PTron Tangent Urban wireless neckband review: Solid battery, bass-heavy sound
A few years ago, I reviewed the PTron Zap wireless neckband from a brand I hadn't heard about till then. It turned out to be quite an impressive product for its asking price close to Rs. 1,500 with lively sound quality, punchy bass and nearly 24 hours of battery backup, which was a big deal back then. Cut to the present, and the company has launched a new wireless neckband that's probably the most inexpensive among those I have got my hands on. In addition to features like Bluetooth 5.3 and dual pairing, the PTron Tangent Urban also boasts 60 hours of battery backup. Can it retain all the goodness of the Zap while offering all the newer features for a selling price of well under Rs. 1,000? That is the precise question that drove me to review this product. Time to find the answer.
Decent build quality and fit but average passive noise isolation
The build quality of the PTron Tangent Urban is pretty decent and acceptable for the segment. The finish could have been slightly better, especially where the metallic rings meet the plastic body. The wireless neckband is quite light with good weight distribution despite the high capacity battery modules. The rubberized neckband sits comfortably on the neck without any skin irritation and merges into two cylindrical modules that collectively host 400mAh battery. There is an in-line remote with three buttons for volume, playback controls and calling. You get three sized silicone ear-tips in the bundle and neither provided great passive noise isolation in my case. The earbuds fit reasonably well in the ear and cause no discomfort even after prolonged use but they cannot block enough ambient noise when outdoors. This neckband has an IPX4 rating for sweat resistance, and can be worn during workouts or jogs. You may have to adjust the buds a few times during jogs as the fit isn't snug enough.
Basic features, large battery, Bluetooth 5.3 but no AAC support
The in-line remote has a decent build and the three buttons on it have just the right key press; not too stiff, not too soft. You get a multifunctional button and the volume rocker that also lets you jump to next or previous tracks with a long press. A USB-C port for charging this neckband is also placed on the remote. It isn't covered with a flap, which might make it slightly less resistant to moisture in the long run. The three keys let you access all the functions ranging from volume control, play/pause, skipping to next/previous track, answering/ending/rejecting calls, redialing the last number, power and Bluetooth pairing. Each earbud is fitted with a 10mm dynamic driver. The back of the buds have magnetic tips, but they do not act as an on/off switch when separated or stuck. The magnets are present just to keep the buds together when not in use. The PTron Tangent Urban supports dual pairing and can be used with two devices simultaneously. It flaunts the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard but is compliant only with SBC codecs. There is no support for AAC codecs here, but given its price tag, I am willing to let that slide. The neckband does boast of 50ms low latency for gaming. The battery backup is supposed to be one of the key features of this neckband with the 400mAh battery promising up to 60 hours of audio playback on a full charge.
'Baby ko bass pasand hai,' but not that much either!
Pairing this neckband with a smartphone is a straightforward process. You need to press the multifunctional key for a few seconds to get it into pairing mode, find the neckband in the list of Bluetooth devices on the phone and pair them. The wireless range is as advertised with the neckband retaining a strong connection up to 10 meters with a clear line of sight, and a little less than half of that with a concrete wall in between. No complaints there. The only major complaint here is its sound quality. The output is extremely bass-heavy. Yes, I am aware that a lot of users in this segment prefer extra bass, but there is way too much of it here, and it is far from tight. The excess bass overshadows the mid-range frequencies big time causing way too much auditory masking. As a result, the vocals sound muddled and the output lacks sharpness. The highs don't have a great presence either, making the output a bit too soft and low on details for my liking. The soundstage isn't too broad but acceptable for the segment. These earphones are sufficiently loud at 50% volume, but you might have to take it a little higher to hear the vocals more clearly over the bass. The latency is perfectly fine when watching videos. I had no means to check if it was as low as the advertised 50ms, but there was no noticeable delay between the audio and video. The vocal/dialog clarity is a little better when watching movies and web-series than in music.
Solid battery backup though not as advertised, good call quality
The call quality is quite good on this PTron neckband with both parties clearly audible to each other. When outdoors, the ambient noise suppression is not perfect but works reasonably well, and there were hardly any complaints from the person on the line about background noise. This is impressive for a budget neckband, and if not the sound profile, it borrows the clean call quality from the Zap. Long story short, the PTron Tangent Urban is a good option for calling. The battery backup of this wireless neckband has already found a couple of mentions in this review, and it's time to shed more light on it. While I couldn't accurately measure the battery backup to the last hour, it surely doesn't get close to the advertised 60 hours. The actual battery backup is somewhere in the 30 hours ballpark with 3 hours of daily listening at 50% loudness and a few short calls. Marketing aside, 30 hours itself is not a bad figure, and you may probably need to charge it just a couple of times a month in case your usage isn't heavy. There seems to be a minor issue with the battery reading. It often keeps switching between two values (40% and 50% for instance) multiple times, which is quite strange. This neckband also supports fast charging. The company claims that 10 minutes of charging can give you about four hours of play time. Not as great as some of the Boat neckbands but certainly useful when in a hurry. It takes close to two hours to charge fully with a standard charger, which is fair given the higher battery capacity.
Calling and battery life get higher weightage over sound quality
The PTron Tangent Urban sells for just Rs. 799 with a one year warranty. That makes it arguably the most inexpensive wireless neckband I have tested to date. Did I like the product? If you are talking about just the sound output, then no. And that also has to do with my expectations being raised by its predecessor. I do like a hint of extra bass in my audio but not remotely as much at the cost of detail and clarity. But then we are talking about a segment that is not expected to have products with such level of performance. If it did, why would anybody bother buying more expensive products? Coming back to this PTron neckband, it does have some good aspects too like call quality, low latency and battery life. If that matters to you more than sound quality, then it would be money well spent on this product. If not, you need to up your budget by another Rs. 500 at least and look for alternatives in the Rs. 1,200-1,500 range. You have several options from Boat and Realme that offer much better sound quality and comparable battery life. Boat Rockerz 330 and Realme Buds Wireless 2 Neo are two good options, with the latter also offering customizable sound and controls through the companion app.