Realme Buds Air 5 TWS headset review

29.11.2023 10:17

Specifications

 Realme Buds Air 5 ProRealme Buds Air 5
Emitters∅11 mm bass driver + ∅6 mm tweeterspeaker with titanium diaphragm ∅12.4 mm
ConnectionBluetooth 5.3
Codec supportSBC, AAC, LDACSBC, AAC
MultipointThere isNo
Controltouch zones, wear sensors, softwaretouch zones, software
Active Noise Cancellationyes, adaptive up to 50 dB
Headphone battery capacityno data43 mAh
Case battery capacityno data460 mAh
Battery lifeup to 11 hours without noise cancellationup to 7 hours without noise cancellation
Autonomy including charging from the caseup to 40 hours without noise cancellationup to 38 hours without noise cancellation
Charging connectorUSB Type-C
Fast charging10 minutes for 7 hours of operation without ANC
Water protectionIPX5 (headphones only)
Case dimensions*68×48×24 mm68×51×24 mm
Earphone dimensions*32×25×19 mm31×23×16 mm
Weight of one earphone*4.85 g4.4 g
Case weight*37 g37 g

Packaging and accessories

Boxes with headsets from Realme are practically no different from each other: yellow background, images of the device, its name and brief characteristics. Inside there is a plastic holder that holds the case with headphones.

Boxes with headsets from Realme are practically no different from each other: yellow background, images of the device, its name and brief characteristics. Inside there is a plastic holder that holds the case with headphones.

The package includes headphones in a case for charging and transportation, documentation, spare silicone tips and a USB-C to USB-A cable.

The package includes headphones in a case for charging and transportation, documentation, spare silicone tips and a USB-C to USB-A cable.

The nozzles are made of silicone that is pleasant to the touch and equipped with their own “grids” that prevent dirt from getting into the sound guide — everything is like the older model.

The nozzles are made of silicone that is pleasant to the touch and equipped with their own “grids” that prevent dirt from getting into the sound guide — everything is like the older model.

Design and construction

Realme Buds Air 5 comes in two colors — white and blue. The blue version has a matte surface, the white version has a glossy surface. Stains from touching appear on it easily, but they are not too visible and are erased without extra effort.

The design of models with and without the Pro prefix is very similar; the more budget model is distinguished by the presence of the manufacturer’s name on the front panel. Well, subjectively, the materials from which the “proshki” are made seem somewhat more expensive and of higher quality.

At the bottom of the front panel, under the logo, there is a small LED indicator for status and charging.

At the bottom of the front panel, under the logo, there is a small LED indicator for status and charging.

The case opens easily with one finger, the closer operates in both directions approximately halfway through. The lid locks in both positions and closes with a pleasant click. The headphones are securely held in place by magnets — the chances of accidentally falling out are minimized. At the same time, they are very easy to remove — just grab them from the sides with your fingers and slightly pull up.

The case opens easily with one finger, the closer operates in both directions approximately halfway through. The lid locks in both positions and closes with a pleasant click. The headphones are securely held in place by magnets — the chances of accidentally falling out are minimized. At the same time, they are very easy to remove — just grab them from the sides with your fingers and slightly pull up.

The charging contacts are located inside the hole for the “feet” of the headphones — they will be difficult to clean. Fortunately, such a need arises infrequently.

The charging contacts are located inside the hole for the “feet” of the headphones — they will be difficult to clean. Fortunately, such a need arises infrequently.

The lid has recesses for the rounded part of the headphones, thanks to which they are tightly fixed in the case. Service information is printed inside them.

The lid has recesses for the rounded part of the headphones, thanks to which they are tightly fixed in the case. Service information is printed inside them.

At the bottom there is a USB Type C port for charging, next to it there is a button to force the Bluetooth pairing process and reset settings. Thanks to the flat front and back panels, the case is comfortable to carry even in a small jeans pocket.

At the bottom there is a USB Type C port for charging, next to it there is a button to force the Bluetooth pairing process and reset settings. Thanks to the flat front and back panels, the case is comfortable to carry even in a small jeans pocket.

The surface of the headphones is glossy, just like the case — accordingly, there are problems with stains from touches. But again, they are not too noticeable and are easily erased.

The surface of the headphones is glossy, just like the case — accordingly, there are problems with stains from touches. But again, they are not too noticeable and are easily erased.

Externally, the more budget model predictably looks a little less impressive. The microphone holes for voice communication have moved from the end of the legs to their lower side surface.

Realme Buds Air 5
Realme Buds Air 5 Pro
Well, at the end we now see only round contacts for charging. It seems that the elements are the same, but they are made a little simpler and more unpretentious, which fundamentally changes the overall impression of the appearance of the device.

Well, at the end we now see only round contacts for charging. It seems that the elements are the same, but they are made a little simpler and more unpretentious, which fundamentally changes the overall impression of the appearance of the device.

Touch zones for controlling the headset are located at the top of the “sticks,” which is emphasized by small indentations that are perfectly perceptible to the touch.

Touch zones for controlling the headset are located at the top of the “sticks,” which is emphasized by small indentations that are perfectly perceptible to the touch.

The length of the legs is small — only 29.5 mm, and even less from the base of the rounded part — about 15 mm. They will not interfere or cling to loose hair or scarves.

The length of the legs is small — only 29.5 mm, and even less from the base of the rounded part — about 15 mm. They will not interfere or cling to loose hair or scarves.

The sound guide is of medium length; it is not designed for deep penetration into the ear canal — so the fit promises to be comfortable.

The sound guide is of medium length; it is not designed for deep penetration into the ear canal — so the fit promises to be comfortable.

Well, its reliability is traditionally ensured by the ergonomic shape of the round part of the headphones, designed to provide additional support to the ear cup.

Well, its reliability is traditionally ensured by the ergonomic shape of the round part of the headphones, designed to provide additional support to the ear cup.

The leg is again made as a separate element, protruding beyond the rounded part. The solution has long ceased to be original, but still looks interesting.

The leg is again made as a separate element, protruding beyond the rounded part. The solution has long ceased to be original, but still looks interesting.

The silicone tips are held in place by protrusions at the end of the sound guide. Removing them is easy, putting them back in place is a little more difficult, but within reason.

The silicone tips are held in place by protrusions at the end of the sound guide. Removing them is easy, putting them back in place is a little more difficult, but within reason.

The sound guide hole is covered with a metal mesh, slightly recessed into the depth — it will be difficult to clean. Fortunately, you won’t have to do this often—grids with silicone nozzles stand in the way of contamination. Next to the sound guide you can see a compensation hole that serves to relieve pressure during speaker operation.

The sound guide hole is covered with a metal mesh, slightly recessed into the depth — it will be difficult to clean. Fortunately, you won’t have to do this often—grids with silicone nozzles stand in the way of contamination. Next to the sound guide you can see a compensation hole that serves to relieve pressure during speaker operation.

As already mentioned, there are three microphones in each earphone. Moreover, according to the manufacturer, all three are involved both in the operation of the “noise reduction” and in transmitting the voice to the interlocutor. The first one is located on the inner side of the round part, next to it you can see the designations of the right and left headphones.

As already mentioned, there are three microphones in each earphone. Moreover, according to the manufacturer, all three are involved both in the operation of the “noise reduction” and in transmitting the voice to the interlocutor. The first one is located on the inner side of the round part, next to it you can see the designations of the right and left headphones.

The second hole is visible at the junction of the leg and the rounded part on the outer side, facing backwards when wearing headphones.

The second hole is visible at the junction of the leg and the rounded part on the outer side, facing backwards when wearing headphones.

Well, we have already seen the holes of the third one — they are located at the bottom of the “sticks”, facing the mouth of the person wearing the headset.

Well, we have already seen the holes of the third one — they are located at the bottom of the “sticks”, facing the mouth of the person wearing the headset.

As mentioned in the introduction, the driver of the Realme Buds Air 5 has an impressive aperture size and is generally designed in an interesting way. Let's borrow an illustration from the manufacturer's website, where all the most important things are said about it.

As mentioned in the introduction, the driver of the Realme Buds Air 5 has an impressive aperture size and is generally designed in an interesting way. Let's borrow an illustration from the manufacturer's website, where all the most important things are said about it.

A large speaker needs an appropriate chamber where it can fully “open up” — the manufacturer also thought about this. We are promised impressive bass on almost every page; let’s jump ahead a little and immediately note that the Realme Buds Air 5 already has plenty of it.

A large speaker needs an appropriate chamber where it can fully “open up” — the manufacturer also thought about this. We are promised impressive bass on almost every page; let’s jump ahead a little and immediately note that the Realme Buds Air 5 already has plenty of it.

Connection

The headset supports Google Fast Pair — accordingly, it connects to smartphones running Android quickly and easily. After opening the lid, a connection request appears — you just have to agree.

We traditionally received a complete list of supported codecs and their modes using the Bluetooth Tweaker utility. In this case there are two of them — SBC and AAC.

In general, their capabilities are sufficient for budget headphones. However, the maximum Bitpool setting for a potentially good SBC codec is set to 39, while the recommended value for the High Quality profile is 51. Also, AAC bitrate is capped at 131 Kbps. This decision may have been made to provide a more stable connection, but some questions still remain.

However, the connection quality is really good — no problems were identified during testing. We did not encounter a situation where the sound and image were out of sync when watching a video. However, games with high demands on smartphone resources, such as Call of Duty Mobile, sometimes experienced slight lag. The problem was resolved by activating the “game mode”, which is also available on the Realme Buds Air 5. The case has a button to start pairing, but there is no multi-point support. In other models of Realme headphones, this function can be enabled separately through the Realme Link application, but we did not find such an option in this model.

Management and software

But it is still highly recommended to install the application — without it, full use of the headset is impossible. The main screen shows the charging levels of the headphones and the case; below is the noise reduction settings module. Everything here is like the flagship — there are several operating options, the ability to emphasize voice frequencies and remove wind noise in transparency mode.

The equalizer is also in place — there are four presets to choose from, plus you can create your own. To adjust the sound of the low frequency range, there is a separate “dynamic bass” function, which we will discuss below. But the ability to create the so-called “golden sound profile” was left only to the flagship; it is not here.

Checking the quality of fit of the silicone tips works in a standard way: the headphones play a pleasant melody, and external microphones try to pick it up. If it works, the landing is incorrect. If it doesn’t work out, then everything is fine. We deliberately loosened the earphone in one ear — the program immediately noticed this.

Realme Buds Air 5 is controlled by touching the outside of the “sticks”. The location of the sensors is emphasized with the help of small recesses that are well felt to the touch. They work correctly, clearly registering multiple touches. At the same time, a single touch is again completely blocked — Realme developers adhere to this controversial, but definitely effective way to get rid of random triggers. There are wear sensors, auto-pause works properly: if you remove the earphone from your ear, playback pauses, if you return it, it continues.

The controls are flexibly configured; the same touch of the left and right headphones can be responsible for different functions. At the same time, triple tap can be responsible for adjusting the volume, which is nice. Swipe management is, of course, more convenient. But at least this way.

Plus, it is possible to “hang up” a call to the voice assistant with a long touch, and then do everything necessary through it. Auto-pause and auto-answer using wear sensors can be disabled if desired. But it makes sense to enable the phone search function — sooner or later it will certainly come in handy. If your phone is lost, just press the touch zone of any earphone four times in a row and it will ring.

Exploitation

The weight of the simplified version has become even a little less than that of the flagship. It is unlikely that these fractions of a gram play a big role, but still the fit has subjectively become a little more comfortable. But its reliability has decreased slightly. It's not a big deal, but still, during serious activities — such as jumping rope or burpees — the Pro version stayed in the ears a little better. Although she also showed rather confidently average results in terms of the quality of landing. But you can still train in Realme Buds Air 5 without any problems, you just have to occasionally adjust it a little in your ear. IPX5 water protection allows you not to worry about drops of rain or sweat; in general, the heroine of today’s review can be safely recommended for sports and outdoor activities.

The new generation active noise reduction system of the Buds Air 5 is also inherited from the Buds Air 5 Pro. In its description, special emphasis is placed on the fact that the frequency range of efficiency has been expanded, plus wind protection has been improved. We can only repeat everything that was said about it in previous testing — the expansion of the frequency range is noticeably weak by ear, and operation in the most aggressive mode really inspires respect. But the feeling of “pressure in the head”, familiar to many users, appears in the first seconds after turning on active noise reduction. Fortunately, there is no need to constantly use it “at maximum” — while walking, medium mode is enough, and in the office or cafe — moderate. Automatic switching between them works with a slight delay, but in general it is correct and you can completely rely on it.

Microphones for voice communication

As mentioned above, there are three microphones in each earbud. They are used for speech capture: microphones placed at the bottom of the legs capture the voice, while others are used to suppress background noise. Now let's see how effectively this all works. Let's start with measurements.

To evaluate the frequency-amplitude response (AFC) of microphones, we use a specially prepared room and a monitor acoustic system that reproduces a sweep tone. At the same time, the frequency response of speakers is usually not uniform, and therefore we first obtain a graph using a calibrated measuring microphone. The data obtained is then used to create a correction profile, which is designed to correct the acoustic characteristics. Next, the signal is recorded using the microphone under test, located in the same position as the calibrated measurement microphone earlier. After this, the resulting graph is adjusted taking into account the created profile, and, as a result, we obtain the frequency response characteristic for the microphone under test.

An adult male's voice typically has a fundamental frequency in the range of 85 to 155 Hz, while that of women is between 165 and 255 Hz. However, speech transmission typically uses frequencies between 300 and 3400 Hz, which are known as «voice» frequencies. In this range are the so-called formants, which are responsible for understanding and intelligibility of speech.

Frequencies below this range are often suppressed not only due to limitations of the transmitting channel, but also because they contain various unwanted sounds, such as the hum of engines, low-frequency crowd noise, and so on. This is done to improve speech clarity and reduce the impact of ambient noise on the audio signal.

Autonomy and charging

The manufacturer claims high autonomy of the headset — up to 4.5 hours of operation with the noise reduction system turned on and up to 7 hours without it on a single charge. When using the charging case, the total autonomy can reach 38 hours, which allows you to potentially go without recharging for about a week. However, the developers admit that such results are achieved with very careful use — at a volume level of 50% of the maximum when using the AAC codec. During testing, we strive to realistically evaluate performance in more typical use cases.

A safe sound pressure level for listening to music is considered to be 75 dB, although many people prefer to listen at levels between 90 and 100 dB. For testing, we transmit white noise into the headphones, recording a sound pressure level (SPL) of about 95 dB. After playback starts, we record the signal from the measuring stand, and the length of the resulting recording allows us to estimate how long each headphone worked.

The headphones discharge unevenly, but the difference is literally a couple of minutes. Therefore, we will immediately put the minimum values ​​into the table. An extremely small number of listeners use headsets in mono mode; most often, turning off one of them is a reason to put both in the charging case.

Noise canceling is offTest 16 hours 56 minutes
Test 26 hours 48 minutes
Total6 hours 52 minutes
Noise cancellation enabledTest 13 hours 47 minutes
Test 23 hours 40 minutes
Total3 hours 43 minutes

The values ​​are slightly less than stated, but still good — this level of autonomy is definitely enough for comfortable use of a headset. Especially with fast charging. The description says that after 10 minutes in the case, the headphones can work up to 7 hours without “noise reduction”, but there is clearly some kind of error — Realme Buds Air 5 should work for 7 hours when fully charged, and it can get it in such a short time I can’t.

In our tests, after 10 minutes in the case, the headset was charged by about 40 percent, after which it worked for 2 hours 50 minutes. This is also very good — if you at least sometimes put the headphones in the case, it is unlikely that they will be discharged during everyday use. The headphones in the case are fully charged in about 40 minutes; charging a discharged headset along with the case can take up to 2 hours.

Sound and frequency response measurements

In terms of sound, we can say that the promised bass is really present here. However, Realme Buds Air 5 is not the first earphone model recently where we see a very accentuated low-frequency range. Perhaps headphone developers have noticed an increasing interest in bass among users, although we did not notice this before. It is quite possible that this is a new phenomenon or a fashion trend. This is not a negative point, but we hope that there will be other models of headphones with a more balanced sound. But for now let's look at the frequency response graphs.

We remind you that all frequency response graphs are presented solely for clarity and to demonstrate the main sound features of the headphones being tested. One cannot draw definitive conclusions about their sound quality solely on the basis of these graphs. The actual sound perception of each listener depends on many factors: from the individual anatomy of the hearing aid to the pressing force of the ear pads, which can also greatly influence the transmission of low frequencies.

The IDF (IEM Diffuse Field) curve is a correction curve that helps compensate for the sound characteristics of headphones and account for the resonance effects perceived in the ear canal. This curve represents a tailored sound profile that approximates how the headphones might sound to a listener. It is similar to the «Harman Curve» developed by the Harman International team led by Dr. Sean Olive, which also represents a specific sound profile standard.

Let's adjust the resulting frequency response graph in accordance with the IDF curve for a more accurate representation of how the headphones sound taking into account this correction. This allows you to see which frequencies will be boosted or cut based on the IDF audio profile standard.

The presented frequency response graph clearly shows the subjective listening impressions. There is a pronounced level of “deep bass” and a noticeable emphasis on the lower middle of the sound spectrum. In genres such as hip-hop or dance music, this sound can sound interesting and impressive. However, in other genres of music, this can be dissatisfying: bass guitars in rock or double basses in jazz can «boom» and interfere with the rest of the sound.

It is important to note that this sound has its fans, so the assessment of the sound profile of headphones should not be categorical. In addition, there is always the possibility of sound correction using an equalizer. While most equalizer presets tend to boost low frequencies, it's possible to manually adjust the sound to suit your preferences.

The Dynamic Bass feature introduces another setting for the low-frequency range. When activated, the emphasis on low frequencies becomes less pronounced, and changes in settings do not have a significant impact on the sound characteristics graph. This may be due to the fact that this function provides dynamic adjustment of bass reproduction depending on the currently playing track. Therefore, when using a sweep test, the result always remains approximately the same.

When listening to music, the effect of this function, if noticeable, is not so pronounced. However, this function still allows you to soften the bass level, which in this case can be a useful and pleasant sound improvement.

Any sufficiently effective active noise cancellation system will have an impact on bass performance, especially at those frequencies where the system performs best. In this model of headphones, you can notice some dips in the frequency response (AFC), but they are not as significant as one might expect based on the effectiveness of the noise reduction system.

In general, in a noisy environment it is much easier to accept a small loss of low frequencies than to endure annoying sounds from outside. This means that while active noise cancellation may have a slight impact on bass quality, in noisy environments it's a secondary consideration compared to its ability to isolate you from outside noise and create a more comfortable listening environment.

Well, in the end, let’s compare the sound of Realme Buds Air 5 and Realme Buds Air 5 Pro. It can be seen that in the firmware it is more balanced, and by ear the difference is even more obvious than one might assume when looking at the graphs. It was not without reason that we praised the Realme Buds Air 5 Pro for its very pleasant and detailed presentation of musical material by the standards of TWS headsets.

Results

Realme Buds Air 5 is a good headset overall. The controls are comfortable, the microphones do their job well, and the noise cancellation is effective. But the initial question, whether it’s worth saving and choosing the version without the Pro prefix, remains relevant. With a price difference of about 2 thousand rubles, choosing this version is justified if you are a convinced fan of rich bass or if price plays a decisive role.

Otherwise, it makes sense to choose the Pro version, which provides several significant additional features. The Pro version offers a more stylish appearance, LDAC support and multipoint, and most importantly, it provides a more pleasant and balanced sound. In addition, if desired, you can add some bass through the equalizer. So, in most use cases, the Pro version may be a better option due to its additional features and sound quality.