Ameya DalviJul 29, 2021 17:13:20 IST
We recently tested two affordable wireless audio products from Realme’s Dizo sub-brand. Right at the end of the piece, I’d hinted at two more comparable products in the process of being reviewed, and here they are. The Boat Rockerz 330 and Mivi Collar Classic are two extremely affordable wireless neckband earphones that look to one-up the Dizo Wireless. Both claim impressive battery life figures, among other things. Time to find out how they perform.
Mivi Collar Classic Review
Not too long ago, we reviewed the Mivi Roam 2 Bluetooth speaker and were mighty impressed with its design, build and performance. Hence, I was quite excited to try out Mivi’s wireless neckband that costs the same as the aforementioned budget speaker. The Mivi Collar Classic does have a few things going for it, but unfortunately, it did not live up to the lofty expectations set by the Roam 2.
For starters, the build quality is too plasticky for my taste and the design isn’t appealing. While one can live with that on a low-cost wireless neckband, the finish is overly patchy with a few rough edges on the battery compartment as well as the control pod, excess adhesive sticking out from near the earbuds and a few scuff marks on a brand-new product fresh out of a sealed pack. The earbuds have a magnetic lock at the back, but it doesn’t serve as an on/off switch. In hindsight, that’s not a bad thing, as the magnets are quite weak to hold the buds in place for long enough. The use of flat cables is a good choice and provides a sense of sturdiness.
The buttons on the control pod are stiffer than they need to be, but they do let you control all the key functions ranging from volume control, play/pause, jumping to next/previous track, answering/ending/rejecting calls and more. The micro-USB port is covered with a rubber flap to protect it from dust and moisture. While the company claims this neckband is dust- and sweat-resistant, there is no IP rating for this product. So, tread cautiously; a bit of sweat should be fine as they survived a couple of jogs with me, but avoid exposing them to rain and spills.
The earbuds don’t fit all that well in the ears with any of the three pairs of silicone tips (small, medium, large) bundled in the pack. They feel a bit loose, providing a below-par seal that results in poor passive noise isolation. Unlike most budget earphones, these aren’t bass-heavy, which is a good thing, but the sound signature is a bit too bright for comfort. The highs aren’t tempered all that well. They overshadow certain midrange frequencies and overly dominate the sound, causing listener fatigue. The constricted soundstage doesn’t do the audio quality any favours either. The output isn’t the loudest here, and one needs to push the volume upwards of 80 percent for normal loudness.
The Mivi Collar Classic supports SBC codecs over Bluetooth 5.0. There is no support for AAC, and expecting aptX in this budget is overly optimistic. The wireless range is neat (up to 10 metres with a clear line of sight) but drops drastically with a concrete wall in between the listener and the source device. Pairing the neckband with a phone was seamless. Call quality is average at best. It is perfectly usable for calls indoors, but the microphone picks up a lot of ambient noise when you’re on the road.
The battery life of this product is its strongest point. While I would have preferred a USB-C charging port, I am willing to overlook the presence of a micro-USB port given its sub-Rs 1,000 price tag. While it couldn’t manage the advertised 24 hours, the Mivi Collar Classic lasted a good 17 hours on a full charge, which isn’t a bad number at all. The lower number is probably because the loudness was always close to 80 percent during testing, contributing to the quicker battery drain. On the bright side, you can charge this neckband fully in under 45 minutes. The company claims ten minutes of charging gives you ten hours of play time; a claim I couldn’t verify as I accidentally ended up charging it fully instead of unplugging it after ten minutes.
The Mivi Collar Classic is priced at Rs 999 with a one-year warranty. That makes it one of the most affordable wireless neckbands around. Despite that, it would be hard to recommend the Mivi neckband given its finish and sound quality, unless you like lower bass and treble-heavy sound. There are also too many better products available for a little more money. While I appreciate the attempt on Mivi’s part to move away from the crowd of bass-heavy products, it just hasn’t managed to get the balance right with the Collar Classic. Maybe next time it will succeed in recreating the magic of the Roam 2.
- Good battery life (17 hours approx.)
- Quick charging; full charge in under 45 minutes
- Low weight
- Sweat- and dust-resistant, but no IP rating
- Sound is a bit too bright for comfort
- Plasticky build with poor finishing
- In-ear fit is a bit loose
- Micro-USB charging port
- Below-par call quality
Price: Rs 999
Boat Rockerz 330 Review
Moving on from the Mivi Collar Classic to the Boat Rockerz 330 was a refreshing change on multiple counts. To begin with, the build quality is noticeably better; not as good as that of the Dizo Wireless, but there’s not much to complain about, either. The rubberised neckband feels easier on the neck, the earbuds fit much better in the ear thanks to the fins and provide good passive noise isolation. This neckband is IPX5-rated moisture-resistant and can be worn to the gym or during a jog in a light drizzle. I did the latter, and this Boat is still afloat.
The buttons on the control pod are much softer to press; however, their placement could have been smarter. The volume up button is located below the volume down button, and out of habit, you end up lowering the volume when looking to increase it, and vice versa. The multifunction button with the company logo is located at the back of the pod. Just like on the Mivi neckband, these three buttons let you access all key functions of these wireless earphones.
The back of each earbud has a magnetic tip, and while the magnets are stronger, they don’t act as an on/off switch. Pairing this neckband with a phone over Bluetooth was a simple and effortless process. The Boat Rockerz 330 supports dual pairing, too – connecting to two devices simultaneously and switching between them. Wireless range was perfectly fine, with the neckband retaining a strong connection for up to 10 metres without any obstruction, and about half that with a concrete wall in between. These earphones support SBC and AAC codecs over Bluetooth 5.0. Strangely, the sound profile is distinctly different on both codecs.
With AAC enabled, the Rockerz 330 delivers a bass-heavy sound preferred by majority of the buyers in this segment. However, there is too much emphasis on low-end frequencies at the cost of mids. There is noticeable auditory masking in the midrange spectrum, with certain instruments and vocals bearing the brunt of the excess bass. The highs are tempered well but feel slightly inadequate to balance the bass, thus giving the sound a soft feel with low details. The soundstage, though not too expansive, is broader than that of the Mivi and is acceptable for the segment.
Though it seldom changes things for the better, I always try switching off AAC to see how different the product sounds on SBC codecs. To my surprise, switching off AAC on the Boat Rockerz 330 makes them sound significantly better. There is reduction in bass, a lot more clarity in the mids and the highs gain a bit more sparkle, too. Mind you, there is still ample bass even with AAC off, but the overall output sounds a lot more balanced. You should give it a try if you buy this product, and if you feel the need for more bass, you can always switch AAC back on from the Bluetooth settings. These earphones are loud enough at 50 percent volume; however, they tend to distort a bit at high volume upwards of 75 percent.
Call quality is quite impressive, with both parties perfectly audible to each other. It keeps most of the ambient noise in check when you’re outdoors, which is quite good for a budget neckband. Battery backup on the Rockerz 330 is stellar, with the earphones clocking close to 25 hours of play time at approximately three hours of listening per day. You do have a USB-C port here and it supports fast charging as well. The neckband can be charged fully in under 45 minutes, and ten minutes of charging gives you a little over eight hours of play time. It may be two hours short of the advertised number, but is still mighty impressive.
The Boat Rockerz 330 was launched at Rs 1,299 and now sells for Rs 1,499 with a one-year warranty. While it’s not a bad product at all for its current selling price, it would be better to drop its price by a couple of hundred rupees to steer clear of the stiff competition. Incidentally, the Rockerz 330’s prime competitor is from the same brand — Boat Rockerz 335, which is nothing but the Rockerz 330 with support for Qualcomm’s aptX codecs and a magnetic on/off switch for just Rs 100 more, making the 330 almost redundant at a nearly-identical price.
To rock the boat further, Oppo has dropped the price of the Enco M31 neckband to Rs 1,499. In terms of pure sound quality, it is arguably the best wireless neckband under Rs 1,500, with support for Sony’s LDAC codecs and two different sound profiles. However, the battery backup is less than half that of the Rockerz 330 and 335. Choose one depending on your needs – Oppo for sound, and either of the Boats for battery backup.
- Above-average sound quality for the segment
- Comfortable to wear, secure in-ear fit
- Excellent battery life, upwards of 24 hours
- USB Type-C charging port; quick charge support
- Dual pairing support
- IPX5 splash-resistant
- Good call quality
- Sounds a bit soft on AAC codecs with excessive bass
- Audio distorts at high volume
- No magnetic on/off switch
- Price could have been slightly lower
Price: Rs 1,499