The age of the “true wireless” earbuds started early last year, with the Bragi Dash — an ambitious but ultimately disappointing first step into an entirely new headphone form factor. Though we don’t think this type of headphone has found its foothold yet in the consumer market, it is encouraging to see that many brands — including big ones like Samsung and Sony — are still trying to make true wireless headphones happen. This week we’re trying the newest offering from from Yevo, called the Yevo 1. After living with them for a few weeks we find that, though the Yevo 1 hasn’t solved all the challenges faced by a true wireless headphone, its clean look and sound make it a decent option for those willing to spend some extra money for a wire-free experience.
The Yevo 1 is available in a few different colorways, including a white and rose gold option, though we prefer the black-on-black color scheme of our review sample. The Yevo 1 has a clean, classy look, but we’re on the fence about its choice of materials — the thin plastic construction of the buds and charging case are probably great for weight savings (the buds weigh only 8 grams) but feel cheap for a product that costs $250. Only the charging/storage case, three sets of ear tips, and a USB cable are included in the box — minimal, but sufficient. Material choice aside, the Yevo 1’s charging case is slick, with a slide-out design with just enough resistance (we’re guessing magnets) to keep it closed and four small LEDs to indicate battery level. The Yevo 1 has the look and (mostly) feel of a luxury product, though we would have appreciated a more durable material at least in the charging case.
Using the Yevo 1 is as easy or complex as you want it to be. Out of the box, they pair easily with the iPhone and can be controlled easily through the iPhone’s controls. They also support touch controls, with different functions mapped to each ear. Except for a few core functions, these touch controls can be customized using a drag-and-drop interface in the Yevo app. Everything from volume (single tap to increase, double-tap to decrease), play/pause, Siri, and audio transparency mode can be controlled with taps. In our testing, we found that the touch controls work as advertised, albeit after a long enough delay that we sometimes questioned whether the tap had been recognized. Though the buds automatically turn off when inserted into their charging case, we would have appreciated a sensor to automatically pause the music and disable touch controls when the Yevo 1 were taken out of the ear — currently, they keep playing until manually paused, and it’s far too easy to accidentally trigger the touch sensors while handling the Yevo 1’s buds.
Yevo claims that between the charging case and internal batteries, these earbuds can last up to 4 hours on a charge, or 20 total hours using all the juice in the case. These house only 60 mAh batteries, which are smaller than those of some other true wireless earbuds we’ve used. Of course, battery life will be affected by how loud you’re listening to the Yevo 1 and, to get the full 20 hours, you’ll have to repeatedly put them back in the case for recharging. Still, we used the Yevo 1 extensively on our daily commutes and never had a problem with them lasting at least through the day. If we had to speculate, we’d guess that the Yevo 1’s decent battery life is due to the fact that it doesn’t try to do anything more than it needs to — no accelerometers, no fitness trackers, no ANC — just music.
The Yevo 1 connects to the phone via Bluetooth, and the individual buds connect to each other using Near-Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI). This is probably the best configuration for “true wireless” earbuds — since the human head is not radio transparent, a Bluetooth-only connection would rely on reflections for the individual ears to remain in sync. Still, as with all “true wireless” earbuds we’ve tried, the Yevo 1’s connection hangs by a thread. In some areas, we experienced skips and dropouts depending on which pocket our iPhone was in, whether we were covering the iPhone’s antenna bands and, occasionally, just turning the head too far in one direction. We’re hesitant to hold this against Yevo — we’ve yet to try a true wireless headphone that doesn’t suffer from connection problems, and even ‘regular wireless’ Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested have skipped in some areas. It’s an industry-wide problem yet to be solved.
Available for free on the iOS App Store is the Yevo app. A sliding menu at the bottom of the screen allows the user to access its several screens; you can check battery life, power off the Yevo 1, customize touch controls, adjust equalizer/balance, toggle bass boost, and activate Audio Transparency mode. The app has a classy design and everything works, although it can take a few seconds for the app to connect to the Yevo 1. Though the Yevo app is not essential — all the Yevo 1’s functions are accessible either through iOS (including battery status) or touch controls (including power on/off) — it is one of the better companion apps we’ve seen with Bluetooth headphones, and it also works even when the Yevo 1’s are connected to your Apple Watch rather than the iPhone. We like the inclusion of the Audio Transparency mode; it works well, but takes long enough to activate that in some cases it’s easier just to take an earbud out.
The Yevo 1 uses one Knowles balanced-armature driver per ear. Balanced armature drivers are known for their small size, power efficiency, and ability to produce clear mid and high-frequency sounds. They are not, however, known for their bass response — balanced armatures just don’t move air like a dynamic driver. Not surprisingly, we found the Yevo 1 to be lacking in low-end; we were able to improve this by experimenting with ear tips that made a better seal in the ear canal, though we were never able to get what we might call “powerful” bass from the Yevo 1. A software “Bass Boost” function is available in the Yevo app, but we found it to be somewhat unnatural and bloated given the driver’s capabilities. Also, no high-resolution Bluetooth codecs like aptX or AAC here — only the basic SBC codec is supported. Still, we think the Yevo 1 sounds good for what it is — its sound is clean and well defined for a Bluetooth headphone.
True wireless headphones are having a rough childhood. Manufacturers in this space are battling size, weight, battery life, and the physical limitations of Bluetooth and NFMI. Designing around all these challenges ramps up cost, all while they’re competing with regular Bluetooth headphones that can sound fine and cost under $50. We think the Yevo 1 is a perfect example of a relatively new company doing its best to find balance among all these challenges, even if the compromises can be felt from time to time. In our opinion, these compromises, especially in light of the Yevo 1’s price and sound signature, necessarily limit its appeal. Still, we’re rooting for the Yevo 1, because when true wireless headphones work, it feels like magic.
Company and Price
Company: YEVO Labs
Model: YEVO 1