Ticpods 2 Pro - the next generation Mobvoi ear buds are both a step forward and step back
We were huge fans of the Mobvoi Ticpods Free - a solid, well performing and amazing value alternative to the Apple Airpods and other wireless headphones that followed. The new, updated Ticpods 2 Pro are sleeker, smaller and more function packed but are they a worth an upgrade?
First impressions are of a miniaturised design - right down to the charging case/dock which is around two thirds of the size of the case that comes with the earlier models. Proportionally, this matches the buds themselves with both smaller phones and smaller, leaner microphone stalks. The case packs additional functionality with a bluetooth pairing button built in - something that addresses our biggest problem with the original. It's much easier to use the Ticpods 2 Pro buds across multiple devices.
The Ticpods 2 Pro buds are also significantly lighter each bud weight around 4 grammes in contrast to the 7 grammes that the Ticpods Free each weigh. While a few grammes isn't really noticeable day to day it's evident that despite the improved functionality the Ticpods 2 Pro are also technically superior.
In terms of sound the experience between the two is similar with reasonable levels of bass with a clear top end. There feels to be a perceptible increase in actual depth to the music in the latest model but this is only apparent with direct comparison and doesn't really suggest a massive increase in actual performance. This is a shame as in the time since the Ticpods Free were launched sound tech has moved on and it feels like the Mobvoi buds haven't quite managed to keep up.
Listening to New Pharaohs debut album gave us a good opportunity to test these out compared to a number of other phones and there were times that the Ticpods did fail to deliver the bass we were able to get from our wired phones, but for a pair of buds it wasn't bad at all and probably places them somewhere in the middle of our performance chart.
The Ticpods 2 Pro offer two new ways of interacting with what you're listening too - the first is the TicHear voice assistant integration that allows you to navigate your music by voice and it works really well. TicMotion on the other hand is a little less reliable and uses head motions to shift around your library or do things like answer phone calls (nod to accept, shake your head to decline) - in our testing this worked about 60% of the time so isn't a foolproof solution and the remaining 40% of the time saw us scrabbling around for our phone to answer after repeatedly failing to do it via the motion commands.
In addition the Ticpods also feature the touch gestures that earlier models included allowing you to change the volume and change tracks with a couple of taps and swipes.
Mobvoi have also included noise cancellation that should help with your music and calling experience but in reality this wasn't totally effective and didn't block out most external noise.
One of the most obvious differences other than the size is the lack of rubber buds on the Ticpods 2 - and this makes them appear more streamlined but at the expense of comfort. While I was able to wear the Ticpods Free for extended periods and they remained firmly wedged in my ears, the Ticpods 2 Pro became uncomfortable after about thirty minutes and they were less resilient to sudden movements with them losing grip and falling out a few times during our tests.
The battery life isn't bad - but could be better. In reality we got around 3 and a half hours of continuous playback before the battery was drained the charging dock's built in battery meant that after a reasonably quick recharge while on the move we were able to continue and the charging dock holds enough in its battery for around 24 hours of total playback before that needs to be plugged back in via USB-C for a rejuice.
For the price the Mobvoi Ticpods 2 Pro have some competition with devices from the likes of Lypertek and Cambridge Audio both being similarly targetted but with audiophile credentials that the Ticpods lack. That said they perform well, look nice and offer some nice unique features in the motion and audio gestures that make them worth a look.
- Well designed
- Decent sound
- Slightly uncomfortable to wear for long periods
- Other similarly priced buds offer better audio