Powering all that is a tiny chip called the W1 that manages the connection between the AirPods and the device they’re connected to. Apple has said this silicon will wind up in Beats wireless headphones soon too, though I’ll bite my tongue and not make jokes about Beats’ audio quality until I actually get a chance to try them. Oh, here’s a quick (and probably obvious) pro tip. The AirPods are prone to the same absentminded goofs that could spell doom for other completely wireless earbuds. In fact, just before I sat down to write this sentence, I rushed to my laundry room to fish the AirPods out of a pair of jeans I had just thrown in the hamper. Don’t be like me, people. Always put them back in the case.
After popping in the ‘Pods and hearing the instrumental confirmation sound, things are ready to happen. Now we’re getting to the meaty part: How do these things actually sound? Not bad, but ultimately not much better than the EarPods we know and love. That’s not to say there aren’t any improvements. In general, the AirPods gave mids a little more meat than EarPods did, and drum fills felt crisper and more precise. My test tracks — which these days include a lot of jazz and EDM — came across warmer than I would have expected, which was a pleasant surprise.
That said, the all-too-familiar design means the AirPods inherit my biggest pet peeve with the EarPods — how airy they make my music sound. Songs that go heavy on the highs and lows tend to sound a little toothless, which, again, is natural for this design. I’m just frustrated that Apple couldn’t have tweaked it to achieve a little more oomph.
I also wish we had the option to customize the AirPods’ controls more. By default, double-tapping one of the buds wakes Siri up, and she can do all the things you’d expect. You can change these controls so that a double tap pauses and plays the current track, but that’s really about it. (You can also just remove an earbud to pause your music, which seems like the more natural way to go anyway.) The thing is, if you want to change tracks or tweak the volume, you have to either ask Siri to do it or reach for your phone. That’s it. Years of using Apple’s white earbuds have ingrained in me the double click to skip a song and a triple click to go back. It seems odd that there’s no way to program these common controls.
Lest you think I’m being needlessly picky, know that the AirPods actually work really well for voice calls. The stems that point down from the buds house the antenna and microphone, and no one I spoke to over the course of the week had any complaints about audio quality. The battery life has generally been impressive too, with the AirPods typically lasting a little over the five hours Apple said to expect. Frequent trips to the charging case help in a pinch too, since it can extend the Pods’ runtime by up to three hours with a 15-minute charge. I’ve plugged in the whole pod-and-case package just once since I received these things a week ago and the case is still sitting pretty with 33 percent battery life. Not bad at all.
When I first encountered the AirPods, I said I didn’t think they’d be a must-have. One week later, that’s still where my head is: The Pods are smart, and their integration with iOS 10 is first-rate, but they fall short in some important ways — sound quality could have been better, and I wish the controls had some more nuance. That said, I’m intrigued by the possibilities they present. If Apple had made the software and controls a little more flexible, this review might have taken a very different turn. If you’re reading this, Apple, this was a solid first attempt. Don’t give up on the concept, because I believe future AirPods could be great.
Source by: Engadget