Dudios Shuttle: Sound Transportation
Today we are checking out yet another budget friendly true wireless (TWS) earphone, the Dudios Shuttle.
Dudios is one of those brands I see cropping up in ‘Amazon’s Choice’ links on Amazon, and on random ‘Best Of’ lists for inexpensive wireless gear. Beyond that, I’m not familiar with anything they’ve released since they aren’t a brand that remained on my radar after those initial, cursory glances. However, after using the Shuttle for a couple weeks I get why Dudios products are oft called an easy recommendation.
Let’s take a closer look.
What I Hear As with other products in this price range, the Shuttle is endowed with a perfectly competent, but fairly standard v-shaped signature that in my opinion is perfectly fitting for the target audience; those that want true wireless without the high price tags associated with main brands and trend setters.
If you’re looking for a fairly neutral or slightly boosted bass response, the Shuttle isn’t going to satisfy your needs. No, the bass out of the Shuttle is quite prominent. While sub-bass extension is excellent for a TWS and can provide a visceral experience on the right tracks, mid-bass is clearly the show-stopper. It’s thumpy, it’s bumpy, it’s a lot of fun (Argh!!! That word again!!), but bleed into the lower mids is real and can really affect vocal performances at times. On the plus side, texture is decent and while the Shuttle doesn’t have the quickest dynamic driver in the segment, it’s nimble and controlled enough to keep from distorting when the volume increases to dangerous levels.
The mids on the Shuttle are very clearly recessed which can hinder coherence, especially on bassy tracks thanks to the exuberant mid-bass presence. When not being overshadowed, they sound fairly natural with vocals having a warm, girthy, robust presentation that works well with vocals from both genders. That said, I prefer this style of presentation with female vocalists because of how complimentary it is with their natural sweetness. Instruments are blessed with a reasonably accurate timbre, especially if you’re coming from a typical budget hybrid.
The Shuttle’s treble is quite relaxed with a lower treble bias thanks to some heavy rolloff. This gives the Shuttle a somewhat dark-leaning signature, though the lower treble is present enough to keep it from veering far into that category, unlike products like the Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic or Brainwavz M100. Detail and clarity are satisfactory and do the job, though you’ll be hard pressed to pick up nuanced track details which often are glossed over because of how smooth and inoffensive the upper ranges are.
When it comes to sound stage, the Shuttle doesn’t do much to toss effects beyond the head. Sometimes details will trail off into the distance, but for the most part the Shuttle provides an in-the-head experience. Imaging is not amazing with effects moving from channel to channel convincingly, but without precision. Thankfully there are no off centre dead-zones, something I often noticed on older TWS units. Layering and instrument separation is good, but suffers on particularly bassy tracks.
Overall I find the Shuttle enjoyable to listen to with its big bass, realistic mids, and smooth, inoffensive treble. The low end is a bit too abundant at times though, bleeding heavily into the mid-range which hinders vocal clarity and coherence. If you don’t mind EQing your earphones, the Shuttle can be improved with some minor adjustments.
Compared to a Peer
SoundPEATS TrueFree+ (48.99 USD): The TF+ and Shuttle are clearly cut from the same cloth, both having a similar tonality and v-shaped signature. That said, they’re definitely not the same, and the differences have me enjoying the TF+ quite a bit more. Compared to the Shuttle, the TF+ is less mid-bass heavy and provides notably more upper treble giving it a more airy and sparkly presentation. The TF+’s mids aren’t affected by the low end like they are on the Shuttle. The TF+ images better and sounds larger, though I find the more forward and crisp mid-range more prone to sibilance, something that only crops up on the Shuttle when it is a part of the track. The Shuttle is a warm, smooth bass cannon vs. the TF+ which does a better job of managing that delicate treble, mid, and bass balance.
In terms of build, they’re equally good. Fit and finish is on par, though the Shuttle’s touch based interface lends itself to a more sleek design compared to the TF+ which has tactile buttons on the face. Fit and comfort is pretty much the same. The Shuttle has a very similar shape, just tack on the Q-Tip extensions. I find it a bit more stable than the TF+, while others might see the extensions getting in the way and prefer the TF+’s more compact design. Connection quality is also very similar between the two, with the TF+ getting the nod. It’s connection is a bit more stable in obstacle laden areas. Battery life easily goes to the TF+. While their run time of ~4 hours is the same, the TF+’s case brings with it a combined listening time to 35 hours vs. the 20 hours of the Shuttle.
Overall, the TrueFree+ gets the nod from me. Better battery life, slightly better connection quality, and a sound signature that is more to my liking. The Shuttle puts up a darn good fight though.
NuForce BE2 (49.99 USD): Like the Shuttle, the BE2 has a v-shaped signature, though it skews differently. While the Shuttle places a strong focus on bass, the BE2’s focus is on treble. Bass is much less exaggerated out of the BE2, but this comes with it’s own set of pros and cons. It is faster and more articulate than the Shuttle and provides better texture, but the roll off comes on strong and early leaving the BE2 feeling somewhat anemic. The mid-range of the BE2 is leaner and lighter and lacks weight compared to the Shuttle. Oddly, it is also less clear leaving vocals sounding smeared at times. Treble out of the BE2 sounds less natural and more metallic than it does from the Shuttle, but extension and detail are more immediately present. Sound stage goes to the BE2 which sounds wider and deeper, helped along by better layering and separation qualities. Imaging is also more accurate, though neither is going to win any awards. While the BE2 is technically a more accomplished earphone, the lack of sub-bass and occasionally unpleasant treble mean I enjoy my time with the Shuttle much more.
In terms of build and other aspects, the BE2 looks and feels like a more premium product thanks to higher quality plastics, including a rubberized section for better grip. Fit and finish goes to the Shuttle though, which has tighter seams between component parts. The Shuttle is also more comfortable with the BE2’s tip-mounted driver design hindering fit. Despite being TWS vs. the more traditional design of the BE2, connection quality and reliability is in the Shuttle’s camp. The BE2 suffers from random bursts of static and tends to stutter more often. The BE2 is the one to pick for marathon listening sessions thanks to around 10 hours of listening time. It doesn’t have a charge case to extend this though, so you’ll need make sure you’ve got a USB cable and something to plug it into available.
Overall, Shuttle all the way. It’s more comfortable, sounds better, and offers a more reliable wireless connection.
In the Ear The Shuttle takes on the ever popular Q-Tip design released into the world by the Californian trendsetters located well South of the Canadian border. In my limited experience with products of this design ethos, Dudios does it very well. The Shuttle doesn’t do anything weird with the core of the body, taking on a fairly traditional jelly-bean type shape which conforms nicely to the average ear. Then, there just so happens to be a protruding stick which contains the charging contacts. They don’t get in the way, instead helping to provide an even more secure fit then a traditional TWS thanks to a more natural weight distribution. I can wear the Shuttle for extended periods completely free of discomfort, and that’s with the stock medium tips. Thanks to a very standard nozzle design, the fitting of a wide variety of third party tips is entirely possible. As a result, the Shuttle gets top marks for fit and comfort. Isolation is above average too, doing a great job of dulling outside noise, even with no music playing. If you simply want to use them as a pair of ear plugs, they’re actually quite good.
Build quality is good too, though the materials used are nothing particularly special. The all-plastic design looks and feels well put together with dense materials and fantastic fit and finish. You won’t find any unsightly gaps or misaligned parts here. The compact charge case gets the same treatment with a functional design that looks simple but attractive. The plastic here don’t feel quite as nice as they do on the earpieces, but I don’t see anything worth complaining about. The lid is magnetically sealed with a foam pad tucked away inside that keeps the earpieces firmly in their respective charge ports when being stored/charged. Despite fitting into the charge slots one way only, Dudios added L/R markings to make the process that much more straight-forward. On the rear of the case is a micro-USB port which will disappoint some. While I certainly prefer USB Type-C, micro-USB is still perfectly suitable for a product like the Shuttle which wouldn’t make use of the extra features and enhancements afforded by Type-C (except durability), needlessly increasing the price.
Tech Inside The Shuttle has some niceties that previously were reserved for higher price segments, such as touch controls. Thankfully, they work better here than on other TWS offerings I’ve tried recently. One reason is that there are no single tap functions. You need to double tap to play and pause whereas other TWS earphones use a single tap for this function. I never found myself accidentally pausing a track, such as when I take an earphone out when crossing the road so I can hear traffic, or am readjusting the earphone. Skipping tracks is handled by a long 1.5 second press. Maybe not as quick as the double tap most other TWS products demand, but it led to fewer mispresses. The Shuttle is probably the most enjoyable touch-based TWS I’ve had the opportunity to interact with. Only exception would be in cold whether where it doesn’t always register my taps, though that could also be because my hands are usually quite dry.
Battery life is good, but given the design of the earpieces I was hoping they would contain larger batteries that would enable more than 4 hours from each listening session. At least the time to juice up isn’t too long at 1.5 hours, and the case itself recharges within about 2.5 hours. The case will recharge the earpieces up to five times giving the Shuttle 20 combined hours of listening time. Given the price point, I have to keep my desires in check and maintain realistic expectations. What the Shuttle does with its batteries is perfectly fine. Since most will rarely run them down completely and place them in the case where they will recharge between short, bursty listening sessions (bus rides, listening between classes, gym sessions, etc.), battery life probably won’t ever be an issue. Neither will connection quality.
I’m finding these inexpensive Bluetooth 5.0 equipped products to be very reliable, even though Bluetooth 5.0 isn’t really something many products on the market can’t even take advantage of yet, though that is rapidly changing. The Shuttle connects quickly to my G6, Shanling M0, and Asus FX53V, and can hold a reliable connection with few hiccups for the duration of my listening sessions. It will stutter and drop when moving around the apartment, but only when there are a couple walls separation the earphones from their source. Again, I can’t really see anyone being too disappointed with the connection quality of the Shuttle, unless they spend a good amount of time away from the source, with lots of obstacles in the way.
In the Box If the Shuttle isn’t OEM’d by the same company that handled the SoundPEATS TrueFree+, I’d be shocked, because the similarities in the packaging are striking. The compact matte black cardboard box is the same, with a simple green sticker wrapping around the front and side that contains the usual branding and model info, as well as a small ima ge of the earphones and charge case. Inside the charge case is set within a cardboard cutout, protected from scratches by a removable foam insert. Another, smaller box is also present, one which holds the main accessory kit. In all you get;
- Shuttle earphones
- Charge case
- Micro usb cable
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
In all not the most exciting or accessory rich unboxing. Still, the simplicity is refreshing and the included tips are really quite nice to use. The silicone is soft and provides a great seal. Good stuff.
Final Thoughts The Shuttle, while not the most technically impressive earphone I’ve ever heard, is a ton of fun, especially if you enjoy a bassy sound signature. Back that with a simple but stylish design, outstanding comfort, a reliable wireless connection, touch controls that don’t suck, and solid battery life, and I can think of many worse ways to spend 50 bucks. Truly wireless gear has really taken a leap forward in the last year or so, with cheapo earphones like the Shuttle providing a great experience previously reserved for only high end stuff. If you’re in the market for an inexpensive truly wireless product and enjoy a bassy signature, the Shuttle may be just what you are looking for.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer Thanks to Carrie with Dudios for sending over a sample of the Shuttle for the purposes of review. The thoughts here are my own subject opinions based on time spent listening to the Shuttle. They do not represent Dudios or any other entity. At the time of writing you could pick up the Shuttle for 48.99 CAD: https://www.amazon.ca/Dudios-Wireless-Bluetooth-Earphone-One-Button/dp/B07ZRBM14F
- Bluetooth version: 5.0
- Bluetooth chipset: RTL8763BFR
- Maximum working range: 10m (without obstacles)
- Talk time: ~4hrs
- Earbud charge time: ~1.5hrs
- Case charge time: ~2.5hrs
- Case recharge number: ~5 times (~20 hours total)
- Earbud dimension: 42.5mm x 23.5mm 25mm
Devices used for testing: Shanling M0, LG G6, Asus FX53V laptop
Some Test Tunes: Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)