Helm Audio is a British-American company recently formed from the core folks at the very renowned 1More. They aim for the same sense of value with a more audiophile focus and a different design aesthetic. The True Wireless was their first product, a TWS IEM sporting a very unique design and an affordable asking price. The TWS 5.0 is its successor, and though similar in name, its shares only the original’s excellent design and fit. Inside lies new circuitry boasting BT5.0 technology including Apt-X and AAC support alongside almost double the battery life as its predecessor and dual mics for stereo calls. The TWS 5.0 implements alloy-enhanced dynamic drivers to provide visceral bass, a headline feature of this model. I’ve spent a good week with Helm’s latest TWS offering and from preliminary analysis, this is another fine addition in the exciting TWS market! See more info on Helm’s website here and purchase a pair for yourself here.
Sporting an ear-filling design and soft silicone jacket with stabilising ear fins, the TWS 5.0 is ergonomically excellent. Their fit is rock solid, providing the most locked-in sensation of all the TWS in-ears I’ve tested. Furthermore, they also provide the strongest passive noise isolation. The Sony hybrid-style tips included in the box surely contribute, forming a strong seal, while wide physical buttons on each faceplate are easy to manipulate when on the go. Of note, the earphones are large as they completely fill the outer ear, so those with smaller ears may want to look elsewhere. My main caveat is the charging case. It’s made of cheap feeling plastic, uses micro-USB, is hard to open (though I’m told this will improve with use) and is, frankly, enormous. Conversely, it’s lightweight and offers 4-5 charges which is more than most competitors though no wireless charging is to be found.
The TWS 5.0 offers a bass-focussed sound with excellent depth and what I can only describe as seismic impact. Extension is terrific and will certainly challenge the notion that the microamps in TWS in-ears are incapable of driving big bass. It has substantial emphasis which extends to the mid-bass, delivering enormous bass notes with huge rumble and slam. Meanwhile, upper-bass is less present to avoid congestion of its sound. The midrange is recessed and slightly full-bodied due to warmth that permeates from the bass. Vocals sit behind the low-end but retain adequate presence and are bolstered by slightly enhanced clarity helps to retain intelligibility and definition.
In fact, given the TWS 5.0’s huge bass emphasis, mids are surprisingly clear. Highs are actually quite enjoyable. Extension is clearly limited and there isn’t apparent micro-detail or soundstage expansion as you would expect from a wired model. However, lower-treble is well-detailed and crisp and the earphones are surprisingly discerning of instrument texture without sounding sharp or fatiguing in any manifestation. The soundstage is average, remaining mostly within the head and separation is just modest due to the earphone’s pervasive warmth. Still, there is ample separation between the three core frequency bands, leaving vocals, strings and bass clearly discernible.
Early Verdict –
It’s clear that these earphones won’t appeal to those valuing balance and transparency. However, they seem to me, a well-executed bass-orientated sound with impressive driver quality for a midrange TWS earphone. Sure, its sound may be bombastic, however such a sound in culmination with large, physical buttons, excellent noise isolation and fit stability, water-resistance and a longer 6-8hr battery-life all make this is an excellent workout bud. They also work just well for commute, where their fullness effectively combats the drone of suburbia. Is this a new champion of TWS? I’m not convinced, but a not-so-guilty pleasure bass-head earphone without the wires, I haven’t seen it done much better than this.
Stay tuned for the full review coming soon!