Apple’s AirPods aren’t the only wireless earbud game in town. If the idea of earplugs as audio gear entices you, another option on the market arrives from Swedish startup Earin and its M-1 earbuds.
Earin M-1 Wireless Earbuds
Look ma, no wires, and no golf clubs dangling from my ears! Better audio quality than expected.
Massive connectivity issues. No microphone/phone features at all (not even incoming audio). Very weak battery life. Charging system is underbaked and needs a complete overhaul. (Good news: The Earin M-2s come out sometime soon.)
As with any wireless earbud, these are fully detached, miniature Bluetooth speakers that you wedge into each ear. The Earin design is probably the most utilitarian on the market today, as the little black cylinders jut visibly out of your ear like some kind of post-modern tribal jewelry. They aren’t exactly unobtrusive or attractive, but if the industrial, Frankenstein look* is in your wheelhouse, you’ll find them stylish.
As audio quality goes, I was reasonably impressed with the earbuds, which offer both crystal clear bass and clearer highs than I expected, with only a few issues of hiss and problems with balance, though these problems seemed to be specific to certain audio tracks. Wedging the foam tips into your ear canal can take a few tries, but once you have a good seal they create a reasonably immersive listening experience that does a great job at blocking out the teeming masses. And they didn’t fall out once in my testing.
On the whole, everything sounds pretty good… until suddenly it doesn’t sound like anything at all. Connection problems were ubiquitous in my testing—either one earbud wouldn’t get sound, or neither would. Dropouts and hiccups were common, even with my phone only two or three feet away. Then there’s the battery life. Like most wireless buds on the market, a charging case (which is itself battery powered and rechargeable) is used for both storage and recharging the earbuds. Earin says the earbuds should run for three hours per charge, and you can recharge them three times inside a fully charged case, for a total of 12 hours before you have to find a USB connection.
None of that really panned out in my testing. Sometimes I’d get a full three hours on a charge, sometimes I’d get one. Never did I experience 12 hours of airtime after charging the case. My best mark was seven hours—again, much of that marred by Bluetooth connectivity problems.
The Earin earbuds also come with an iOS/Android app, which is almost completely useless, good only for adjusting left-right balance and, honest to god, turning on “bass boost.” It allegedly lets you check your battery level too, but I never once got the app to work, either. The good news is you don’t need the app at all to use the earbuds. Just pair them via Bluetooth like any other speaker and you’re on your way. I mean, until you’re not.
* Don’t start with me on the “Frankenstein” vs. “Frankenstein’s monster” business. The monster might have worn the look, but Dr. Frankenstein designed it, so shut up.
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