The Haylou W1 ANC is a sort of refreshed version of the W1 model that I tested last year and I was incredibly impressed by how the developers managed to add aptX support and the Knowles armature while keeping the price tag as low as it was.
|Haylou W1 ANC
And yes, the sound quality was good, so the W1 were (and are) kind of a gem in the TWS earbuds market. They did lack ANC, so Haylou decided that it’s time to add it to the refreshed W1 version. There are a few other aspects that have been improved, so the Haylou W1 ANC may as well be considered the successor to the W1.
Sure, the Knowles armature is still here, but both the earbuds and the charging case have received bigger batteries. The Bluetooth SoC is also completely different, moving away from Qualcomm and adopting the WUQI platform, and I have seen that the support for the aptX codec has been dropped, which is a downgrade from the original W1. There seem to have been some improvements in regard to the call quality, adding more microphones into the mix and Haylou has made available an app which seems to allow the change of the sound signature.
But just like the TOZO Open Buds, you can’t adjust the frequency response the way you want it, it’s just the presets. So yes, it does seem that the W1 ANC is a completely new device and it has only a few elements in common with the named predecessor. Keeping that in mind, let’s put the TWS earbuds to the test and see if they’re better than the W1.
Build Quality and Design
Although the charging cases are very much different, the Haylou W1 ANC earbuds do resemble very closely the W1 earbuds. I suppose that the biggest difference is the shorter neck of the W1 ANC and the different color + finish.
They’re glossy instead of matte and yes, they’re very slippery. Haylou did go with the look of the traditional earbuds, with a rounded piece that gets inserted into the ear and the neck pointing downwards, encasing the Bluetooth antenna and offering a stability point for the earbuds. And they do sit nicely inside the ear, with no noticeable pressure point, but since the Haylou W1 ANC earbuds do need to enter the ear canal, you will eventually need to take them off (about an hour an a half was my average listening time).
Since the W1 ANC are full TWS earbuds, not semi-open, they do have silicone tips and Haylou has included a couple more inside the package if the default ones don’t fit into your ears. Since the manufacturer has advertised that each earbud has three microphones, I checked the small case and there was a larger one near the silicone ear tip, one at the upper part of the elongated neck and another at the bottom, near the two magnetic charging pins.
As for controls, the Haylou W1 ANC does rely on touch-sensitive areas positioned on the outer side of the aforementioned elongated neck. A double tap on either earbuds will Pause or Resume the current track, while a triple tap on the left (right) earbud will skip it backwards (forward). There is also a latency mode which can be enabled by holding the left earbuds and, as for ANC, press and hold the right earbud for a couple of seconds.
You can also answer a call while wearing the Haylou W1 ANC by double-tapping any earbud and reject it with a triple-tap. The original W1 did not have volume control and neither does the Haylou W1 ANC, so this unfortunately remained consistent. Volume control is pretty much considered a standard even at the entry-level point, so this feature should not have been missing. In any case, are the earbuds suitable for outdoor activities? I have said it before and I will say it again. Don’t wear earbuds while doing outdoor sports unless they’re designed to remain on the ear regardless of the body motions.
Otherwise, you’re going to lose them – even indoors, you would not believe how often the Gravastar Sirius earbuds fall off while I’m working out. I did not find any mention about the Haylou W1 ANC being IP-rated or having any water resistance, quite the contrary since on the user manual it’s stated to keep the earbuds away from water (includes sweat). So yeah, these are not made for sports, which is fine, since there is an entire niche dedicated just for that. What’s a bit disconcerting is that the W1 were IPX4 rated, so not sure why not add at least this minimum protection against water ingress?
The Haylou W1 ANC Charging Case
The original W1 had a fairly compact charging case and, while I wouldn’t say that the W1 ANC case is necessarily smaller, it’s definitely shaped in a manner to better fit inside a pocket. The charging case measures 2.4 x 1.8 x 0.9 inches (6.2 x 4.7 x 2.2cm), it’s obviously made of plastic and, while it’s mostly covered by a black matte finish, Haylou decided to make the lid glossy black.
Conceptually, it looks great, but it does easily smudge after opening it a few times. I did complain that it was difficult to take out the earbuds from the Haylou W1 case, but this doesn’t seem to be true here even if the earbuds are glossy. For the charging port, the manufacturer went with the USB-C and there is a front-facing LED which lights up when you open the lid, but there is no proper system to show you the remaining battery life, which is a shame. There is an easily-missed side button that you can use to reset the earbuds (if you want to pair them to another device).
Internal Hardware and Connectivity
The W1 uses a Qualcomm QCC3040 SoC which supports Bluetooth 5.2, but the Haylou W1 ANC switched to a different platform, so it uses a WUQI WQ7034 SoC which needs a fairly low amount of power and it does confirm the advertised HiFi 5 DSP architecture design.
The dynamic drivers are 10mm and yes, we got the Knowles balanced armature once again, a technology that I was skeptical at first, but it has proven to make a difference in the sound quality (for the better). As for the Bluetooth version, we get v5.3 which is a bit more focused towards power consumption. The range remains 30 feet with some interference and the bandwidth has a high enough ceiling that the Haylou W1 ANC won’t be able to reach.
I do see that this SoC can support LDAC, which would have been a phenomenal addition at this price point, but it doesn’t seem that the Haylou W1 ANC supports it. We do get AAC, which is better than nothing – the aptX from W1 made me expect too much at this price point, I suppose.
I am always excited to check the sound quality of any earbuds that use the Knowles armature, but before I listened to the usual list of songs, I decided to check some technical aspects of the drivers. The first test analyzes the driver quality by playing a sweeping tone and checking if there’s any buzzing sound. The sound was fairly clean, with a very slight buzzing, but nothing serious.
Moving forward, we get to see if the drivers are perfectly balanced and I know that this is a difficult test for TWS earbuds since it’s easy to insert one more than the other into the ear. While making sure that the earbuds were placed properly, the sound did seem to be played in the middle, with no deviations. Before moving to the binaural songs, I have to mention just how much the inexpensive TWS earbuds have evolved in such a short time.
I say that because the ANC implementation seems to have no impact on the sound quality at all, it doesn’t distort the bass, no hissing, it just silences the world, allowing the user to lower the volume seemingly without impacting the sound quality. Now, after listening to the binaural songs, I noticed that the sound stage is about as narrow as on the W1 and that intimate sound feeling was present here as well. There is a good amount of detail and the instruments are decently differentiated, but I noticed the same focus on the most important aspects of a song, while blurring the background effect here as well, so at least in this respect the W1 ANC does feel a proper successor to the W1.
This was all with ANC off, but does turning the ANC on change anything? Yes it does, the sound stage does widen a quite a bit and some details get more in focus which is an unexpected behavior considering that with a lot of other ANC TWS earbuds, I usually see the opposite effect. So, from now on, it’s just ANC on to get the best out of the Haylou W1 ANC. At this point, I moved to the list of songs and the first one is the bass-focused Faded by Zhu and, while the volume was set to 70% (anything above would have been too loud), I noticed that the low bass is a tiny bit boosted, so it has enough presence, but doesn’t really bleed into other frequencies.
The song Morph the cat by Donald Fagen puts into focus the earbuds ability to shift the focus between the main instruments – it’s like a multi-act play. And it’s actually a smooth process, so it doesn’t feel disjointed. I also wanted to see how well the Haylou W1 ANC handled the busy song Mr Jack from System of a Down. And it’s curious to see that it sounded pretty much the same as on the W1 as long as the ANC was off, so the tuning is definitely the same, but as soon as the ANC was on, more detail came into focus and the voices, as well as the instruments were better defined.
Afterwards, I played She Burns by Vance and it seems that the Haylou W1 ANC got everything right. All the tiny details are there, the voice is properly placed and the sound is colorful; it’s pretty much perfect. Moving on to Breathin by Ariana Grande, I noticed that the female voice is slightly forward and dominates the scene quite a bit (the instruments just blur into the background most of the time, just the bass breaks through from time to time). Lastly, I listened to Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns n Roses and it sounded good. The voice didn’t get fatiguing and I didn’t notice any treble boost, so if you mostly listen to these types of songs, the Haylou W1 ANC won’t disappoint.
The ANC Performance
The sound quality tests have revealed that Haylou has kept the sound signature of the W1, but added ANC and did some magic to further improve it. But what about its effectiveness at canceling noises? It’s actually better than expected. I have some UPS fans that constantly run in the background which were completely silenced by the Haylou W1 ANC and even me typing on a very loud keyboard became quieter.
Not as quiet as when I was wearing the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it’s to be expected considering the huge difference in terms of price. Overall, it’s a good ANC implementation especially considering the price tag of the W1 ANC.
The Mobile App
The app is called Haylou Fun and it’s available on both iOS and Android OS. I have used it before when I tested the Haylou Purfree Lite and it failed to work properly. But it did detect the W1 ANC quickly and I gained access to the dashboard in a few seconds. Do know that the app will collect some data from you, including the location, so is it worth using it? Its functions are a bit limited, so you be the judge of that.
I have seen that there are some sound profiles available, but no custom ones, so no actual EQ control. But I did like that under Settings, I could configure how the multifunction button on each earbud will behave. These functions remind me a lot about the app that can be used with the TOZO Open Buds.
The Call Quality
Haylou has added a few extra microphones in the hopes that it will improve the call quality when compared to the W1. And yes, it’s a bit better, but not really by much. The echo-y effect is still present even if it’s not that quiet inside the room, so the person on the other side does need to pay extra attention to understand what I was saying. Going to a coffee shop, I noticed that most of the noise was indeed cut out, but again, the aforementioned issues persist and are slightly enhanced. If it’s windy or when I was near a highly trafficked road, it will get worse, where the voice will be even less clear.
The Battery Life
Halylou has disclosed that each earbud is equipped with a 35mAh battery and it seems that we should get 6.5 hours on a single charge. With ANC on and the volume set at 70%, I got only got about 4 hours and 15 minutes, so I assume that the advertised amount was with a lower volume and without ANC. It’s not really that great, but I suppose Haylou was limited by the small size of the W1 ANC earbuds and explains the surge of larger air conduction earbuds with way better battery lives.
In terms of looks and design, the Haylou W1 ANC have very little in common with the original W1, the former being more refined, but after listening to some songs, I understood the name choice. The W1 ANC sound pretty much the same as the W1, as long as you don’t enable the ANC. After enabling it, they’re a completely different pair of earbuds, sounding way better than its predecessor, but also better than most other earbuds in the same price range. So, from the sound quality standpoint, they’re above the entry-level, but the lack of water resistance and the fairly low battery life does mean that there are some compromises, which was to be expected.