When we took a bunch of affordable truly wireless earphones and put them up against each other a little over a year ago, the segment looked very different. The best performing models were very expensive back then, and the affordable options weren’t quite as capable. However, Rs. 5,000 — and sometimes even less — can get you a much better product today.
Our current favourite affordable truly wireless earphones are the Leaf Pods, which are the closest you’ll get to a high-quality all-round package for the price. However, there is a new challenger at the same price, which promises to be better in many ways — the Noise Shots X3. We’ve put these truly wireless earphones to the test, and here’s our review.
Noise Shots X3 design and specifications
As with other affordable truly wireless earphones, the Noise Shots X3 aren’t particularly fancy and are designed to be functional. However, we did like some of the aesthetic elements of these earphones, particularly the metallic rings that give the black earphones a hint of colour. Our review unit was a colour variant called ‘racing red’.
The earphones are made of plastic, with a rubber coating around the middle of each earpiece. The outer surface of each one is a button, and has the Noise logo on it. The inner surface has the contact points to charge the earphones. On the whole, except for the red metallic ring, the earphones look rather plain and nondescript.
The right earbud is the dominant one. It connects to the source and can be used alone, while the left one connects to the right one and can only be used when the right earbud is switched on and connected.
The Noise Shots X3 earphones fit us quite comfortably with the right eartips, and stayed securely in place when we were walking and climbing stairs. Each earbud has a physical button, which can be used to pause or play music (a single short press on either side), skip to the previous or next track (a single long-press on the left or right respectively), or invoke the voice assistant on a paired smartphone (a double-press on either side).
Volume can’t be adjusted from the earphones, and needs to be done on the source device. Google Assistant and Siri are listed as supported, but we were also able to use Amazon Alexa when we tried it on an Android smartphone.
We didn’t really like the look of the charging case of the Noise Shots X3, because of its glossy finish and tendency to attract fingerprints and grime. However, the case is well built and uncomplicated, and works as it is supposed to.
The lid of the charging case is just translucent enough to let you see whether or not the earphones are charging (the indicator lights are visible through the lid). A small button on the inside of the case shows the charge level of the case itself, which has a relatively massive 1,500mAh battery of its own.
Taking the earphones out of the case automatically powers them on (except when the battery of the case is completely drained), but the earphones can also be powered on and off manually — a very long press on the right earbud powers both off, but they have to be powered on individually. Putting the earphones back in the case turns them off and begins charging them. Magnets keep them securely in place within the case.
The earphones ran for around three hours per charge, and the case was able to fully recharge the earphones eight times during our review. This gives the earphones a total of around 27 hours of use per charge cycle, which is pretty good for an affordable pair of truly wireless earphones. The case isn’t very heavy, but is a bit large and needs to be stored in a backpack rather than your pocket.
Included in the sales package are a total of three pairs of ear tips and a Micro-USB cable to charge the case of the Noise Shots X3. The earphones feature Bluetooth 5 connectivity, but with support for only the SBC Bluetooth codec. They are also IPX4-rated for water resistance, and feature microphones for voice calls.
Noise Shots X3 performance
Our current gold standard for affordable truly wireless earphones is the Leaf Pods, which only really has its slightly complicated charging case as a drawback. The Noise Shots X3 has a very good charging case that works well and holds a lot of power for the earphones, so the focus now shifts to whether the earphones are themselves as good. The answer is — almost.
We tested the Noise Shot X3 using a OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) as the source device, with music streamed over Spotify and YouTube Music. We also tried some of our sample high-resolution audio tracks with these earphones. Finally, we checked how well they function as a hands-free headset for voice calls.
The Noise Shots X3 have a pleasing sonic signature that offers a good combination of low-end grunt and comfortable sound. It is a classic V-shaped sound with strong lows and highs, and slightly softer responses in the mid range. Listening to Love Love Love by Moullinex, we liked the attack in the bass as the lively beat of the track picks up, as well as the hints of sparkle at the top. The bass did tend to overpower some of the gentler details in the track, such as the twittering of birds in the background.
We did quite like the ability of the Noise Shots X3 to handle high volumes, which made for a fairly immersive experience. We could comfortably turn the volume up and listen for hours on end with minimal fatigue.
While we weren’t expecting a great amount of detail at this price anyway, the earphones aren’t quite as detailed and revealing as others we’ve heard in this price segment — the Leaf Pods offer a cleaner, more precise sound, while the Noise Shots X3 tend to go with a more inoffensive and safe approach. If you listen to bass-heavy music, you might prefer the Noise Shots X3 for its aggression and tight bass.
Although the bass is good and the sound is suitable for most genres, we weren’t very impressed with the soundstage. In-ear earphones rarely ever achieve the same level of openness and imaging as on-ear or over-ear headphones, but the soundstage didn’t feel very wide even within our own head. Instrument separation and faint details weren’t impressive on the Noise Shots X3; we weren’t able to sense more than basic stereo separation with Summer Dem by Basement Jaxx, a lively, beat-driven track.
High-resolution audio files did sound a bit better than compressed audio formats, with Pharrell Williams’ Gust of Wind in FLAC format offering up a bit more detail and a slightly wider soundstage than when using a streaming service, which was particularly noticeable with the clap-like beat. However, we feel that better codec support — the AAC codec at the very least — could have made the sound a bit better, particularly with high-resolution audio tracks and high-quality streaming audio.
Finally, we also tested the Noise Shots X3 for voice calls, and found these earphones adequate in most situations. In quiet environments, we didn’t have any trouble hearing the person on the other end of the call, and we could also be heard clearly by them. While background sound wasn’t filtered out in noisy environments, it didn’t impact the voice quality of calls.
We’ve used many pairs of truly wireless earphones priced below Rs. 5,000, but a lot of them have fallen short in terms of the overall experience. The Noise Shots X3 is an exception; this pair of earphones is refreshingly good for the price, and definitely worth considering for the comfortable sound and good battery life that they deliver. The colour options and bass-heavy sound are added bonuses for anyone interested in those aspects when making a buying decision.
However, sound quality isn’t quite as good as you’d get with the Leaf Pods, which remain our favourite truly wireless earphones for less than Rs. 5,000. The charging case of the Noise Shots X3 is considerably easier to use though, so if you’re okay with the difference in sound quality, these truly wireless earphones are worth considering over our current favourite pair.
Price: Rs. 3,999
- Decent bass
- Good sound at high volumes
- Strong overall battery life
- Suitable for voice calls
- Only SBC Bluetooth codec supported
- Charging case is large and doesn’t look very nice
- Average soundstage
Ratings (out of 5)
- Design/ comfort: 3.5
- Audio quality: 3
- Battery life: 4
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 3.5