Introducing the brand new Sudio Fem. It now comes with a radically new design from Sudio, and it immediately broke my preconception about the Fem when I first held it on my hands and had them in my ears.
Bearing the Swedish word for number 5, I have to say that the Sudio Fem is up for a mambo as there are a lot of changes from its predecessors. These are great changes, by the way. Combined with a few more upgrades, the Sudio Fem is looking like a champ – so how do we feel about it?
Let’s start by saying that Sudio will now ship you the Sudio Fem in this new box. It has a pull tab at the front to reveal the contents within.
In terms of the unboxing experience, the new Sudio Fem is actually pretty much the same as before. Still having a clean packaging design with an image of the product itself printed at the front.
At the back, we can see some quick highlights in the features available and certain included accessories.
Opening up the box itself reveals that Sudio is still really paying attention to the unboxing experience. It slides out sideways smoothly, revealing the Sudio Fem itself and also the accessories box.
Digging out everything reveals the warranty card, user manual, the aforementioned accessories box, and also the Sudio Fem itself.
Inside the accessories box, we can find multiple different eartip sizes. Sudio has included a total of 5 different sizes and has pre-installed the middle one for you. It’s great to see that Sudio cares about the user experience out of the box since the Sudio Fem uses a custom-designed silicon eartip.
Looking at the cradle itself, the Sudio Fem comes in this circular shape. Comparing with the Niva and the Tolv that we reviewed previously, the Fem is somewhat in between in terms of size. The cradle is also covered in a soft-touch material same as how the Tolv was.
The shape combined with the soft-touch material made the Sudio Fem fairly difficult to open as it can slip off my fingers easily. I can foresee that wearing gloves while trying to open the Sudio Fem might be an issue, too.
At the side around the 10 o’clock of the Sudio Fem is where the charging port is found. Yeah, it’s off-centered on either x- and y-axis if we are to use the Sudio logo on the lid as a reference point. Just a little weird. What’s great here is that Sudio has moved to USB-C and I sighed in relief when I saw it. Finally, I have another solid reason to ditch other cables!
Opening up the cradle reveals the earbuds themselves. When Sudio first showed us the Fem, I thought to myself – what in the world is that design? That surely is one of the weirdest design for true wireless earbuds, right?
Apparently, I was wrong. This design is with purpose. Sudio focused on one thing this time – and that is the microphone. There are a total of 4 microphones on the Sudio Fem – two on each earbud. There is one microphone at the top part of the earbud and another at the bottom of the chromed part, pointing downwards toward the wearer’s mouth.
Ah yes, that’s how the Sudio Fem should be worn – with the chromed part pointing towards the wearer’s mouth. Instead of using existing earbud shapes, Sudio has gone back to the drawing board to develop this brand new shape – and it seems like Sudio used someone’s ear as the basic shape of how the earbuds should be. And that’s a great thing to have.
The Sudio Fem also forgone buttons entirely in favor of touch panels. Both sides of the earbuds have a fairly large touch panel for you to perform certain tasks. And that leads us to…
The way Sudio made the Fem is fairly interesting, especially from an engineering perspective. Sudio programmed it so that the touch panel is treated as a physical button, minus the clicking. Basic features that can be performed via the earbuds’ touch panels are:
|Left earbud||Right earbud|
|Tap twice||Previous track||Next track|
|Tap thrice||Decrease volume||Increase volume|
|Hold for one second||Invoke voice assistant|
|Hold for 8 seconds||Turn “off”|
|Hold for a long time after turning off||Enter pairing mode|
A few things that we have to point out here – firstly, the microphones on the Sudio Fem does not provide active noise cancellation for music listening. It is used only to filter noise while you are using the microphone and talking to the Sudio Fem. I think this is a missed opportunity for Sudio as a companion app to have options such as the ability to listen to the surroundings, and also active noise cancellation for music. Perhaps even the ability to customize the gestures to perform different tasks?
Back to the features that it has – the Sudio Fem actually has independent volume controls too. We tried pairing it with two smartphones that we have and we can max out the volume on the phone but the Sudio Fem themselves are at the lowest volume.
The Sudio Fem also can “turn off”. Now, we know that it’s not entirely “turned off” since it still needs some power for the touch panel to function and to enter pairing mode. Personally, I’d say that this is smart engineering from Sudio.
So, for the earbuds to turn off entirely, just put them back into the cradle. Easy.
The truly true, independent wireless earbuds
One thing that I really love but Sudio never really highlighted is the true independence between earbuds. What I mean by that is the Sudio Fem doesn’t have a master/slave configuration – both of them just work as “masters”.
I opened the Bluetooth menu on my phone and saw Sudio Fem. I paired to it and one side of the earbud told me that pairing is successful. Then I started playing music and I can hear music on both sides. That’s typical.
However, the true magic happens when I placed the left side back into the cradle. The music continues to play on the right side. When I took the left side out again, and music continues to play on the left side. When I did the same to the right side, music still plays on the left side. That is true independence.
The same thing happens to the microphone too. It automatically transitions from one side to another without bothering which is the “master” or “main” side. This is what I mean by truly true wireless earbuds.
Using the Sudio Fem
As mentioned earlier, because of the shape of the cradle and it being covered in soft-touch material, the cradle is a bit difficult to open and easily slips off my fingers. Make sure you get a good grip to open the cradle.
The first thing I did was change the eartips to the smallest size because my ear canals are tiny. I immediately realized the custom-shaped eartips which have the same diameter, just halved in height. Sudio has stated that if you ever needed replacements, they have it in stock too.
The user manual actually shows you how to wear the Sudio Fem too. There are two steps – first, aim the microphone downwards and put it into your ear canal, then twist the earbud to have the microphone pointed towards your mouth while pushing it deeper.
Upon wearing the Sudio Fem, I immediately felt its comfort. Its shape allowed for a natural fit on my ear and it creates a much better seal compared to the previous true wireless earbuds from Sudio. This proper sealing creates better noise isolation too, which is always appreciated.
The greater seal around the ear actually creates a better audio experience too. The audio clarity of the Sudio Fem also sounds much better compared to the previous generations – and that’s a great thing.
Upon pairing the Sudio Fem, I found out that it supports two Bluetooth audio codecs – SBC and AAC. From what I can find out, SBC is most commonly supported but AAC offers better audio fidelity, though it depends on what device you’re using. For Apple users, go for AAC.
The overall frequency response is still bass-heavy, but it’s not overwhelming. The bass thumps tightly and is enjoyable, whereby the highs don’t sparkle with ear-piercing frequencies – which I personally prefer. The vocals, however are dragged down to a lower frequency.
I’ll have to say that the overall sound quality has improved compared to the last generation since it sounds much clearer than before.
Interestingly, Sudio didn’t provide us the battery capacity at all. That doesn’t matter since we are still going to wear the Fem and test out its battery life on our own.
Interestingly, we got a big gap in our tests. Depending on what volume we’re listening to music at, we can get somewhere around 4 hours on higher volumes and up to 6 hours on lower volume. No surprises here as higher volumes do need more power to drive the speakers.
The cradle also provides slightly more than 2 complete charges of the earbuds themselves, totaling up to about 18 to 20 hours of listening time depending on the volume. One of our main complaints about the Sudio Tolv from earlier this year was its confusing battery indicator LED on the cradle itself.
Now with the Sudio Fem, it’s using a conventional 4 LED setup here which indicates 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% battery life. However, another minor complaint here is that these battery LEDs don’t light up when I open the cradle. It will only light up after I flicked either earbud so that it disconnects and reconnects back to the case. Minor complaint, but perhaps something to look into.
Wrapping up the Sudio Fem review
I think overall, the Sudio Fem is a big improvement over the Sudio Tolv from earlier this year. It comes with numerous upgrades in parts that really matter to me as an end-user – particularly the better comfort fit and also USB-C charging port.
Is the Sudio Fem the perfect pair of true wireless earbuds? I’d say close enough as it is made for those who seek a no-frills, easy to use experience with great sound. I still think a companion app to manage ANC and ambient sound features could’ve been implemented since the Sudio Fem already has the hardware to do so. But, having to develop an app means higher cost, and price matters.
The Sudio Fem is priced at only USD $139 (RM649), which is only $10 more than the Tolv. If you’re already considering the Tolv to begin with, then buy the Fem instead. Seriously, the Fem feels like it’s two generations ahead of the Tolv.
The brand new Sudio Fem is an easy recommendation for me if you are looking for some high-quality, premium true wireless earbuds – especially with great microphones. I personally have upgraded from the Tolv to the Fem, too.
Where to buy?
Head on over to https://www.sudio.com/my (starting 3rd December 2019) and enter code “SUDIOFEM” to get 15% discount! That means you can get the Sudio Fem for only ~RM551.65, and I think that is a fantastic deal for all that it offers.
Exclusively from now until the end of the year, Sudio Sweden is having a promotion! You can get a FREE gift bag and FREE delivery to Malaysia and worldwide.
Also, remember to hashtag #Sudio #SudioSweden and #SudioMoments too.