Last year, Swedish headphone maker Yevo Labs broke into the “true wireless” headphone market with its debut product, the Yevo 1, an elegantly designed pair of Bluetooth/NFMI earbuds at the cutting edge of a fully wireless future. While we really liked the design and the concept behind the Yevo 1, in the end they offered more flash than substance, with sound quality that didn’t measure up to the $250 price tag. This year, the company has returned with Yevo Air, featuring a lighter weight and more muted design, and more importantly a considerably lower cost of entry, so we were naturally eager to put this latest version through its paces.

Yevo Air now comes in only two basic colors — black with glossy black accents, and white with silver accents — eliminating the gaudier gold trim of the prior model. A more traditional charging case is also included, with a lid which flips open at the push of a button to reveal spaces to insert and charge the two earbuds. We think the case is an improvement over the prior model in both size and style; the Yevo 1 case looked a little bit too much like a lipstick tube, especially in the gold-accented version. Charging is still handled via an included Micro-USB cable, but as with most headphones, you’ll need to supply your own power adapter or other USB charging source. As with the prior model, and most other true wireless earbuds, the case packs a battery to provide a quick recharge while on the go, with 15 minutes of charging time offering up another 45 minutes of listening time. The earbuds themselves provide about three hours of listening time on a single charge, while the case will give you an additional 11 hours. A full charge of the entire kit takes about 1.5 hours.

The technology in Yevo Air remains basically the same as its predecessor; one earphone connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and then uses Near-Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) to pass on the signal to the other one. While NFMI is used in most “true wireless” earbuds, it’s not without its limitations, since you’re relying on a strong signal to one of the earbuds — the right one, in Yevo’s case — in order for the other one to work, so you’ll encounter occasional drops if you like to carry your iPhone in your left pocket, as the human body is not exactly radio transparent. Of course, this is an issue with many Bluetooth headphones, but it’s exacerbated here by the smaller size of the Bluetooth receiver and the fact that it’s enclosed inside the ear canal. While Yevo does seem to have improved on this problem slightly in the Yevo Air, it hasn’t been completely eliminated, but to be fair, it’s common to every true wireless earbuds we’ve tried with the exception of Apple’s AirPods, which use a completely different technology based on the company’s W1 chip. On the other hand, the NFMI pairing between the two earbuds is more solid in the Yevo Air than it was in the Yevo 1, and we encountered no problems with the audio pairing between the two during normal listening; gripping the right earbud with both fingers often caused the left one to drop out, but this isn’t something you’ll do except when inserting and removing it.

Yevo has also changed the control scheme on the Yevo Air, although not necessarily for the better. The touch controls have been replaced with physically actuated buttons that basically cover the entire outside of the earbud, but they make a loud “click” noise when pressed that’s downright distracting considering that the earbud is right in your ear. The controls are also no longer customizable — the iOS app designed for the Yevo 1 doesn’t work with the Yevo Air — so you’re stuck with Yevo’s predefined button assignments, which involve a series of short, medium, long, double- and triple-presses to activate various functions. The left earbud provides volume control (single-press to turn up, double-press to turn down), while the right earbud controls every thing, including track navigation, call end/answer, and Siri activation. Although the controls work well enough — they’re more responsive than the Yevo 1, which sometimes had a bit of an awkward delay, and can’t be accidentally activated when simply adjusting the earbud — they’re also too firm and too loud. Not only is the “click” noise distracting, but pressing the buttons makes us feel like we’re shoving the earbuds into the side of our head.

Although the sound has improved on the Yevo Air, especially in the bass line, it still feels a bit thin and even anemic compared to the similarly-priced Marshall Minor II. While Marshall’s new IEMs are definitely setting a high standard for sound quality at this price, listening comparisons with the Yevo Air demonstrated exactly how big this gap can be, and we were even more surprised considering that Yevo Air claims to support the AAC codec, while Marshall’s IEMs do not. Although Yevo Air provides considerably better fit and sound isolation — three sizes of ear tips are included — the midrange frequencies were particularly unbalanced, and at higher volumes came across as too sharp and tinny, while the bass can best be described as unrefined and a bit overwhelming in some cases, especially at lower volumes; the Yevo Air provide a good listening experience with boomy, bass-heavy tracks, but don’t quite cut it when you’re listening to pretty much anything else. It feels like Yevo overcompensated here for last year’s lighter-bass version.

Ultimately, Yevo Air confirms what we’ve generally been seeing across the entire line of “true wireless” earbuds: the market just hasn’t quite matured enough yet, and many manufacturers are still trying to find their footing. Although Yevo Air comes in at a considerably better price than its predecessor, we wonder if the company cut too many corners to get there, making some odd decisions along the way. If you’re on a budget, and absolutely have to have “true wireless” earphones, Yevo Air are worth considering, but you can find much better sound quality at this price point among traditional wireless earphones.

Our Rating

B-
Limited Recommendation

Company and Price

Company: Yevo

Model: Yevo Air

Price: $129