The market has no lack of good TWS (True Wireless Stereo) system. Ever since 2019, mega audio manufacturers like Sony and Sennheiser launched their own ranges of TWS products. Chinese OEM manufacturers are flooded by customers’ orders from all around the world. Do a quick google, you will see a long product list of TWS that you could actually buy directly from the manufacturers (which located at some Chinese province you probably won’t even know)
Anyway, competition in the TWS space is crowded. How Soul Electronics positioned themselves in this highly competitive market?
Let’s take a look at their Soul ST-XS2 TWS.
Fresh out from the box, the XS2 comes with a standard USB type C charging cable, 2 pairs of tip covers (one with wings, one without), 2 pairs of different size ear tips and a small carabiner (ok. This is not standard issue that you will usually when you purchase a TWS).
At the first look, it is not hard to notice that the XS2 is designed for outdoor activities. I have received the black review unit. The grey colour wing tip blends well with its black colour design. The inner part that is in contact with the ear is mainly covered by the rubber wing tip and ear tip to protect against sweat exposure. On the outer part, it mainly consists a light indicator and button control.
Overall, it is subtle, but the wingtip brings out the sports aura making it looks sporty.
From here, you probably would have guessed the XS2 is also water resistance with a rating of IPX7. In other words, you could literately wear this out for a short swim.
Comfort and Experience
What has amazed me is the Auto-Pairing Bluetooth feature. Immediately out of the charging case, the XS2 pairs with my smartphone. No power on, no pin required; all I did is to bring the smartphone near to the XS2 (just make sure the Bluetooth on your smartphone is on. Common sense). Fast and seamless!
Once you have replaced the ear tips with the right size, the XS2 fits comfortable well. I am expecting some discomfort from the wingtips. Surprisingly, I feel alright after a 30-minute run with the XS2 . In fact, I don’t even realise that the wingtips are there.
The treble is clear and that’s a plus point when listening to vocal. There is also another plus point when you could hear the voice clearly during a phone call.
During the testing at my desk, the treble seems to have over-powered the bass. I don’t get the “punch” I need especially when listening to some high tempo music. That formed a negative expectation especially when you are doing strenuous exercise; you need such music to motivate you.
However, the XS2 has proven me wrong. The entire running experience with XS2 is pleasant. The sound signature somehow sounds better; maybe the sudden rush of endorphins has changed my perception of sound. I have enjoyed my run very much with XS2
The XS2 covers the ear hole quite tightly and it forms a physical barrier to block off environment sound. There is no active noise cancelling feature. Instead, they are using their proprietary “Transparent Sound mode” that receive sounds from outside and reproduce them via the earpiece. (Note: To turn it on/off, press the “Soul” button for 1 sec and it will follow by a “beep”).
It works well when you want to have better situation awareness while you are out running.
The Soul ST- XS2 surprises me in number of ways. From a consumer’s perspective, I can’t complain much about the Soul ST- XS2. At the price of SGD 169, you get a TWS that ticks almost all the checkboxes i.e. you are getting a water-proof earpiece that comes with a charging case that has combined battery life of 25 hours playback. That’s a steal!
Little did I expect that, I prefer to run with theXS2 even though I did not derive much satisfaction listening to it at home. Don’t get me wrong. The sound quality is good but what surprised me most is the fact that my enjoyment with it could vary that much.
I like the idea of “Transparent Sound Mode”. Given how most of the TWS are designed, they probably would have blocked off a substantial amount of the environment sounds even without active noise cancellation. If you have looked around in the market, most headsets that are specifically designed for runners usually does not come with noise cancelling features because people would not need that while doing their run. The “Transparent Sound Mode” works entirely opposite from the active noise cancellation. Reproduction of the surrounding sounds actually gives runner a better situation awareness. That’s another surprise I got from the Soul ST- XS2