From an audiophile’s perspective, after 5 months.
Apple’s AirPods are one of the most fun, most often-used Apple products that I own. I actually use them daily, during a few activities:
- Household chores
- Traveling on public transportation
- iPad movie viewing
All in all, they are in my ears for at least one hour per day. They fit pretty well and sound decent, so I thought I’d dig in a bit more on these aspects.
For any audiophiles out there, a comment : these are a fun product, not a perfect sounding product. They will not sound better than your Grado’s, Ultimate Ears, Klipsch, etc. but what Apple AirPods lack in absolutely crystalline fidelity, they more than make up for in ease, convenience and design.
AirPods were designed by Apple to be used by almost anyone – and the fit delivers on this promise, but you have to know yourself, and your ear’s feel and shape. By this, I mean that when I take the AirPods out, I start by pinching the top of the stem near the housing (fig. 1), and prop the top of the housing toward the front of my head, with the bottom of the stem aiming toward the back of my head. Then, I rotate the stem toward the floor and slightly toward my face as opposed to being parallel, so that the housing has rotated inside my ear canal, and the stem/mic area is angle toward my jawbone into the correct position.
For my ear canal this fits perfectly, with the stem pointing not quite straight down, but more angle toward the front of my face ever so slightly. I say this to save you some trouble, for when I attempted to put the AirPods directly in with the stem angled almost 45° toward the front of my face, the AirPods kept falling out.
Once they are in correctly, the AirPods indeed have a bass-y edge to them that can become muffled if you insert them too far into the ear can. I wish that there were a bit higher treble clarity and mid-presence, which is especially desirous if putting them too far into the ear canal.
Noise-cancelling, they are not
You will be hearing some outside noise with low headphone volume, and that’s OK – especially if you are taking public transportation, or using the AirPods in a high-traffic area in public. I find that turning down the AirPods via the phone when listening for outside information works quite well, rather than having to quickly remove, then re-insert them (which they were designed to be able to do easily). Once you remove them from your ear, the light sensors on the housing determine that they are not in your ears, and your music or podcast will automatically stop playing, which is a nice feature.
If you go to the “Now Playing” app on your Watch (can also be found in the Watch’s dock), you can actually control the AirPods with the Watch itself. You can forward tracks, turn the volume up and down, and via the Watch app, even change artist and album. This truly makes for an experience whereby you can keep your phone in your pocket and do the bulk of the manipulation of your listening experience with the AirPods themselves via Siri or the Watch.
Speaking of Siri, as Apple shows on their website, you can actually command the AirPods via the Siri invocation by double tapping the housing (the large part of the headphone). You can also change this setting on your iPhone in Bluetooth > your AirPods, as shown here in fig. 2.
I have gotten the true battery life of 5 hours per full charge out of each AirPod. I do keep them in their case when not using them, which keeps them fully charged. I charge the case every other day or so to ensure that if I want to have a longer listening session that I have enough battery. Battery life is never an issue, and you even get a warning beep when they are in your ears and your battery life is waning.
I give the AirPods a solid A –, because functionality wins over superb sonic fidelity, in this case.
How to buy
At this point, either the supply or demand is ridiculous, because it is unlikely that even if ordered today, a full 6 months after release of the AirPods, that you would not have them until mid-July.
I bought mine via letgo in December for cash, and a premium of $40 over the retail price of $159, but to my ears, it has been worth it.
Let me know what you think in the comments section, below!