Unknown to many, Nokia has been selling audio products for a few years, The brand is licensed to RichGo to produce audio accessories like headphones and earbuds. The Nokia Essential E3511 is a true wireless earphones with active noise cancelling technology and ambient mode. It retails in Singapore at S$119.
Design and Operations
The E3511 is IP44 water rated and gives you 6.5 hours of battery life per charge, or 25 hours with charging case made of aluminum. The earbuds is plastic molded with aluminum tip to break the monotonous design. The USB-C charging port is oddly positioned at the front, another unusual design element.
Last and not least, the touch control is at the side of the stem instead of the front, and this design is possibly inspired by Apple AirPods Pro, except the E3511 uses touch-sensitive panel instead of pressure-sensitive. It takes a while to get used to handling this: I would have to put my thumb on the stem first before I tap the sensor. Also, due to the position of the sensor, they are more prone to come in contact during handling of the earbuds compared to the conventional touch location which faces outwards. Again, it is a matter of getting used to.
While it is good to be able to control all aspects of playback – from track changes to volume adjustments and toggling ANC / Ambient modes – the touch response is quite delayed and I sometimes do not know what I am triggering because the feedback tone is always the same. Only toggling ANC and Ambient mode comes with voice prompts.
ANC and Ambient Mode
The ANC on the Nokia E3511 is quite effective. Most of the lower-frequency ambient noises are suppressed sufficiently, leaving soft noises at the upper frequencies. This background noise suppression helps to improve music listening without increasing volume. The Ambient mode sounds well-balanced. I can turn it on and have a conversation with people around me as if I am wearing open-fit earbuds.
The Nokia E3511 is tuned with a more conservative treble presence. Music lacks the sparkle that correlates to high-fidelity sound. The midrange is also elevated, bring out background instruments, further reducing the emphasis on the vocals. Mid-bass has good meat, not too bloated, while low bass is mild. To give credit, the tuning goes easier on the ears when listening at louder volume. My ears can also pick up more musical nuances from various musical elements, which may be lost in other earbuds due to the aggressive push on the treble details. An EQ to reduce midrange and boost upper treble brings the tuning on par to premium headphones, but casual users may not have access to EQ app.
Compared to the Creative Outlier Pro, the E3511 has a better sound stage which is wider and more space for instruments to be heard, the ambient mode is more natural, and the ANC is a little bit stronger. In addition, the small charging case and earbud size makes the E3511 a better purchase choice.
The call quality is rather good. The mic picks up the voice clear and bright without excessive midrange, and this will ensure the other party can hear you amidst the noise. The mic could not function well under windy conditions.
Nokia Essential E3511 has challenged the price threshold for true wireless earbuds with ANC and Ambient Mode features. In this competitive market segment, the E3511 manages to offer pretty good value. Listeners should prefer a warmer, rounded audio tuning or else they should consider other brands like Sudio or Earfun. Here are a list of ANC headphones I have reviewed.