cases. The True Wireless case is covered in the same matte coating and soft to the touch as the headphones, but it tends to pick up dust here. On the front, 4 LEDs indicate the remaining charge level.

If the Fairphone headphones come with 3 pairs of silicone tips of different sizes, the lack of a charging cable is noticeable. An environmental argument for reducing e-waste or simply miserliness, we allow you to make your own opinion.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

User Experience

True Wireless is controlled using a touch surface located on the top of each earbud. This area is easy to get to, and it’s interactive, but sometimes overly sensitive. Touch controls allow you to perform all the essential actions for the proper operation of the headphones: switching between tracks, managing playback, controlling the volume, activating the phone’s voice assistant or even matching the three available listening modes (noise reduction on, ambient listening mode, off). ). Some actions are also accompanied by voice prompts but they are of poor quality.

Pairing is done when leaving the box for the first time or using the button at the bottom of the box. The Fairphone headphones then communicate in Bluetooth 5.3 and are compatible with SBC and AAC codecs. However, the multipoint function is not implemented in these headphones. The proximity sensor allows the music to automatically pause when one of the headphones is removed from the ears, but does not switch to mono when only one earbud is worn, losing half of the stereo signal.

Unfortunately, that’s all you can get because the Fairphone True Wireless doesn’t take advantage of any companion mobile app to access a potential equalizer, different customization options, or even the exact level of battery remaining. Without an app, it’s also impossible to update the headphones, which can be a problem if there’s a software issue.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

My voice

Fairphone’s True Wireless selects a blunt and somewhat blunt sound signature, not the most musical. However, it is possible to get a more pleasant viewing, but this requires placing the headphones in a rather silly and uncomfortable way in the ears. In fact, the design of the headphones means that when placed in their “logical” position (see photo below), the headphones are not really aligned in the extension of the ear canal, which fatally affects the perceived sound.

On the left, placement

On the left, the “logical” position that corresponds to the black frequency response curve (see below). On the right, a position for an optimal listening experience that corresponds to the green frequency response curve (see below).

In “logical” mode, the Fairphone True Wireless particularly accentuates the lower end of the spectrum, causing the bass to increase, especially when noise reduction is turned on. Removing the high mids tilts the balance further in favor of the bass and gives the overall width a very soft and very soft sound, which can be described as a dull sound. The sounds struggle to stand out properly, and the sources rich in harmonics (cymbals, harpsichords, some brass…) are severely weak; Harmful behaviour, despite accurate reproduction over the entire clone spectrum.

Frequency response measurement (measured to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  With active noise reduction (purple), without active noise reduction (black), in position

Frequency response measurement (measured to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). With active noise reduction (purple), without active noise reduction (black), in “Perfect” listening mode (green).

Under these circumstances, sound stage reproduction clearly lacks depth (elements in the foreground are pushed back) despite its very correct rendering. The dynamics are guaranteed to be reproduced correctly, no more.

As mentioned above, it is possible to obtain a more satisfactory view by adapting the position of the headphones in the ears. By lifting the headphones up and pushing them slightly into the ear canal, the show restores a welcome sharpness and vibrancy, but, again, at a much lower cost than comfort.

Harmonic distortion measurement (measured to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Harmonic distortion measurement (measured to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Active Noise Reduction

True Wireless is very effective when it comes to attenuating low frequencies. The trick is that they reach or exceed the performance of the top students in the field, the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Devialet Gemini. Thus it is able to almost completely eliminate the noise of cars, buses or train engines, to the satisfaction of both ears. The lowest components of the human voice are also impressively weak.

Isolation measurement: reference signal (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction (purple), ambient listening mode (orange).

Isolation measurement: reference signal (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction (purple), ambient listening mode (orange).

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for mid-range attenuation. The noise reduction algorithm noticeably loses its effectiveness when you encounter high-pitched sounds, such as tire screeching, a train slipping off the rails, or some sound alert. The sounds are also attenuated to a minimum, which allows you to perfectly hear the audio announcements made by the driver of the subway or train. Fairphone headphones also have a very rare problem with this type of headphone: they poorly manage sudden changes in pressure (passing through a tunnel on a train or metro, for example) causing very unwanted parasitic noises.

Finally, the ambient sounds listening mode is correct. It transmits different sounds well in space, but the show clearly lacks naturalness and airiness.

strength point

  • Good overall sound fidelity.

  • Reduce frightening active noise at low frequencies.

  • Feeling very comfortable.

  • Easy to control.

Weak points

  • Presentation of the sound “Boomy”, which lacks clarity and sharpness.

  • The sound of pulling quite a bit.

  • There is no companion app, no customization possible.

  • There is no switching to mono when using a single earphone (amplified stereo).


international mark

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

How does grading work?

For the first true wireless headphones, Fairphone makes a true version that will satisfy the greatest number. True Wireless stands out from the competition not only by its ethical and environmental promise, but also by the excellent comfort and impressive noise reduction of headphones in this price range. On the other hand, the Fairphone headphones show some weaknesses in terms of sound and also suffer from a lack of customization options.

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