With big players like Motorola and Apple dropping the traditional headphone jack from their flagship phones like it’s a smoking Note 7, it’s becoming more appealing than ever to invest in a good pair of Bluetooth headphones.
As fond as we are of the traditional headphone jack and the undeniably higher sound quality that comes from a wired connection, there’s something freeing about going completely wireless.
Earin, a small Swedish start up, wants to offer one of the freest headphone experiences possible with its completely wireless eponymous earbuds.
Earin’s goal is simple: be the “definition of wireless” and the simplicity of this goal is reflected in the stripped back and understated design of its earbuds.
The earbuds are small, lightweight, and fit snuggly into the ears. Not once did I worry that they were at risk of falling out mid-use and they don’t stick too far out of the ear. Although they don’t completely cancel out external noise, they do a good enough job that you don’t have to crank the volume up. Earin’s earbuds are comfortable to wear and it’s really enjoyable not having to contend with annoying tangled wires and cords when you’re listening to music on the go.
Included in their compact and attractive box are three different sizes of eartips, a portable charging case, a USB cable for charging the case, and a pair of stabilisers. You won't turn to the stabilisers for everyday use but if you decide to go out for a run, or even a light jog, you'll want the extra secure fit they provide. Though they do feel secure without the stabilisers, the peace of mind that your run won't turn into a frantic search for small earbuds in tall grass is certainly a positive.
To use the earbuds, simply pop them out of their portable charging case, put them in your ears, and connect them to your phone via Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, the sleek appearance of the Earin earbuds doesn’t always extend to their performance where we encountered more than a few annoying issues.
The biggest problem with the Earin earbuds is their short battery life which is only around two and a half to three hours. The power left in the earbuds can be tracked on your smartphone via the Earin app and when it runs low it can, of course, be topped up in their conveniently portable charging case.
When the earbuds are stored in their case, a red light indicates that the earbuds are being charged and then switches off when they’re at full power. Annoyingly, though, as easy as the app makes it to track the charge the earbuds themselves, it’s not easy determine how much power is left in the charging case. If the indicator light goes out, it could mean that your earbuds are fully charged or it could mean that the charging case itself has just stopped working. Discovering it was the latter when you’re on your commute is mildly irritating to say the least.
Fortunately, you can usually get around 3 full re-charges out of the case before it requires charging itself. However, as the battery life on the earbuds is so short, it’s very possible you could find yourself charging the case more than once in a day too.
Other than this, the Earin charging case actually has a fair amount going for it; small, easy to carry, and good looking it’s definitely one of the better parts of the Earin user experience.
A more pressing problem is the consistency of the Bluetooth connection. Your phone actually only connects directly to the left earbud which then uses Bluetooth to transmit sound to the right earbud. The problem is, this connection can be quite flaky and it’s common for the audio from the right earbud to stutter or even drop out entirely before reconnecting.
When the connection is stable, the quality of sound is quite good, though nothing that could come close to impressing a true audiophile.
The earbuds cope well with mid-range to high sound, though they fall pitifully short when it comes to bass. One striking example of this was when listening to The Hills by The Weekend; though the earphones were more than capable of handling the smooth vocals in the verses, as soon as the bass dropped in the song's chorus it had nowhere near as much impact as it should.
To make up for this, accessing the app will give you an option to give your music a ‘bass boost’ which does have a noticeable effect, but sometimes it can verge on too noticeable, distorting the sound. Anyone with a fondness for dubstep or heavy metal will find themselves frustrated.
Considering the headphones provide sound quality that’s good but not exceptional, the inconsistency of the Bluetooth connection is much more frustrating.
Hope you don't want to take a call
It’s fair to say that many of us are listening to our music on our mobile phones rather than a dedicated music device. As such, we generally expect to be able to take calls when wearing our headphones. Unfortunately this isn’t possible with Earin’s earbuds. By stripping back its earbuds to be as small as they are, Earin is unable to include a microphone which wouldn’t be quite so bad if you weren’t paying such a relatively large sum of money.
Receiving a phone call when using the Earin earbuds with your phone is a more frantic experience than it should be. When a phonecall comes through on your phone, the music you’re listening to will pause, but unfortunately if you elect to answer the call, the earbuds won’t disconnect themselves from your phone. Instead they’ll just refuse to emit any sound leaving you unable to hear or speak to the person on the other end of the phone until you cut the Bluetooth connection yourself.
We missed more than one phonecall as a result of desperately juggling our buzzing phone and bags while trying to remove the earbuds without dropping them.
Not having to worry about being tangled in wires makes listening to music on the go much more enjoyable.
Earin's wireless earbuds look good and are comfortable wear, fitting so snuggly that they offer an admirable amount of passive noise isolation. Not only that, the portable charging case is as neat and light as the earbuds it carries making it easy to top up their charge.
A woefully short battery life means you find yourself charging these earbuds, and sometimes the charging case itself, more than once in a day.
Though going completely wireless is great, a stable Bluetooth connection is required to make this more than a fleeting joy and Earin's earbuds don't offer this. This makes for a frustrating listening experience that's only exacerbated by the fact that you can't take phonecalls when using them.
Though they deliver a crisp sound in the mid-range, they struggle when it comes to bass and sadly the in-app bass boost just isn't good enough to save this.
Earin’s wireless earbuds might be a truly wireless experience but it’s not a truly positive wireless experience.
When paying £199/$249 for a pair of wireless earbuds you generally expect to be able to use them wherever you might need them. Unfortunately, because of their short battery life and a lack of functions outside of ‘listen to music’ the Earin earbuds really only shine when used on a commute or during a gym session. Even in these limited situations they don’t boast solid or reliable connectivity and there are definitely better alternatives out there.