It used to be the exclusive domain of the biggest names in audio and tech, but now active noise cancellation is much more common. And cheaper, too – although inexpensive ANC buds usually have to compromise somewhere in order to keep costs down. Lypertek wants to make sure it isn’t sound quality that gets left behind.
The PurePlay Z5 true wireless in-ears continue the company’s legacy of wallet-friendly headphones that punch above their weight sonically. Lypertek’s first foray into noise cancelling lands at £120, undercutting big-name rivals and even more mainstream ‘buds from the likes of Apple, which don’t get ANC until you step up to the Pro offering.
It all looks good on paper, but surely something has to give? The proof is in the listening.
Design & build
The Z5 earbuds might look familiar, but the stem-style design is a bit of a departure for Lypertek. The rest of its range use more traditionally shaped buds, but here you’re getting a more AirPod-influenced appearance.
It’s not like the extra space has been used to slim down the rest of the housing, either. These are chunky in-ears, but some might prefer how they distribute their weight. We could listen for hours without any discomfort. The way the driver is angled also helps get a tighter seal than other wireless in-ears.
Lypertek includes a handful of different sized ear tips so you can find the perfect fit, including a foam pair for greater isolation. They get our pick for commuting and office working, and are doubly effective when you turn on the ANC.
Both buds are touch-sensitive, and all too easy to press accidentally when repositioning them in your ears, but otherwise work well. Controls are mirrored, with taps for playback, holds for toggling ANC modes, and a tap and hold to wake up your phone’s voice assistant.
The charging case is nicely compact, with a firm hinge and rounded edges that don’t catch when pulling it out of a pocket. The shiny black plastic is especially thrilling, with just a Lypertek logo up top and a charging LED on the front to jazz things up. There’s another LED inside to confirm when the buds are sipping down electrons, along with a button to trigger the pairing mode.
You get the choice of USB-C or wireless charging, the latter being a welcome addition in a sub-£150 pair of in-ears.
Features & battery life
A companion app dedicated to the PurePlay Z5 gives you control over ANC strength, lets you customise the touch controls and tweak the seven-band equaliser. There are six presets beyond the default, but we struggled to find a winner. The bespoke LDX mode trumps the EQ completely, and creates a more dynamic presentation – more on that in the next section.
Noise cancellation is a bit of a mixed bag. The ambient mode is all too keen to pick up wind noise, and higher frequency sounds aren’t always caught, but it can handle the low-frequency hum of public transport reasonably well. The ANC has a low noise floor, with a background hiss that’s only discernible when listening to spoken word podcasts and tracks at very low volumes. It’s certainly not the best around in its price bracket, but neither does it disappoint – you very much get what you pay for.
The PurePlay Z5 falls down on the battery life front, whether you use ANC or not. With it enabled, you can expect just four hours of listening between trips to the charging case, and a total of 20 hours before that’s drained too. It’ll manage up to seven hours with ANC turned off, which is more respectable, and can max out at 35 hours with the case. Still, similarly priced rivals like the OnePlus Buds Pro last longer with ANC, and have cases that deliver more juice too.
Signal quality is fine in isolation, but can struggle in built-up areas. On a central London commute, it struggled to stay connected while walking through some of the busier train stations. It’s not something we experienced on the (slightly pricier) Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro.
Out of the box, Lypertek has tuned the PurePlay Z5 for a neutral, balanced sound. It’s almost a little reserved in certain tracks, lacking the top-end excitement we’ve come to expect from Chvrches’ synth-pop singles, and not having the low-end oomph you want from bass-led EDM. There’s still a reasonable amount of detail though, and vocals have real clarity, albeit for the price.
The soundstage wasn’t all that expansive to begin with, but turn on LDX mode and things liven up. It’s not as drastic as some of the EQ presets, simply boosting bass and volume across the frequency range, but the effect widens the soundstage nicely.
Because they start at something of a sonic middle-ground, those willing to play around with the EQ settings are sure to find a balance that’s pleasing to their ears. That alone makes them easy to recommend, although anyone happy to spend more will find a more detailed, energetic presentation with the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.
Lypertek PurePlay Z5 verdict
Instead of making you pick between effective noise cancellation and well-balanced audio, Lypertek’s debut ANC effort largely achieves both. The Z5 delivers a neutral, almost restrained sound out of the box, but come alive once a few settings are tweaked in the companion app. It can’t completely silence the outside world in the way more expensive in-ears can, and it doesn’t have the sonic chops to truly challenge pricier rivals – but it does very well given the price.
Battery life is the main stumbling block, with a modest lifespan even with noise cancelling disabled. And while the wireless charging case gives nothing to grumble over, the buds themselves aren’t especially easy on the eye.
That said, if you put audio performance above all else and aren’t looking to spend big bucks, the PurePlay Z5 does enough to earn your attention.
Lypertek’s latest is a solid performer that undercuts more mainstream wireless in-ears. The Z5s don’t have the best noise cancellation and look a bit utilitarian, but deliver great sound for the price.
Priced to rival big-name brands
Lots of in-app customisation
Noise cancellation could be better
Battery life only so-so
Lypertek PurePlay Z5 technical specifications
|Active noise cancellation
|7 hours (ANC off) / 4 hours (ANC on), 35 hours (maximum, with case)
|IPX5 splash resistant