TCL SOCL500TWS Wireless Earbuds Review
Well I’m sure I’m just as surprised as you are with this. While Nick and I were at CES 2020, we were invited to watch the TCL Press Conference. They announced new TVs and TV tech, soundbars, Roku partnerships and phones. But I was surprised by the fact that they’ve now moved into the wireless earbud game, with the TCL SOCL500TWS. Just to clarify, these were given to us as a gift for attending the press conference, which was surprising enough, so I thought I’d write about them.
Inside the box that we were given are two small earbuds that sit inside the ear very comfortably. The almost tear drop shape sits upright, rather than droop down over your earlobe like we’ve seen before on other earbuds. The housing is made from plastic, with the outer housing covered in a rubber finish for grip when placing them inside the ears. This has definitely kept the weight down, but unfortunately the TCL SOCL500TWS lose that premium quality feel that we’ve experienced from something like the Libratone Track Air+.
The case itself is again made from plastic, with the lid being semi-transparent. This helps with charging. There’s a small light on each earbud which lights up when you have the earbuds inside the case, and you can see this with the case lid closed. It indicates when the earbuds are fully charged, and glows a solid white.
The case for the most part is pretty sturdy. I could drop it and not worry too much about it breaking, and the seal on the lid once closed is nice and tight. There’s no magnets here, instead TCL have opted for a plastic catch, but that’s okay. The earbuds are magnetised once they’re inside their charging holes. The headphones also last for around 6.5 hours per charge with a total of 26 hours worth of playtime if you use the case to charge your headphones each time.
Setup was extremely simple, although at first I wasn’t quite sure how to turn them on. Turns out, sticking them in the charger, and then removing them fired the earbuds into life, and so I could proceed with connecting them to my phone. The right earbud seemed to act as the master, connecting to my phone, while the left earbud was the slave connecting to the right earbud.
Don’t quote me on that, and it could have been the way I was setting the headphones up, but that’s what happened with the vocal promts I was given. A female voice told me the TCL SOCL500TWS were searching and then pairing once I went into my Bluetooth settings on my Google Pixel 3. The TCL SOCL500TWS use Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to devices and the range is actually pretty solid. I live in a standard house, and the headphones only started dropping signal slightly when I was at the opposite side of the house, on a different floor.
In terms of audio performance, to be honest with you, I couldn’t be happier. Sound feels extremely full, and for some reason, has a wide soundstage. This may come down to the plastic housing, acting as a small barrier to sound. They only have small 5.8mm drivers inside them, but I felt my music was true, and punchy. Okay, nit picking here, the treble could have been a little more pronounced, especially in more bass-centric tracks I listened too. The Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic started strong, but as soon as the bass dropped in the intro, detail was lost. The same with some Dr Dre tunes. The kick drum was solid, but again, at the expense of some of the higher frequency sounds.
The earbuds have buttons on the sides for things like skip track, change volume and answer calls, though these are physical buttons, which need to be pressed into your head. It caused me quite a bit of miscomfort and I had to adjust the headphones after every single button press to pull them back out my ears. I opted after a while to just use my phone to control the music. It might have been my ears, but I thought I should let you know anyway.
The TCL SOCL500TWS are a fantastic set of wireless earbuds. They have their problems sure, like the plastic build quality of the buds and case, the buttons on each headphones being pretty much useless to use. But music quality is absolutely superb for such a budget set of headphones and the battery life isn’t half bad either. Oh, and they come in orange, red and purple if you’re feeling adventurous. They’re not the cheapest true wireless earbuds on the market, coming in at around $79.99 at time of writing, but the TCL SOCL500TWS comes with a heavy recommendation from me. For more information, head over to the TCL website.