Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The Enco M31 are the latest pair of wireless earphones from Oppo. On paper, the Enco M31 seem fully featured, with LDAC, Hi-Res Wireless Audio certification, IPX5 certified water resistance, and Ai-powered noise cancellation for voice calls, all at a relatively affordable price.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The inclusion of LDAC alone should put a smile on a few faces, as support for this codec is largely absent in budget audio gear. And the Enco M31 is well and truly “budget”; I picked up this pair for INR 1999 from Amazon India, which is only about $26. So what’s the catch and how do they perform? Let’s find out.

Design

The Oppo Enco M31 are a neckband-style of wireless Bluetooth earphones. They also feature magnetized speakers so when not in use, the two speakers snap together keeping them together and also switching them off in the process.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The rubber neckband terminates in elongated modules on either side that includes all the electronics, batteries, and also the controls on the left unit. The cables emanate from each side leading to the compact earbuds at the other end.

The design of the Enco M31 has two issues — which aren’t deal-breakers, certainly not at this price — but can still be a bit annoying.

First, there is no easy way to tell the left speaker from the right with just a glance before you put on the band around your neck. The earbuds are a bit small and not easy to identify. The band itself from outside looks quite similar regardless of how you hold it. The easiest way to tell if you’re wearing it the right way is by running your fingers on the inside of the band to check for the buttons, which are only on the left side but have a design similar to that of the right side.

This might sound like a nitpick but after the dozenth time of putting them on the wrong way around and having to flip them over, it got tiring pretty quickly. Most other neckband style Bluetooth earphones have their controls placed on the cable rather than the neckband itself, which makes it easy to tell the left side from the right. The cables on the Enco M31, however, look identical.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

This is brought on by Oppo having placed the controls on the inside of the left module on the neckband, which is also the second issue I have with the design. Other than making it difficult to tell the left speaker apart from the right one, the controls are also just difficult to use. Controls on cables can be used quite easily with your thumb but these require you to run your finger on the inside of your band till you find the buttons.

The layout of the buttons is also odd; the topmost button increases the volume, the middle button reduces the volume, and the lower button controls playback. The buttons are quite large but the odd layout makes it difficult to get used to them.

The earbuds at the end of the cables are some of the smallest I’ve used. The body of the earbuds is only slightly larger than the silicone ear tip attached to them. The whole thing fits completely flush within your outer ear and had it not been for the cables hanging out, you wouldn’t even be able to see them from the front. This also means you can lie on your side while wearing them in bed.

The earbuds aren’t completely discreet as they have a large silver surface on the outside, with a spun-metal finish underneath a clear plastic layer. The green model is even flashier, with a shiny gold pattern on the earbuds with matching gold cables and gold accents on the neckband. It does look quite striking but sadly wasn’t in stock when I ordered our pair so I went with the more sober black version.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The overall build quality is decent. It doesn’t seem particularly sturdy as the cables are quite thin but after a month of use, I haven’t had any reason to doubt their durability. It’s also impressive that Oppo managed to include IPX5 water-resistance at this price point, which should help protect these against water and sweat.

Comfort

No complaints here; the Oppo Enco M31 are a very lightweight and comfortable pair of earphones. Had it not been for the cables that are often in your peripheral vision, you would forget you are even wearing them. The only annoyance is the aforementioned awkward placement of controls on the inside of the neckband that’s not as easy to operate as cable-based controls.

Software and Features

The Oppo Enco M31 have no companion app. You pair them as you normally would through your phone’s Bluetooth settings. There’s no NFC here so you have to do it manually. The only exception here are select Oppo phones running ColorOS 7.0 or higher. On these phones, you should get a quick pairing prompt to speed up the pairing process.

The Enco M31 uses single 9.2mm full range dynamic drivers with PET titanium-plated composite diaphragms. Oppo claims these are capable of reproducing frequencies up to 40kHz, which also earns them the Hi-Res Audio certification.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The earphones support Bluetooth 5.0 with a range of about 10m. For audio transmission, the Enco M31 uses LDAC, AAC, or SBC codecs. LDAC is supported up to 990kbps, although the actual bitrate used will depend upon your device. Most Android devices don’t necessarily default to 990kbps so you might have to switch to it manually through developer settings.

Unfortunately, this gets reset every time you disconnect the earphones so it has to be done every time you want to use them. It’s the only hassle with LDAC if you want to ensure you are getting the best out of the codec as the base 330kbps mode isn’t any better than SBC or AAC.

The Enco M31 doesn’t have too many other features. There is a Bass Mode, which can be activated by double-clicking the play/pause button. The problem with this is that it gets reset back to Balanced Mode when the earphones are switched off, so it’s a bit of a hassle to use if you want it enabled all the time.

There’s also ‘AI-powered’ noise-canceling for ambient sound during calls, which ensures the person you are calling hears your voice better. It doesn’t cancel the ambient noise for you as they aren’t active noise-canceling earphones.

Performance

Let’s move to the audio quality, which is easily the best reason to purchase the Oppo Enco M31. As far as that is concerned, the Enco M31 are the best wireless earphones you can get in this price category and also several categories higher. They are one of the most musically gifted pair of earphones I’ve tried in a while, especially after being exposed to a deluge of budget wireless earphones in recent times.

The Enco M31 have a wonderfully crisp, clean sound that revels in every part of the frequency spectrum equally. It’s balanced sounding without being boring, interesting without being too analytical and goes well with just about any genre of content out there.

Starting with the bass, the Enco M31 have a very restrained low-end response with a beautifully tuned bass line. The bass is warm, engaging, and packs enough punch to keep even the livelier electronic genres of music feeling impactful without ruining the balance of other, more somber genres. It never overwhelms the mid-range and you can quite clearly draw the line between the two.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

Of course, an accurate or a relatively accurate bass response comes across as lacking to the untrained ear, so to avoid the usual “no BASS” reviews on Amazon, Oppo has included a Bass Mode, which can be activated by double-clicking the play/pause button. It does what it says on the tin, inflating the low-end to indecent levels to keep the bass heads happy.

Personally, it’s not to my taste as I prefer the appropriately named Balanced Mode. The sound gets unbalanced and the bass lacks the definition and quality that it had in Balanced Mode. But it’s there if you need it but as mentioned before, the earphones will reset to Balanced Mode when switched off.

The mids are also really good, rendering instruments and vocals with equal aplomb. It’s high enough resolution to bring out some of the minor details in songs that you may not have heard before. Also, as with the bass, the mids are relatively uncolored other than a very slight bias towards warmth, so most voices and instruments sound how they should. This also makes these earphones great for things like podcasts, audiobooks, movies, and games.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

The high-end reproduction is also impressive. As with the low-end, Oppo has shown some restraint in tuning, which means you don’t get some of the sibilance and shimmer with the S and T sounds. Despite that, there’s still an impressive amount of detail to be found here, with string instruments, in particular, coming to life. The high-frequency extension is also quite good with the sound extending about as high as your hearing will go. Oppo claims a 40kHz ceiling for the drivers but there’s not much point to that figure unless you have superhuman hearing or you’re a dog, in which case good job reading this far and even managing to open the site.

The Enco M31 also have excellent imaging, as is expected of all modern earphones or headphones. The soundstage is average considering these are still in-ear earphones, so you won’t get the speaker-like soundstage of big, open-back headphones but at the same time it’s also not particularly congested.

I tested the earphones with a OnePlus 8 Pro manually locked to 990kbps FLAC and also with an iPhone XR using AAC. I didn’t notice any real difference in audio quality beyond what can be attributed to just placebo, which is to say these earphones sound great regardless of what device you pair them to.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

Before moving on to the other aspects of the performance, I should mention the volume control on these earphones. The Enco M31 don’t get very loud and as a result, I found myself using them close to 90% volume most of the time. There are parts of the volume range, especially in the 20-50% range where the volume doesn’t seem to increase much at all. Now, this isn’t a huge complaint as I never found it lacking and the maximum volume was still plenty loud for me but it’s worth mentioning in case you are hard of hearing or listening in louder environments.

Next up is the microphone performance. The microphone on the Enco M31 isn’t great. There’s not much bass in voices but there’s a lot of hiss and sibilance. Also, the AI noise reduction doesn’t seem to do much at all, as there was still plenty of noise in the background. Callers also occasionally complained about not hearing my voice clearly. So not the best option for those who have to make a lot of voice calls.

Finally, the latency on the Enco M31 is reasonably low. Watching videos and movies is a perfectly good experience as the lag is imperceptible. In games, you do get some lag between, say, tapping the shoot button and hearing the gun go off but it’s not significant nor difficult to deal with.

Battery Life

The Enco M31 does not have exceptional battery life. Oppo claims 8 hours on LDAC and 12 hours with the SBC codec.

In my testing, the Enco M31 lasted for 7.5 hours when testing with LDAC 990kbps codec. Instead of testing with SBC, I tested with AAC on an iPhone and that resulted in 11 hours of battery life. So just short of Oppo’s claimed figures, which is to be expected.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

Unfortunately, these figures are pretty unimpressive for neckband style of Bluetooth earphones. The new OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z, for example, last for 20 hours on a single charge. The LDAC battery life is especially disheartening and I found myself constantly having to charge the earphones when using with an Android phone. It’s easily the biggest downside of these earphones.

The good thing is that the battery takes only about an hour to charge completely.

Conclusion

Some of you may be aware of Oppo’s audio division, which operated independently and is world-renowned for making high-quality equipment like DVD and Blu-ray players, amplifiers, and headphones. While no longer operational, it seems this division has imbibed the Enco M31 with some of its audiophile magic. Simply put, these are one of the best sounding Bluetooth earphones on the market and you will have to spend several times their price to get anything better.

Sound quality aside, the Enco M31 do feel like a budget pair of earphones. The build quality is unremarkable, the position of the controls on the neckband is annoying, the mic doesn’t sound good, and the battery life is disappointing. It’s clear that some corners had to be cut and while the audio quality does far exceed the sticker price, the product as a whole is by no means premium.

Oppo Enco M31 wireless earphones review

Still, every time I listen to them, I feel like I ripped off Oppo. There’s no way these things sound as good as they do while costing only INR 1999. There has to be a catch somewhere and I waited several weeks to find it before I sat down to write this review but it never came. Yes, the battery life isn’t great but I’d rather have something I enjoy listening to and have to charge often than something that lasts for ages but doesn’t sound good.

The Oppo Enco M31 is a fantastic deal if all you care about is audio quality. That might not be a priority for everyone, so there’s still a case to be made for something like the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z, which were my previous pick for budget wireless earphones (shoutout in the comments if you want to see a comparison with those). But if sound quality is a priority for you, the Oppo Enco M31 is your best option.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go charge them again.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Comfortable
  • IPX5 rating
  • Incredibly well-priced

Cons

  • Unimpressive battery life with LDAC
  • Mediocre microphone
  • Inconveniently placed controls