Airpods: Hype or Ripe?

Full confession: I’m late to the Airpod party. With few exceptions, I’m usually one to wait it out when it comes to new technology. But a connection of mine made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So, long story short: I was able to get my hands on a pair of Airpods at a substantial discount. So, now that I’ve been living with a pair for the past few days, what do I think?

In a word: life-changing.

Okay, maybe that’s two words.

From the minute I took the Airpods out of their small “Tic Tac” sized case, they were ready to go. My iPhone 7 immediately paired with the Airpods, within seconds after removing them from their case. There was absolutely no configuration needed. Drop dead simple. The Airpods case is small, and magnetically snaps your Airpods in when you place them inside. Pretty neat.

I’ve worked with Bluetooth based headphones and the setup process has always been kludgy at best. Not with the Airpods. It was a great first impression. The Airpods fit really well with my ears. Your mileage may vary on that count, so if you can try on a pair, that’s what I would recommend.

I had no issues or discomfort keeping them in place. They held firm, even when I put on my pull-over hoodie while wearing my Airpods. Sure, they look a little weird – but I’ve seen enough people around campus with Airpods in the ear now, so it’s something I’m not bothered with.

But how did they sound?

Sound is such a subjective thing. I get that. What I find “good” may not agree with your definition of “good”.

To my ears, the audio from the Airpods was really good. Whether I was listening to a podcast or cranking up some Hendrix tunes or moving to something more orchestral (John Williams), the sound was crisp and warm. I’m no audiophile, but to my ears, the audio was markedly better than the Lightning cable earbuds that came with my iPhone 7 – and I thought those were pretty good to begin with. The mids and highs are where the Airpods really shine. To my ears, bass response was decent, if slightly tinny. This is the one area where I feel that the original “Earpods” were a little better. If you listen to a lot of earth-shaking bass-driven music, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

The range on the Airpods was pretty impressive. With my Airpods on, I was able to leave my iPhone in my studio upstairs and move throughout all the rooms in our house without nary a signal drop or hiccup. Battery life is excellent, too. In my testing, I was able to get about 5 hours of continuous use with my Airpods before needing to charge them again. In real world usage, I use my Airpods for up to an hour each day.

What I like about the Airpods is how well they integrate with my life. If someone comes up to converse with me, I can remove one Airpod and my music pauses. When I put the Airpod back in, playback resumes. No more fidgeting with my iPhone to pause my tracks. This alone, makes it worthwhile to me. Even better, though: no more tangled wires. This is what I absolutely hate about most headphones. Airpods are about as frictionless as one could hope for when it comes to usability.

So, would I recommend them to you?

If you want a frictionless listening experience, and don’t mind the less than stellar bass response, and you have an iOS device within reach – then, yes. It’s worth considering. For some, the big turn-off might be the Airpod’s retail price: It’s steep at $159. I would say if you do a lot of listening on a daily basis, Airpods might be worth the asking price. I was happy with my Earpods, but I really, really like the freedom I can have with Airpods in my ears. I hate wires and cables, especially when I’m listening to music. For me, the move to Airpods was worth it.


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