all micro contact rss

AirPods Early Impressions

  • It took all of ten seconds to take the AirPods out of the package and get some music going in my ears. And that included choosing the song I wanted to test first.[^1] The pairing process has that “magic” feel that so many claim Apple no longer produces.
  • The AirPods sound pretty good. Better than any wireless headphone I’ve ever tried, in any case. They can’t compete with my B&O H6s, but how could they? Meanwhile, not having a cord is going to make a huge difference in my travels around the city every day. So I think the tradeoff is going to be worth it for me. I have my good wired headphones for home use whenever I really want to listen to the absolute best quality audio.
  • I can’t use Apple’s included white earbuds at all. There’s simply no way to put them into my ears and get a proper seal without physically holding them constantly with my hands. I was skeptical about AirPods for this reason, as they are pretty much exactly the same shape as the earbuds. But it turns out, not having the cables pulling the buds down makes a big difference. I have no trouble getting the AirPods into a position where they produce the proper balance of bass and treble, and so far, they mostly stay put while sitting and working.[^2] I still need to test them further while walking, but so far the fit is way better than I expected. I may look into the many silicon sleeves that are out there to tighten up the fit even further. Though that could make them hard to put back into their case.
  • I haven’t tried taking a phone call on AirPods yet. At the rate I usually talk on the phone, it may be months before that changes.
  • I absolutely love the idea of having wireless headphones that can switch between my phone, Mac, and iPads with zero hassle. Compared to un-pairing and re-pairing constantly with my last set of wireless headphones, this is like waking up in the future. So far, I’ve had no issues getting them working on my iPads and my iPhone. Neither of my Macs as of this writing seem to be syncing the pair over iCloud. They are both running the latest version of Sierra, so I don’t know what’s going on there. The AirPods simply don’t show up in the Bluetooth menu. I know this is supposed to “just work” so I’m hopeful this is a temporary iCloud glitch. Switching over to my Mac for audio is something I do fairly often.
  • I think I’m going to keep these. And that surprises me quite a bit. I fully expected AirPods to not work for me at all, given my history with Apple’s earbuds and fit. But they sound good enough for day-to-day music and podcast listening, and the lack of wires is going to be epic for me as I move around the city.
  • I get why so many reviewers have described AirPods as the best thing Apple has released in a long time. You can tell a lot of attention to detail went into all aspects of the design, and the integration of the hardware with software is where Apple shines most.
  • Having said that, I do hope Apple eventually licenses the W1 chip inside AirPods to other headphone manufacturers.[^3] I would absolutely love to see what B&O, or Bose, or Sennheiser could do with wireless over ear headphones that paired this seamlessly.
  • As I said when the iPhone 7 and AirPods were announced, we’re going to have much better wireless headphones a year from now because Apple has done away with the headphone jack. AirPods should kick the other manufacturers into high gear. If they can’t match Apple’s pairing magic, they can at least up the ante on sound quality and offer more options beyond earbuds.

Update: I rebooted my MacBook, and the AirPods now show up in the Bluetooth menu. Not sure if the reboot was necessary, or if they would have shown up eventually. But that’s resolved, anyway. I’ll have to check on my iMac when I get back home.