Buds 3T Pro true wireless headphones review: a nice surprise from Xiaomi

user experience

Like AirPods with iPhones, the Buds 3T Pro reserve many of their functions for Xiaomi terminals. The user experience is therefore heavily dependent on the operating system of the smartphone connected to these headphones.

The Buds 3T Pro will not switch to mono when used alone. In this configuration, half of the stereo signal is lost.

For non-Xiaomi terminals, the experience is sketchy but decent. Communication is of course via Bluetooth (SBC, AAC codecs) and the Buds 3T Pro have a multipoint function that allows the headphones to be connected to two devices at the same time. In addition, the Buds 3T Pro are controlled by a pressure sensor located on their stem, easily detectable by touch and allowing the execution of various commands (identical on each earphone) such as: B. Navigate between tracks, pause, resume playback, or switch from one track listening mode to another. Every action on these sensors is accompanied by a (too) quiet “beep” that gives the impression of actually having clicked on a button. Unfortunately, this closes the range of functions available for non-Xiaomi terminals.

Capturing settings on a Xiaomi 12 Pro.  The settings are stored in the headphones, which makes it possible to use certain options on non-Xiaomi smartphones by switching through a phone from this manufacturer.  Work out.

Capturing settings on a Xiaomi 12 Pro. The settings are stored in the headphones, which makes it possible to use certain options on non-Xiaomi smartphones by switching through a phone from this manufacturer. Work out.

Happy owners of Xiaomi smartphones benefit from many other setting and customization options. These are built right into the Bluetooth section of the phone’s Settings app. Among other things, it is possible to juggle between the different modes of active noise cancellation, update the headphones, activate head movement tracking, activate the proximity sensor or modify the control of the pressure sensor. There is also various information such as the remaining battery level or the Bluetooth codec used (in this case SBC, AAC or LHDC). Newer Xiaomi phones will show a connection window when you open the Buds 3T Pro case to facilitate the pairing process.

So far, Xiaomi has accustomed us to headphone models True wireless barely passable in terms of audio quality. With these Buds 3T Pro, the Chinese brand has taken a real step forward because although we’re still a class behind the best, they’re surprisingly precise and reasonable in their sound reproduction.

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

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

In fact, one of the main strengths of these headphones is the faithful reproduction of tonal colors. The cones are incredibly responsive for media reproduction and are perfectly at home in bass-heavy mixes where each instrument is very clearly identified, each frequency band staying in place. However, the Buds 3T Pro are quite shy when it comes to bass reproduction, which is reflected in particular in a very “dry” sound, a certain lack of depth and foundation, clearly audible with kicks or bass drums. for example.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

This removal of the bass also causes a certain imbalance in the sound signature in favor of the high-mids. The presence range (around 4kHz) is a bit over-pronounced, which reinforces the lively, brilliant aspect of the sound reproduction and directly affects certain instruments such as cymbals, brass or some overdriven guitars. Since this range is the most sensitive to the human ear, such behavior can be quite tiring at a comfortable listening level.

Like the bass, the treble is not very demonstrative and deserves a more generous expansion this time so that we can fully grasp certain very fine details and spatial effects. In addition, some rather strange crosstalk problems emerged: certain elements normally placed at the extreme left of the stereophonic field (and reproduced almost exclusively by the left earbud) found themselves much more audible on the right channel than they shouldn’t be.

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  With active noise reduction (purple), without active noise reduction (red).  The Buds 3T Pro exhibit exceptionally low harmonic distortion.

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). With active noise reduction (purple), without active noise reduction (red). The Buds 3T Pro exhibit exceptionally low harmonic distortion.

The big news on these Buds 3T Pro is support for 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio. Xiaomi’s headphones would do quite well, mostly thanks to the nice breadth and depth of soundstage they offer. Unfortunately, the automatic tracking of head movements is completely useless, both because it causes a degradation in the quality of the audio signal and because the detection experiences a very significant delay of around 1 s.

Active noise cancellation

Xiaomi terminal owners are once again privileged here. Thus, phone users of the Chinese brand have access to four active noise reduction modes: the Low, Balanced and Deep modes compensate for the strength of the attenuation, while the Adaptive mode automatically switches between the other three modes depending on the strength of the surrounding noise. Hearing ambient noise also benefits from two modes: a classic transparent mode and another called Improve the rendering of voices, which emphasizes the mids to extract them as much as possible. Smartphones other than Xiaomi’s have access to a single active noise cancellation mode (Deep) and a single ambient noise listening mode (Transparent) by default. However, it is possible to change the modes accessible on non-Xiaomi smartphones by going upstream via … a Xiaomi phone! In fact, we remind you that the Buds 3T Pro keep their settings in memory.

Because of their presence detector, we could not carry out our usual insulation measurements with our dummy. However, this does not prevent us from providing you with our analysis. In terms of performance, the damping of the lowest frequencies is very correct, even if it does not come close to the performance of the best students in this area (Sony WF-1000XM4, Devialet Gemini, etc.). The roar of a train or car engine is dampened, as is ventilation noise. However, the headphones have a much harder time lowering the mids and highs. You won’t miss a conversation around you. Even non-static sounds like the tapping of a keyboard or the screeching of train tracks are dampened slightly.

The performance of the ambient noise listening modes is okay, but nothing more.

The performance of the ambient noise listening modes is okay, but nothing more.

Activating active noise cancellation also causes a kind of sound pressure that can be annoying for such sensibilities. Also note that the Buds 3T Pro have a wind noise cancellation system that can be automatically enabled but not disabled. Although it only activates when it’s windy and mitigates its effects admirably, this system has the side effect of reducing the effectiveness of active noise cancellation. The fact that it is quite sensitive is also a problem, especially when moving, because the behavior of the noise reduction algorithm changes quite frequently here, which can quickly become annoying. We would have liked the ability to disable it at will.

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