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Trying Out the Apple Airpod

Apple Airpods

So it's been about 7 months since Apple Airpods have been available in limited quantities and the online store still shows a wait time of at least 6 weeks if you order them now. Luckily, while visiting a retail location a few weeks back with a cousin to pick up an iPod Shuffle, I figured I'd ask to see if they happened to have any available and lo and behold, they did! So I picked one up to see how well it works and if it'd be good enough to keep around.

Historically, I haven't been a fan of Apple's Earpods, both in fit and performance. Physically, the Airpods are the exact same as the Earpods, just without the wire. The opening to my ear canals are a bit larger than average I guess so the Earpods always felt very loose-fitting to me. Compounded by the fact that I'm so accustomed to using well-sealing in-ear headphones for years now, the fit of the Airpods still felt strange to me. That being said, it didn't feel like the Airpods would fall out easily either once I had them nestled in as firmly as possible.

Initial setup was, true to typical Apple fashion, supremely easy. You unlock your iPhone, flip open the Airpod case lid, and a few seconds later a notification graphic appears on the phone that displays how much charge is left both on the headphones themselves as well as the charging case. Take the Airpods out of their slots, stick 'em in your ears and they're ready to go. If you remove one side while you happen to be listening to music or watching a video, the music/video automatically stops until you put the bud back in your ear.

Control-wise, there's simply nothing there besides tap-twice to bring up Siri. Which isn't surprising since there's no buttons on these buds. And me not being a regular Siri user, it completely didn't occur to me that I could use Siri to replicate some of the more common controls: previous/next tracks, adjust volume, etc. until I was perusing the Airpod webpage. However, relying on Siri to do those relatively simple tasks takes way too much time compared to just pushing a button or two. While it did work well, it pretty much quadrupled (at minimum) the amount of time I'd have to wait to actually accomplish a task. If you don't use Siri at all, you can actually change what double-tapping does from your iPhone's Bluetooth settings. Other options include stop/play or turning off the Airpods.

Sound quality wise, color me impressed. The Earpods suck due to the complete lack of bass. So I was actually pretty surprised at how good the Airpods sound. While the bass didn't seem to go as low or have the fullness that I'm used to with my 1More Triple Driver in-ears, they have enough impact and presence to be perfectly acceptable for most non-basshead users. However... the Airpods can't isolate worth a damn. Which I guess may be good if you're a regular commuter in a big city and want to be able to hear everything going on around you so you don't accidentally get run over by an overzealous cyclist or motorist. But I'm much more used to well-sealed in-ear headphones so having to crank the volume up on my phone to almost max to be able to hear my music while walking around NYC was a bit of a pain.

Strangely enough, despite all the touting by Apple about the lengths they went to to make sure that the audio connection would never break, I actually got more audio hiccups while walking around Manhattan with these than with any of the prior true wireless headphones that I reviewed. Not that these hiccups bother me in any way cause they're like not even a second long.

Apple Airpods and Charging Case

The charging case is pretty slick and tiny compared to all the competition. The earbuds slide long-side first into their slots with a satisfying click and charging is pretty quick. I'll have to dock a point for how damn slippery the earbuds are though. I guess I have more oily fingers than most cause trying to pry the earbuds out of the case can be an endeavor at times.

So anyway, after all is said and done I still decided to return the Airpods. Mainly because of the lack of sound isolation and loose fit. But at least now I can understand why user ratings for these things are as high as they are. Cause despite how much the Earpods get panned by critics, I still see tons of people walking around with them. So obviously the average person isn't that anal about audio quality or picky about headphones in general. And compared to the Earpods, the sound quality on these are noticeably better. I think it's priced a bit too high though but it's an Apple product so that's to be expected. But if you can afford it, and don't mind the aesthetics, then the Airpods are a pretty good pickup.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 15, 2017 1:49 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Testing Out True Wireless Earbuds Addendum.

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