Ergonomically excellent, Well-balanced presentation, Highly clean and separated, Great physical controls, Strong battery life, Compact charging case
Material choice isn’t especially premium, Limited codec support, Midrange is too thin at times, Poor mic quality
Though Lypertek may not have created an earphone that represents an upgrade in all facets, their new model is substantially better to live with day to day than the TEVI and the vast majority of TWS earphones for that matter.
Lypertek are a cult-hit Chi-Fi company who achieved renown for their infamous TEVI true-wireless earphone. It offered an exceptional feature set, compact design and balanced sound tuning that continue to be a rarity in this form factor. More so, the TEVI did all of this at a low and accessible price. The company has returned with the new Soundfree S20 (previously dubbed LEVI) that addresses key complaints with the former model. It introduces a more stable-fitting design, ambient sound mode and targets the beloved balanced tuning that put the company on the map. Moreover, the S20 retails for just $69.90 USD, making it even more affordable than the TEVI and it’s successor, the Pureplay Z3. The S20 demonstrates great attention to feedback.
I would like to thank Lypertek very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Soundfree S20 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Page 1: Intro, Unboxing, Design
- Page 2: Sound, Comparisons & Verdict
- Driver: 6mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
- Bluetooth: 5.0 with AAC, SBC
- Battery life: 8hrs + 40hrs, Wireless Charging Supported
- Water Resistance: IPX5 Waterproof
The S20 offers a no-frills unboxing experience similar to that of the TEVI and LEVI. Sliding off the outer cover reveals a hard box with the charging case and earphones within a protective foam inlet. Beneath are 2 sizes of single-flange silicone ear tips (medium pre-installed) in addition to 3 pairs of double-flange tips. Aa type-C charging cable and papers are also included for the user’s convenience. It’s a simple yet effective setup and little more can be expected at this price.
Similar to the TEVI, the S20 is a predominately plastic earphone. They won’t pass for a premium earphone and are rather lightweight, but this works to the advantage of their fit and the tolerances are quite good with minimal seam between its two-piece construction. The finish is also improved over the TEVI, with a more tactile matte finish on the outer shell and satin finish on the inner shell. I’m usually not a huge fan of the two-finish look, but it does prevent the matte finish from becoming polished over time which is even more unsightly. The IPX5 water resistance rating is not as comprehensive as the IPX7 rating of the TEVI/Z3.
Still, it makes these earphones more than suitable for workouts if not full submersion in water. Note as well, the use of similar 6mm drivers as the TEVI though without the graphene diaphragm coating. A big stride over the TEVI can be observed with the control scheme. As opposed to faceplate buttons, Lypertek have implemented metal top-mounted buttons that are far more tactile with greater travel and feedback. By placing the buttons on the top, the user is able to pinch the earphones which doesn’t disrupt the fit and seal nearly as much as faceplate mounted buttons and are more reliable than touch controls on top. Altogether, a well-considered shell design.
Fit & Isolation –
The TEVI was a sturdy and comfortable earphone, though I did find it to lack stability in the ear during active use due to its compact design paired with a long sound tube. The LEVI is a noticeably shapelier earphone, it is slightly longer and slightly slimmer with a more sculpted inner-face that achieves greater congruence with the features of the outer ear. This enables a far more planted fit, and I was able to run, skip and workout with these earphones without any difficulties. As before, the nozzle is long but is now angled more ergonomically.
Alongside the more stable housing design, it achieves a deep fit and a strong seal, delivering excellent passive noise isolation. In addition, I experienced no driver flex on the S20 which speaks well for reliability over time. Though the deep fit does introduce more wearing pressure than most TWS earphones, if you are accustomed to high-end wired in-ears that often pursue a similar style of fit, then you will experience no issues here. Conversely, those used to shallower fitting earbuds and in-ears such as the Airpods line may require some adjustment. Nevertheless, if this is not an issue for you, the S20 provides one of the best ergonomics experiences for a TWS earphone and strong isolation that permits the added benefit of a more balanced sound tuning.
The charging case also receives a complete overhaul, now assuming a far more compact and pocketable design. In turn, you do lose some battery capacity, offering an additional 40 vs 60 hrs of listening, however, the huge decrease in size is well worth it for portable use. The new case is much more pocketable whilst retaining similar utility – 4 front-facing status LEDs, type-C charging at the bottom and Qi wireless charging support at the rear. The lid is one-hand friendly and even has a reverse magnet that gives it satisfying action.
Strong magnets that firmly secure and reliably power on/off the earphones. Unfortunately, the construction quality leaves to be desired, the plastic feels pretty cheap and the lid and body don’t perfectly match up. However, the S20 case is a large improvement over the rougher and grossly misaligned LEVI case I previously received, so I’d expect the quality control to keep improving on retail units. Feature and size-wise, the new case is a much better addition to anyone’s EDC than past Lypertek models.
As opposed to Qualcomm’s TWS chipset, Lypertek have instead adopted Airoha’s cheaper yet similarly capable platform. This does mean you lose support for Qualcomm’s apt-X codec, only supporting SBC and AAC, though independent pairing and BT5.0 remain. I feel we are at a stage where TWS connectivity is reliable and range is sufficient for most users. This is the case as well with the S20 which offered reliable and stable connection during my testing. Range isn’t the best I’ve encountered but above average for sure. The earphones maintained a stable connection to my phone and to each other, I experienced no skipped, artefacts or dropouts even in crowded areas. They quickly auto-reconnect to previously paired devices and smoothly pair in mono if one earphone is left in the case. Latency is higher than most with noticeable lip sync when watching videos. It is bearable but this makes them best suited for music as a result.
The earphones are rated at 8hrs of runtime, a respectable figure. At low volumes, about 20-25%, I was able to make 7hrs of listening time reliably which is to be expected. This is a good result and better than most competitors. Of course, listening time will drop at higher volumes so do note this if you need a tonne of listening time and like to crank the volume, the TEVI or Z3 may be a stronger choice for you.
The S20 now supports aware/transparency mode which feeds in audio from the mics to enable the listener to hear their surroundings. It is activated by triple tapping the button on either side and there is minimal delay too. This is a great feature to have when catching announcements of brief conversation. Though I am grateful to have this feature, however, it is very poorly implemented here. The mic quality is abysmal, very scratchy and high-frequency dominated but also muffled in the midrange, muddying voices. There’s a lot of noise and, on both the S20 and LEVI I received, audio comes through louder in one ear than the other. It does in a pinch but isn’t a feature I’d use regularly as on some competitors which provide much more natural results.
The TEVI didn’t have the greatest call quality and the S20 appears similar if not slightly worse in this regard. Much like the aware mode, they are usable for calls but have minimal ambient noise cancellation and sound slightly muffled. Recipients were able to discern me relatively clearly in quiet environments but complained of ambient noise and muffle when outdoors. I would recommend the S20 more for music listening as a result.