Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro TWS hands-on: A basic and affordable AirPods alternative
When Tronsmart released the Onyx Ace TWS, some said that they looked like US$10 AirPods clones. With the Pro version, nothing has changed in terms of looks, but those who considered buying the Onyx Ace based on the design alone might have to think again when facing the Onyx Ace Pro. The new earbuds can go up to an impressive 6.5 hours of playtime on a single charge, and the case holds about four full charges, for a total of roughly 27 hours.
Considering the generous improvement in autonomy (from about 5 hours of playtime for the Onyx Ace), the potential buyer should also take into account the upgrade from the Qualcomm QCC3020 chip to the Qualcomm QCC3040. These being said, I will move on and focus on the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro alone, because I did not have the occasion to use the non-Pro version.
Box contents, design, build quality
Tronsmart's products are usually well packaged, and the Onyx Ace Pro is no exception. However, there are no bonus accessories like a carrying pouch included in the retail box, which protects the following: a short USB-A to USB-C charging cable, the earbuds and the case, a warranty card, as well as a user manual.
The aforementioned retail box is quite solid, so it can be kept around to store various items. All the essential information regarding the product is shown on the box, but there is some blank space on the back which should have been used to add a few more technical specs or even the basic details on operating the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro.
While there is nothing special about the design and materials used, I must highlight that the earbuds look and feel better than the charging case, which seems cheap and rather fragile. The lid of the case felt a bit jiggly from the first time I opened it, but everything is done well enough considering the sub-US$50 price tag. Regarding the earbuds, while they fit surprisingly well in the ears, taking them out of the case could be a challenge, especially to those who don't have thin fingers (or at least long nails).
Specs, features, real-life usage
The Qualcomm QCC3040 chipset used in the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro comes with Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, ultra-low power consumption, low latency, support for aptX and aptX Adaptive. These earbuds are IPX5 waterproof and feature customized 13 mm composite polymer drivers. When it comes to calls, the dual mics and cVc 8.0 call enhancement should take care of getting the job done right. The list of essentials also includes a low-latency Gaming Mode and a button on the case that allows for one-key recovery in the case of pairing issues or other problems.
Once I got the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro fully charged and out of their case (easy enough thanks to my thin and nimble enough fingers), I had absolutely no problems getting connected to the phone and tablet (only Android, since I have no iPhone or iPad at my disposal). The non-customizable touch controls include volume adjustment, Game Mode toggle, voice assistant activation, play/pause, and next/previous track.
In addition to the controls mentioned above, it is great to know that volume adjustment is also available while in a call, something quite basic but not available in some earbuds that are more expensive. However, getting used to the different volume controls requires some time. While it only takes a single tap while playing music, a long tap is needed to do the same while in a call.
The sound quality depends a lot on the sound settings used, and adjusting general audio settings and third-party EQs can change the results to a great degree. However, it is clear that the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro are much better for calls than enjoying music. The 13 mm driver fails to impress, as the bass is rather poorly defined, but it can deliver decent results in certain scenarios. As I said earlier, it depends a lot on the sound settings. Sadly, I found that mids and highs are also pretty weak. On the positive side, the volume level is surprisingly good so, although there is no active noise cancelation involved, using the earbuds in a noisy environment is not a problem.
The shape of the earbuds helps a lot when the wind is blowing around, because there is no interference and the user can easily enjoy music, podcasts, or movies on the go. Obviously, the dual microphones will struggle when the wind is blowing, and talking while in a call might not be a good idea. Given the price range, it would be ridiculous to ask for good results in such a situation.
Thankfully, the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro can handle calls in normal conditions unexpectedly well. For example, I was in a noisy bus with a Diesel engine, full of people chatting, and I got a call with the volume set to about 60 percent. Without adjusting the volume, I was able to understand the other person very well and I also made myself understood perfectly.
The audio experience for gamers is satisfactory, and the Gaming Mode seems to help in fast-paced titles. Although the difference is minor, most people should notice it.
A pleasant surprise comes when running, working out, or simply sweating a lot due to the boiling summer sun. In all these cases, other earbuds fall off sooner or later. Thankfully, I had no problem with the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro. In fact, I was surprised by how the level of comfort provided.
Before moving on, I should add a few more things about listening to music on the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro. Mostly vocal tracks, fast-paced music, and dense orchestral works should be avoided. No matter how much I tried, when listening to Therion's Vovin I only managed to get annoyed over and over. On the other hand, electronic music with a lower tempo can sound pretty good. The catch is to try different EQ settings and other methods to customize the sound before deciding for yourself if the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro is worth keeping around.
The good, the bad, and the truth
The Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro comes with excellent autonomy, easy operation (the lack of any software app or upgradeable firmware could be considered both a plus and a weak spot, depending on the angle of approach), and very good performance in calls. These affordable earbuds should also be praised for being light and surprisingly comfortable to wear. Support for aptX in such an affordable product is also very nice, although the 13 nm drivers fails to keep up with the expectations.
Slightly pretentious music fans will find that these earbuds can barely keep up with their basic demands, but they might be surprised by the results that can be achieved with enough tinkering. However, when looking for the best low-cost solution in the sub-US$50 price range, older products that are now heavily discounted might offer much more, although they would also come with shorter battery life and worse microphone performance. Some people will find it very difficult to take the earbuds out of the case. It would be nice to have wireless charging for the case and maybe trade this new feature with a more basic and cheaper retail box (a blister would be just fine).
Overall, I must say that I like the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro and that, given the price of around US$35, this is a product worth checking out. While I wouldn't take these earbuds with me when I know I will listen to a lot of (heavy, fast, usually complex) music, I think that they are an effective and affordable solution for watching YouTube videos (music not included, in my case), movies, and for calls.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro TWS from Tronsmart free of charge for the purpose of testing.
Tronsmart (official product page)