Apple headphone reviews: Apple AirPods Max Wireless Review

The Best Apple Headphones of 2023: Reviews

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Review Updates
  4. Best Headphones
  5. Best Earbuds
  6. Best Affordable
  7. Comparison
  8. Lineup
  9. Page Updates
  10. Conclusion
  11. Discussions

Updated May 30, 2023 at 10:28 am

By Kieran Dunn

While Apple is best known for laptops, smartphones, and tablets, they also make sleek headphones with a minimalist design. Their headphones are geared toward people who already use Apple products and fit into the ecosystem seamlessly. Their lineup isn’t very extensive, and they have limited functionality on Android, but they effectively deliver the simple yet premium user experience that Apple is known for.

Updates

  • 02/03/2023

    Apple AirPods Max Wireless updated

  • 11/23/2022

    Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless reviewed

  • 12/22/2021

    Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless updated

  • 11/22/2021

    Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless reviewed

  • 11/04/2021

    Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless updated

Best Apple Headphones

  1. Best Apple Headphones

    Apple AirPods Max Wireless

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    Finding Store

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    Neutral Sound

    7. 6

    Commute/Travel

    7.7

    Sports/Fitness

    7.0

    Office

    7.2

    Wireless Gaming

    5.6

    Wired Gaming

    7.2

    Phone Calls

    6.3

    Type

    Over-ear

    Enclosure

    Closed-Back

    Wireless

    Yes

    Transducer

    Dynamic

    Noise Cancelling

    Yes

    Mic

    Yes

    See all our test results

    The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are the best Apple headphones we’ve tested. These sleek and premium over-ears have an outstanding active noise cancelling (ANC) feature, which can reduce bass-range noise like bus or plane engines, ambient chatter, and higher-pitched sounds like the hum of an AC unit. They also have a sleek aluminum design that feels well-built. Their neutral sound profile offers a touch of extra thump and rumble that fans of EDM and hip-hop will especially enjoy. They also have a continuous battery life of over 21 hours, and Apple advertises that a five-minute quick charge can give you up to 1.5 hours of additional playtime, though we don’t currently test this feature.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to turn them off, and when you put them in their carrying case, they enter a low-power mode. The carrying case is mediocre, as it’s only a sleeve that covers the two ear cups. It’s by design, meaning you can use the headband as a carrying handle. While they use premium materials like aluminum and silicone, the mesh screen surrounding the headband seems fragile and prone to damage, especially if you use the headband as a handle. They’re a suitable choice if you’re looking for sleek Apple headphones that deliver a powerful noise cancellation performance.

    See our review

  2. Best Apple Earbuds

    Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

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    Finding Store

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    Finding Store

    Neutral Sound

    7. 4

    Commute/Travel

    8.2

    Sports/Fitness

    8.3

    Office

    7.3

    Wireless Gaming

    5.7

    Wired Gaming

    5.6

    Phone Calls

    6.4

    Type

    In-ear

    Enclosure

    Closed-Back

    Wireless

    Truly Wireless

    Transducer

    Dynamic

    Noise Cancelling

    Yes

    Mic

    Yes

    See all our test results

    The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are the best Apple earbuds we’ve tested. These earbuds are the updated version of the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless and offer similar overall performance with some improvements. Their ANC offers better overall performance, so they do an excellent job of reducing noise during your commute or at the office. By default, they have a warm sound profile suitable for various genres and types of content. The manufacturer advertises their ‘adaptive EQ’ to adjust their sound profile based on the buds’ fit and your ear shape. They also have a ‘Spatial Audio’ virtual surround sound feature to create a more immersive listening experience. They lack customization features like an EQ.

    They have a comfortable and stable fit for long listening sessions. They don’t leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume without annoying those around you. The earbuds’ onboard controls now provide clicky feedback and include a volume function, which the original model lacks. Their roughly 5.9 hours of continuous battery life is a small improvement over the previous generation’s, although the case now holds four charges instead of five. On the plus side, the case has a U1 chip that allows you to find it using the ‘Find My’ app if you misplace it.

    See our review

  3. Best Affordable Apple Headphones

    Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

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    Finding Store

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    Finding Store

    Neutral Sound

    6.6

    Commute/Travel

    6.0

    Sports/Fitness

    7.8

    Office

    6.0

    Wireless Gaming

    5.4

    Wired Gaming

    5. 3

    Phone Calls

    5.9

    Type

    Earbuds

    Enclosure

    Open-Back

    Wireless

    Truly Wireless

    Transducer

    Dynamic

    Noise Cancelling

    No

    Mic

    Yes

    See all our test results

    If you’re looking for the best of Apple’s more affordable offerings, look at the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. While they aren’t cheap, products in the AirPods line-up are more budget-friendly than the AirPods Pro models. They have an open-back design and lack ANC, so they aren’t well-suited for use in noisy places. The 2nd generation AirPods are also missing some features compared to the newer 3rd generation, like button-type controls, adaptive EQ, and support for Apple Music’s ‘Spacial Audio’ Feature, but they have a smaller in-ear profile and more comfortable fit for most users, which give them a leg up over their successor. While their sound lacks bass, they have a very accurate mid-range response well-suited for content like podcasts or classical music.

    They have an h2 chip for easier pairing with other Apple products and low latency with iOS devices, so you won’t notice audio lag while watching a video on your iPhone. They block out virtually no ambient sound, but that can be a plus if you like to stay aware of your surroundings when walking around. Unfortunately, at around four hours, they have the shortest battery life of all the products listed here. That said, they come with a small case that holds five extra charges. If you want to avoid running out of power or want a less expensive option, the Apple EarPods are basic, cheap, wired earbuds. Like the AirPods, they don’t block out ambient sound and don’t reproduce much bass, so they work best for content like audiobooks.

    See our review

Compared to other brands

  • Seamless integration with Apple devices.
    Apple’s wireless headphones all feature their W1/h2 chip, allowing them to pair seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can also purchase their wired earbuds with a Lightning cable instead of a regular audio cable for compatibility with newer iPhones that don’t have an audio jack.
  • Compact yet comfortable earbud and in-ear options.
    All their models are ultra-compact and super portable. The Airpods and AirPods Pro have a lightweight earbud design that makes them barely noticeable once in your ears. The over-ear Airpods Pro Max are also quite comfortable on the head.
  • Open-back and closed-back models available.
    Apple is one of the few brands with open and closed-back earphone options. While the open-back EarPods and AirPods aren’t great if you’re looking to block out noise while traveling or listening to bass-heavy music, many people prefer the extra awareness they help provide.
  • Few customization options.
    Apple prides itself on delivering a simple, intuitive user experience, but this comes at the expense of customizability. Many high-end headphones have many customizable features, like EQ options, room effects, or even different Bluetooth codecs. However, Apple’s wireless headphones only provide basic features if you pair them with your phone, like ANC on/off and button mapping.
  • Mediocre controls.
    Since Apple’s headphones are designed with their other products in mind, their controls generally aren’t fully compatible with products from other brands. Some important functions, like volume control, are missing from some of their truly wireless models—you’re expected to use Siri instead, which isn’t always very convenient.

Apple vs Bose

Bose and Apple are strong competitors in the world of premium in-ears and often trade first and second place on most “best of” lists. While Apple’s headphones offer seamless integration with the rest of the brand’s product ecosystem, Bose provides more variety in its lineup, with better customizability and a top-of-the-line active noise cancellation (ANC) system that’s made them a go-to for peace and quiet. However, they lack other Apple-exclusive features, like Spacial Audio and Adaptive EQ. For more info, check out our article on the best Bose headphones.

Apple vs Sennheiser

Sennheiser and Apple both produce premium earbuds for everyday use. However, Sennheiser has a greater variety of products. You can find everything from affordable gym earbuds to audiophile-standard over-ears, all of which have great sound quality and come with a wide set of features. However, their earbuds’ design and controls aren’t as intuitive as Apple’s. You can see more info on this brand in our article on the best Sennheiser headphones.

Apple vs Google

Google and Apple both manufacture earbuds intending to pair seamlessly with other products in each brand’s respective ecosystem. As a result, Google’s buds are a little less pricey than Apple’s and feel slightly less premium in their build. However, they’re more customizable and come with a graphic EQ and presets via the companion app. Ultimately, your preference depends on which ecosystem you’re already subscribed to.

Apple vs Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins and Apple are two very different companies. Bowers & Wilkins is a dedicated audio manufacturer. They produce high-end speakers and headphones for audiophiles and home cinemas. Apple produces a wide range of consumer electronics that create a tech ecosystem. While both produce high-end headphones, Apple’s tend to have better battery life and more robust controls. Neither of these companies offer sound customization settings for their audio products.

Apple makes compact, portable earbuds and in-ear headphones suitable for casual, daily use. They’re comfortable and easy to use with other Apple products. With the addition of the over-ear Apple AirPods Max Wireless, they’ve also set themselves apart from their competitors by using premium build materials. Unfortunately, the company’s commitment to simplicity results in mediocre controls and a lack of customization options. Their lineup is small, and most of their products look more or less the same. They have open and closed-back models, which is rare for a brand with such a small lineup.

Lineup

Apple’s headphones lineup is relatively small. They offer one pair of over-ear headphones and one pair of wired buds. The rest of their limited selection are premium wireless in-ears sold under the AirPods name, which have a few notable subcategories:

  • AirPods – Apple’s lowest-cost earbuds. Open-back, rigid plastic build that fits in your inner ear. No extra features.
  • AirPods Pro – Closed-back premium in-ear lineup. Plastic frame with a silicone tip that fits in your ear canal. They feature ANC, Adaptive EQ, and support Spatial Audio via Apple Music.
  • AirPods Max – Premium over-ear headphones. Minimalist plastic and metal build with customizable ear cup shells. They feature ANC, Adaptive EQ, and support Spatial Audio via Apple Music.

Recent Updates

  1. May 30, 2023:
    We validated the picks and text for accuracy and clarity.

  2. Mar 01, 2023:
    Added comparisons to other high-end in-ear headphone manufacturers and included an in-depth explanation of Apple’s AirPods lineup.

  3. Nov 28, 2022:
    Replaced the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless with the newly-reviewed Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless.

  4. Apr 05, 2022:
    Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

  5. Jan 05, 2022:
    Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

Conclusion

Apple are known for their commitment to simplicity⁠—things should “just work” without complex features or unnecessary user intervention. They don’t have many models in their lineup yet, but the headphones they’ve released fit the company’s vision and perform well overall. Their headphones have sleek, minimalist designs and tend to sound pretty decent. They can also be pricey, especially the more feature-packed models, but their wired earphones are cheap.

Test results

Apple Headphone Reviews | PCMag

Latest Apple Headphone Reviews

4.5

Editors’ Choice

The second-generation AirPods Pro deliver exceptional ANC and audio performance, making them the best noise-cancelling true wireless earphones for Apple device users.

$199.00

at Amazon

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9/22/2022
By
Tim Gideon

The true wireless Beats Fit Pro earphones deliver deep bass and crisp highs with above-average noise cancellation in a modestly water-resistant design with a super-secure fit.

$199.99

at Apple.com

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11/01/2021

By
Tim Gideon

The second-generation Apple AirPods come with a wireless charging case, but do little to justify their higher price or improve upon the shortcomings of the original model.

$99.00

at Amazon

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10/25/2021
By
Tim Gideon

Apple’s third-generation AirPods provide notably better bass depth and are more rugged than their predecessor. Despite some improvements to how they fit and some neat sensor tricks, we still aren’t wild about their open earbud design.

Starts at $169

at Apple.com

(Opens in a new window)

10/25/2021
By
Tim Gideon

Apple’s AirPods Max headphones deliver excellent audio performance, top-notch noise cancellation, and a bevy of useful features in an absolutely gorgeous design for a bit too much money.

$477.00

at Amazon

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12/16/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The 2020 Beats Powerbeats earphones deliver a bass-forward, exercise-friendly audio experience with tech that makes them especially convenient for Apple users.

3/16/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones deliver a solid audio experience and decent noise cancellation, but are priced a bit too high.

$319.99

at B&H Photo Video

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3/04/2020
By
Tim Gideon

4.0

Editors’ Choice

Jabra’s Elite Active 75t earphones improve upon the original pair with a more secure fit and a waterproof design for a real true wireless winner.

$189.98

at Amazon

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3/04/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Ausounds AU-Flex ANC earphones deliver solid noise cancellation and a powerful, sculpted audio experience in a neckband design.

$49.90

at Amazon

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3/02/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Edifier TWS NB true wireless earphones deliver decent noise cancellation and booming bass for a relatively low price, but the sound signature is sculpted to extremes.

$49.99

at Amazon

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2/06/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The 1More True Wireless ANC In-Ear Headphones use dual hybrid drivers in each ear, but the audio results and noise cancellation are less impressive than the price demands.

$199.99

at 1MORE

(Opens in a new window)

1/28/2020
By
Tim Gideon

Monster’s Clarity 101 AirLinks earphones deliver solid bass depth balanced with crisp highs in a true wireless form factor, but are held back by poor controls.

$79.98

at Amazon

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1/27/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 In-Ear Wireless Headphones feature dual drivers in each earpiece for terrific audio performance.

$148.97

at Amazon

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1/24/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones balance strong wireless noise cancellation with excellent audio performance for a very high price.

$399.99

at Abt Electronics

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1/24/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones offer highly effective, relatively affordable on-ear noise cancellation and quality audio performance.

$299.00

at Amazon

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1/24/2020
By
Tim Gideon

There’s plenty to like about Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 Wireless headphones, but they join a field crowded with good noise-cancelling options.

$348.44

at Amazon

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1/23/2020
By
Tim Gideon

The pricey AKG N700NC M2 Wireless headphones offer solid noise cancellation, but their audio performance is the real selling point.

$455.54

at Amazon

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12/09/2019
By
Tim Gideon

There are sexier options out there, but the AU Stream ANC true wireless earphones offer solid audio performance and noise cancellation for the price.

$27.49

at Amazon

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12/05/2019
By
Tim Gideon

The Master & Dynamic MW07 Go true wireless earphones offer a solid listening experience, but are a bit light on extra features for their relatively high price.

$158.99

at Amazon

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12/03/2019
By
Tim Gideon

Apple Airpods 3 review from an Android user’s perspective

Five years after the first, Apple has released the third generation of fully wireless Airpods. The audio gadget received an updated filling and design, the case and sound were finalized. Of course, it was not without flaws, and the headphones did not become revolutionary, as it was with the first model. And at the same time, we have a clear bestseller for the next few years. We tell whether the novelty is suitable for Android users, if they suddenly decide to buy it, whether it is worth its price tag or loses to already released competitors.

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Contents

  • 1 Package and design
  • 2 Apple Airpods 3 sound
  • 3 Features
  • 4 Usability
  • 90 013 5 Autonomy

Equipment and design

Airpods 3 box is square, compact and flat. Inside are the headphones themselves, a case, instructions and a proprietary Lightning cable. True, this time on the other side is not USB A, but USB Type-C.

Airpods 3 are still in-ears, but are more similar in design to Airpods Pro. The leg was shortened by 10 mm, and the head was made noticeably larger. Apple assures that the shape of the model has become anatomically correct, and during development, the creators examined many different ears to make a universal and comfortable headphone shape. In reality, everything turned out to be not so rosy, but more about this in the section below.

Each earbud weighs 4.28 grams. The case is glossy white plastic with neat black inserts. The case is made of the same material, but unlike the second generation, it is now oblong. True, it is almost the same in size, so it can easily fit into the right pocket on jeans and does not restrict movement.

There is a reset and new pairing button on the back of the case.

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Apple Airpods 3 sound

Like previous generations, Apple Airpods 3 models are equipped with universal sound for everything: music and podcasts, YouTube videos or movies. But there is a difference with the second generation – the bass has become much larger, while they are soft enough and do not clog other frequencies.

Airpods 3 are the right headphones for those who like to customize their sound. Their basic sound is suitable for different styles, so you can wind up anything. If you don’t know how, or don’t consider it necessary to adjust something in headphones for $ 200, then be content with slightly enhanced bass and a slight lack of mids and highs.

Otherwise, the sound of the model is clear and detailed, but the maximum volume was not enough for me. And in comparison with other popular wireless headsets, the third Airpods, if they do not lose in sound, are more expensive.

For example, Oppo Enco Free 2 is very reminiscent of Airpods 3. The model has a similar design, short legs, has a white color, a proprietary convenient Android app, soft bass, versatile sound and the price is half the price. And if you add 2000 hryvnia, you can buy Sony WF-1000XM4. And here the sound and customization options are many times better.

Airpods 3 microphones work smoothly and clearly. The voice is transmitted clearly and loudly, and when there is a lot of noise around the user, the voice is distorted and robotized due to powerful noise reduction, but the speech still sounds clear and understandable.

Features

Airpods 3 is IPX4 waterproof. At the same time, not only the headphones are protected, but also the case. The novelty is not afraid of rain, sweat and splashes, but it is better not to lower the water. It is also not recommended to swim or swim with them.

Airpods 3 is equipped with new drivers designed specifically for the new model. The chip was left the same – Apple h2. The case also supports proprietary MagSafe wireless charging. This means that the headphones can be charged in any available wireless way: reverse in a smartphone, on a docking station or in a power bank.

Standard operating range is approximately 10 meters. The connection takes place via the built-in Bluetooth 5.0 module, so no gaps were noticed even through two load-bearing walls. But if you move further, then the sound first “stutters” but continues to work, and later breaks off.

Apple Airpods 3 did not have the touch controls that are familiar to many TWS headphones. You can switch tracks, turn on music and pause by holding any of the legs with two fingers until it clicks. The same system is implemented in Airpods Pro.

Press once to play or pause music and answer calls. Two start the next track, and three start the previous one. A long press on iOS users activates Siri on their headphones, but nothing happens on Android. True, through various crutch applications, for example, AndroPods, you can set up a Google Assistant call.

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The headphones also get the surround sound technology from Airpods Pro and Airpods Max, but it only works with Apple devices. She is praised, talking about unusual sensations and more emphasis on watching movies and commercials than on the perception of music. In any case, Android users will not be able to try it out.

Ease of use

Airpods 3 still don’t fit all ears. And the point here is not in the model itself, but in the form factor of the inserts. Compared to the previous generation, the third one sits noticeably better in my ears, but in my case it still falls out if I actively move or turn my head sharply. Therefore, it is advisable to try before buying from friends or in a store. For many people, the novelty of the village is excellent and they say that it cannot be better. They even run around with them and can’t throw them off.

TWS earphones didn’t get the active noise canceling function, and there is no natural plug due to the shape. Therefore, the environment will always be with you, even with loud music. On the one hand, this is convenient, because you can brag about the headphones and you don’t have to take them off if you have to constantly talk to someone. On the other hand, the environment listens to the same thing as you, but 100% immersion in yourself, work or the included track will not work. If you are not at home in complete silence.

Two-finger tap control is a bit strange at first, but then it turns out to be better than touch. To click and not move the earpiece in the ear will have to get used to, but it happens quickly. But there will be no accidental clicks if you just want to fix the earpiece.

Glossy plastic is still easily scratched, although in white the traces of use are not so noticeable. In any case, you need a case or you will have to continue collecting scratches. The case itself is compact and handy. It does not slip in the hand despite the gloss, it is stored almost anywhere, it is easy to open and close. Headphones are easy to get out of it, as well as to hide.

To use Airpods 3 on Android, you will have to do without a proprietary application, surround sound, Siri call, lightning connection and an image that appears on the screen with charging each of the earbuds and case. The last few points can be done through the third-party apps mentioned above. But it works so-so and will not add an unusual spatial sound.

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Battery life

Apple claims six hours of battery life for Airpods 3 listening to music, four hours of talking, and 30 hours and 20 hours with charging case respectively. There is a quick charge – five minutes in the case gives an hour of work.
In fact, it turns out about the same. I listened to music in the background at about half the volume and the charge lasted for seven hours. That is, they had a full-time work day. At the same time, however, he almost did not communicate on the phone.

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4

ITC.UA score

Pros:
improved sound with bass; good microphone, good autonomy; protection of headphones and case from moisture; fast and wireless charging; convenient management; Surround Sound (iOS only)

Cons:
price; complete lack of noise reduction; boarding is not for everyone; glossy case that scratches easily, restrictions for Android users (no Siri call, no surround sound technology, no official app).

Conclusion:

Airpods 3 is a stylish and worthy continuation of Apple’s mega-popular series with versatile sound and soft bass. At the same time, the headphones are expensive and tailored to the owners of the company’s equipment, so some of the important functions are simply not available to Android users, while others will have to be configured through third-party applications.
The model has improved fit in the ears, but it still does not suit everyone. The control has also been updated – now it is like that of Airpods Pro and occurs through a two-finger click on the leg. The headphones and case are officially protected from moisture, and the operating time has been increased to an average of six hours.

Apple Airpods 3 provided for testing by iLounge.

Review of Apple AirPods wireless headphones

The first Apple wireless headphones raise a lot of questions: are they worth the money or not, are they comfortable in everyday use, what is there with proprietary technomagic, why does the case look like a box of dental floss, how about doing sports in AirPods … The list goes on, it’s long, so let’s not waste time and start answering .

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Contents

  • 1 Almost like EarPods, but without wires and with charging case
  • 2 Apple technology
  • 3 Working with alternative sound sources
  • 4 Sound quality
  • 5 User experience , autonomy and other little things
  • 6 For whom AirPods

Almost like EarPods, only without a wire and with a charging case

Someone would call the AirPods set austere, given the solid cost of headphones. But everything you need is there and more. In addition to the headphones themselves, in a branded box made of high-quality and very hard cardboard, there is a miniature case, which is also a charger and a portable battery. For recharging, a Lightning cable is used – it is hidden in the box under a plastic retainer.

The earbuds are really very similar to the standard EarPods that come with Apple smartphones since the iPhone 5 (2012). The “legs” are slightly thicker and longer, and in their lower part, instead of a wire, a pair of metal meshes are installed that hide the microphones. Otherwise, they are twin brothers, but this only applies to design. Inside are completely different devices.

It didn’t make much sense to reinvent the wheel after years of searching for a universal housing for in-ear headphones. The original EarPods are ideal for the vast majority of users – they do not rub the ears, do not fall out, and in no way interfere with listening to music and other audio content for hours. This is the personal experience of the author. In the case of AirPods, the situation is even better, since there is no wire, which adds weight and sometimes causes the headphones to fall out of the ears if accidentally pulled.

The only downside is that if wired EarPods don’t sit well in your ears, then the wireless model will definitely not work. An interesting alternative is the BeatsX , which is based on the same technology as the AirPods, but that’s another story.

The body of the headphones and the charging case is made of glossy plastic – it does not collect fingerprints, but it is rather slippery. It is not always possible to get the earpiece out of the box the first time, and the memory itself from time to time strives to slip out of your fingers. But the accessories are very light – each earphone weighs only 4 g, boxing – 38 g.

In addition to the microphones in the “legs”, AirPods stand out from the background of wired counterparts also with an infrared sensor (a round black dot on the front). Thanks to him, one interesting feature has been implemented, which we will talk about a little later.

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As for the cover, it’s a real narcotic thing – it really drags out the process of opening and closing it with a noticeable springy effect and click. Just like with a Zippo lighter – you take it in your hands and start clicking on the machine.

Robust construction with a massive metal hinge and magnetic lid. There are also magnets in the headphone seats, plus contacts for charging. AirPods inside are fixed securely – they literally slip out of your fingers and snap into place with a noticeable click. At the bottom of the accessory is a Lightning port for charging.

Status LED informs about the charge level of the case itself, the process of charging it and headphones, as well as the activation of the Bluetooth pairing mode.

Apple’s tech magic

On the one hand, Apple seems to have come up with nothing new, adopting the idea of ​​such devices as The Dash, Bragi, Skybuds, Jabra Sport Elite and Samsung Gear IconX. On the other hand, it is not so much the idea that is important as its implementation, and here the American company showed itself in all its glory. True, “beauty” is limited only to branded devices, but this is the traditional policy of Apple.

Magic, which is responsible for the proprietary processor Apple W1 , starts from the very moment you open the cover of the case – in just a second, the iPhone prompts you to connect headphones. No need to hold down any buttons, and then break into the Bluetooth menu, just click on the “Connect” button on the smartphone screen and that’s it – the headphones automatically pair not only with this device, but also with all others where this iCloud account is activated.

In my case, in addition to the iPhone, they appeared on the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. You can switch between devices literally on the fly – one click and the headphones immediately begin to play content from another source. In the future, AirPods automatically connect to the gadget that is closest to them.

And this is not all the features of the accessory. For example, if you remove one earpiece from your ear, playback will automatically stop. You return it to its place – the music plays again. The infrared sensor mentioned above is responsible for this chip.

You can use any earphone as a mono headset. Each of them has a directional microphone. The microphones themselves are another story. They work in tandem with an additional so-called acoustic accelerometer that recognizes voice vibrations. Such a bundle provides excellent voice quality even in noisy environments. The interlocutors were surprised by her and did not believe that I was talking through a miniature headset.

The second accelerometer in each earphone is needed for touch detection. Double tap activates Siri, which controls playback, volume, dialing and other operations. It recognizes speech well, responds to commands quickly, but do not forget about the need for Internet access for the voice assistant to work.

The same gesture can be used to answer and end a call. It’s not the first time you get used to the double tap, it takes a couple of days.

Alternatively, you can set the gesture to start/pause playback. Unfortunately, there are no other commands. Perhaps there will be in the future. To access the settings mode, just click on the “i” icon next to the headphones in the Bluetooth menu. It also controls microphones and changes the name of the accessory.

Working with alternative sound sources

There are no problems with this. To connect AirPods, for example, to an Android smartphone, just hold down the inconspicuous white button on the front of the case for a couple of seconds, which will put the accessory into Bluetooth pairing mode. After that, find it in the smartphone’s Bluetooth menu, one click and you’re done (connecting to Mac and Apple TV is done in the same way). It is important that the gadget supports Bluetooth 4.0.

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I checked it in conjunction with Xiaomi Mi Max – I connected it the first time, the headphones work fine, excluding Siri support. In this case, double tap is responsible for the start/pause of playback. I don’t know if there are any technical features in transferring sound from iPhone to AirPods or from Mi Max, but in the latter case, the sound in the headphones was simpler – flatter, less bassy. Perhaps, when interacting with iOS, the built-in Apple W1 processor is used, which adds color to the sound of the accessory.

Since we’re talking about sound, it’s worth discussing it in more detail, because sometimes AirPods surprise, sometimes upset.

Sound quality

It is believed that the sound of the novelty is exactly the same as wired EarPods. Maybe a similar design matters, but, I repeat, the filling of the devices is different. The acoustic part of the AirPods is clearly improved and it is well audible.

In general, sound quality is a strictly individual characteristic, and there can be no objective opinion or description here. In the end, everyone has their own ears, and the range of perceived frequencies also depends on the age of the person (the older, the worse the audibility of high frequencies). Nevertheless, some general characteristic can be deduced by comparing several headphone models on the same compositions.

If AirPods are not directly compared with other models, but just put them on and start listening, then in 90% of cases a person will be satisfied. Including sophisticated users who own quite expensive headphone models. This confirms both a small blind test on a dozen subjects, and the personal experience of the author.

In general, the sound can be called smooth. There is a noticeable bass, but it does not overlap the mids and highs and does not make the brain dance to the beat of the drums. The sound detail is impressive. So, in comparison with the pleasant in terms of acoustic capabilities of the PowerBeats 2 Wireless, in many compositions it was possible to find completely new notes. Enjoyed listening to all my favorite tracks. If we compare directly, then Apple wireless headphones are weaker, but the sound is generally cleaner and more detailed than in the mentioned model.

AirPods are good at electronics, pop music, heavy music like Dimmu Borgir and even the Behemoth band, which is very difficult for high-quality reproduction (in inexpensive models, compositions merge into a roar and porridge). Mixed genres sound generally great. The same The Algorithm just blew my mind:

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Continuing the comparison, it is worth mentioning the Philips Fidelio S2, which win in bass, are comparable in sound detail, but have too sharp high frequencies. AirPods and in this case turned out to be more balanced.

The volume level of is sufficient and even with a small margin. As for the sound stage, it is definitely wider than the mentioned models and any other in-ear headphones. The AirPods have an open design that allows sound to form around the head instead of inside it, which is a nice touch. But there is also a minus. Soundproofing is practically non-existent. That is, the headphones are definitely not for the subway.

Operating experience, autonomy and other little things

Picked up headphones from the post office just before training. I could not wait for its completion and began testing in the process of working with weights.

The first thing that impressed me was the quick and intuitive connection of AirPods to iPhone 6s Plus. I opened the case, pressed one button on the smartphone screen, started listening to music – just a few seconds. Magic!

Headphones are not designed to be soundproof, but when they play music, it covers not only the noise in the gym, but also the roar of the local music center. The advantage here is that, in principle, you can leave the headphones on and calmly communicate with people, hear them, answer questions. Minus – listening to podcasts in a noisy environment is problematic. The same applies to the subway and other noisy places. Although on the street next to the roadway, there were no difficulties with listening to podcasts.

If you don’t have problems with wired EarPods in a noisy atmosphere, then you won’t have any problems with AirPods either – soundproofing is at the same level, that is, almost absent. Please note that it is in a quiet environment that the headphones fully reveal themselves in terms of sound quality.

However, in the gym, where a powerful music center constantly plays and barbells rumble, the new product easily replaced the usual PowerBeats 2 Wireless for me, not to mention the alternative Plantronics BackBeat FIT. In terms of soundproofing, the latter are close to AirPods. By the way, they are similar in sound too.

It is impossible to use Siri in a noisy environment – the assistant does not understand you, extraneous sounds interfere. The problem is solved by the Apple Watch, with which it is easy and convenient to control the player, but if they are not there, then it is worth setting up a double tap to start / stop playback. As an option, remove one earpiece from the ear, which also pauses playback, but this is not always convenient. Plus, there is a high probability of losing the earpiece. And if you take it out of your ear and put it in your pocket, then AirPods will switch to mono headset mode and playback will start again.

To put it simply, the player control accessory is still missing, and Siri does not always solve this problem. It is not available with branded smart watches, but not all iPhone owners use them. Perhaps in the future, Apple will expand the possibilities of interaction with the headset using touches by updating its software. For example, single tap – start / pause playback, double – switch to the next track, triple – return to the beginning of the song or to the previous track.

I really liked the absence of the need to turn the accessory on and off with a separate button, as in other headsets. I opened the case, put the headphones in my ears – they automatically connected to the smartphone. I hid them back in the box – they turned off. You get used to it, and it’s sad to return to the old scheme of using traditional headphones.

There are no complaints about the secure fit of the devices in the ears. In a week, they visited the gym with me five times and did not fall out during an intensive warm-up (including when you actively rotate your head and whole body), or while running on a treadmill, or when working with weights. The moment is individual and depends on how well the AirPods sit in the ears. For me, they fit perfectly.

The accessory is practically not felt in the ears, and the absence of wires even between the headphones is a big plus for any physical activity. In the same PowerBeats 2 Wireless, you often have to correct the wire sticking to your sweaty body and pulling the headphones. Before AirPods, Plantronics BackBeat FIT was the most convenient in this regard.

The novelty officially has protection against high humidity and sweat, which is further confirmed by wild headphone tests that appeared in large numbers on YouTube. They were washed, and drowned, and dropped, and at least henna for the accessory.

There are no revelations in terms of Bluetooth range. The standard 7-10 meters, although the headphones keep the signal perfectly, make their way through two thick brick walls and where the PowerBeats 2 Wireless started to play pranks, the AirPods worked flawlessly.

As for autonomy , the headphones really work out the declared five hours without recharging. By modern standards, not so hot what an achievement, but there is a nuance. In just 15 minutes, AirPods are charged in a case for 3 hours of use. Finding those 15 minutes is not a problem at all. In general, the charge of the kit is enough for a day of continuous listening. For a week of active use of the headphones, there has never been a situation when they were completely discharged. Excluding the case when I checked how much one charge really lasts.

Even on a plane or train, you won’t be able to watch videos or listen to music for five hours without interruption. All the same, you will pause and return the headphones to the case, where they will quickly charge. But you can’t do this with the alternative models mentioned in the review – you need an external battery and a microUSB cable. Although PowerBeats 2 Wireless and Plantronics BackBeat FIT outperform AirPods by about 50% in terms of autonomy.

Are the headphones easy to lose? A lot of jokes arose about this after the announcement of AirPods, but in reality, not everything is so sad. A miniature case is always with you, you hide the headphones in it automatically. There were no situations where I accidentally (or on purpose) put one earpiece somewhere and could not find it later.

The only caveat is that the device can be easily knocked out of the ear. For example, while pulling on the hood, if it fits snugly to the head. Here you have to be careful. Once in this way I knocked out the earpiece and dropped it on the asphalt. Fortunately, this did not affect the performance of the device in any way.

For whom AirPods

Primarily for owners of Apple equipment (starting with iPhone 5, iPad mini 2, iPod touch 6Gen and Mac with Handoff support). With it, the headset works perfectly – real techno-magic. It’s even better if you have an Apple Watch so you don’t have to choose between Siri and quick player control.

The sound quality is on the level, although for the same money you can find more interesting wireless models in this regard. But the chip is not only in sound, but in the totality of characteristics and in ease of use in general. This is where AirPods outperform most of the competition, including fully wireless models like the Jabra Sport Elite or the Samsung Gear IconX. By the way, the AirPods never had any problems with desynchronizing the operation of the headphones, when one of them suddenly turns off. At the same time, users complain about alternatives.

It makes absolutely no sense to buy AirPods to work with Android gadgets and other sound sources. You will simply lose most of the accessory chips, but you will pay dearly. Apple has made a very niche device, tailored to branded products as much as possible.

Are AirPods worth the money or is it better to buy something alternative for the same price? For example, more interesting in terms of sound Bose SoundSport wireless, Jaybird X3 or BeatsX? Here everyone decides for himself. Personally, the sound quality suits me – it’s really good, but in terms of ease of use, Apple wireless headphones leave most competitors far behind.

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4

ITC.UA score

Pros:
balanced and detailed sound, ease of use, autonomy in conjunction with a charging case, work in headset mode

Cons:
only for Apple technology, lack of player controls on the headphones, poor sound isolation

Conclusion:

With the help of the novelty, Apple showed its vision of the wireless future.