The brand new Sudio E2 earphones launches worldwide today. Here’s a detailed look at the Swedish manufacturer’s flagship successor to 2020’s Ett.
In a nutshell, the Sudio E2 is the successor to 2020’s Ett; Gen 2 in other words. Looking at the features list got me thinking too.
It’s like, not so long ago, earphones were just earphones, weren’t they? The major differences between models merely audio quality and comfort of wear.
But earbuds came into the picture, followed by wireless and true wireless versions. Once a premium function, noise cancelling is now increasingly common. As well as all sorts of technologies to enable clearer calls and speech.
What next to add for the demanding market?
Well, at Sudio, spatial audio is the next step. The star feature of their latest flagship model, one click on the E2 supposedly transforms audio into an immersive 3D soundscape, so that it feels as if you’re listening to premium speakers, rather than from inside your head.
Sounds incredible? It does to me. What’s more, it’s just SGD 189/- (before discount), with the wireless earbuds also empowered with superior “hybrid” noise cancellation.
A case of … too good to be true? You know what, it’s not. The Sudio E2 does indeed deliver what it promises. What do I mean? Read on to find out!
This Sudio E2 review was written using a sponsored set. If you’re just looking for the discount code, just scroll right to the end of this review.
Sudio E2 Features and Specifications
Firstly, a look at the many features of the E2.
- “Hybrid” active noise cancelling (ANC), with transparency mode
- Dirac Virtuo spatial audio function
- VividVoice, dual-beamforming technology for clearer calls
- Wireless charging
- 10 minutes fast charging for 2 hours use
- Up to 30 hours of playtime, i.e., battery life
- IPX4 certified sweat and water-resistant
- Weight: 5 g per earbud
- Driver Size: 10 mm
- Impedance: 16 Ω
- Sensitivity: 99dB @1.0KHz
- Plastic-free packaging; the Swedish manufacturer’s effort at sustainability
- 3-year warranty with Sudio Sphere, and free shipping
Were you to compare, you’ll immediately notice the Sudio E2 is very similar to 2021’s T2, with the only exception being the inclusion of Dirac Virtuo spatiality. (And thus, the higher price tag for the E2)
On that, I have a lot to share, but I’ll leave that for the sound quality section. For the moment, let me just tease by saying this additional functionality provides for several interesting combinations. As in when used in combination with ANC, and with other sound enhancement codecs.
If you’re experimental with sound, these combinations could offer you quite a bit of fun.
Unboxing and First Impressions
As part of Sudio’s commitment to sustainability, my package came in a recyclable paper box. Even the E2 box itself contains no plastic at all; there’s not even any shrink wrap. I think such product decisions really goes towards helping Mother Earth, however insignificant they feel.
Sudio E2 Touch Controls
Touch control for is E2 is activated by clicks and holds on the metallic surface of the earbuds, similar to recent Sudio earphones.
Regarding this … I’ve already written about it several times. While the holds are easy to achieve, and a single flick/click to answer calls is straightforward enough, adjusting volume with 3 clicks is just a pain. Something I just can’t master the right timing for too.
And so I’m sticking to what I’ve always written. Volume controls are way easier to do on the playback device.
Anyhow, here’s a rundown of the controls:
- 1 Click on Either Earbud: Play/Pause/Answer Call.
- 2 Clicks on Left Earbud: Previous track.
- 2 Clicks on Right Earbud: Next track.
- 3 Clicks on Left Earbud: Volume down.
- 3 Clicks on Left Earbud: Volume up.Hold for 2 Secs on Either Earbud: Reject Call/Terminate Call.
“Hybrid” Active Noise Cancelling on the Sudio E2
First off, though the description is now different, active noise cancelling (ANC) for the E2 works the exact same way as that for the Sudio T2. The only difference is that the function can only be activated using the RIGHT earbud.
- Press the touch-control on the right earbud for 2 secs, and ANC is activated.
- Repeat the action and “transparency” mode is activated. This allows environmental noise to sweep in, so that you can hear yourself talk, and not shout, during voice calls. (Could also make the earbuds more comfortable to walk about with when not listening to anything)
- Press and hold for 2 secs another time, and everything switches off.
Secondly, and I’m being very blunt here, my experience with Sudio’s noise cancellation has so far been a mixed bag. Not that they don’t work, but it’s either a case of the effect being milder than I hope it’d be, or in the case of the Elva, the audio receiving a dramatic makeover rather than a sharp reduction in unwanted din.
Not the case with the E2. Once ANC kicks in, the environment goes quiet. While testing it outdoors, a taxi cruised past me and I barely heard it; not exaggerating. The effect is the same, maybe even superior, to that from expensive Bose headsets I’ve tried during flights.
And after activating transparency mode for the first time, I jumped. Again, I’m not exaggerating but the sudden jump in environmental noise volume truly startled me. In fact, I find this mode a wee bit too noisy even for calls.
Oh, there are voice prompts this time too. Unlike the T2 which uses chimes, you’re told which mode you’re on. As inane as this would sound, I much prefer this, erm, clarity.
Sudio E2 Sound Quality
On to sound quality! I’ll start by saying, the Sudio E2 is a bass lover’s dream.
It’s loud and punchy. Even with tracks that are unusually weak in the lows, basses get rigourously boosted. What’s more, they impressively retain definition, and so amidst all that resonating vigor, I could still clearly hear tuning and bends.
Repeat: if you’re into powerful, pronounced lows, you will love the Sudio E2 sound.
On the flip side, and without surprise, mids suffer because of the enthusiastic lows. By themselves, they already trend towards the weaker side, and so the overall outcome is that the bass often covers up too much. On some tracks, I also felt as if the accompaniments, etc, were slipping away.
Thankfully, highs and vocals compensate with admirable performances. They are clear and accurate; I hardly detected any distortion with all the tracks I tried. What’s noteworthy here is also that even with spatiality (see below) switched off, the soundstage of the E2 is remarkable in both width and depth, and placement.
With the right tracks, you will clearly sense the position of each instrument. You will know exactly where the vocalist is at too.
Coming to movies and games, I think the naturalistic, expansive soundstage of the E2 makes it superb for gaming, particularly newer open-world games. (It was sheer delight playing SMT V with these earphones; those demonic shrieks were coming at me from all over) Performance for movies was, well, without complaint from me too. In this area, what jumps at me most is how ambient sounds is pushed further away. They become softer, but the overall effect results in much clearer dialogue. Vocals that are also great at capturing chesty nuances.
Moving on to voice functions, they are as they should be. Clear either way with no lag. On this, the only feedback I can share is that I find the “transparency” ANC mode too noisy for talks; it gets uncomfortable even. But with the sealing design of the E2 being pretty superior, I suspect some users would feel otherwise.
Update Apr 2021: Sudio Personal Sound App
Sudio has released a app named “Sudio Personal Sound” on Google Play and Apple PlayStore. Meant for the E2 as well as the slightly older Sudio T2, the app allows you to control ANC and spatial audio with your phone.
What’s more, it comes with a nifty equalizer function, one that allows you to create your own sound profile.
In other words, this is one app that all E2 owners should download.
Dirac Virtuo: Immersive Spatial Audio
This is the star feature of the Sudio E2, but that’s not why I’m devoting a specific section to it. Instead, it’s because this was the hardest feature for me to review.
But before all else, let me highlight how Sudio and Dirac describe it. On Sudio’s press release, Dirac Virtuo is described as enabling the enjoyment of “spatial audio from stereo content regardless of playback device or media player.”
Over at Dirac’s official website, the description becomes even more colourful. A “spacious, natural soundscape beyond the physical confines of your sound system” can be created, with “accurate sound localisation.” The many listed benefits then include increased listening comfort and sound image correction.
I’ll put it this way. I’ve never tried Dirac Virtuo and all that glowing literature led me to believe it will utterly transform audio the moment it’s switched on. It did not. In fact, the first time I “spatial on,” I barely noticed any changes outside of the sound slightly moving away from my ears, i.e., a mild broadening of soundstage.
It was only with extensive testing, with ANC on and in a quiet room, that I finally managed to pinpoint the difference. Very simply, Dirac Virtuo improves what’s already great, but in subtle ways. Sound placement becomes more distinct, with both depth and width added. Resonance for instruments like the piano, already accurately captured, becomes more reverberating.
Cymbals, steel guitars, etc, become crispier. Mids are nudged further away to generate more depth.
Could be me imagining things, but I felt the function also corrected poorly recorded audio to some extent. Possibly because of the expanded soundstage, echoy tracks no longer sound as “wrong.” The sometimes overpowering bass signature becomes less overwhelming too, with overall better balance.
The summary: Dirac Virtuo works as it should but not in the outrageous way the marketing text would lead you to expect. You’d also need to give it time. Not as in it takes a while to come into effect, but that you need to experiment with different tracks to fully sense the effect.
When Paired with Samsung’s Dolby Atmos Function
Do you use a higher-end Samsung phone? If so, you’d already be familiar with Dolby Atmos.
Described as capable of providing “breakthrough audio for media playback” and capable of making music sound “richer, fuller, and more balanced,” the function is something that I can’t do without. Besides, it’s a superb volume booster. With the right tracks, it can even deliver the sensation of being in a well-designed auditorium.
In other words … somewhat similar to the 3D soundscape magic of Dirac Virtuo.
What’s interesting is this. When I layered Dolby Atmos on top of Dirac Virtuo, the effect is stunning when it works. With some tracks, everything becomes too loud or boomy, but with the right ones, oh wow, it’s like being at the sweetest spot in a world-class concert hall. The sensation is positively exhilarating, to say the least.
I’m highlighting this in case you’re wondering whether you need Dirac Virtuo when you already have capabilities like Dolby Atmos on your playback device. My answer: yeah, why wouldn’t you? You’d be treating yourself to even higher realms of audio joy.
Sudio E2 vs Ett: The Differences and Upgrades
If you already own the Sudio Ett, you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth upgrading; the Ett is only 2 years old, after all. Well, here’s a rundown of the differences.
- As you can see from the above picture, they are physically different. The Ett has a smaller charging case. Its earbuds also have a different front. Personally, I feel the design for the E2 is more ergonomic and appealing.
- The Ett uses physical clicks while the E2 uses touch control. I’m not a huge fan of the latter but when it comes to holding for 2 secs to activate something, touch is admittedly easier.
- The E2 carries significantly more battery life. Up to 33 hours versus 24 hours for the older model.
- Noise cancellation for the E2 is superior. (It uses 2 microphones to combine both feedforward and feedback for the effect) Moreover, there is the transparency mode.
- Needless to say, it might be worth upgrading just for Dirac Virtuo spatiality.
- Even without Dirac Virtuo, I think sound quality with the E2 is superior. In straightforward terms, it’s clearer, more distinct, and with more definition.
Sudio E2 Review Conclusion
Let me move away from audiophile talk and end by saying, the Sudio E2 provides a lot of value add for its price tag.
The bass-heavy sound signature might not be to everybody’s liking, but this can be corrected to an extent by switching on spatiality. Dirac Virtuo itself, to me, enough of a reason to get this new flagship model too.
Add to which are the superior noise cancellation functionalities, and an attractive, ergonomic build. I haven’t mentioned this but these earbuds are comfortable to wear. They fit snuggly too. An all-round winner?
Might be a bit too much to put it that way, but I think the E2 comes near.
The Sudio E2 has launched worldwide on March 3, 2022! Head over to the official Sudio website today to place an order! You’ll enjoy a 15 percent discount off the retail price if you quote my discount code, scribblinggeek
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