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    Table of Contents
  1. Intro
  2. Design
    1. Style
    2. Comfort
    3. Controls
    4. Stability
    5. Portability
    6. Case
    7. Build Quality
    8. Breathability
    9. Cable
    10. Front
    11. Angled
    12. Side
    13. Rear
    14. Top
  3. Sound
    1. Bass
    2. Mid
    3. Treble
    4. Frequency Response Consistency
    5. Raw Frequency Response
    6. Soundstage
    7. Imaging
    8. Total Harmonic Distortion
  4. Isolation
    1. Noise Isolation
    2. Leakage
  5. Microphone
    1. Recording Quality
    2. Noise Handling
  6. Active Features
    1. Wireless Range
    2. Latency
    3. Battery
    4. App Support
  7. In the box
  8. Conclusion
  9. Q&A
Reviewed on Jan 19, 2017 , Marc Henney, Jean-Christophe Lamontagne

Apple Wireless AirPods
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.9Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.4Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
6.6Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The AirPods are well-crafted headphones, that cram a lot of technology into a sleek, and stylish build. They sound decent and they're a lot more stable than the EarPods thanks to their truly wireless design. However, getting a tight fit may vary from person to person. They also barely block any ambient noise, which helps monitor your surroundings, but means they will struggle in loud, noisy environments.

See our recommendations for the best In Ear Headphones.
Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Amazingly portable design.
  • Stable fit.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.

Test Results
Design 8.1
Sound 6.5
Isolation 4.2
Microphone 6.1
Active Features 6.8
Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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8.1

Design

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Score components:
Apple AirPods Design Picture

The AirPods have the same look and feel as the EarPods but without the cumbersome cable. This makes them considerably more stable and less likely to fall out of your ears when running. They're super easy to carry around and come with a great charging case that fits into most pockets. However, the one size fit-all design is not ideal for everyone and may be less stable for some. Also, the control scheme is very limited and situational, as you won't always be able to use the Voice-enabled commands.

Style
Apple AirPods Design Picture 2

The Apple AirPods look almost identical to the EarPods without the cable. They're well-crafted headphones with a smooth plastic casing and brushed aluminum that gives the AirPods a premium appeal to match their price. However, they still have the long stalks that would usually be connected to the audio cables, which may look a bit awkward when protruding out of your ears.

8.0 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Apple AirPods Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0 lbs

The AirPods have a unique, open fit that barely exerts any pressure on the ear canal. The smooth finish and incredibly lightweight design make them barely noticeable once you have them on. Unfortunately, the AirPods have a one-size-fits-all design that will vary a bit in comfort and stability depending on the shape and size of your ears.

4.7 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Apple AirPods Controls Picture
Ease of use : Subpar
Feedback : Subpar
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : No
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

The AirPods have a limited control scheme that relies on Siri to access basic functions. Skipping tracks or adjusting the volume have to be done by voice, which is not always practical. You can manually change the touch-enabled voice controls to a touch sensitive call, and play/stop button (unless you're connected to an Android device, which defaults automatically to this control scheme). This makes the AirPods a bit cumbersome to use in a public setting or if you don't have your Bluetooth device close to you.

7.0 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Apple AirPods Stability Picture

The absence of an audio cable makes the AirPods a lot more stable than the EarPods. Like the EarPods, they have a one-size-fits-all design, but without the cable, nothing is pulling on AirPods' stalks, so they stay in place. We tested the fit with multiple people in the office, and we conclude that if the fit works for you, they're stable enough to run with.

9.5 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Portability Picture
L : 1.72 "
W : 1.00 "
H : 0.60 "
Volume : 1.03 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

The AirPods are one of the smallest and most portable headphones we've reviewed so far. They have an outstandingly small footprint and are easy to carry around in any pocket or bag.You will most likely carry them in their charging case, but that too is quite small and easy to store on your person.

8.5 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Apple AirPods Case Picture
Type : Hard case
L : 2.06 "
W : 1.69 "
H : 0.74 "
Volume : 2.58 Cu. Inches

Comes with a sleek, well-designed charging case that doesn't add a lot of bulk to the already very portable AirPods. It will easily fit into most pockets and it's easy to carry around on your person. The case will protect the headphones against minor falls and scratches but not water damage.

8.0 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Apple AirPods Build Quality Picture

The AirPods has a superbly designed and unique build that's made out of premium materials. The plastic casing feels high-end and durable and should be solid enough to withstand a few drops without getting damaged. They are well-made, sturdy headphones but they're still susceptible to cracking under enough force or falling from great distances. They're also not water or sweat proof so keep that in mind when using them at the gym.

9.6 Breathability
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What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Breathability Before Picture Apple AirPods Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.4 C

Cable
Apple AirPods Cable Picture
Detachable : N/A
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A

Comes with an Apple lightning to USB charging cable.

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
6.5

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Apple AirPods Frequency Response

The AirPods have a satisfactory sound that doesn't vary much from person to person and should please most listeners. They have a good Mid Range reproduction but lack a bit of low-end thump and rumble. The Treble Range pushes instruments and vocals a bit too forward in the mix which makes the overall sound a bit sharp. Also, although open sounding, they do not have much Soundstage and won't be the most immersive headphones for more critical listeners.

6.0 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.27 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
64.42 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-10.94 dB
Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.79 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.62 dB

Average Bass Range performance. The AirPods were designed not to create a air-tight seal, and therefore, they lack quite a bit of low-bass. However, bass and high-bass are balanced and well-produced. This results in a relatively balanced Bass that lacks a bit of low-bass thump and rumble.

7.9 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.78 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.7 dB
Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.55 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.62 dB

Good Mid Range performance. Low-mid and Mid are virtually flat, but high-mid shows about 5dB of over-emphasis. This tends to make the sound of these headphones forward and harsh, especially on voice and snare drums.

7.2 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.18 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.46 dB
Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.26 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.57 dB

Average Treble Range performance. The 5dB over-emphasis of high-mid continues into low-treble, resulting in a noticeably bright sound that could border on being harsh if the source material is already bright. These headphones are also hyped in treble, making them noticeably sibilant.

6.4 Frequency Response Consistency
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What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Consistency L Apple AirPods Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.8 dB

The AirPods frequency response is surprisingly consistent across multiple re-seats, considering their earbud design. If you are able to get a stable and tight fit with the AirPods, then the deviation in Bass would be less than 2dB at 60Hz which is excellent. However, the Treble Range performs less consistently and shows about 5dB of deviation across re-seats at 5KHz which is quite noticeable.

4.5 Soundstage
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What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
PRTF Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in Pinna-Related Transfer Function of the headphones, compared to that of a loudspeaker. Whether the soundstage is perceived to be unnatural, located inside or in front of the head, is dependent on this quality. The more the headphones activate the HRTF resonances of the ear (similar to what loudspeakers do), the more the soundstage will be pulled out from inside the listener's head. This quality affects both stereo and mono content.
When it matters: When a natural, in-the-front soundstage is desired, similar to that of a loudspeaker.
Good value: <5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
12 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
9.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
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What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones takes some of the characteristic of its environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound is desired.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
2.6
Correlated Crosstalk
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What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

Poor Soundstage. Due to their earbud design, the AirPods don't interact with the pinna and therefore their Soundstage tends to be perceived inside the listener's head as opposed to in-front. However, these earbuds are exceptionally open and as a result create a spacious and open Soundstage by letting the outside ambience be mixed with the music. On the other hand, their minimal leakage means that they don't excite their environment in a way that loud open over-ear headphones tend to do.

6.4 Imaging
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What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Apple AirPods Phase Response
Phase Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in the phase, from the ideal flat response.
When it matters: When an accurate and transparent imaging is desired.
Good value: <60°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
111.46 °
Driver Mismatch (Amplitude)
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What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <0.3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.04 dB
Driver Mismatch (Frequency)
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
22.43 dB
Driver Mismatch (Phase)
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <90°
Noticeable difference: 30°
:
46.97 °

Average Imaging. The AirPods show significant phase shift below 100Hz and above 10KHz, which tends to skew the stereo image slightly. However, the L/R performance of our test unit was nicely matched especially the Treble Range phase-matching which is quite an issue with earbuds.

8.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.452
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.468

Average harmonic distortion performance. At 90dB SPL the AirPods perform very well across the spectrum. However, under heavier loads there is a significant rise in harmonic distortion below 100Hz which confirms the fact that open earbuds struggle with producing a lot of low-end at high volumes.

4.2

Isolation

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Score components:

The AirPods have an open fit that doesn't isolate you from your environment. This makes them good headphones for runners or bikers that want to monitor their surroundings, but this also means that they won't be the ideal headphones to use in loud, noisy settings. They will let the noise of public transit or a lively office, seep into your audio but on the upside, they don't leak much. So even at higher volumes, they won't be too distracting to the people around you.

2.6 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Apple AirPods Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-2.64 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-0.01 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
1.1 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-8.72 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0 dB

Poor isolation. These earbuds are not designed to create an air-tight seal, and therefore, isolate very little. They only start to attenuate outside noise at around 2KHz, achieving an average of 8dB of attenuation in the Treble Range which is quite poor.

7.4 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
37.72 dB

Decent leakage performance. Although smaller headphones tend to leak less, earbuds tend to leak more than in-ears because of the lack of seal. In case of open earbuds, there is an additional leakage because of the open enclosure and sound ports. With AirPods, there is virtually no leakage below 1KHz, and the significant portion of the leakage sits between 2KHz and 10KHz which is relatively broad. The level of leakage is also relatively loud, especially around 5KHz. At loud volumes, people around you tend to hear a lot of sibilances (S and T sounds) leaking out of your AirPods.

6.1

Microphone

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What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
6.0 Recording Quality
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What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Apple AirPods Microphone Frequency Response
LFE
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What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
354.04 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
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What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
2.83 dB
HFE
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What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
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What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
31.268
Gain
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What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
28.6 dB

6.2 Noise Handling
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What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Apple AirPods SpNR
SpNR
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What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
14.85 dB

6.8

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:
7.4 Wireless Range
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
Bluetooth 4.2 + W1 chip
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
41 ft
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
91 ft
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
:
No

The AirPods have an impressive range, for completely wireless in-ear headphones. They reached a distance of about 40 ft when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room. They also have the W1 chip, which seamlessly connects with your other Apple devices provided you've synced the AirPods with your iCloud account. However, the latency is not the best. They perform admirably well for a non-Aptx low latency device, which should be fine for music but they won't be the most responsive headphones when gaming on your phone or watching videos. Also, we have yet to test for AAC, but that is more an audio quality codec than a low latency one.

3.4 Latency
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What it is: The latency is how long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Base Latency
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What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
168 ms
aptX Latency
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What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
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What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

7.4 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Score components:
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
4.8 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
0.5 hrs
Auto-off
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Yes
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
Yes
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

These headphones have a unique battery life. The AirPods by themselves will last about 4.8 hours, when fully charged, which is decent for wireless in-ear headphones, but not much for an average user throughout the day. However, they come with a charging case that gives you up to 5 charges, each one taking about 20 % of the case's battery life when both AirPods are charging. They also only take about 28 mins to charge, but the fifth charge will bring the AirPods to 71-75% and will leave 5% of power in the case). Overall, this gives the AirPods 27 Hours of battery life when both the case and the AirPods are fully charged,

5.0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Apple AirPods App Picture
App Name : N/A
iOS : Yes
Android : No
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
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What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
No
ANC control
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What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
No
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
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What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
No
Playback control
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What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
No
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

iOS has a built in interface for the AirPods. It's not an app, but it displays the battery status of the AirPods and the case, which is not available on Android. The interface pops up once the AirPods are synced with an Apple device and will reappear whenever you open the case. It doesn't do much else but shows the integration of the AirPods into the Apple environment, making the AirPods less than ideal to use on other non-iOS devices.

In the box

Apple AirPods In the box Picture

  • Apple AirPods Headphones
  • Charging Case
  • USB Cable
  • Manuals

Conclusion
Unavailable
Amazon.com

6.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
The AirPods are well-designed, comfortable headphones. They have an innovative way of connecting to your iOS devices and a rechargeable battery life that can last up to 27 hours, provided you have a fully charged case with you. They won't be the ideal headphones for critical listeners or to commute with, due to their average audio reproduction and poor isolation. However, their portable and stable design, make them decent headphones for sports and casual listeners.
6.9Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Average for critical listening. They're incredibly comfortable and lightweight so you can them wear for hours, which is great for long listening sessions. However, their sound quality is average-at-best and may not be ideal for critical listeners that want a great Soundstage or a deep extended bass range.
6.4Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Not suitable for commuting or traveling. The open design lets in a lot of ambient noise, which is not ideal for the loud environments, typically, involved in commuting.
7.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Good for sports. The AirPods are a vast improvement over the EarPods regarding stability. The truly wireless design allows them to stay in your ears, when running or jogging, provided you can get a tight fit. However, They are not sweat resistant and don't have any additional stability tips so they may not be ideal for intense exercise.
6.6Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Decent for office use. They don't leak much, so they won't distract your colleagues. However, due to their open design, you will hear the background office chatter.
Mediocre for home theater use. They're barely noticeable once in your ears so you can wear them for hours. Unfortunately, their latency performance isn't ideal for watching movies and videos without the noticeable sync issues. On iOS, the latency is a little better but still a bit too high.
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Questions & Answers

2 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
1
These AirPods supposedly get better with a software update on iOS through 10.3.3. One of the features that were presented in this update was less latency, are you guys able to do a retest. Possibly to get more accurate results with the new update?
We retested the AirPods running Firmware version 3.7.2 and did not notice any improvements in latency. However, we test the latency of all our Bluetooth headphones with the same three Bluetooth dongles and not with an iPhone or iOS device. There may be an improved encoding algorithm with iOS 10.3.3 or a software based compensation, that delays the video to be more in sync with audio, but we cannot reliably measure that with our current test bench. Learn more about our Latency test here.
0
My experience with Airpods is that the sound quality in Headset mode (ie: Microphone Activated) is very noticeably better when using an iPhone as compared to using a Mac (even with High Sierra). Your Microphone Sound Quality test looks comparable to essentially every other bluetooth headphone. Since Apple is doing some proprietary things with their W1 Chipset, did you test the microphone specifically with an iPhone, or with a generic bluetooth setup?
Our tests are done with a generic bluetooth dongle on a Windows machine. However, in our initial tests on an iPhone 7, we couldn't find a situation where the AirPods' microphone sounded better than normal. Could you tell us more about the phone model and the app settings you used to test your AirPods with?
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