Earin M-1 Review by 9to5Mac.com
Earin M-1 true wireless earbuds sport simplistic design in the age of AirPods
Apple’s true wireless earbuds called AirPods release later next month, but that hasn’t stopped me from testing what you can buy on the market today. Today we’ll take a deep-dive into what has become my daily driver in the true wireless earbud world. Earin M-1 true wireless earbuds really feel like the perfect package, if only they had included two more things…
Design | Charging Capsule
The first time I saw the Earin’s charging case for its true wireless earbuds, I immediately thought, “This is how Apple might have designed wireless earbuds back in the PowerBook G4 and Power Mac G5 days.” The Earin charging case looks like a mix between Apple’s iSight Camera and Men in Black’s Neuralyzer. The small lipstick styled capsule slides out to reveal two tucked away and charging earbuds. Charging status is indicated by a small red LED light built into the top portion of the charging case. Maintaining the simple profile is a micro-USB port meant to charge the capsule itself, where another LED indicator is tucked away.
The striped top half of the charging case helps provide some grip when sliding out the charging case’s earbud tray, which pulls out with a satisfying click. The tray itself is a little strange to deal with. The earbuds sort of snap-in and out of the plastic tray, but the first few times in doing so I felt as if I was going to break the earbuds. In removing an earbud, the gold charging contacts within the case are made visible and the earbud’s design choice of outer gold lowercase ‘e’ becomes evident. The visual design, which I thought was nothing more than that, allows the earbud to easily charge within the case by giving it multiple points of contact inside the charging case.
The charging case not only acts as a storage and charging device, but whenever an earbud is pulled from the capsule it immediately turns on. This creates a really seamless experience but provides annoyances whenever the earbuds refuse to connect to your devices. Even worse, if the charging capsule’s battery dies and your earbuds technically still have battery life remaining and you just placed them in the capsule for storage, getting the earbuds to turn back on is annoyingly difficult. It seems that whenever the capsule’s battery dies, the Earin has no way of knowing when to turn back on.
Design | Earbuds
The earbuds are elegant and simplistic in design, and it’s something I’ve come to appreciate tremendously. They look as though you picked up any normal pair of in-ear earbuds and just snipped the wires. The design is familiar and comforting. No buttons, no touch sensitive areas, just a singular earbud. The earbuds are slightly curved at an inward angle to help provide better insertion and hold when sitting in the ear. This is possibly my first gripe with the earbuds. It took quite a long time until I could find an ideal position in my ears.
While Earin’s setup guide indicates that a good fit would be by facing the earbuds with the L and R symbols facing behind you, I found that it worked better when it was actually facing forward away from me. It sat more comfortably in my ear, but more importantly didn’t feel as though it was going to quickly fall out. To help ensure a locked-in fit, Earin includes two additional earpiece accessories they call Stabilizers. These comma-shaped pieces fit around the earbuds and hook into your ears to ensure an even better hold.
I spent some time testing the earbuds with and without the Stabilizers and didn’t find much of a difference in fit. While I could feel the Stabilizers in my ears, they didn’t feel as though they added much support. This changed when I went on a few runs with the earbuds. Without the Stabilizers, I definitely felt the earbuds slowly slide out and around my ears. Adding the Stabilizers helped hold the earbuds in better and gave me more peace of mind while running with them.
One of my biggest concerns with any pair of true wireless earbuds will be the overall comfort. Getting a pair of earbuds to sit in an ear canal comfortably, while fitting the general population can be difficult. Apple took a shot at this by creating their EarPods, but even with those, I know people who find them uncomfortable.
The Earin earbuds provided no exception. Although they look like a pair of regular earbuds with the cord cut, I was still concerned with the fact that these earbuds would fully rely on sitting inside my ear canal to not fall out. The Earin includes multiple replacement ear tips to help each user find their most comfortable choices. Including two rubber tips, and two Comply(TM) foam tips, I landed on using the smallest rubber tips for best comfort. Truth be told I run into this problem with every pair of earbuds. Even the smallest rubber tips feel too big in my ear, and over time it feels like the pieces are “expanding” in my ears. For reasons like that I’ve stuck with the Apple EarPods for so long. They don’t rely on sitting deep in the ear canal to get a comfortable fit.
Regardless of the slight discomfort all earbud rubber tips provide me, the Earin earbuds weremore comfortable than most. I frequently forgot they were in my ear and even have had music stop and I just left them in as earplugs. The design of the Earin earbuds created a nice seal from the outside world where the music is really focused only on you. I know some earbuds have begun to implement something akin to “active listening” which creates a blend of your music with outside noises so as to not have you miss anything from the outside world that may be important. I think this is the direction all wireless earbuds may eventually need to move to, and having that in future Earin earbuds would be something nice to have.
After my last experience with true wireless earbuds, I fully expected a degraded audio quality with the Earin too. They blew me away by not sounding as if any quality was lost, but by also provided a better overall sound quality than the EarPods. This isn’t something to write home about as I know better earbuds do exist, but the sound quality was great for what they were.
Trebles were clear and in the forefront without overriding the mids or bass. The bass was light, without muddling the rest, though it did leave a lot to be desired. I wish the bass was a bit more, and I think that’s why Earin included a Bass Boost option within their iOS app. I wasn’t fan of the bass boosted audio though as it felt more like it just muddled the bass instead of adding to it. The mids sometimes felt too light, and almost missing in some music. The treble would be clear alongside the bass, but sometimes the mids would feel like the background accessory to the other two.
In the Syllable D900s review, I complained that the audio was completely out of balance, and I had to jump into iOS’ settings to manually rebalance the audio. The Earin didn’t have this problem nearly as much, but I did appreciate that their iOS app had a way to adjust for it. See more in the iOS App section below.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Range
No matter how great the sound or overall experience a pair of true wireless earbuds may bring, they will always face the trouble of the wireless protocol it relies on. Apple recognized this and is putting a focus on its advantage of the W1 chip as potentially helping alleviate these issues. That being said, when the Earin was within clear view, the range provided to be solid and hold well past 10 meters.
The range on the Earin was much better than expected, but users should be aware of device/iPhone placement when using them. Earin’s user guide explains to users that depending on where they place their device, specifically behind them, that interference would occur. Looking at the reviews for the Earin on Amazon, a lot of customers complained that the earbuds would disconnect from one another and sort of create a “swaying” audio experience. The last pair of true wireless earbuds I tested also had this issue, and I’m beginning to foresee this being a problem for all true wireless earbuds.
This swaying audio experience occurs whenever one of the earbuds disconnects from the other, and then quickly reconnects. In my case the Earin would play audio fine to both earbuds, then the right earbud would disconnect, and then quickly reconnect. Normally it took only half a second to reconnect until it just decided not to…
This brings up the most annoying experience in using the Earin earbuds; more often than I felt comfortable with the earbuds would disconnect from each other and have no way of reconnecting. In the previously described audio sway scenario, I often had the right earbud fully disconnect and never reconnect to the left earbud. The only way to get them to reconnect and communicate with one another again was to place them inside the charging capsule and then pull them back out. This “reset“ them, as putting it in the case and removing it powered them off and on again. Tie this in with the strange dead capsule battery issue listed under the charging case section above, and you have an overall annoying experience in what should be so much simpler.
This is the area that really makes the lack of any buttons on the Earin a detriment to the experience. More on that later.
As companies continue to release true wireless earbuds, battery life will be at the forefront of the competition. Most people hate charging their devices (something I don’t really mind at all), but more importantly having to charge in the middle of the day can be quite the nuisance. This is where the Earin shined for me.
Earin states the batteries should last for roughly 2 hours and 50 minutes, and I found this estimation to hold true. I would listen to music on the Earin earbuds for up to 3 hours straight at a time without needing to recharge them at all. At first, I thought it was a fluke, but I kept repeating the results over and over again. This happened so much so that I just began using the Earin as my everyday earbuds over my EarPods.
I don’t frequently find myself listening to audio for more than a few hours at a time, so the inconvenience of charging the Earin in its storage capsule was anything but.
Earin includes an iOS app with the earbuds that can help improve the experience a little further. The most important feature for me that they included was the ability to adjust the earbuds’ audio balancing. In the Syllable D900s review, my biggest complaint was that the audio was totally imbalanced and I had to go into the iOS’ accessibility settings to account for it. The Earin app allows me to quickly adjust the balancing, even though I only found myself moving the balance to the left by one point. (I’m realizing more and more that my left ear may not be hearing audio as loud and clear as my right ear.)
The app also includes a Bass Boost option which I never kept on. It reminds me of the Bass Boost option old boomboxes from the 90s had. A “good” idea in theory, but in practice the sound never improved by enabling it. Earin’s app also gives users the ability to check individual battery gauges for each earbud, although this means users can’t check battery life using iOS’ battery widget. I would sometimes use the left earbud in a mono mode to play music, and being able to check out the battery left in that earbud in the app was a nice touch.
I could delve so much deeper into this, but without getting too crazy, the Earin really needs to add some form of a button onto the earbuds. The lack of any means I miss out on playing/pausing music, answering/declining calls, and adjusting volume all from the earbuds. Luckily I have an Apple Watch that quickly allows me to do all of that, but for someone who doesn’t own a Watch, going back to the phone just to adjust for these simple actions is nothing but annoying. Even the cheap Apple EarPods include all of these features within a three button system.
Second, I really wish Earin would a microphone in future designs. I mentioned how comfortable the Earin was, and how I frequently left them in even when the music was paused. Having to pull them out and refine their positioning just to answer a phone call was tiresome. It pulled me away from my “all-in” working mode I would normally get into when I wore these.
Without a doubt, the Earin true wireless earbuds have become my latest daily drivers. While I love some of the quality of my other headphones, they can’t beat the comfort and usability of the Earin earbuds. I truly hope to see future iterations include a multipurpose button and microphone for taking phone calls. For now, the Earin is my favorite true wireless earbuds package. Being able to quickly pull them out, fully charged, and just get to listening was an experience I want to have with all true wireless earbuds.
While working on this review I kept toying with the idea of comparing the Earin earbuds to Apple’s upcoming AirPods, but I decided against it. The AirPods’ specs on paper look like they may beat out the Earin earbuds, but until I get them in my hands for a full experience, I don’t find it fair to compare. Keep an eye out, though, as soon as Apple’s AirPods are available, we’ll be doing another deep-dive and comparison against them.