TWS true wireless earphones - under $100
FIVE STARS - It's time to pay attention when Shanling, a famous Chinese manufacturer of audio gear, releases its first TWS truly wireless earphone. And boy - the Shanling MTW100 does not disappoint.
Shanling MTW100 specs:
Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC codec
IPX7 water proof (heavy rain and sweat resistant)
7 hours listening on a full charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 3 times
Comes with 7 sets ear tips and a USB-C charging cable
Check current price on AliExpress
Take note: the Shanling MTW is available in two setups. This is a review of the more expensive Shanling MTW100 with the Balanced Armature driver, built by Knowles. There also is a cheaper version with a Dynamic Driver.
At the end of this review you will find comparisons between the Shanling MTW100 versus the Sabbat E12 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Buds, Mpow T5/M5 and Master & Dynamics MW07.
Design, charging and comfort
A look at the spec sheet shows that Shanling took note of other offerings in this price segment of true wireless earphones. The MTW100 has a respectable playtime of around 7 hours on a single charge, which is around an hour more than common in this price range. The earpieces can be recharged three times fully from the charging case, and they are IPX7 waterproof too. That means they should even withstand a drop in the toilet or pool.
Whether you will need that feature, remains to be seen. The Shanling comes with seven pairs of ear tips to ensure a tight fit in your ear. The comfort provided by the earpieces is good too. The MTW100 has the same, small shape of earpieces as the Mifo O5. The inside of the buds is small and round, with a little 'drop' in the shape which contains the microphone. Just like the Mifo O5, it's comfortable even in bed.
The charging case doesn't have the same luxury to it as the Mifo, unfortunately. It's lightweight and can be charged wireless and via USB-C, but its made from fingerprint-friendly shiny plastic. The lid is attached to a finicky hinge. It shouldn't break anytime soon but doesn't give a premium vibe either. The case does come with handy LED-lights on the inside to indicate the battery status of the case, though.
Connectivity and controls
The Shanling MTW100 has touch controls that react quite well. Tap twice to play or pause the music, tap thrice on the right side to skip a song, thrice on the left bud to return a song. It isn't possible to change the volume on the earpieces, unfortunately.
However - there is another feature. With a long press of three seconds on either of the buds, you activate a Surrounding awareness mode. The music loses some of its volume, and your surroundings are audible through the mic of the earpieces. It works pretty well, especially in traffic situations, where cars and motors are now distinct around you. It's less suited for indoor use, however, as the mic clings on softer sounds such as keystrokes there. Clicks and ticks are emphasized, and the voices that come through sound a bit metallic, just like the 'hear through' modes on the Samsung Galaxy Buds and Jabra Elite 65t.
Switching back to the regular audio mode, is the only time the connectivity on the MTW100 has a slight hickup. Sometimes, the left earpiece needs to reconnect to the right one for a second. Furthermore, connectivity on the Shanling MTW100 is great, with a steady Bluetooth 5.0 connection up to ten meters. It doesn't matter if you're walking or cycling, or work behind your laptop.
It's a miss that volume controls lack on the earpieces, but having a surrounding awareness-mode at hand is a great feature, previously unseen at this price range.
Calling and watching movies
Watching videos with the Shanling MTW100 fares well on Android phones supporting Bluetooth 5.0. On the iPhone, there is perfect video-synchronization on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. As on most other wireless earbuds, there is a noticeable delay in sound in the YouTube-app.
Calling often seems a challenge for tiny wireless earbuds, but the Shanling MTW100 performs fine on this aspect. Your voice comes through clear to the other end of the line, and especially indoors, it's possible to have a long phone conversation.
Sound quality of Shanling MTW100:
The new standard under $100
Take note: the Shanling MTW is available in two setups. This is a review of the more expensive Shanling MTW100 with the Balanced Armature driver, built by Knowles.
Not before was there a TWS true wireless earphone under 100 dollars that respects music so much.
Does that seem like a strange sentence? Figure this. Earphones with a strong emphasis on bass may make even the easiest going ballads bass-heavy. Earphones with fierce upper mids and highs can make even the most backward vocals sound shouty. There is a big amount of earphones, headphones, and other audio gear that force their sound signature on music tracks. On the worst models even, tracks no matter the artist, sound more or less the same.
This... is NOT that kind of earphone.
The Shanling MTW100 offers the most versatile and tonally accurate sound encountered so far in truly wireless earphones under $100. Whether you listen to singer-songwriters, rock, classical music, pop, dance, or hip-hop - it sounds fantastic.
If you're used to bass-heavy earphones, the MTW100 may come across a little light on bass at first. It's especially noticeable at pop songs that don't emphasize the bass too much from itself. Whether it's Michael Jackson's Billie Jean or the highly popular Dance Monkey from Tones and I - the bass is tight, delivering a gentle and quick thump. It does gain body on higher volumes, but don't expect any overemphasis.
On bass heavier songs, however, the MTW100 shows what it's capable of. This bass can punch, and it can kick. The sub-bass also knows how to dive deep - delivering an incredible ear massage in James Blake's Limit to Your Love.
Mids are the star of the show, however. Lower-mids sound full, without being overblown or congested. Both male and female vocals take center stage without being pushed forward too much. In a Beatles-recording, you can find them among instruments, in trance-tracks, they'll be right in front of you. Take a well-recorded song, and you're capable of hearing gasps and breaths in voices as well. Center mids convince too: piano's, drums, and guitars sound natural and detailed. In the higher frequencies, cymbals don't penetrate your ears. They are not excessively extended.
On top of the excellent tonality and detail, the Shanling MTW100 presents an impressive, natural-feeling soundstage with the music coming from all around you. Instrument separation and placement are excellent as well: even in more crowded songs, it's easy to place instruments.
The Shanling MTW100 makes music shine. It outperforms comparably priced competitors on tonality, detail, and liveliness. It can even compete with much more expensive true wireless earphones.
Shanling MTW100 vs Samsung Galaxy Buds
Just like the Shanling MTW100, the $125 Samsung Galaxy Buds can be a little light with its bass on regular pop tracks. The bass of the Shanling does hit harder and dive way deeper in songs demanding it, however. Both are excellent when it comes to instrument tonality. The MTW100 has a bigger, more natural feeling soundstage and delivers more detail in vocals and instruments, however. Battery life and comfort are better on the MTW100.
Shanling MTW100 vs Master & Dynamics MW07
The $300 Master & Dynamics MW07 has an even more spacious soundstage and delivers an even larger amount of nuances in vocals and instruments. The Shanling MTW100 has slightly more emphasis on lower-mids, and its highs are more controlled, where the M&D can sound a little splashy and harsh at times. Battery life and comfort are, again, better on the MTW100. The Shanling proves a worthy competitor to this premium-priced beast.
Shanling MTW100 vs Sabbat E12 Ultra
With its big soundstage, upfront vocals and striking bass, the Sabbat E12 Ultra is one of the most engaging sounding wireless earbuds for a comparable price. Highs extend further and get more room to breathe on the Sabbat, but at the cost of vocals and cymbals sometimes sounding a bit harsh on the highest volumes. The Shanling has better-controlled highs, its mids have more body and the sound is bit a warmer. Comfort is great on both.
Shanling MTW100 vs Mpow T5/ M5
The Mpow T5/ M5 is the current best choice for truly wireless earbuds under $50 and can compete with the best TWS under $100. It doesn't deliver the same amount of detail and tonality as the Shanling MTW100. The Mpow is better suited for bassheads, with an always heavy pumping bass. The Shanling has a tighter bass and outperforms the Mpow on soundstage, mids, and vocals. Comfort and battery on the Shanling are better too.
Great battery life and comfort are wonderful extras to an amazing sound quality, full of detail and liveliness. There's a new king of TWS true wireless earphones under $100, and its name is the Shanling MTW100.
Five STARS - excellent
Buy Shanling MTW100/ check current price:
I bought the Shanling MTW100 Balanced Armature for testing and reviewing purposes myself. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3