The Lypertek PurePlay Z5 deliver on sound quality but are let down by ineffective active noise cancellation
- LDX audio profile is outstanding
- Customisable touch controls
- Useful and unique Auto-Ambient mode
- Mediocre ANC
- Underwhelming battery life
- No in-ear detection
Update: Since this review was published, Lypertek has permanently lowered the price of the PurePlay Z5 to just £99. A recent firmware update has also brought several new features.
The biggest new additions included in the update are custom control presets, allowing users to save their own configurations to better personalise the touch controls, and Auto Power Off mode, which turns the earbuds off after a period of inactivity to preserve the battery life.
Finally, the PureControl ANC app will now display individual battery life for each earbud, helping you keep track of how much listening time you have left.
Our original review of the Lypertek PurePlay Z5 continues below.
The Lypertek PurePlay Z5 are the latest entry into the Chinese manufacturer’s growing catalogue of true wireless earbuds and its first foray into the realm of active noise cancellation.
Though their ANC and battery life leave a fair bit to be desired, there’s a decent amount to like about the PurePlay Z5. Audio quality is impressive, especially when using Lypertek’s proprietary LDX audio profile, and the Z5’s appeal is boosted by an “Auto-Ambient” feature that proves as useful as it is innovative.
But are those qualities coupled with a competitive price tag enough to make up for the Z5’s lacklustre noise cancellation? Read on to find out.
The PurePlay Z5 are IPX5 rated so have a decent level of water resistance and their Bluetooth credentials are solid, too. They operate wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.2 and support the SBC and AAC audio codecs in addition to Qualcomm’s aptX and aptX Adaptive codecs, both of which are welcome inclusions.
Design-wise, the Z5 are a departure from Lypertek’s previous offerings, trading in the compact drum shape of the PurePlay Z3 and Z7 for a style that more closely resembles the AirPods Pro, with slender stems that extend down and out over your earlobes.
At the top of each stem sits the touch-control interface that offers the usual variety of functions, including playing/pausing audio, skipping tracks, adjusting volume and cycling through the ANC modes. The touch controls are fully customisable via the PureControl ANC app, with the options including a “safe” mode that omits single tap commands to avoid accidental interactions when adjusting the buds in your ear.
You shouldn’t need to fiddle with them much, mind you, as the provided tips sit snugly in your ear canal, creating a decent level of passive noise cancellation and keeping the buds firmly in place. To help you find the optimal fit, Lypertek includes a generous selection of eartips that offer different sonic experiences as well as fits: The “PurePower” tips use a thicker silicone to provide more powerful sound, the thinner silicone of the “PureSpace” aims to deliver spacious and open sound, and the “PureComfort” use high-density foam for added comfort.
Also included in the box are the pocket-sized charging case and an accompanying USB-A to USB-C cable. The case supports high-speed wireless charging, via a compatible charger, and fast-charge, with Lypertek stating that just 15 minutes of charging should result in up to two hours of playback at 50% volume.
Where both the Z3 2.0 and the Z7 came with luxurious, fabric-coated cases, the Z5 is left to make do with a more traditional, fingerprint-attracting plastic number. That’s not to say it’s unattractive – the embossed Lypertek logo on the lid lends it a certain sophistication – it’s just noticeably ordinary when compared to the cases of its stablemates.
Lypertek PurePlay Z5 review: What do they sound like?
Still, it’s not all about aesthetics, and thankfully sonic capability is one area where the Z5 excel. Audio is delivered by a pair of 10mm dynamic drivers, and even on the default profile, it’s delivered well. The soundstage is fairly narrow but not cramped – there’s still enough room for the bouncy, dynamic mids and well-articulated vocals to express themselves.
The low-end response of the default sound profile is a little on the weedy side – it’s there, but lacks the punch to be truly satisfying. This is easily remedied, however, as Lypertek’s PureControl ANC app provides access to a seven-band graphic equaliser. There are also seven EQ presets available, including Bass Boost, in addition to two slots reserved for user-made custom setups.
While the range of EQ profiles are useful and thoughtfully levelled – Podcast and Movies hit all the right notes for their respective mediums – the real star of the show is the LDX (Lypertek Definition Expander) audio mode. This broadens the soundstage and provides a greater level of clarity, elevating good audio quality into the realms of excellence.
It’s worth noting that Lypertek has another app, confusingly also called PureControl, that is used to tweak the Z3 and Z7. Unlike its older sibling, the PureControl ANC app was developed specifically for the Z5, and, as the name suggests, includes controls for the ANC settings.
Alongside the LDX mode, the Z5’s other big feature of note is its “Auto-Ambient” mode. Turned on or off in the ANC menu of the app, Auto-Ambient mode kicks in whenever you pause playback and filters in external sound via microphones located on the outside of the earbuds. This is really handy when you need to speak to someone or are approaching a busy road, and minimises the number of times you need to interact with the earbuds for a more efficient experience.
Other brands have implemented similar automated features but they’re not commonplace in the world of true wireless earbuds. The class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4 learn about your habits and automatically switch ANC profiles based on your location, while the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro automatically switch to Ambient mode when they detect you speaking.
Both are premium models in their respective brand’s lineups, so the incorporation of an effective Auto-Ambient mode here is a pleasant surprise. It also goes some way to making up for the absence of wear detection, which pauses audio when you remove an earbud.
Lypertek PurePlay Z5 review: What could they do better?
While the lack of wear detection isn’t too impactful, there are a couple of key areas in which the PurePlay Z5 fall short.
Battery life has been drastically reduced compared with both the Z3 and Z7, which both offer up to 80 hours at half volume. That’s to be expected given the Z5 make use of battery-intensive noise-cancelling technology but their 20 hours total, including just four hours for the buds, is decidedly mediocre. Switch off ANC and you can expect somewhere closer to seven hours from the buds and 35 hours in total but if you’re buying active noise cancelling buds, you’re probably doing so for their ability to put a dent in environmental sound.
Sadly, the Z5 just don’t do that all that well. During testing, the Z5’s ANC didn’t prove to be much more effective than the passive noise cancellation provided by the ear tips. The continuous growl of a busy street quietened a little with the ANC mode activated, but a quick flick back to normal mode showed that most of the heavy lifting was being done by the silicone/foam ear tips, and not the ANC technology. This was the case regardless of which ear tips I was using.
Compared to other noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve looked at recently, the Z5 remain unimpressive. Both the Edifier TWS NB2 Pro and the Creative Outlier Air V3 offer more effective active noise cancellation and reduction, respectively, despite originally retailing for a lower price than the PurePlay Z5.
Lypertek PurePlay Z5 review: Should you buy them?
If effective noise cancellation is your top priority, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. Our current favourites for ANC are Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds, but at £250, you’re really paying for that level of quality. In terms of more affordable options, Anker’s SoundCore Life P3 impressed us with their noise-cancelling abilities and are available for just £70, while the Edifier TWS NB2 are another wallet-friendly option at a list price of £69.
The PurePlay Z5 make a much better case for themselves if you care more about sound quality than noise cancellation. The LDX audio profile alone makes the app worth installing, with its broad soundstage helping enhance tracks across all genres. If that doesn’t quite hit the spot, the range of EQ settings and options available are extensive enough to ensure you’ll be able to create something that’s to your liking.
Add to the mix a comfortable fit (made easier to achieve by a wide selection of ear tips), fully customisable touch controls and the handy Auto-Ambient mode, and the PurePlay Z5 justify their cost, despite the lacklustre ANC. You’ll struggle to find better sound for the money, just be prepared to hear a bit of the outside world along with it.