When Dudios offers a product, I sit up and take note. My prior review for the Dudios Tic Earbuds proved to me that Dudios is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to affordable, feature-packed Bluetooth audio peripherals, but they have a little way to go before achieving perfection. Having seen one of our other writers tackle the Dudios Dubuds, it was now time to check out another product in their seven-item strong catalogue of wireless earbuds: the Dudios Shuttle.
Battery Life: 4hrs music playtime.
Rechargeable case: Built-in 650mAh battery can recharge buds up to 4 times (24hrs).
Auto pairing: One-step pairing for easy connection.
Bluetooth: 5.0 for fast and stable transmission and lossless HD rendering.
Speaker: 7.2mm driver. 20-20KHz frequency range.
Controls: 8mm smart touch control.
Off the bat, these things look space age with a far more edgy and angular design in comparison to the Tic and the Dubuds. They exhibit a chevron-like recess for your finger to notch into when looking for the general area to tap for functions. The functions remain largely the same across all products, but this time the amount of time you have to hold the MFB (Multi-Function Button) changes down to just 1.5 seconds for most functions. Notably, this product is built for business and commuting, so no game mode is present, which is fine.
Removing the Shuttle buds from the case you note a foam layer inserted into the top of the clamshell to prevent them jiggling around in transit, and the metal connectors are covered with an easily removable film to prevent discharging before purchase. I also noticed that the orientation of the micro USB port is inverted on this model, which may have been changed after some other QA, but it's odd that one product is one way and the next is another way—surely it can't make that much difference? Included within the packaging you also get a standard Dudios minuscule USB cable and you also get 3 sizes of rubber grommets. The standard fitting ones were ideal for me, so I had no need to change them out during this review, but to alter them is as simple as easing them off and popping on some alternate-sized ones.
Pairing is a very simple process, simply remove both buds and turn on Bluetooth on your device. Scan, locate and pair; it is so easy. You will hear "power on" and some chimes, followed by "connected" or "pairing" based on your status. I appreciate these tones as sometimes it's not clear what the devices are doing while pairing if they just bark out beeps at you during the process. You can opt for both earbuds at once, or if you’re feeling particularly dextrous, you can just pop one bud out after initial connection to multitask one bud in and no bud on the other ear to hear ambient chatter and surrounding noises.
- Power on: Remove from the case or hold either MFB for 1s.
- Play/Pause: Double-tap the right MFB.
- Play Previous: Hold and press the left bud for 1.5s.
- Play Next: Hold and press the right bud for 1.5s.
- Answer/Hang Up Phone Call: Double-tap the right MFB.
- Reject Phone Call: Double press and hold the right MFB for 1.5s.
- Call Switching: Double press and hold the right MFB for 2s.
- Activate Voice Assistant: Double-tap the left MFB.
- Power off: Hold and press the MFB for 8s or put back in the case.
The charging case is slightly longer than that of the Tic earbuds and has a more oval "pill" form factor compared to the squared-off one supplied with the Tic headphones. This is no problem as the size is still very small and easy to carry in your pocket. The case provides ample power to recharge your earbuds several times, and I easily got 20+ hours usage out of these after charging the case just once. The case uses micro USB which is the same as the Tic case, but perhaps it would have been better to use USB-C connections and a longer cable in general as that is increasingly becoming more prevalent. The case features four LEDs to display its current charge capacity which is a great visual indicator as to when you need to charge it.
Both earpieces contain microphones, so it does a great job of capturing your voice no matter what environment you are in. The inclusion of two mics means one can capture sound and the other can eliminate background noise, and the Shuttle does a sterling job at blotting out background kerfuffle for premium chat quality on calls. Given that these are geared heavily towards commuting and business people, that's perfect. The recording quality and call quality was overall very good and if you were making audio notes you could easily make some decent recordings for personal use very easily.
The sound quality of the Shuttles is a definite upgrade to the previous models, with defined vocals, punchy tones and warm crisp bass. The vocals are definitely pushed to the fore with clean high tones and zero notable distortion or crackle. The warmth of the bass never overrides any of the mid-tones, meaning that even live, lounge-style acoustic instruments sound great on these and the overall sound of this unit is actually incredible for the size of the driver and the sub £50 cost of the device. As long as these are seated in your ears properly you can enjoy an excellent spectrum of sounds banging into your eardrums. If you push them in too deeply you seem to lose the inner pressure between the driver and your cochlea and you will struggle to feel any mid or bass vibes, but when seated perfectly you can hear every minute detail. It seems to be a personal preference, but I managed to remember the correct depth after a little trial and error. As a drum and bass head, I feel that these fit nicely into my repertoire as day-to-day devices I can use for my ride to work, or even during a workout as these are rated IPX5, so they should be absolutely fine with rain or sweat.
I encountered a couple of odd issues while using these, firstly invoking Siri for the first time caused my phone to black-screen and freeze. I'm entirely unsure why that would be the case or how the Shuttle buds would cause that, but it seemed odd. I was not easily able to reproduce this error, so perhaps it was just a fluke or coincidence that it happened within seconds of connecting them to my iPhone 8 Plus. One other slight oddity I found was that if you hold the left MFB to skip back a track, it dips the volume and plays a tone in your left ear to confirm the function has been completed. Oddly this doesn't happen on the right ear when you skip to the next track, so it’s a little unnerving and you think that you have accidentally disconnected just the left one for a second. In general, I found the MFB buttons harder to locate with my fingertips on the Shuttles in comparison to the ease of use I had become accustomed to with the Tics. Perhaps with time it will become second nature, but going off first impressions, it was a notably different experience for me and not as simple as it could have been.
I'm a big fan of the sound quality of these, however, one caveat is that you seem to have to position them exactingly into your ear canal. If you push them in too hard you lose all bass and they sound exceptionally tinny, tuck them in too lightly and they feel like they may fall out. They won't fall out, but it's slightly unnerving. Pushing them into the ideal depth causes a kind of airlock that you can feel inside your ear that holds them in and delivers exquisite sound. The button controls seemed a little less responsive and I struggled to hit the MFB more times than I thought was reasonable. The Tic earbuds slightly outperformed the Shuttles in terms of functionality; however, the sound quality and noise cancelling is far superior in the Shuttles. If we could get a hybrid mixture of the two and somehow include on-ear volume controls we would have a killer set of buds for the price and durability.
|What We Liked . . . Great bass response Brilliant battery life Comfortable and light weight||What We Didn't Like . . . No game mode No on-ear volume controls More difficult to locate the MFB than on other models Slightly less responsive controls than expected|
out of 10
These are a great set of earbuds, especially for the features, compatibility and the nominal £35 price tag. The sound quality is exceptional, and the bass and vocal tones are superb. If the ease-of-use functionality of the Tic buds were paired with the enhanced bass of these we would have had a slightly better product.