We recently got our hands on Huawei‘s UltimoPower AM180 ANC Earphones which promise noise cancellation without asking for a lot in return. With a sub-Php3.5K price tag, we’ll find out how well it performs and if ever there are any trade-offs for its affordability.
Design and Build
The AM180, if you stil haven’t guessed, has an in-ear design going on with an appearance not seen typically on earphones. It has a flat metal surface with a shiny circular design while its cable is fixed to run up and around its jar-like enclosure. Additionally, the sound driver of each earpiece is protruding near the bottom of the shell with a rubber bud wrapping it.
Following its dual rubber cables connect it to the control module midway through. This metal-clad component is where users control the features of the device. Here we have the button for answering calls and navigating your playlist, a toggle switch to turn on the Active Noise Cancellation, and an LED indicator just beside that (yellow light means it’s charging, green light means ANC is on).
Most entry-level earphones use rubber cable which is not bad, but easily tangles. On the other hand some carry a braided, tangle-free cable which we usually see in mid- to high-end models. What Huawei went with its UltimoPower AM180 is both — the half is braided that extends to the 3.5mm jack, while the other half is rubber that goes straight to the sound drivers.
In addition, it utilizes a straight jack which is gold-plated . This is generally fine, although it is more prone to accidental disconnection from a music source since it can be easily tugged than those with an L-shaped jack.
Since the AM180 can be used for calls, it’s good to secure it so there are less handling noises when talking on the phone. Turn the module over and you’ll find a metal strip to clip on a shirt, for example.
Although having a slightly different form factor than most earphones in the market, using the AM180 didn’t feel different when you use it. The earbuds sat comfortably on the inner ear, and are lodged firmly. They didn’t fall off when we moved around, but they do get tugged easily. A pull on the cable with a bit of pressure and the earpiece already pops off from its place. It can be something that can be worn for extended periods of time because of its comfort, but just be careful of accidentally tugging it.
So far we liked its physique and were actually pretty impressed at how premium-looking these in-ears are. Since it got our approval for build quality, we’re a bit expecting it to fall short in the sound department since what we’ve noticed was that it’s not common for a sub-Php3.5K earphones to also have good build and sound on top of being affordable.
After the break-in we loaded our usual list of tracks for testing the sound quality. We noticed right from the first few minutes that it was a pair of bass-driven speakers. Lows are what’s headlining the entirety of the sound — all in a good way and not overdone. The bass levels simply resound with solid oomph.
Mids go next to what you’ll notice since it’s got the right warmness in its sound. By that we meant that you can hear and almost feel the natural ambience of the track and not metallic which we have experienced with other in-ears.
That leaves the highs up next. We thought the brightness of the treble-y parts went a bit overboard. They got too high in some parts of the track that resulted to loss of definition and simply resembled a static sound from the TV. This is understandable though since it’s a casual weakness of entry to mid-level earphones/headphones, according to our experience.
Active Noise Cancellation
Because of its in-ear design that already has passive noise cancellation going on, adding an active noise cancellation results to an effective shutting off of external noises. This works best while commuting by land or travelling by air as it effectively leaves you alone with your songs.
We also used it for calls and everything was satisfactory. ANC also helped reduce the background noise while its microphone reception was also commendable. According to the person on the other end of the line, our voice was heard with good quality and no distortion.
ANC devices require power to operate. That being said, the AM180 has a unique feature that gets power from the handset it’s connected to. Not all devices can power the AM180, though, with Huawei honor 7 being one of them and most of the newly-released handsets. If the device couldn’t power the earphones, Huawei included a 3.5mm-USB cable that let’s you charge the device and let you enjoy its noise cancellation on-the-go.
We plugged it in and from an empty battery, it was able to charge fully in a little less than 3 hours. We then used it straight to know how long its battery will last and we enjoyed it’s ANC function for about 3.5 hours. It’s actually impressive since it only has a slim module to store its power in — making it unobtrusive and usable whatever you might be doing.
The Huawei UltimoPower AM180 ANC earphones is priced slightly higher than entry level products in its category, but definitely way more affordable than the expensive ones. For Php3,490 you get a premium- and unique-looking device, impressive sound quality (especially for the bass heads out there), and a compact build that lets you easily bring and use it anywhere.
Although as a whole it has a good music reproduction, its highs are a bit overdone and would make treble freaks squint. Also, if it were to support charging on more devices it would further sweeten the package.
Huawei UltimoPower AM180 ANC specs and features:
Impedance: 32 ohms
Maximum load power: 10mW
Rated power: 5mW
Low frequency noise reduction: 15-30dB
What we liked about it:
- Minimalistic design
- Compact build
- Punchy, solid bass
- Good tandem of both passive and active noise cancellation
What we didn’t like:
- Highs could go too bright for us
- Mobile charging only supports a handful of devices