When buying truly wireless headphones, it’s usually a choice between pairs so expensive they’ll make your eyes water or models so bad they’ll leave you straining your ears.
Our lab tests have proved that even spending £100+ on truly wireless headphones can’t guarantee you’ll land something decent.
So when we heard about Lidl’s soon-to-be-launched £25 Silvercrest true wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones, we wondered whether they would be reasonable enough to satisfy the ears of non-audiophiles who are wallet-conscious (and perhaps prone to losing things).
Keep reading for our initial thoughts on Lidl’s latest launch. Or skip straight to our expert truly wireless headphones reviews.
Let’s start with the obvious: price
At £25, you can buy nine pairs of Lidl’s Silvercrest true wireless in-ear headphones for the price of the new Apple AirPods Pro earbuds (and still have £24 change left over for groceries, which will go a long way in Lidl). So even if you lose them, you might not be too upset having to fork out for a replacement.
However, this is Lidl, where its middle-aisle goodies don’t hang around for long, so getting your hands on another pair might prove impossible.
Of course, if it proves that listening to your music is as shrill as the sound of a screaming child, then misplacing them might be a blessing.
Apple’s AirPods Pro cost £249. So not only are they eye-wateringly expensive, you’re also likely to be reduced to tears if you happen to lose a bud – or both, especially if Apple’s claim of ‘amazing audio quality’ is true.
Apple has now introduced the ‘Find My AirPods’ feature to devices running iOS 10.3 or later, though that’s probably no consolation if you’re already halfway across the country when realising they’re gone. You can see our expert reviews of Apple’s AirPods to find out how they work and what our experts thought of them.
Features: Apple vs Silvercrest
How do they work?
The Silvercrest true wireless in-ear headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to devices. Benefits of Bluetooth 5.0 include ‘low energy’, which is designed to reduce the energy use of Bluetooth peripherals; and improved speed and range, which is supposed to lessen any lag between the transition of sound from your core device to the headphones, and allow the device to be further away from your headphones yet still transmit audio.
Pairing the Silvercrests with our Google Pixel 3 phone was easy: all we had to do was remove the headphones from the charging case, press the small button on one of the buds (although the instructions don’t mention that) and search for the device on the smartphone, where they connected immediately. This is made all easier by audible announcements such as ‘pairing’ and ‘paired’.
Bluetooth 5.0 didn’t seem to do the Silvercrest headphones any favours however. When listening to music and placing the smartphone in a pocket, the sound tended to cut in and out. Not ideal if you’re listening to the news, football coverage or learning your lines for karaoke. In our testing, there’s been no clear link between Bluetooth 5.0 leading to better scores, so don’t be too swayed by technical specs like this.
The earbuds each have a small LED, designed to indicate when they’re on, pairing with a device, charging or battery is low, yet they’re so small it’s nearly impossible to see what’s going on if you’re in a bright environment.
Buttons on the side of each earbud allow you to turn them on, pause audio, skip tracks, answer calls or even reject them. This seemed to work well; you just need to learn the control sequences.
As we mentioned, the headphones come with a charging case. The batteries are claimed to provide three hours’ listening, with the charging case offering three charging cycles – so nine hours’ listening in all before the charging case needs refueling via a USB port. Three hours’ listening may seem low, but we’ve seen worse from much higher-priced pairs in our battery life tests.
Our measurements were by no means exact, but it didn’t feel we got three hours’ total listening from the Silvercrests before we had to pop them back into the case for a recharge.
How do they sound?
The sound is significantly affected by the fit. It’s a matter of preference, but the Silvercrests do not sit snugly in the ear canal, failing to seal in audio, meaning the clarity of your music is somewhat lost. This style of earbud is the same as the original Apple AirPods, where there’s a possibility sound will leak out to your surroundings; however, this is not a problem you need to worry about with the Silvercrests.
That leads us onto the sound quality itself. Listening with default sound mode (ie no enhancements to bass or treble) means music generally sounds flat and tinny. Turning on the equaliser (we tried FX booster) did add more depth to music. But turning on the equaliser reduces the volume so much that when listening in a busy or loud environment (we tried them on the London Underground), you can barely hear your music.
While the sound quality varies when listening to music, the phone call feature works well. Clarity is good for both parties, and the audible announcements mean you’re alerted to an incoming call, which subsequently pauses whatever you’re listening to.
So, if you don’t want to spend a lot, sound quality isn’t a deal-breaker for you and you’ll only use them occasionally or for short periods, you might be inclined to pick up a pair of Lidl’s Silvercrest true wireless in-ear headphones when they launch on 24 November. We won’t be putting these ones through our lab, but it’s worth reading our reviews of others in a similar price range before you make up your mind.
£50 or less: truly wireless pairs we’ve put through our lab
Our expert lab rigorously tests every pair of headphones we put their way. Here are three other pairs you might want to consider if you’re looking for a sub-£50 pair – but read the reviews before you hit the buy button.
Enacfire Future Plus Headphones, £40
One of the most recently tested pairs, the Enacfire Future Plus Headphones, caught our eye because of the thousands of positive reviews they’ve received on Amazon. They come with a charging case and are claimed to be waterproof, offer four hours’ playtime on a single charge and, unlike the Lidl pair, a selection of rubber tips for comfort.
But for around £34, will they be any better than Lild’s Silvercrest headphones? Read our full Enacfire Future Plus review.
JLab Audio JBuds Air, £50
These JLab Audio truly wireless headphones are packed with features including a dedicated app designed to optimise sound settings, a charging case, a choice of rubber eartips, and on-earphone controls which let you do everything from turning up the volume and changing tracks to activating your phone’s voice assistant.
Read our full JLab Audio JBuds Air review to see what our experts thought.
Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds, £50
These truly wireless earbuds have been knocking around for a few years. Like the others, they come with a charging case, and it can apparently be used for 10 charging cycles before it needs recharging from the mains. They also allow you to play your music in mono or stereo. But if the sound quality is so bad, you won’t want to listen to your music in either.
Check out our full review of the Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds to see our lab’s verdict.
See all our reviews of truly wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones.