Xperia Ear Duo wireless open-ear stereo headset review

Xperia Ear Duo wireless open-ear stereo headset review

Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo kit turns what you think you want from a pair of premium wireless earbuds on its head.

Of late I seem to the go-to guy when it comes to wireless earbuds. Ironically, I usually like my audio loud and preferably via dirty great speakers. Stuffing dainty little bits of plastic in my ears isn’t really my cup of tea. Apart from worrying about the things failing out, unless they are plugged into a car battery, there’s no way I’m going to get my usual deafening audio levels.

The fact of the matter is that I need a lot more than music to sell me on the idea of wireless earbuds.

Hello Sony Xperia Ear Duo.

For starters, these earbuds have the word Xperia on the box. My Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the best phone that I’ve ever come across.

Whilst every other earbud manufacturer is offering you an audio experience that isolates you from the outside world, the Xperia Ear Duo buds are happy to share with you a sublime audio experience without blocking out what’s going on around you.

Opening the compact charging case, the first thing that you notice is just how much Sony’s earbuds look like hearing aids. They are rather bulky, as if they are prototypes still waiting for refinement.

The devices take bit of practise to learn how to put them on without faffing about. The bulk of each ear bud fits behind your ear, anchored in place by a ridged piece of metal the connects to the innovative assembly that sits across your ear canal.

Xperia Ear Duo wireless open-ear stereo headset review

They sound uncomfortable, but they are not, once you get them positioned correctly. They are also not going to fall out easily. I’d argue that they fell a lot more natural that having a traditional earbud screwed into your lughole. They are no more uncomfortable to wear that a pair of sunglasses.

The speakers sits inside the parts tucked out of the way behind your ear with the sound directed through the metal tube to your ear. The actual rubber earpiece (of which there are a few included of different sizes) is circular, allowing you to still hear what’s going on around you.

Whilst you can still turn up the sound to drown out background noise, being able to still hear makes the Xperia Ear Duo a lot more versatile that your average earbuds. Not only are you less likely to get knocked down by the car that you didn’t hear, you can also engage in a conversation without the other party thinking you are ignorant. These are earbuds that you don’t actually need to take out.

Xperia Ear Duo wireless open-ear stereo headset review

The piece behind your ear has a touch sensitive strip that can be used to control your experience. The left side can start and stop music, as well as fast forward and rewind. Sliding your finger up or down either unit with increase or decrease the volume- something missing from many wireless earbuds. The right side has a number of customisable options in which different tap combinations can be configured to open phone apps.

You can set the Ear Duos to have the Xperia Assistant’s ethereal voice fill you with the weather and news as soon as you put them on. You can also set taps on the right headpiece to launch Google assistant and get useful, mis-heard and confused answers to your questions delivered to your ears. They also work with Siri.

Xperia Ear Duo wireless open-ear stereo headset review

The Xperia Ear Duo charging case is compact and practically-sized. The power connector to the charging case is the new USB-C, so be mindful of that, but this is becoming the standard now, so chances you are already using a compatible cable to charge your phone. The case holds enough charge to recharge the ear pieces three times.

You should get around four hours of listening and two and a half-hour of talking from a single charge. Seven minutes in the charge case should get you an hour of listening. This means if you are listening music, you can be away from power for sixteen hours. Let’s face it, your phone will probably run out of juice first.

The Sony Xperia Ear Duo is a fantastic piece of kit. The parts behind your ears are a bit on the large side for my taste, but not as visible as you’d think, especially if you have long hair. The sound quality is good and they are feature-packed. Being able to hear the world around you whilst listening to audio is the real selling point, bringing us one step closer to being accompanied by a true digital personal assistant wherever we go.