Review: Xiaodu Du Smart Buds – Trial From the Giant

The Du Smart Buds are the first attempt from AI giant Baidu in the field of TWS.
The Du Smart Buds are the first attempt from AI giant Baidu in the field of TWS.

 

The Xiaodu Du Smart Buds are the entry ticket for AI giant Baidu to the TWS market, featuring cutting-edge technologies like intelligent voice recognition, real-time transcription, and voice recording.

General Usage 62.0
Audiophile Usage 39.1

Score Breakdown

77.5
57.1
32.5
What We Like
  • Smooth midrange
  • Clean treble
  • Comfortable fit
  • Intelligent voice recognition
  • Stable connectivity
What We Don't Like
  • Short battery life
  • Subpar detail retrieval capability
  • Lack of bass rumble
  • Insecure/slippery when they come into contact with sweat

Where To Buy

Introduction

The Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) giant Baidu enters the field of true wireless stereo (TWS) with the Xiaodu Smart Buds. With the inclusion of Baidu’s hardware and software integration strategy, Xiaodu aims to claim a piece of the TWS pie from other major players like Apple.

The Du Smart Buds are the entry-level TWS model from Xiaodu, featuring intelligent voice recognition for real-time transcription.

In this article, we will reveal the actual capability of the Du Smart Buds and determine whether they can threaten the current players in the TWS market.

The Du Smart Buds are the first attempt from AI giant Baidu in the field of TWS.
The Du Smart Buds are the first attempt from AI giant Baidu in the field of TWS.

Case

Battery

  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Connector: USB Type-C
  • Wireless Charging: No
  • Battery Capacity: 500 mAh

The Du Smart Buds charging case provides three full charges to the earbuds, offering a total of 12 hours of additional playtime. The USB Type-C charging port is at the bottom of the case. In the price range of sub-USD$50, it is reasonable for Xiaodu to exclude the wireless charging option from this model.

Xiaodu uses the commonly found USB type-C for their Du Smart Buds.
Xiaodu uses the commonly found USB type-C for their Du Smart Buds.

UX

  • Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
  • Pass the shake test: Yes
  • Light Indicators: No light indicator on the case

You can easily open the case with one hand. The earbuds sit in the case firmly, with the help of magnets. The earbuds protrude sufficiently from the case and can be removed without much struggle.

There is one serious flaw in the case’s design – there is no charging light indicator.

You will never know when the case will just give up on you and stop charging the earbuds.

It is easy to remove the buds from the case.
It is easy to remove the buds from the case.

Design

  • Shape of the case: Oval
  • Material: Plastic with a matte surface
  • Build Quality: Average

Nowadays, TWS case designs are getting more and more similar. They all resemble the Apple AirPods’ design – oval or squarish with a top lid. Xiaodu did not spend much effort on innovation, and the Xiaodu Smart Buds’ case has a very mainstream design.

I am glad that Xiaodu chose matte plastic because it can resist dirt and fingerprints better than glossy plastic.

The case is made from matte plastic case - which is durable of dirts and fingerprints.
The case is made from matte plastic case – which is durable of dirts and fingerprints.

Portability

  • Weight: 40g (With earbuds inside)
  • Volume: 5.2 x 5.6 x 2.4 = 69.6 cm cu (4.27 in cu)
  • Portability: Outstanding

Despite having the same basic design as the AirPods, Xiaodu’s charging case is smaller, thinner, and more portable than Apple’s and will not cause an awkward bump when you put it in a pocket.

Earbuds

Battery

  • Battery Life: 4 hrs
  • Charge Time (15mins): 30-45 mins playback time

The Du Smart Buds have a significantly shorter battery life than most of the TWS models on the market. On a full charge, they can serve you with continuous playback of four hours. Based on my usage, the earbuds will take around 1.5 hours to obtain a full charge from the case.

While four hours of battery life is sufficient for daily commuting usage, I need longer battery life and faster charging to serve me in my office.

My 3rd Gen Apple AirPods are a good example of typical TWS batteries – six hours of battery life can last me the entire morning before I break for lunch. I usually charge them during lunch, and they last for the afternoon.

The Du Smart Buds look identical to first generation of Apple Airpods.
The Du Smart Buds look identical to first generation of Apple Airpods.

UX

  • Control Mechanism: Touch
  • Touch Accuracy: Average
  • Control Symmetry on both earbud: Yes
  • Mono Use: Yes
  • Limited control on the earbuds
  • Configurable control

The Du Smart Buds use touch control, and I find the accuracy is about average. They register my gestures accurately most of the time. The controls can be configured with Xiaodu’s smartphone application. However, users can only choose one function per side, and there is no volume control option.

While I usually control the playback via my phone instead of the earbuds, those who heavily rely on control via earbuds may find this limitation a deal breaker.

Design

  • Profile: Medium
  • Material: Glossy plastic
  • Comfort: Outstanding
  • Fit: Good

The Du Smart Buds strongly resemble early Apple AirPods. The stem is almost as long as the first-generation version. The Du Smart Buds appear outdated as many newer models are moving away from this long stem design.

Nevertheless, the comfort and fit are supreme. After a long hour of listening, I tend to forget that they are in my ears.

Apple improved their AirPods' design, making the Du Smart Buds look outdated.
Apple improved their AirPods’ design, making the Du Smart Buds look outdated.

Mic

  • Noise Cancellation: Good
  • Voice Pick-up: Average

I find the Du Smart Buds’ microphones excellent in terms of noise cancellation and voice pick-up. I can make phone calls or attend virtual meetings during a busy commute.

Mic Demo

Sound

  • Driver: 13mm dynamic driver
  • Sound Signature: Flat
  • Bass: Very Poor
  • Mids: Average
  • Treble: Average
  • Sound Detail: Substandard

Overall Sound Signature

The Du Smart Buds’ overall sound signature can be classified as flat. They create a two-dimensional headroom with insufficient depth and height. There are limited dynamics with no ups or downs.

Bass

Xiaodu did not unleash the real potential of the 13mm dynamic driver. The Du Smart Buds fail to create bass that sufficiently engages users. It’s simply touch-and-go, and I find it difficult to “submerge” myself in the music on many pop tracks.

The lack of deep bass and rumble makes the sound signature dry.

The Du Smart Buds have several serious flaws in their sonic performance.
The Du Smart Buds have several serious flaws in their sonic performance.

Midrange

The Du Smart Buds have a more prominent midrange than the bass region. The midrange takes the front stage and engages the audience. While the Du Smart Buds are a good candidate for podcasts, their musicality is insufficient for music listening due to the lack of bass.

I cannot enjoy listening to music with the Du Smart Buds. A lot of details are missing.

Treble

Similar to the midrange, the Du Smart Buds focus more on treble than bass. The treble extends and decays well – no uncontrolled treble decay causing a “hazy” or noisy treble performance. Those with lower tolerance toward sharp and bright treble will find the Du Smart Buds sound comfortable.

With a lack of bass and pronounced midrange, the Du Smart Buds are only suitable for podcasts.
With a lack of bass and pronounced midrange, the Du Smart Buds are only suitable for podcasts.

Connectivity

  • Audio Codec: AAC and SBC
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Bluetooth Chip: Not stated
  • Auto-connect when: Taken out of case
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: 0 – 3 times
  • Multi-point connection: No

Xiaodu does not mention the Bluetooth chip used in the Du Smart Buds, but I suspect Baidu may have developed it. With the help of Bluetooth version 5.0, the connectivity is exceptionally stable.

During my review period of 3 weeks, I did not experience any signal drop-off, even when I was on crowded public transport!

Waterproof

  • IP Rating: IPX4

Due to the Du Smart Buds’ IPX4-rated water resistance, users will not need to worry about sweat or rain. However, the earbuds tend to be slippery when wet, and I find them to be insecure when I am using them during exercising.

The Du Smart Buds sit well in my ears when dry.
The Du Smart Buds sit well in my ears when dry.

Software

  • Available on: iOS and Android
  • Earbuds’ exact battery level display
  • Touch control can be modified
  • Real-time transcription and voice recording

The application displays the actual battery level. Touch controls on the earbuds can be modified in the application.

The most significant selling point of the Du Smart Buds is its intelligent voice recognition developed by Baidu. With this feature enabled, users can use the Du Smart Buds as a voice recorder or for transcription.

However, the transcription is not 100% correct due to the accent in Singapore. But at least it works.
The Xiaodu's smartphone application allows users to use the real-time transcription and voice recording function.
The Xiaodu’s smartphone application allows users to use the real-time transcription and voice recording function.

Conclusion

The Du Smart Earbuds are unique but have a lot of room for improvement. The poor sound quality and short battery life are likely deal breakers for most users, who prioritize sound and battery life more than other fancy features. The real-time transcription and recording are helpful but not for everyone.

I highly encourage Xiaodu to focus more on the sound tuning as the current sonic performance of Du Smart Earbuds is disappointing.

 

 

1 comment

  1. I see these are selling for $21 on Amazon, so maybe more emphasis should be placed on them being strictly low-budget options. Just a thought.

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