Last week I bit the bullet, purchased a set of Apple AirPods and wrote about my first impressions.
Over the last few days I’ve tested them in all the environments and situations that I normally use headphones and I’m ready to pass my final judgement.
And my decision is…with regret I’m returning them.
The AirPods are an undoubted technical marvel. How Apple have managed to squeeze so much stuff into each tiny little device is nothing short of incredible. Functionally the Bluetooth experience is second to none, the charging case is inspired and the special little touches like tapping to play/pause and pause on removal of a bud make using them a delight. But the lack of a seal in the ear resulting in little to no sound isolation is unacceptable for my needs.
In a relatively quiet environment, like my office or home, the AirPods sound really quite good. The bass is solid and the highs are crisp. Go outside onto the street, though, and they become almost inaudible.
I had to pump the volume up to max just to hear some of my podcasts and that resulted in a really harsh and tinny sound experience; bass becomes virtually non-existent. Compared to my Soundmagic E10c earphones, there really is no comparison because I can hear everything clearly at 50% volume and I get a lovely rich sound.
In need of a redesign
It’s time for Apple to ditch the EarPod/AirPod design for a more conventional and far more effective earbud design. I guess what I’m looking for is a totally wire-free version of the Beats X buds.
If Apple can deliver that, I’ll be first in line. But until then (or until I get a new iPhone without a headphone jack, anyway) I’m going to stick with my wired E10c earphones.