disclaimer: I have reviewed several Soundpeats / Dudios branded Bluetooth earphones in the past and was approached by Dudios to review the latest product the M3 TWS. I have no financial interest in Dudios, nor have I received any instruction or remuneration for this review. To purchase the M3, see Amazon. Depending on where you live, these may be marketed as either Dudios or SoundPeats so check their websites for more details and availability in your area.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The M3 arrived packaged a bit differently from previous models. Gone is the thin pressboard book-fold box replaced with a sturdier lift top. Graphics are similar to previous models with model name and photo on front along with a subdued line drawing of the M3 on the white portion of the box and specs on reverse. Also worth noting previous models had black boxes and each sported a particular color for the label so the M3 is white box/gray label. Lifting the top reveals a plastic tray with the earpieces at top and the charging case at bottom. There is no denying the AirPod Pro design influence here as both the earpieces and case have a very similar look and feel. Lifting the tray reveals the charging cable, additional tips, and manual in the bottom of the box. The kit is fairly complete with four sets of tips but I would loved to have seen a few more as these are non-standard sized and may take some time to source replacements. Having said that at $25.99 retail, its hard to complain too much.
I mentioned the fact that the M3 is very Airpod Pro-esque in my unboxing note and it really is. With the exceptions of the stems being flat sided instead of completely rounded and the lack of a large vent, the shape, color, and style are all very similar. The M3 has an abbreviated stick with a bulbous head that sits in ear and a fairly shallow fit with larger than average tips to help with sealing the ear canal. Shells are made of 4 parts with a faceplate with touch controls, an outer shell, an inner shell, and a nozzle. The seams between units are visible but uniform without obvious glue or slop and are well fitted. There are a pair of vents on the under side with a pinhole behind the nozzle and a larger vent near the rear of the inner surface. The earpieces are shaped to sit at an angle in the ear so the stems exit via the incisura intertragica for a more comfortable fit. The bottom of the stem has two brass contacts for charging with a small port for the microphone looking at first glance like a 3rd charging pad. Stems are marked L and R on the inner surface for easy indexing. There are no LEDs on the shells to indicate pairing so one must follow the audio prompts to do so. The faceplates contain a gray touch sensor in the upper portion with the Dudios logo. Fit is comfortable as the portion that sits in ear is light weight and stays in place well without feeling too large or cumbersome. The touch sensors on the outer shell are very sensitive so while it makes it easy to control the in-ear, it also means you sometimes inadvertently hit the control while adjusting the fit. On top of everything else, the M3 is IPX7 rated so should be gym safe or even canoe trip safe based on the rating.
Unlike previous models that didn’t list any specifics about the internals, the new M3 lists a 10mm dynamic driver specifically tuned for this application. Like all TWS there is a lot going on inside those small shells with the driver, Bluetooth circuitry, battery, charging circuitry, noise cancelling circuitry, microphone, and touch sensor controls all fitting in that tiny space.
The M3 is listed as supporting Bluetooth 5.0 and connects with either AptX or AAC when paired to my phones and tablets during testing. I was not able to get AptX HD or LDAC to pair so I am not certain if either of those protocols are supported. The earpieces automatically go into pairing mode when removed from the case, and will automatically re-pair to the last source used if available when you take them out of the case subsequently. The only issue I had in testing was with remembering to turn off one source before trying to pair with a different one as the unit would repair to the previous device if left available. The M3 did well once connected with a range of roughly 20 yards in open space and the ability to defeat an interior wall. Multiple walls or an external wall will defeat the signal but that is to be expected.
Marketing material lists battery life as up to 5 hours for the earpieces and 5 charges from the case before needing to plug it in. I found those numbers fairly realistic as the earpieces averaged a bit over 4 hours at normal listening volume and the case provided 4 full charges and a 5th partial charge before running completely dry. Once dead, it takes around 6 hours to completely recharge the case using a standard usb port. Higher amperage chargers can reduce that time but the standard 500mA current results in a slow trickle charge. I was content using the slower charge rate as the battery will likely last longer as a result as quick charge circuits almost always trade speed for longevity. The case has USB type C port at the center bottom and uses four (4) leds on the front to display charging and charge state. A single lit LED is 0-25%, two lit is 25-50%, three lit is 50-75% and all 4 lit is 75-100% charge. The two outer LEDs light when the earpieces are placed in the case to indicate that they are charging from the case. Earpieces are magnetically held in place and begin charging as soon as connection is established. The provided cable is extremely short and will leave the case hanging from a standard height wall outlet. A longer cable might be advantageous here but chances are you already have one around the house.
Stereo calling is one of the advantages of the Dudios line as it uses one earpiece to mic the speaker and the other to use for ambient noise cancellation which gives the Dudios models excellent vocal quality compared to those without the dual mic configuration. The Smart touch control works well for calls with easy answer and hang up without having to touch the phone itself.
Big, really big. Major emphasis on the low end with the peak a round 80Hz but even at the transition point between mid-bass and upper-mids, the level is still equal to or above the treble emphasis. The good news for bass lovers is there is a lot of it all the way through the range. The bad news is it is not very well controlled and is boomy with more than a little mid-bass bleed into the mids. Attack is average and decay is too slow to keep the M3 from getting pretty thick on complex passages. Some of children’s friends really like the thump provided and with combination of big bass and Airpod aesthetics I suspect this is the intended target market.
Mids drop back from the mid-bass with a good bit of obstruction due to bleed at the low end and a considerable recess as it reaches the 1kHz range. Vocals sound shrouded for both male and female vocalists but female vocals still stand a bit forward of the lower voices. I think this is caused by a mix of the bleed at the low end and the recess that runs through the upper-mids before the lower treble climbs back forward. Guitar growl is somewhat blunted but carries a bit more realism than vocals none the less. Strings lack the energy needed to convey good texture and timbre and again suggest a pop tuning. If looking for a definition of scooped mids, take a look at the graph, this is the quintessential example of “scooped”.
Lower treble is pushed forward with a quick rise coming out of the upper-mids and a peak between 3 and 4kHz and then falls back off rapidly and by the 5kHz mark the level is roughly equal to the mids. This plateau extends through about 9kHz where it goes into final roll-off and it has dropped out almost entirely by the 12kHz mark. While not uncommon to see a lower treble emphasis followed by a drop-off in the true treble to prevent fatigue, the M3 overshoots that mark and leaves the treble feeling a bit flat with snare rattle lacking edge and cymbals being more click like than real. A bit more treble energy would go a long way to open these up and reintroducing some top end with EQ does indeed make the M3 feel less closed in at the top.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is wider than deep but fairly intimate in all directions with a small room being the best compare. Seating the orchestra is a bit muddled and often the instruments are more beside than behind with considerable overlap. Imaging is passable but precision is lacking a bit as movement leaves a general impression but fails to pinpoint in space. Spatial cues are mostly correct directionally but lack definition. Layering is not quite as good as the Shuttle and does suffer as passages get busier as it thickens up and gets muddy at times.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
The M3 offers some good things but is limited in its ability to reproduce complex music by its tuning and driver speed. It will do well for gym use with pop music, phone calls while on the move, or for those more interested in big bass than absolute fidelity. I cannot recommend it for those looking for an audiophile in-ear as it simply doesn’t have enough top end to balance the bass push. Those looking for an inexpensive airpod clone for the kids or gym will want to look at the M3 as at $25 for an IPX7 TWS in-ear, it serves well in that role.
- Bass - 5.5/105.5/10
- Mids - 4/104/10
- Treble - 4/104/10
- Soundstage - 5/105/10
- Imaging - 5/105/10
Pros: Airpod style, big bass, good connectivity and battery life
Cons: muddy at times with recessed vocals