Reviews Wearables

Apple Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset

Apple MMEF2AM/A Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset for iPhones with iOS 10

I’ve seen a lot of bad professional reviews on the internet for these earbuds. I would say about half of them mock the concept of AirPods – “they look like Q-tips in your ear! You’d lose them all the time!” I would say 80% say that the sound quality is sub-par or “identical to EarPods” or “only slightly better than EarPods, not worth 5 times the price!” Just for fun I decided to try them for myself while I walked past an Apple Store, an employee kindly set me up in a quiet corner of the store so I could listen to them.

I don’t know what the angry reviewers were smoking. None of their grievances are necessarily true, and that’s coming from someone generally skeptical of Bluetooth headphones. If anything I did not expect these to be an upgrade in sound quality from my Bose MIE2i buds, but they were. Buy here

Quality Check

Firstly, the sound quality is  miles above and beyond the EarPods. Given that they fit in your ear, and are not just “slightly better”. You have to be deaf to not appreciate the difference. The upgrade over the EarPods in sound quality is like night and day. I’m really confused about why so many reviewers are disappointed by the sound (my suspicion is that they didn’t fit them snugly enough?).

Everyone who’s tried mine has noted the same thing – they genuinely sound good. On top of that – given how difficult it has been to even get a pair of these, I don’t understand why internet minions who clearly have never even tried a pair are already giving them bad marks. It’s almost a disadvantage to Apple that they made them look like EarPods. Because, while they look like EarPods, they sound nothing like EarPods.

I find them much more pleasant to listen to than even my Bose MIE2i buds, which I’ve cherished for years. I did all my listening just using Apple Music’s 256kbps AAC files. For those audiophiles out there, I would say that the sound profile is “scooped”. The mid-range is under-represented, but otherwise they sound really surprisingly nice.

The low ends are punchier and tight, the highs are crisp, and the sound produced is nice and wide and easy to get lost in. In comparison, the old wired EarPods had a subdued low-end and airier highs. No, I don’t get the level of detail in the highs I do from my $400 over-the-ears, but for casual-to-intermediate listening these are more than sufficient. In jazz the hi-hats and cymbals are finely detailed and ring as they should, and you can appreciate the subtle “twang” of a double bass, which I’d say the EarPods certainly did not deliver.

Ears hear

In classical music, the sound is detailed enough to detect the wispy scratching of a bow gliding gently over the strings of a violin. You can easily tell all the instruments apart in an orchestral piece. Pop music does well with a satisfying, thumping bass that doesn’t distort much at high volumes and clear vocals. On top of all that – these get noticeably louder than the EarPods – definitely ear damaging loud if you so desire.

Obviously all of this holds true only if they actually fit snugly in your ear – if they don’t, they’ll sound worse and they’ll fall out. I was glad I tried them out in-store before deciding on them. Buy here

Competition Compared

I’ve heard a lot of people say “they look like Q-tips in your ear! They look so silly!” Perhaps I’m missing something but if they look just like EarPods and those had a long windy cable, why were the EarPods not “silly”? I also don’t understand why “but you’ll lose them!” is a reason to make fun of the product. Isn’t the future necessarily predictive of a world in which we are fully wireless?

Do people not buy smartphones because they’re afraid they’ll lose them? Sure, at one point. We get used to our wireless products and we adapt to not losing them. Furthermore, many of the the comparisons people make to the AirPods don’t even make sense – like the Bose Bluetooth earbuds (which I actually think sound notably worse), which also aren’t even fully wireless earbuds.

There are so few, true AirPod alternatives on the market in there are truly no wires at all between earbuds; admittedly I have not tried them, but I haven’t heard the best marks about those either. I considered of course the Earins (connectivity issues apparently?) and the Samsung Gear IconX (shorter battery life), but even those aren’t the same category of buds because of their in-ear-canal design, whereas the AirPods resemble more classic earbuds. I personally detest the in-ear-canal feeling of squishing into my ears (I perceive the sound produced to be much narrower and literally inside my head), but I realize this is purely personal preference.

Battery life

The AirPods have great battery life, and the charging is so fast I just stop listening to them to use the restroom, make a cup of coffee, come back, and they’re ready to go again for hours. I have yet to exhaust their full 4-5 hour run in one sitting. The pairing was ridiculously easy and fun to do, and the transitioning between iCloud-linked devices is seamlessly albeit still lagging (fingers crossed for an update). Buy here

Try the AirPods before hating on them. It’s an easy time to hate on Apple – the removal of headphone jacks from the iPhone, the death of MagSafe chargers, a world full of dongles, etc. Just know that if you join the hate bandwagon you’ll be missing out on some genuinely good audio and handy wireless technology. These are not just EarPods with the cables cut.

You can read the original reviews here