The Tranya Nova true wireless are quite impressive in a number of ways – but their wayward ANC implementation puts almost as big a crimp in their chances as their relative lack of comfort.
- Energetic, focused sound
- Great spec at the price
- Useful control options
- Not especially comfortable
- ANC is effective in the wrong way
- Over-sensitive touch controls
Wireless supportBluetooth 5.3 with aptX Adaptive
IP ratingIPX5 to protect against rain and sweat
Battery life36 hours of battery life with the charging case
Hong Kong-based Tranya came into existence in 2016, and quite rapidly established itself as one of those brands you’re not sure you’ve ever heard of yet sells tens of thousands of products per year via Amazon.
Fast-forward seven years and the company reckons it has the perfect vehicle with which to crash into mainstream consciousness without crashing its value-for-money ethos.
By vehicle, of course, I mean these Nova true wireless in-ear headphones. So let’s find out what sort of crash is occurring here…
The Tranya Nova true wireless in-ear headphones are on sale in the United Kingdom for £89. In the United States the quoted price is $99, while in Australia it’s more like AU$139.
This is the price you’ll pay if you’re not really trying, though. The Nova seems to be routinely discounted on some of the world’s leading online retailers – the day I’m writing this, for example, you can pick up a pair for £79 / $89.
Or you could just buy directly from Tranya’s online store and enjoy a 15% discount as long as you’re prepared to be bombarded by tangential emails for the foreseeable future…
- One finish available
- Apple-tastic configuration
- Shiny, slippy finish
Unless your brand is wilfully obtuse, you have two choices when it comes to the shape of your true wireless in-ear headphones. Tranya has decided to go with the dangly stem design originated by Apple and shamelessly copied by numerous brands ever since.
The business end of the earbud is relatively chunky, it’s worth noting. Tranya provides three sizes of eartip in the Nova packaging, but none of them prove an especially good fit for what I would suggest are my perfectly ordinarily sized ears – and the upshot is an earbud that is tricky to fit comfortably and gets increasingly uncomfortable in pretty short order. This is all the more remarkable when you realise each Nova earbud weighs less than 5g – which, by rights, should mean they’re no kind of burden to wear.
The Nova are available in one finish: black. It’s a shiny, slippery version of black that a) makes the charging case and the earbuds inside it look a little more expensive than they are, and b) collects fingerprints like nobody’s business.
There is some quite discreet branding along each stem, which is where the Nova also keep their capacitive touch-surfaces. There’s a USB-C input on the bottom of the charging case, though the Tranya are also compatible with Qi-certified wireless charging devices. And aside from an LED on the front of the case and a reset button on the back, that’s it as far as design is concerned.
- Bluetooth 5.3 with aptX Adaptive
- 36 hours of battery life
- 12mm dynamic drivers
No two ways about it: Tranya has specified the Nova true wireless headphones comfortably in excess of their asking price. There are some TWS alternatives from more established brands costing twice as much that aren’t as fully loaded as these.
Wireless connectivity, for instance, is multipoint via Bluetooth 5.3 and there’s compatibility with the aptX Adaptive codec. As well as a chunky nine hours of battery life from the earbuds (with ANC switched off) and an all-in total of 36 hours when you include the case, the Nova are constantly balancing the quality of your wireless stream against its stability to try and provide the optimal experience in all circumstances.
Once your digital audio information is on board, it’s delivered to your ears by a couple of 12mm full-range dynamic drivers. This rather large number goes some way to explaining the rather large physical nature of the earbuds – but it also makes the claimed frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz seem plausible. And thanks to the IPX5 rating, you should be able to enjoy those full-range sounds in pretty much any realistic environment.
Tranya has fitted three mics to each earbud, and as well as taking care of active noise-cancellation and voice-assistant interaction, they look after telephony as well. Qualcomm cVc 8.0 technology is included in an effort to maximise call quality and minimise external disruption.
Your source player’s native voice-assistant is just one of your control options here. The (extremely sensitive) touch controls cover off play/pause, skip forwards/backwards, volume up/down, summon voice assistant and cycle through ANC options – those ANC options run to on, off and ambient sound.
And in the Tranya control app that’s free for iOS and Android, those functions can be customised to best suit your preferences. The app also includes a 10-band EQ with the option to customise a setting alongside four presets. The app also has an on/off setting for Game Mode, which reduces latency to a bare minimum (at the expense of fidelity, of course).
- Rapid, quite spirited sound
- Good staging and focus
- ANC alters sound rather than deals with noise
Sound quality is a slightly more nuanced subject here than it is with many true wireless in-ear headphones. Because as well as the expected ability to stick your oar into sound quality by using the EQ settings in the control app, the Tranya Nova can also have their sound impacted quite significantly simply by changing the active noise-cancellation deployment. Which surely can’t have been the company’s intention.
I find I need to explain that the Nova sound their best – by which I mean most accurate, most realistic, and most convincing – with the EQ levels left flat and active noise-cancellation switched on. Listen to a TIDAL stream of Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing by Minutemen and there’s appreciable zip and perkiness to the sound, a quite spirited and engaged presentation that’s never less than entertaining.
Low frequencies hit quite hard and dig quite deep, and there’s decent control to the way they attack that puts rhythmic expression just as high on the list as outright wallop. Midrange fidelity is good, and the size and definition of the soundstage the Nova create means a vocalist gets ample space in which to do their thing. The top of the frequency range is just a little rolled off, but it’s not short of shine or attack. In fact, attack is something the Tranya Nova do pretty well.
They also integrate the whole frequency range quite smoothly, have sufficient dynamic headroom to put meaningful distance between the quietest and the loudest moments of a recording, and retain and reveal a fair amount of detail. They’re not the most adept when it comes to the minor and/or transient details in a recording, but in the context of their price they’re far from unimpressive as an overall proposition.
It’s fair to say the effects of the active noise-cancellation circuitry are mild – external sounds are reduced a little, sure, but not to the point you’re ever unaware of them. Despite this, though, you’re better off keeping the ANC switched on – because when you switch it off, the sonic characteristics of the Nova alter more than somewhat.
Along with the (expected and inevitable) increase in ambient sound, switching off ANC takes a lot of the body and momentum out of the low-frequency response. What was enjoyably chunky and propulsive becomes rather boneless and weedy, and a lot of the rhythmic positivity of the sound goes astray as a consequence. What was entertaining becomes rather matter of fact – and, of course, this presentation becomes even less enjoyable when you remember it’s more prone to interference and interruptions from outside.
Should you buy it?
You know an impressive specification-to-outlay ratio when you see one
There’s no arguing with the way Tranya has equipped the Nova true wireless earbuds.
You don’t have a very steady hand
The touch controls on each earbud are madly sensitive, and issuing incorrect commands is all too easy.
I’ll acknowledge I knew next-to-nothing about Tranya before I got hold of the Nova – but a glance at the spec-sheet followed by a glance at the price made me worry about the type of trade-off I should expect.
But in some ways the Nova outperform their asking price quite comfortably – although comfortably is not a word that applies to the sensation of wearing them.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for more than a week
Tested with real world use
Yes, you can use the Tranya Nova true wireless earphones with two devices simultaneously.
SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
12mm dynamic drivers