Aiwa is a legacy brand in the music industry, but a name long lost amidst growing competition over the years. Now, the name is once again ringing in the ears of consumers, but comes with a refreshed approach to target the masses and how. Aiwa launched series of wireless audio gears for Indian consumers, and that includes its wireless neckband model, ESBT-460. The nomenclature could have been better for these models, but can you really complain given how some earphones and headphones are named these days, with a few exceptions, of course.
We've managed to spend some time with the all-new Aiwa ESBT-460 for streaming shows on OTT, listening to music and for calls. Here's our final take.
Design and fit
Aiwa ESBT-460 comes in a generous premium packaging, which gives a solid first impression considering its price tag. Resting inside a cushion, the neckband-style earphones are extremely light given its specs, which is credit to the all-plastic construction. We didn't mind the choice of material as it proved to be extremely comfortable to wear for long durations.
All the controls are placed on the left side, which includes physical buttons for power and media controls. There's an LED indicator just below the controls to show the status, if paired or when the battery is low. But well concealed under the left collar is a miscoUSB port for charging and a microSD card slot, which was quite unexpected.
The accessories included in the box are eartips in different sizes, a premium braided microUSB cable and a good-looking pouch to carry your earphones. Must say, the generosity demonstrated here is welcoming.
We tried the earphones with the standard eartips and they seem to fit perfectly. But you always have the option to swap them. The lightweight design didn't put strain on the ears and the adjustable wires connecting the earbuds are neat. On top of comfort, these earphones look quite appealing as well. Just that there's no magnetic ends to save up on the battery and keep the earphones secure around the neck.
The controls are well within the reach and easy to remember. The prominent button placement will let you hit the right ones without having to look at them. The single press for media controls act as volume and long press is for changing tracks. We wish there was double-tap function to skip tracks. The centre button is for pause and play and powering on. The response time for these controls is instantaneous. Interestingly, there's haptic vibration remote function, which we could easily do without, but comes in handy at certain times.
Aiwa ESBT-460 packs 8mm quad-speaker driver technology, which allow these tiny earphones to deliver clear and loud sound. The lack of ANC is felt here, but the affordable pricing makes up for it. In fact, with a secure fit and the right volume, you won't be disturbed by the ambience sound as much.
The audio performance has been balanced and consistent. The vocals are better, which relay sharp output. But these are not bass-heavy earphones and listening at maximum volume can add some static.
We primarily used the ESBT-40 for streaming movies and TV shows on OTT and they can live up to your expectations. There is no app-based customisation control as of now, but we are hoping Aiwa does it sooner than later. Overall, the audio performance is average.
But what we loved the most about these earphones is the inclusion of the microSD card slot, which can be a boon while travelling or working out. Just load your favourite tracks on a chip and you're good to go. No need for your smartphone or an internet connection for streaming.
Using the earphones for calls was decent. If indoors, which has been mostly the case in the last few days, the call quality is good. But the caller on the other end is most likely to pick up ambient sounds when you're outdoor. The connectivity is good within 10m range and there are no drops.
Comparing the Aiwa ESBT-460 to others in terms of audio performance might not yield a favourable outcome, but the nifty add-ons sure make a difference if you're not an audiophile. There are affordable options than the Aiwa ESBT-460, which make a better choice in terms of audio performance.
Aiwa ESBT-460 earphones will last you long. As per our usage, we managed to go for days on a single charge and collectively they can last about 15 hours between charges. However, after having used OnePlus earphones, the lack of fast charging is definitely a let down. Moreover, there's a microUSB port instead of a USB Type-C, that too in 2021.
It's good to have Aiwa back and brand comes with a sense of nostalgia. The ESBT-460 is a good pair on its own, but has its own setbacks when compared to rivals. Priced at Rs 2,999, these are not the cheapest earphones out there, but they are surely affordable for the masses. The engineering is practical and comfortable, the battery life is good, accessories are generous and the microSD card slot is a nice touch. Aiwa also has the ultralight model for half the ESBT-460's price, and then there are options from Oppo and OnePlus in the sub-2K price range, if you find 3K a tad much to spend on earphones.