Price (RRP): $US69
It seems like such a clever idea. The Vissles true wireless earbuds double as a portable Bluetooth speaker, and all for something less than $100 (they’re online only, for $US69.) So, are they as good as the idea sounds?
Vissles call them the “world’s most portable 2-in-1 music pill”. The 2-in-1 part is the combined buds and speaker thing. (The “pill”? I guess you can call the case that.)
Basically, what looks to be a 25mm speaker is built into the wireless charging case. The buds also snap into the case magnetically and are charged in place.
The buds are rated at up to five hours talk time and four hours play time. The case can recharge them three more times for a total of twenty or sixteen hours respectively The case is in turn charged via a Micro-B USB socket.
The buds and case are available in white or black. The case weighs 85.5 grams empty while the buds are 5.1 or 5.2 grams each with the largest of the three sets of silicon tips attached. The rated output of the speaker is three watts.
The Vissles buds use Bluetooth 5.0 and, according to a video on the site, support the AAC codec. The drivers are 6mm.
A reliable connection with my Huawei P30 Pro phone only lasted up to around eight metres, beyond which there’d be breakup in the sound when my head was turned certain ways. That’s one of the shorter ranges of the Bluetooth earphones I’ve checked lately.
Vissles in operation
I initially had trouble with these earphones because of two tiny little pieces of transparent plastic. As usual, before starting on the earphones put them in their case and plugged it in to make sure everything was charged up nicely.
The next day I inserted the buds in my ears, switched them on, paired them with the phone and started listening. I used them for a couple of hours both as earbuds, and in many futile efforts with the speaker case. I could not get the speaker to work.
The instructions talked about switching on the speaker amplifier, but there was no switch. But they also mentioned a “hall switch” by which I assumed Vissles meant a hall proximity switch, invoked by closing the lid.
I was about to give up when, finally, I noticed that there were tiny bits of almost invisible transparent plastic over the contacts of the buds. The speaker wouldn’t work because the buds weren’t connecting. It was somewhat impressive that the factory load of power in the buds had kept them running for a few hours without them being charged up by me.
Anyway, the plastic taken off, the speaker started working properly.
It really is quite clever. You put the buds into the case and close the lid, and a second later the music stops coming from the buds and starts coming from the speaker. Open the lid and the speaker stops. Pull the buds and they start playing instead. It was all very effective.
The buds have touch controls, one on each side. Using them with various single and double taps and holds you can play, pause, manage phone calls, skip tracks and change the volume.
Listening to Vissles
For the best seal with my ears and therefore the best bass performance I used the largest tip size. The sculpted resting place for the buds in the case was a little undersized for those so I had to take care to press the buds into place.
The buds themselves worked with reasonable sound quality for the price. They steered clear of excessive sharpness, holding back sibilance yet providing good delivery of cymbals and other high frequency components. Overall balance was a little bright, but nothing was under-represented. The bass was quite strong and well-enough extended that just about all music was competently delivered.
The only drawback was that I found myself maxing out my phone’s volume control much of the time. If the music had been recorded at a low level, achieving a satisfying level might have been difficult. A little more gain would be useful.
The speaker was clearly a couple of orders of magnitude poorer in sound quality. Really, one-inch drivers are not ideal for listening to music. When I had the music on max volume through the buds, then snapped them into the case and closed the lid, the level was too high from the speaker. By “too high” I don’t mean deafening. I mean too loud for the speaker to handle. The sound was typically a highly confused, distorted mess until I turned the level down to something appropriate for such a small speaker. Be prepared to lower the volume level when you use the speaker.
But it’s still a great feature, especially for things like podcasts where sound quality matters far less.
Given the price of the Vissles earbuds, they’d be worthy of a recommendation even without the useful little speaker. It’s a clever and potentially useful idea. I wonder if we’ll see more along these lines. So far, with all the many true wireless earphones we’ve reviewed over the years, we’ve never see these functions combined.
The Vissles true wireless earphones and speaker are available from Vissles here.