PineBuds Pro ANC & TWS Bluetooth earbuds with open-source firmware launched for $70

Pine64 has just started taking orders for the PineBuds Pro ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) & TWS (True Wireless Sound) earbuds based on the Bestechnic BES2300-YP dual-core Arm Cortex-M4F Bluetooth audio microcontroller found in the PineSound development board.

There are plenty of TWS earbuds on the market, but the PineBuds Pro earbuds are hackable thanks to an open-source firmware that could pave the way to interesting features, and potentially the development of open-source firmware transforming the earbuds into hearing aids.

PineBuds Pro

PineBuds Pro specifications:

  • WiSoC – Bestechnic BES 2300YP dual-core Arm Cortex-M4F @ up to 300 MHz with HW DSP instruction, 992KB SRAM, 4MB flash, Bluetooth 5.2 dual mode. Supports hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation) and TWS (true wireless stereo).
  • Wireless
    • Bluetooth 5.2 dual-mode connectivity
    • Bluetooth Profile: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
  • Audio
    • 3x microphones: FeedForward, FeedBack, Talk with Hybrid Adaptive ANC technology blocking out background noise up to 45dB
    • 6 mm dynamic transducer (speaker)
    • Frequency Response (Output): 20Hz-20KHz
    • Sound Pressure Level:  >100dB (1KHz/1mW)
    • Bluetooth Audio Codec: SBC, AAC
  • Programming – USB to dual UARTs on charging case for firmware programming
  • Power Supply
    • 3.7V 40mAh LiPo battery in each earbud
    • 3.7V 800mAh LiPo battery in charging case
    • Charging case with two Left and Right earbuds taking 5V/500mA via a USB Type-C port
    • Battery life – Up to 5 hours of playtime, up to 25 hours with the case
  • Dimensions – Packaging – 93 x 78 x 63mm
  • Weight – 5 grams (earbud), 65 grams (changing case), 156 grams (whole package)
  • IP Rating – IPX4 for the earbuds. Not suitable for swimming, taking a shower, or in a sauna

PineBuds Pro Eartips Charging Case

The earbuds ship with a charging case, ear tips, and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable. The “Little Whale” firmware source code for the PineBud Pro has been released in a zip file in the wiki, where you’ll also find schematics for the earbuds and the charging case, and datasheets for the components including the one for the Bestechnic BES 2300YP microcontroller. Hopefully, they’ll soon share the code in a public repository (as opposed to a zip file) so that code can be worked on more easily…

Just like other products first launched by Pine64, the Pinebuds Pro are geared towards developers at this time, and accompanied with some warnings:

  • Dismantling the earbuds can negatively affect their performance, especially with regard to the ANC functionality.
  • The user needs to use the programming tools provided on the wiki, and bricking the device due to improper programming may void the warranty.
  • Excessive flashing can potentially brick the earbuds

The warranty is also limited to 30 days since it’s basically sold at cost, or close to it. If you’re good with all this, you can order the PineBuds Pro for $69.99 on the Pine64 store.

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17 Comments
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TLS
TLS
1 month ago

$70 is not “at cost”. Many similar earphones sell in retail for half of that.

Daniel E.
Daniel E.
1 month ago

Many earphones are cheaply made, off the shelf, made in bulk, copies of copies, with little to no QC, selling under tens of (impossible to pronounce) brands.
Given the openness of the manufacturer, IMHO the price is pretty much right. Let’s just see how they will perform sonically.

TLS
TLS
1 month ago

I picked up a pair of very decent earbuds from a known-ish brand, although this was their first earbuds, for $35 and they’re not cheaply made, nor have I managed to find a different brand selling the same earbuds. They are actively updating their software and have added a few improvements over the few months I’ve owned them. They claim to use a single balanced armature and a regular dynamic driver in them, but this is obviously not something I can verify. Admittedly it was a sale price and they normally go for $50, but they’re still way cheaper than… Read more »

William Barath
William Barath
1 month ago

Cheaply made doesn’t always mean poor quality. Sometimes it merely means made in high quantity so that economies of scale can reduce the cost. The PineBuds will need to sell thousands at $70 before they even recover their development cost, so in reality they are being sold below cost right now. The markup to recover development costs is something early adopters are always saddled with. It’s just a case of how many early adopters you can spread it across. If you want a price closer to materials cost, wait.

testq
testq
1 month ago

What openness?

Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
1 month ago

I don’t know. Sounds reasonable to me. Decent headphones are more complex to produce. Higher quality material, low volume. I would try them first to actually judge.
I own Sony NC. So, good headphones are really worth it. Especially to support a cool project.

nooa
nooa
1 month ago

It’s not for you.

TLS
TLS
1 month ago

These are not for most people I’d say.

cheri
cheri
1 month ago

They might not be for you, but I’m going to buy a pair. The PineBuds Pro noise attenuation tests show better ANC than the AirPods Pro, and both have better ANC than what the no-name $35 earbuds offer. The cheap earbuds also tend to be poorly tuned (usually with excessive bass) while the PineBuds Pro frequency response chart looks close to the Harman target.

John Carmack
John Carmack
1 month ago

At $70 is not worth it IMHO. I recently bought around 20 pairs of TWS earbuds from different brands within $50 and $400 price range, from generic chifi to high-end ones from brand audio names and guess what: You get what you pay for in TWS earbuds, I found the minimum you should spend is $100 for decent, entry level audio quality. Noticed PineBuds Pro do not even support LDAC and Aptx-HD Hi-Res codecs, only SBC and ACC. Also, only 5 hours of playtime before using charging station is too little. They should’ve made at least something like Edifier Neobuds… Read more »

cheri
cheri
1 month ago

I wouldn’t underestimate Pine64 based on price. The $25 Pinecil is as good of a soldering iron as the $55 TS100, and the $27 PineTime has a build quality that matches other smartwatches many times its price.

Marcin Dąbrowski
1 month ago

I am extremely disappointed that there are no hopes for just a bare development board, as this chip could be a perfect “poor’s man RT685” with Bluetooth Dual, no less.

JJJ
JJJ
1 month ago

FYI the firmware is “open source” in the same way that raspberry pi is “open source” (and that is being generous), ie there is some source code which links to a bunch of binary blobs where the most interesting stuff is. That’s probably why it isn’t hosted on github.

none
none
1 month ago

Just like other products first launched by Pine64, the Pinebuds Pro are geared towards developers at this time

You mean just like every Pine64 product ever. They don’t seem to want to ever ship anything that is finished. They discontinue it before that can happen.

cheri
cheri
1 month ago

That’s simply wrong. The Pinecil and PineTime work very nicely out of the box, and from what I can see, the PineBuds Pro will also be ready-to-use for listening and recording.

eah
eah
1 month ago

The serial ports accessible over usb is a nice addition for tinkerers. Would be interesting to see what kind of dsp craziness people can come up with.
Qualcomm chips have had their SDK leaked for ages but not much can be done with those TWS sets, since they can’t be flashed and are all closed hardware.

tmh
tmh
1 month ago

omg, i am holding back tears. severe panic events have kept me on disability since my early 20s. i got some cheap earbuds with shitty ambient sound mode very recently to act as a noise gate, the frequencies that trouble me are rarely even perceived. when i can wear them my panic events are 25% as numerous. i’m not really a dev, errr at all a dev, i am more like a networking/hacking/scripting guy, but i got extra time on my hands, more granular control is exactly what i need. the overflashing causing it to brick will be a potential… Read more »

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