Product name: Dodocool wireless headphones with EQ
Cost: 66.99 UK pounds (Currency conversion)
(Price and availability subject to vary according to country and special offers)
Reviewer: Nick Whetstone - TNT UK
Reviewed: September, 2018
Dodocool have been busy in building quite a wide range of audio products. If you have read my previous reviews on their products, you will know that I have been quite impressed with what I have reviewed to date. In this review, I audition another pair of their wireless headphones, designated DA151. Like the DA158 headphones that I reviewed earlier this year, the DA151s are of the wireless type, although like the DA158s, they can be connected using a cable if that is required or preferred. What the DA151s offer over the DA158s is the ability to tune the EQ using an app on a smart phone. A nice touch is the black draw-string carrier bag supplied with the DA151s, that should keep them clean when carried around; and a charging cable, and multilingual instruction leaflet is also supplied.
Yet again, I have to commend Dodocool for the quality and style of their products, because the DA151s are just as good as the rest of the items that I have had here for review. The DA151s come in black, with a little bit of silver on the outer side of the ear cups. With an item like headphones, I would guess that the vast majority of customers want them to be discrete, and the DA151s don't disappoint on that score. They are nice and light, and very comfortable to wear for long periods due to the very soft ear cushions. Despite their lack of weight, they appear to be well constructed, and with sensible use, should last a long time. The top of the head strap is also cushioned, and the ear cups can be adjusted on the strap to get the most comfortable positioning.
On the left side ear cup is the on/off button, and sockets for line in (3.5mm audio jack), and DC power (micro USB for charging). The power button is a multi-function control. Both sockets are protected with rubber covers. On the right side ear cup are buttons for volume control, and selecting tracks.
Unlike the DA158s, I had no trouble connecting the DA151s to anything that I tried. That was a smart phone, my desktop computer (via Bluetooth), or the Dodocool DA88 Bluetooth transmitter. So I was able to listen to music from the Dodocool DA106 portable audio player without wired earphones. In that review of the DA106, I talked about not wanting to spend a lot on wired earphones, because of the frailty of the wires, and I am becoming ever more keen on wireless options for listening to music 'on the go'. Apart form the frailty issue, I also notice that wired earphones can pick up mechanical noise through the wires as they move about, making wireless connection even more preferable.
Before I talk about the EQ function of the DA151s, I'll tell you how they perform without it. In short, the sound quality of these head phones is excellent. They utilize what Dodocool call CVC 6.0 noise cancelling technology, and it works well. The claimed frequency response is 20 Hz - 40 kHz, and while I didn't measure that claim, listening to them does support the quoted response, and that it is indeed very wide. No doubt that is achieved by the inclusion of not one, but two, drive units in each cup. The bass is particularly good, with plenty of definition and tune. Clarity is good, and overall, these headphones provide a highly enjoyable, and non-fatiguing, listening experience, particularly when playing FLAC files. When I listened to music from something like the DA106 portable music player through these headphones, I felt that the sound quality was closer to the sound quality that I enjoy through my hi-end hi-fi at home. If you need to use headphones, perhaps because you want to listen to music while somebody else in your home doesn't, or you want considerably better sound quality on the go than with cheaper in-ear phones, these headphones are a great option.
As regards wireless connection, I found that I could move around quite freely while having the DA151s connected to my PC via Bluetooth. How far I could move away from the PC depended a lot on what physical obstructions, eg walls, were in the way, but I could move to the next room, and still get perfect reception. I never once got near running the batteries down, so I couldn't test the claim of 20 hours operation on each charge. If you use these headphones with a smart phone, you will be able to see a battery level indicator on the phone's screen. The longest session that I had was just over three hours, and I can't imagine most people wanting to listen for much longer than that. Charging is so simple from any USB outlet, and I find it best to get into a habit of charging frequently, rather than waiting until I find that a battery is exhausted. If you do wait until a battery is dead, it is likely to be the one time when you really need to use a device, so it really is good practice to keep everything (there is a lot these days) charged up. As I have already said, the DA151s are so light and comfortable, that in use, I hardly knew that I was wearing them.
Now we come to the EQ function of these headphones. The idea is that you can set the EQ in the DA151s to suit your hearing, your preference, or perhaps even for a particular genre of music. To that end, you can download an app called 'EQPlus' to your smart phone, and with the headphones paired with the phone, use the app to set up the EQ curves. This is where the news about the DA151s is not quite so good. Apparently, the designer of the app left the company before it was fully completed, and while it does work, there are no clear instructions on how to use it, and nothing on-screen to say which controls do what. So it is down to a bit of trial and error to set up the EQ curves, but it can be done. I only got to play with the app briefly on a friend's phone, and to be honest, we never quite got to grips with the app, although we somehow managed to set up a couple of EQ curves. I'm sure that if I had a smart phone, and some more time to play around with the app, I could get it to work, and may be I could get the DA151s to sound better. I say 'may be' because they sound so good without the EQ, that it is hard to imagine them sounding much better. My age makes me a 'Tech Immigrant' as opposed to a 'Tech Native' (as most of the younger generation are), so the app may be a lot more intuitive, and easier to use, than I have found.
If you are trying out the app, here are some hints to get you started. The circles that you see on the screen are controls that you can move left to right, or up and down, to control which frequency you are setting, and the attenuation of that frequency. I have been told that the control of the EQ is quite comprehensive, ie more than a simple tone control, so it is probably worth persevering with.
Summing up the DA151 headphones, they look and sound gorgeous, are easy to use, and only slightly let down by the app that is used for their EQ function. A pity because with a more usable EQ function, they would be near perfect for the price. Even so, I will still give them a very high recommendation because of their sound quality. At the time of writing up this review, there is a 15 pound discount on these headphones on Amazon (UK) making them a true audio bargain. Dodocool will issue a discount code when this review is published, and I respectfully remind you that this is nothing to do with TNT-Audio, so when the code expires, please don't write to us asking for another discount.
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