TWS TRUE WIRELESS EARPHONES - UNDER $50
FOUR STARS - The Donner Dobuds One has great sound, a comfortable fit, Active Noise Cancelling, app support, and good call quality for just $50. If only video playback was more on point.
Donner Dobuds One specs and features:
Bluetooth 5.2 with AAC codec
5,5 - 8 hours listening on a single charge (ANC on/off)
Charging case can recharge earpieces fully 3 times
Comes with 5 sets of ear tips, USB-C cable, English manual
Comes with 20% launch discount, try out code DONNEREB for extra 10% off
Below this Donner Dobuds One review, you will find comparisons of the Donner Dobuds One vs FiiTii HifiAir, Earfun Air Pro 2, and OnePlus Nord Buds.
DESIGN, COMFORT AND BATTERY LIFE
The charging case of the Donner Dobuds One scratches easily and looks worn out rapidly. There - that's one of the biggest issues with the Donner DoBods One right out of the way. The lid on the case feels a little loose and it doesn't support wireless charging, but other than that it's pretty convenient. It's thin enough to carry in a jeans pocket, has three LED-lights that indicate the remaining case battery and it can recharge the earbuds three times fully before it needs new power via USB-C itself.
The earbuds look more polished, available in black, light green, or white. They combine a plastic stem with a shiny triangular touch panel in the same color, and the earpieces are of the oval kind you put diagonally in your ears. The oval parts combine a snug fit and are comfortable to wear for hours - in medium-sized ears, anyway. To grant you the best fit, the Dobuds comes with five sizes of ear tips - more than the usual three.
The battery life on the Dobuds One is solid, delivering around 5,5 hours of playtime with ANC on, and up to 8 hours with Active Noise Cancelling turned off.
Two things of note, sadly: there's no official waterproof rating - although Donner states the earbuds are waterproof, and they do indeed survive a light rainfall. Also, even when you're playing music, the subtle LED-lights in the touch panels keeps on blinking, which is annoying in the dark.
CONTROLS AND CONNECTIVITY
The Donner Dobuds One responds to your input on the touch panel with slight clicks. These clicks aren't too loud, but could fire faster. Happily, all important controls are available on the earbuds:
Double-tap L or R to play/pause
Tap R to increase volume
Tap L to decrease it
Hold R to skip to the next song
Hold L to return a song
Triple-tap R to switch between ANC on, Transparency mode, ANC off
Triple-tap L to activate the voice assistant
You can change the controls to your liking with the free Donner app. Assign the Gaming mode to one of the double-taps and literally ALL possibilities of these earbuds are within reach. You'll need it, as the gaming mode is used to improve synchronization in videos as well.
Connectivity is good, as the earbuds pair and connect quickly and keep a stable Bluetooth signal up to 10 meters away from your device.
CALLS, MOVIES AND GAMES
It's nice that the Donner Dobuds One has a gaming mode, which speeds up the sound effects decently with the action you see on the screen - although not as flawless as on the SoundPEATS Mini Pro or Air3 Pro.
It's unfortunate that you need to activate the gaming mode every time to have flawless video playback on iPhone. Without the gaming mode, audio and video don't align in Instagram and Twitter videos - an outdated performance. Playback does work well on YouTube and other streaming services, however. Audio-video synchronization are on point on Android phones as well.
It's doable to take a phone or video call with this Donner. Your voice is loud enough and has a nice fullness to it. Noise around you, whether it's door slams, accelerating vehicles, or even a distant ambulance siren, stay in the background while you talk, and don't overrule your voice - although they do make your voice a bit more muffled. Wind noise is the usual enemy to the call clarity.
APP SUPPORT OF DONNER DOBUDS ONE
Donner may be a newcomer to the world of wireless earbuds, but its debut already has full free app support for iPhone and Android. The Donner Control app connects to the earbuds without problems, works easily and has some useful features:
Check the battery level of both earbuds
Switch between ANC, Normal and Transparency mode
ANC options: choose between Commute, Indoor, Outdoor or a custom level of noise reduction
Change controls for single, double and long taps
(De)activate the game mode
Reduce the maximum volume level of the earbuds
Activate Auto Off function, shutting the earbuds down after 30 minutes of not using them
Choose between 6 equalizer presets
Create, add and select multiple equalizers of your own
Despite the many options, the ANC options don't do much at all - see the ANC part of this review. The equalizer select screen looks a lot like Soundcore's app... but its equalizers aren't as thorough - they mainly make the sound more fuzzy; fuller in a bad way.
All in all, the app is a useful addition to the Dobuds One.
ANC NOISE CANCELLING OF DOBUDS ONE
The Active Noise Cancelling on the Donner Dobuds One is adequate but could be better. It can help you reduce the volume of your surroundings, but even when you're listening to music, you're likely to still hear brighter surrounding noise, like accelerating scooters or a vacuum cleaner in the office. Background sounds are filtered better, with electronic and static humming heavily reduced in volume, and mid-tones like chatter and writing in your keyboard, are also noticeably softened.
With the app, you can set the ANC function to either Commute, Indoor, Outdoor, or even adjust it manually - but it's very hard to pinpoint the differences between them - if there are any.
The Transparency mode doesn't really add much, as the Normal and even ANC mode still passthrough some sounds. With the Transparency mode, brighter tones and sound effects in your area are heavily boosted and are definitely clearer, but it's still hard to speak with others while you listen music (also on low volume). It does let you hear and locate traffic easily, but there may be too much wind noise to use the function in traffic.
Happily, you can turn off the ANC from the earbuds as well, removing the wind noise that is audible in the two other settings. As switching between the functions is confirmed by beeps that are pretty much alike, the wind noise is THE giveaway to announce the function you're in.
SOUND QUALITY OF DONNER DOBUDS ONE
'Balanced armature inside!' It's the biggest selling point on the Amazon listing or the packaging from the Donner Dobuds One. It's not what you think.
The Dobuds has lifted lows. Lower mid-tones, like darker electronic tones and drums, are quite boosted and give the sound a warm character. The mid-bass has a full, strong and deep thump that can be a little muddy, but it's not too aggressive. On top, the sub-bass can rumble heavy, deep, and loose. The bass has more power than tightness, but it's a fun performer.
In the higher frequencies, female and higher male vocals are put somewhat forward to counter the boosted lower tones, and they sound clear and centric, but also come with some sibilance: hissy sss-tones. Cymbals and claps also sound a bit splashy.
While Donner is proud of its Balanced armature and also promotes its Hybrid Dual Drivers on the box, they aren't really used to up the clarity in the sound. Things never get too bright and never become too sharp. However, you need a bit of volume to bring out the higher frequencies and ditch the closed-in sound that the Dobuds has on lower volume levels.
Volume helps to separate instruments from each other, reveal texture and naturalness on snare drums, guitars, and other acoustic instruments, and provide vocals with more presence and nuances. Otherwise unnoticed, there's now good left-right separation too. That said, the Donner sounds a bit closed-in, or intimate, if you want to go for a more romantic word.
A thing to note, is that the maximum volume level isn't as high as most competitors. There should be enough volume for most people, and it's definitely not as restricted as the recently reviewed FiiTii HifiAir, but some may still want it louder.
The Donner Dobuds One can go very soft though, and as the lower tones prevail on the softer levels, this TWS is suitable for easy background listening, as well as capable of delivering a fun, warm sound on higher volumes.
DONNER DOBUDS ONE COMPARISONS
DONNER DOBUDS ONE VS FIITII HIFIAIR
Another newcomer with decent Active Noise Cancelling and a great feature set is the FiiTii HifiAir. Both have a warm-balanced sound signature, with strongly boosted mid-bass and lower-mids. The Dobuds does it better. Its vocals and (upper) mids instruments sound clearer and more natural, less metallic than on the HifiAir. The Donner has a fuller yet smoother bass, while the FiiTii shows more bass depth and has a heavier and looser rumble. In features, both have solid battery life and all controls on the earbuds, while the FiiTii adds a splendid IPX7 waterproof rating and better synchronization between audio and video. The Dobuds One has app support to let you alter the controls, and can go louder.
DONNER DOBUDS ONE VS EARFUN AIR PRO 2
Available for a little more than 50 dollars, the Earfun Air Pro 2 throws in stronger Active Noise Cancelling, flawless video synchronization, and an IPX5 waterproof rating on top of Donner's features. It may not have app support, but the Earfun does have all important controls on the earbuds - including a gaming mode. The Donner sounds more ‘fun’, with a stronger mid-bass thump, deeper sub-bass, and further boosted lower-mids. It rolls off treble earlier. The Earfun has a cleaner presentation, by positioning vocals and instruments more precisely. It also puts the center-mids (guitars, piano play, 'regular' vocals) more into the spotlight, helping to make a more natural sound.
Earfun Air Pro 2 review ($60)
DONNER DOBUDS ONE VS SOUNDCORE LIFE A3I
Who needs stems anyway? Right above the 50 dollars mark, the Soundcore Life A3i has stronger Active Noise Cancelling and longer battery life, but without the typical earphone stems. While its round earpieces aren't as easy to fit as the Dobuds One, the Soundcore has an IPX5 waterproof rating and actual buttons so you can operate them with sweaty or cold fingers. Soundcore's app is more usable as well, letting your choose from more and mostly better equalizers. Out of the box, the Life A3i has a more (!) bulbous sub-bass rumble, and a punchier and more textured mid-bass. The DoBuds One has a fuller mid-bass. The Soundcore places vocals more forward and pushes upper-mids further than the Dobuds One, which in turn presents center-mids a little more natural. The Soundcore doesn't have a gaming mode, but at least it doesn't need one to play videos effortless.
DONNER DOBUDS ONE VS ONEPLUS NORD BUDS
If acceptable (but not-groundbreaking) Active Noise Cancelling isn't your main concern, it's worth to take a look at the $40-50 OnePlus Nord Buds as well. The OnePlus is great for phone and video calls, boast an IP55 waterproof rating, and offers better video playback. When it comes to sound, the Donner has far more boosted bass and lower-mids, while it also rolls off highs earlier, creating a bassier and warmer sound. The OnePlus mid-bass has a quicker pacing, and its sound is airier. Its extended treble makes vocals and brighter instruments reach higher notes easier, and along with its openness, it makes the OnePlus more engaging for classical pieces - but the Donner is more versatile.
OnePlus Nord Buds review ($40)
The Donner Dobuds One has great sound, a comfortable fit, Active Noise Cancelling, app support, and good call quality for just $50. iPhone users should be aware they will have to activate the gaming mode as standard to get good video playback.