Quick Look: Peacock Flight TWS Earphones 0

Quick Look: Peacock Flight TWS Earphones

Introduction

Peacock Audio Logo

Peacock Audio is a Chinese brand that made a colorful debut with the P1, a single dynamic driver set of IEMs that was all about a hand-painted custom shell design in various color offerings. It may not have lit the world on fire, but that did not stop Linsoul from collaborating with the brand to bring out a new set of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earphones. Linsoul has gone the Kickstarter route for the new Peacock Flight, with the campaign already hitting the goal and due to end on December 12, with unit shipping scheduled for April 2022. There has been a dearth of objective testing of these thus far, so I offered to do a quick-look article of the same. Thanks to Linsoul and Peacock Audio for providing TechPowerUp a review sample!


I was in awe of the photos on the Kickstarter campaign showing how these earphones are made. It begins with clear medical-grade resin that is hand painted in different colors, allowing for a total of five color sets to choose from for the Peacock Flight, before charging connectors, the PCB with the Bluetooth chipset, and 6 mm compound diaphragm dynamic driver are all inserted and the shell closed off. The exterior then gets a similar paint and treatment for durability, resulting in an arguably gorgeous, extremely unique, and colorful set of TWS earphones in a market of primarily black and white units. I have the white/gold version here, and it is otherwise representative of the final retail samples due to ship out by April of next year. As with anything on Kickstarter, there are some associated risks to be aware of in terms of not getting what you paid for. However, Linsoul has typically used crowdfunding more as a means of marketing, with campaigns all pretty much guaranteed success. The same is the case here, and given Linsoul's good track record, I do not expect the campaign itself to be risky for backers.

Packaging and Accessories


So while I have no reason to believe the Peacock Flight won't be shipped to backers, the actual quality of the product is a whole other matter, which is what we take a closer look at and discuss today. There are some Kickstarter add-ons for backers, including a protective case in different colors, foam tips, etc. I only have the base package, a relatively small box that has the company logo and product name on a sticker, with a clear sign indicating this is indeed a demo unit. The box is otherwise thick cardboard in black with a textured finish, with the lid lifting off to reveal the contents inside. This demo sample did not come with any paperwork, be it a quick-start guide or otherwise, and held the earphones inside the charging/carry case in a thick foam piece. There are appropriately sized cutouts to hold the case and for fingers to reach in and grab it.


There is a cardboard box below the foam layer, and it holds all the accessories that came with the Peacock Flight demo unit. I imagine retail packaging will look very similar, but don't expect many goodies here. You get the expected set of ear tips, which came inside a plastic zip-lock bag, in two sizes and no doubt having an intermediate size pre-installed on the earphones themselves. However, I will say that these tips run small to where they are XS/S/M rather than S/M/L in size. Also included is a bog-standard, short USB Type-A to Type-C cable in black to charge the case itself.

Closer Look


The case is instrumental to true wireless earphones, providing storage and charging capability at the same time, and the Peacock Flight case is the smallest TWS set I have had my hands on to date. It is so small I can palm it in my hands as I would a prop in a magician's trick, and I don't have the largest of hands, either. It is also composed of metal on the outside, making it feel more premium for its size. Note that the case is a single black/gold color irrespective of the earphones you go with, although there are protective cases in differently matching colors, and a lanyard this smaller case would go into. On the front is a single indicator LED that displays the battery charging/discharging status, and a solid hinge on the back that does not jut past the case. Peacock Audio somehow managed to fit Qi wireless charging into this tiny thing, too. As such, you may, say, place it on a wireless charger at night and have a fully charged set ready to go the next day. Wired charging comes in the form of a Type-C port on the bottom, and the case has a 200 mAh battery, which is well below average, albeit somewhat justified given the increased portability.


There are similar LEDs on each of the earphones, which light up when they are in the case and charging. A vent used for airflow on top does double duty in letting the LED shine through. As per usual, the earphones are held in place by magnetic pins, and each earphone has a 30 mAh battery inside. This means the case can provide an additional three charge cycles with losses accounted for, which matches what Peacock Audio advertises well enough. When the earphones are removed from the case, the same indicator LED now flashes in green and red to indicate the Peacock Flight is in pairing mode, which will remain so for a couple of minutes to give you the chance to pair them to the source of your choice.


The Peacock Flight TWS earphones come in the five color options seen above, and I did find it funny that the Linsoul rep apologized saying they only had the white/gold set left for demo since they thought my sample had already shipped out, as I actually think this set looks the tamest of the bunch, but is possibly the cleanest and best-looking one in person. The swirls of hand-painted gold and white speckles adorn the inside and outside of the resin shell, and this set has a further trick up its sleeve with unique blue (dis)coloration in some places if exposed to UV light, including strong sunlight. So do be aware of this change you may or may not like; the other colors are darker and immune to the change.

These are otherwise relatively small, which also helps justify the smaller 30 mAh battery inside. There is a Peacock Audio logo applique on the face plate, but it is otherwise near-impossible to separate the face plate from the rest of the shell from a cursory look given the patterns flow cohesively all around. The single vent also makes for a more isolated set of earphones, but it may affect microphone performance. There are no L/R markings anywhere, which may confuse new users as they go about figuring it out with the angle of the nozzle as it exits the shell. As expected, the intermediate sized ear tips are pre-installed. A retaining lip on the nozzle helps keep the ear tips in place, and with this section unpainted, it was likely the support point for the shell painting and assembly. There is a mesh filter in place on the nozzle to prevent unwanted contamination of the acoustic chamber. The actual fit is fairly decent, although you may want to look at aftermarket ear tips. The nozzle is smaller in diameter than most IEMs, so get a ~4.5–5 mm bore tip if you go this route. The smaller size and lower mass of the earphones mean there is minimal physical fatigue, but also not much support from the concha itself. Having a secure fit with the ear tips is thus a must in more ways than one.

Setup and Audio Performance


The Peacock Flight is using Qualcomm's entry-level QCC3040 SoC with Bluetooth 5.2 support, and pairing was a breeze on my phone, laptop, and PC with the Intel AX210 NIC for Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. It is missing some of the available features, including wireless mirroring and active noise cancellation, but Peacock Audio perhaps thought it was not going to be a good implementation here. There is otherwise no mobile app support at this time, which does mean no first-party customizaton of touch controls or firmware updates, let alone such optional features as EQ, which is nice to have with TWS sets. Some touch controls are pre-programmed, handling such typical things as volume control and media playback, in addition to answering/rejecting calls. There is no option to pull up the smart assistant on the platform of your choice, and it would generally be fair to say that the Peacock Audio Flight is short on the technological features of TWS earphones today.

Battery life is a key metric for TWS earbuds, and these promise a measly 6 hours of use when fully charged. I hit just over 5 hours regularly at ~70% volume on my phone with aptX, which is going to be more realistic for end users. Battery life is not great thus, and the additional ~3 charge cycles from the case provide for a total closer to 21 hours rather than the rated 24 hours, which may be with SBC and lower volume. Wireless charging does help mitigate this pain point, but the quick-charge feature is the real game changer here. 30 minutes of charging with USB Type-C nearly completely recharges the case, and the higher voltage/current charging has battery overcharge protection built into the case to prevent charge capacity from going down quickly. These are also IPx4 water resistant for the more intense physical workouts, which makes the Peacock Flight a good audio solution for the gym and outdoors. Just don't use it too much for calls since integrated microphone quality and positioning are terrible even relative to the low standards TWS earphones set.


Testing was done in a similar manner to other TWS earphones and IEMs, such as the recently reviewed Melomania 1+. In the absence of much useful information to gain from pinna testing unless absolutely affected by fit, I am only going to talk about the tonality and technicality of these. The use of our new frequency response measurement database hosted at VSG.squig.link also makes things simpler, with my preference target curve as an overlay to the left and right channel measurements of the Peacock Flight. Click on this specific link to play around with these plots.

As it turns out, channel matching is fairly decent most of the way. There is some discrepancy in the treble region, though. Ignore the tiny offsets of the two peaks at ~8 kHz and ~15.8 kHz, with the former dependent on the insertion depth of the earphones in the IEC711 coupler, and the included tips being the main reason I went with a more realistic fit as opposed to trying to match resonance. What this also means is that one of the earphones is potentially ever-so-slightly deeper inside the ear canal, which has more to do with ear-tip tolerance than anything else. I am not shying from calling these out as bad tips! Regardless, the tuning of the Peacock Flight is fairly V-shaped with a slight emphasis on a W-shape if you are treble sensitive. There is the expected dip at around 800 Hz, which will look familiar relative to many other such mainstream-tuned IEMs and TWS earphones, with a ~17 dB rise to the sub-bass region that will be a love or hate affair. Thankfully, the bass does not come off bloated, although there isn't much in the way of enhanced detail either with a slight haze affecting the user experience.

Electronic music will be fine, but a mix of bass guitars and vocals will expose the weakness here. The bass to mids transition is also somewhat muddy, with too much elevation in the upper mids affecting imaging and male vocals. Those who prefer classical and orchestral music more may want to look elsewhere; it's more the metal and rock genres with which this will work decently. The soundstage is compact, and not in an intimate sense, either. Think of it more along the lines of a hospital corridor you don't want to be in rather than a groovy jazz club at night. These are technical deficiencies I don't really anticipate most TWS sets to handle well, but keep them in mind, don't expect much in the way of impact and slam from these dynamic drivers. The transition over to the upper mids is well-executed, with a reasonable bump accounting for the in-ear resonance compensation that will feel natural and not shouty at all. Female vocals especially come off well here, so eastern pop music fans will be happy flaunting these pretty little things, too. I mentioned before how orchestral and classical music aren't a great fit here, and it's mostly because of the uneven treble response that's lacking energy in the regions corresponding with the first-order fundamentals of many string instruments, piano keys, cymbals, and triangles alike, let alone having to cater to the harmonic resonances. The peak at 8 kHz is artificially elevated by the coupler resonance itself, but still presents in an attempt to break up the darkness, which has it come off shrill by comparison.

Look, it may come off as if I have a lot of issues with the set, but this is more an attempt to tell people who this is for and with which music genres it is not going to perform well. In fact, I already know a few people who went ahead and backed the Peacock Flight on Kickstarter after I shared this frequency response online since there did not appear to be one available anywhere else as this was written. Purchase decisions were made for a variety of reasons, including the V-shaped tuning appealing to many, which I can certainly see being the case. It's a safe enough tuning in the market today, yet the elevated upper mids and treble generated interest from others who listen to different music altogether. The smaller size of the earphones and ear tips appealed to some, as did the absolutely tiny case which still packed in wireless charging to make others blush. The lack of a mobile app and customizable touch controls isn't great, but let's face it—the main reason you are looking to purchase these is the design itself. The hand-painted shells in various colors look marvelous to some and gaudy to others. If you are in the former camp, note that the super early bird pricing of $99 has already sold out, but there remains a $40 discount from the $159 MSRP. At $109, you can in my opinion do much worse, so go ahead and at least check out the Kickstarter page and optional add-ons.