Vivo Golden Ear Team Interview: What did they do to achieve good sound quality on TWS 2?

Some time ago, Ai Fan'er planned a special live broadcast, the theme of which was "turning over the package." The intention is to see what interesting or shameful objects are in each editor’s backpack.

A more interesting phenomenon is that almost all editors have TWS (True Wireless) earphones in their backpacks, but Menglin, a veteran of the Hi-Fi industry, still insists on using wired earphones.

For him, who is sophisticated in sound quality and various cables, although TWS headphones are easy to carry, they have the original sin of "poor sound quality" and "high delay". Another phenomenon that makes him dissatisfied is that the balance of noise reduction and sound quality is always out of balance. TWS products with good sound quality, noise reduction and low latency are rare on the market.

And just a few days later, vivo released the TWS 2 series of headphones. While focusing on sound quality, it has achieved the industry's lowest full-link 88ms gaming low latency and 40dB deep noise reduction. It seems that the "three mountains" of TWS noise-canceling headphones have been surpassed one by one.

More importantly, the price of TWS 2 is only 499 yuan, which is half cheaper than TWS 1. The price has doubled, the configuration has doubled, how TWS 2 sounds, and the stories behind its development, we spent nearly two weeks to experience and understand.

Good sound quality, quiet listening

As mentioned above, sound quality, poor noise reduction and high latency are often the "three mountains" of TWS headphones. As the main dimension for judging a pair of headphones, sound quality should be the ability that consumers care about most.

There are many factors that affect the sound quality of headphones, the core of which is the sound unit. Vivo has customized a 12.2mm super-size sound unit for TWS 2. The large size lays the foundation for achieving good sound quality and deep noise reduction.

This large-size unit is equipped with a brand new speaker magnetic circuit system. The surface of the unit made of polyurethane polymer is coated with a layer of bio-carbon fiber. This is not only good for the restoration of the mid and high frequencies, but also achieves a fuller low frequency.

We listened to a variety of music genres: pop, folk, rock, ACG, etc. The overall feeling is that the universality of TWS 2 is still very strong, with excellent resolution and dynamic range, and most styles of music can be handled.

Its tuning style is biased towards monitoring, and the vocals are clean and there is not much sound staining. The transparency is very good, the vocals are clear and the details are rich, and it performs well for studio albums. This light-like tuning style may not be so amazing at first glance, but it will be very pleasant to listen to.

The low-frequency rebound of TWS 2 is fast, without too much emphasis on the sense of volume. Although this makes the human voice clearer to a certain extent, the impact of the drums appears to be slightly weaker when listening to music such as rock and Live. The sound field with earphones is not so wide, which makes the atmosphere so strong.

However, DeepX 2.0 stereo effects make up for this. If you are a rock fan, or simply like strong bass, you can choose "Super Bass". After enhancing the low frequency, the improvement of the sense of envelopment will be immediate.

The other two sound effects of DeepX 2.0 are "clear vocal" and "clear treble". After the former is turned on, the penetrating power of human voice is stronger. For example, when you turn it on when you listen to female voices such as Faye Wong and Teresa Teng, the details of the sound will be further amplified, and the emotional appeal will be stronger. After the latter is turned on, the sound of the instrument is more prominent, which is more suitable for listening to country and pure instrument music. It can be said that music lovers of all tastes have been taken care of.

Compared with wired headsets, the culprit of poor sound quality is the data transmission capability. In order to alleviate this dilemma, TWS 2 has built the DEEP-HD ultra-definition engine, which can provide 1.5 times the amount of information of traditional decoding, and double the audio bandwidth.

If the sound quality is compared to water flow, this action of TWS 2 is equivalent to increasing the diameter of the water pipe, which fundamentally makes the water flow larger.

In order to ensure the stability of the "water flow", the antenna of TWS 2 has been redesigned to increase the stability of the wireless connection by 20%. Supplemented by aptX Adaptive technology, the headset can automatically adjust the sound quality and stability of the balance according to the wireless connection environment. When I used it in shopping malls, subway stations, etc. with a lot of people, there was no disconnection.

If you regard good sound quality as the first killer of TWS 2. The second is 40dB deep noise reduction.

TWS 2 provides three levels of noise reduction, namely mild, normal and deep. There is also an automatic file, which allows the headset to judge the noise level of the environment and automatically select the appropriate noise reduction depth.

Actually experience it. The mild noise reduction performance is good enough, the air conditioning sound in the office, the keyboard sound can be covered, and the ear pressure is hardly felt at the same time. Moderate is more suitable for outdoor scenes such as shopping malls and streets, mainly suppressing mid- and high-frequency life noise. The heavy noise reduction actually targets heavy low-frequency noise, which is more suitable when taking public transportation such as subways and airplanes.

A small detail is that the suppression of high frequencies by heavy noise reduction is slightly weaker, and the advantage is that you will not miss the sound of the station announcement. In addition, the higher the degree of noise reduction, the more obvious the ear pressure and bottom noise. Considering the comfort, I use mild and moderate noise reduction more in the experience.

Of course, after choosing "Intelligent Dynamic Noise Reduction", you don't have to worry about which level of noise reduction you should choose. It can give me an excellent noise reduction experience indoors, outdoors, or high-speed railway stations with severe noise.

Regarding noise reduction, there are two additional points. One is the ability to resist wind noise, especially when riding a bicycle. Second, when talking, the human voice is clear, and the suppression of environmental sounds is also better.

Let's talk about the third killer of TWS 2, the ultra-low latency of 88ms.

We were impressed by the low latency of TWS Neo released last year. TWS 2 inherits this point and can achieve 88ms full link low latency. This number may seem large, but in fact, the delay of ordinary TWS headphones is often more than 150ms.

In the actual experience, the ultra-low latency brings better audio and video synchronization, and there is no need to switch to wired headphones when playing games. Thanks to in-depth optimization, TWS 2 can achieve lower latency even when paired with devices on platforms such as MTK and Samsung that use SBC codec.

In addition to the three above-mentioned capabilities, TWS 2 has many highlights:

  • A single battery life of 4.5 hours, with a charging box can provide up to 30 hours of battery life
  • Single 4.7g, no burden to wear
  • Bluetooth 5.2, support dual device connection, connect immediately after opening the cover
  • Pressure sensitive control, smart wearing detection
  • Support Jovi voice, real-time translation, information broadcast
  • IP54 dustproof and waterproof

Frankly speaking, when I got TWS 2, I thought the price would be similar to TWS 1. Unexpectedly, it is half cheaper than the previous generation. In the market less than 500 yuan, TWS 2 can be described as the "flagship killer". To use internet buzzwords, it means "killing crazy."

The "Nine-Nine-Eight-One Difficulties" before TWS 2

What kind of debugging and testing does a pair of headphones go through from design to manufacturing? Ai Faner came to Vivo’s Golden Ear Lab in Dongguan. Wang Youfei, general manager of Vivo’s smart terminal, introduced us to the story behind the launch of TWS 2.

▲Personal photo of Wang Youfei

Compared with the previous generation, the appearance of TWS 2 has changed dramatically, from a semi-in-ear type to an in-ear type. So all the designs, molds, and craftsmanship must be revisited. Wang Youfei said frankly that the design of the exterior ID took a long time. "How to make it smaller and more beautiful to surprise consumers is a big problem."

"Only the outside painting process, we changed it 4 times. The CMF model also changed 4 times." Wang Youfei said, "We want to make the shell look crystal clear and radiant. This puts high demands on the painting process."

For example, the interstellar blue version we experienced has undergone 5 processes such as vacuum plating and spray painting to achieve a gradual texture of luster and luster. The appearance is quite high.

On the shape of the headset, vivo also spent a long time polishing it. It collected thousands of real human ear canal models, and repeatedly adjusted the details of the earphone cavity, the shape of the ear cap, and the deflection angle of the ear, and finally created a universal and compliant outline.

In the actual experience, several partners in the editorial department all tried on their ears. The wear was tight and firm, and there was not much foreign body sensation. The wearing comfort is really excellent.

After the appearance is determined, the adjustment of the sound quality is more energy-consuming. "For the horn alone, we opened the third version from the supplier, and the film was changed more than ten times." Wang Youfei said, "After two or three months, listen to it anytime, anywhere, and feel it anytime, anywhere, round by round to polish the sound quality."

In this process, vivo's Golden Ear team is the protagonist. Vivo’s audio products must be judged and reviewed by this team before they are released on the market. Although this team has existed in the vivo system for a long time, there have been few public reports on this team before, and it is the first time that we have an in-depth understanding of this team.

According to Wang Youfei, the Golden Ear team is divided into internal and external aspects. Vivo’s internal Golden Ear team consists of members from various departments of the company. Some of them are Hi-Fi enthusiasts, some have studied vocal music in college, and some have played in bands before. Although the positions are different, they all have a love for music in common.

To join the Golden Ear team, you don’t need to love music. You also need a pair of "Golden Ears." Before joining the team, you need to go through up to 8 rigorous sound tests to prove that it has sufficient sensitivity to sound.

After joining this team, vivo will conduct daily aesthetic training for members. The company set up a "listening room", acoustic decoration plus top-of-the-line audio equipment, costing one million yuan. Try to let team members know and remember what a "good voice" is.

In addition to this internal Golden Ear team, vivo also has an external Golden Ear team. Some of them are music magazine editors, some are senior Hi-Fi enthusiasts, and some are industry experts. The tuning stage of TWS 2 is based on the opinions of the internal and external Golden Ear team and repeated optimizations.

In addition to sound quality, TWS 2 needs to undergo multiple rounds of rigorous testing in professional laboratories such as anechoic rooms and electro-acoustic rooms before mass production. The noise reduction depth of 40dB is measured in the anechoic room as shown below.

Among them, there are some scene tests that ordinary users can't imagine. For example, put the earphone into the air pressure adjusting device to simulate the low air pressure environment to test whether the sound quality is distorted in the high altitude area.

The above steps are just a slice of the entire R&D process. We can spy on a pair of headphones, from design to production, the "nine-nine-nine-eighty-one difficulties" that need to be experienced. Understand where good sound quality comes from.

Keeping the original aspiration of sound quality, TWS 2 stands firm

In 2012, when mobile phone manufacturers were still using various exaggerated sound effects to improve the sound performance of mobile phones to cater to the sound quality needs of consumers, vivo from a professional point of view, through redesigning at the hardware level, launched the first equipped with The smartphone vivo X1 with independent Hi-Fi chip.

▲vivo X1, the first smartphone equipped with an independent Hi-Fi chip

Since then, the independent Hi-Fi solution has become the highlight of vivo mobile phones, and the sound quality has become synonymous with vivo mobile phones. Vivo Xplay 5/6 smartphones are still used by enthusiasts.

From the original Hi-Fi chip with a single solution to the Hi-Fi 3.0 solution with integrated left and right dual-channel decoding and amplification, Vivo has been continuously exploring the possibility of mobile phone Hi-Fi while meeting basic needs.

From "Hi-Fi & Smart" to "Music & Camera" to "Camera & Design", the Slogan of vivo phones is changing, but the accumulation and persistence in audio technology has never changed.

Wang Youfei, general manager of vivo smart terminal, told Ai Faner that in vivo's latest Slogan, "Design" does not only refer to appearance design, but also product design. One of the most important is the audio design.

What many users don't know is that flagship phones such as vivo X60 Pro/Pro+ and iQOO 7 still insist on built-in DAC and insist on Hi-Fi quality. This needs to be taken into account at the beginning of mobile phone design.

Still insisting on Hi-Fi quality X60 Pro+

In fact, mobile phone audio experience cannot only rely on mobile phones, earphones are also an indispensable part. In the era of 3.5mm weakening, vivo still spends a lot of energy to bring outstanding wired headset products such as XE1000, XE680/XE710 and so on.

Entering the wireless era, vivo still adheres to the principle of sound quality first. Whether it is TWS 1, TWS Neo, or TWS 2, it uses "good sound quality" as its main brand.

So what is good sound quality for vivo? Wang Youfei said frankly, "Good sound quality may be more difficult to define. Since X1, the Golden Ear team has often sat down to discuss what good sound quality is. Vivo hopes to explore a set of standards, form its own signature, and pass it on as a gene."

After combining industry suggestions and consumer interviews, vivo defines "good sound quality" as follows:

Full, clear, clear, emotional and warm.

This may sound metaphysical. But when I experience TWS 2, I can really feel this way. The voice is solid and clear, and the human voice is transparent and clear. Appropriate modification of the high frequency enhances the overtone performance, and the vocal emotions are more obvious.

From the perspective of vivo's definition of good sound quality, TWS 2 is undoubtedly a stand-alone product and the most representative sound among current vivo wireless audio products.

In the next step, vivo hopes to solve the problem of Bluetooth Hi-Fi transmission bandwidth as soon as possible. At that time, vivo hopes that TWS headsets can not only talk about "good sound quality", but also have the qualifications and ability to talk about Hi-Fi. This day may not be far away.

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