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Reviewed on Feb 16, 2018 , Marc Henney, Jean-Christophe Lamontagne

Apple AirPods Wireless
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.4
Mixed Usage
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:
6.7
Critical Listening
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:
6.4
Commute/Travel
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.
Score components:
7.5
Sports/Fitness
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.
Score components:
6.4
Office
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:
5.6
Home Theater
Score components:
5.3
Gaming
Score components:
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Apple AirPods are decent-sounding truly wireless earbuds with a sturdy and stylish design. They're compact, breathable and more stable than the EarPods making them a suitable option for sports. However, getting a tight fit may vary from person to person. They also barely block any ambient noise, which helps you monitor your surroundings, but also means they will struggle in loud, noisy environments.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Amazingly portable design.
  • Stable fit.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.

Test Results
Design 8.0
Sound 6.3
Isolation 4.2
Microphone 6.1
Active Features 7.2
Connectivity 3.3
Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
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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8.0

Design

Score components:
Apple AirPods Design Picture

The Apple 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

They 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 earbuds 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
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
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 Apple AirPods Wireless 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, they have a one-size-fits-all design which means comfort and stability will vary a bit depending on the shape and size of your ears.

4.7 Controls
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
Channel Mixing
What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

The Apple Wireless 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 practical. You can manually change the touch-enabled voice controls to a touch-sensitive call, and play/stop button (not available on Android devices. Defaults automatically to voice-enabled control scheme). This makes them a bit cumbersome to use in a public setting and it's often easier to just change the volume and tracks directly on your phone or Bluetooth device

9.6 Breathability
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 After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.4 C

These are incredibly breathable headphones. They have no tips and there's barely any points of contact with your ear. Although this means they're a bit less stable than other truly wireless headphones like the Jaybird Run or the Samsung Gear IconX, they're also slightly more breathable.

9.5 Portability
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 Apple AirPods are one of the 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. However, you will most likely carry them in their charging case, which fortunately is also is quite compact and fits in almost any pocket.

8.5 Case
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

The Apple Air Pods come with a sleek, well-designed charging case that doesn't add a lot of bulk to the earbuds, unlike some of the other truly wireless charging cases. It easily fits 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
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

They 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.

6.5 Stability
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 Apple 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 the 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, then they should stable enough to run with.

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

The Apple AirPods come with an Apple lightning to USB charging cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
6.3

Sound

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 Apple AirPods are a below-average sounding pair of open-back earbuds. Their bass, although punchy, lacks low-end thump and rumble, which make them unsuitable for bassheads and music that has a lot of sub-bass. However, their mid-range is quite good and they also have a decent treble, which is a bit forward and bright sounding. They also have a very good imaging performance and overall would be quite adequate for music that is not very bass-heavy like classical music, 70's rock, and podcasts/audiobooks. But, because of their earbud design, they are prone to inconsistencies in their bass delivery due to positioning, and they lack a large and out-of-head soundstage.

6.0 Bass
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.
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
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
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
Mid-Bass
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
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

The bass performance is mediocre. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 64Hz, suggesting that they won't be able to produce low thump and rumbles. This is also shown in their low-bass, which is lacking by 11dB. Mid-bass and high-bass, responsible for the punch of basses and kicks, are quite flat and within less than 2dB of target. Since lack of low-bass is especially hard to hear on headphones, the overall bass range will be light on thump and rumble, but punchy-enough to be adequate for music that doesn't have a lot of sub-bass (like classical music, music recorded before the 1980's, and podcasts/audiobooks).

7.9 Mid
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.
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
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-Mid
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
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

The Apple AirPods have a good mid-range response. Low-mid and mid-mid are very flat and within 2dB of our target response. This means the higher harmonics of basses/kicks, and lower harmonics of vocals/leads will sound well-balanced (not too thin and not muddy/thick). However, high-mid shows more than 3.5dB of overemphasis, which adds a bit of intensity to the higher partials of vocals/leads. The overall mid-range profile is slightly forward sounding.

7.2 Treble
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.
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
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
Mid-Treble
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
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

The AirPods have an average sounding treble. Low-treble and mid-treble are overemphasized by more than 4dB. However, since they are quite flat, they only add a bit of excess brightness and presence to the sound. However, the 10dB bump around 10KHz, could make siblances (S and T sounds) slightly harsh and piercing on overly-bright tracks. The overall treble profile is well-balanced, but definitely on the bright and sibilant side.

Raw Frequency Response
What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
6.4 Frequency Response Consistency
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
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 frequency response consistency is mediocre. However, the results are rather impressive, considering their earbud design. If you are able to get a stable and tight fit, then the deviation in the bass range 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.

8.4 Imaging
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 Group Delay Apple AirPods Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.31
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
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: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.04
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
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: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.5
Weighted Phase Mismatch
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: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
5.76

The Apple AirPods have very good imaging. Their group delay doesn't cross our audibility threshold, which is excellent. Especially when compared to the Google Pixel Buds which have a very similar design and form factor. This means that the bass produced (even though not very deep), will be tight and fast. Additionally, our test unit showed very good matching between the L/R drivers, which suggests good ergonomics and quality control.

2.6 Soundstage
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 Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
N/A
Openness
What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. 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, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage 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
:
9.1
Acoustic Space Excitation
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 will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
3.0
Correlated Crosstalk
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

The Apple AirPods, like most other in-ears and earbuds, have a poor soundstage. This is mainly due to their lack of interaction with the pinna, which is a key factor in giving the sense of a large and in-front soundstage. However, because of their open design, they tend to have a more open and spacious soundstage than closed-back headphones. Overall, they will sound open and spacious, but small and inside-the-head.

8.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
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
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
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

The harmonic distortion performance is very good. In the mid and treble range, their total harmonic distortion is within very good limits. This ensures a clean sound reproduction. In the bass range though, they show and increase in THD as the volume increases. This suggests that similar to other open-back earbuds, like the Google Pixel Buds, they will struggle to produce bass at very high volumes. This is also means that the Apple Air Pods won't be very responsive to EQ for increasing their bass.

4.2

Isolation

Score components:

The Apple 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 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. On the upside, they don't leak too much. They will be slightly audible at really high volumes, especially in the higher frequency range, but in most cases, they shouldn't be too distracting to those around.

2.6 Noise Isolation
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
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
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
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
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
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

The AirPods have poor noise isolation. This is due to their open-back design (very similar to the Pixel Buds). Therefore, they do not isolate in the bass and mid ranges. In the treble range, they reduce outside noise by only 9dB, which is quite poor and barely noticeable. However, this makes them a very suitable option for situations where you would like to hear your surroundings, like going for a jog and wanting to hear the cars passing by.

7.4 Leakage
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
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

The leakage performance of the AirPods is decent. Because of the open design, they show significant leakage in the treble range, around 5KHz. However, due to the earbuds design (i.e. small drivers), the overall level of their leakage is not very loud. The resulting leakage will include mainly S and T sounds (sibilances), but it may be audible to people around you at high volumes in a quiet environment.

6.1

Microphone

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:
Integrated
What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
Detachable Boom
What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The performance of the Apple AirPods' integrated mic is mediocre. Speech recorded or transmitted with the microphone will sound thin, and lacking in brightness and air. However, it will be easily intelligible in quiet environments. In louder environments though, they will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud situations like a busy street.

6.0 Recording Quality
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
Recorded Speech
What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
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.
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
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
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
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

The recording quality of AirPods' microphone is mediocre. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 354Hz suggests that voice transmitted with the mic will sound thin. They are also limited in high-frequency extension, resulting in a speech that lacks presence and brilliance. However, this is a limitation of the Bluetooth protocol and doesn't affect speech intelligibility significantly. Also, the region between LFE and HFE is captured decently.

6.2 Noise Handling
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
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
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

The microphone has mediocre noise handling capabilities. In our noise handling test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio value of 15dB, which is below-average. This means that they will struggle in transmitting a clear and noise-free speech even in moderately loud environments.

7.2

Active Features

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:

The Apple AirPods have an above-average battery life that provides up to 4.8 hours of continuous listening with 5 additional charges from their case. This gives them a total of 27 hours if you take breaks during your listening sessions. Unfortunately, although they have a few features on iOS, they lack a fully-featured app with customization options, which is a little disappointing.

7.4 Battery
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.
Battery Type
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
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
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
Power Saving Feature
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
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
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. By themselves, they 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 earbuds to 71-75% and will leave 5% of power in the case). Overall, this gives them 27 hours of battery life when both the case and the earbuds are fully charged.

5.0 App Support
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
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
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
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
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 earbuds and the case, which is not available on Android. The interface pops up once the earbuds are synced with an Apple device and will reappear whenever you open the case. It doesn't do much else but shows the integration into the Apple environment, making them less than ideal to use on other non-iOS devices.

3.3

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 33% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

The AirPods only connect via Bluetooth. They pair with their charging case but can be used independently once paired. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones, they're not ideal for watching a lot of video content due to their relatively high latency although on iOS, they have a bit less noticeable sync issues.

6.0 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 80% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • <1% PS4 Compatible
  • <1% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : 4.2 + W1 chip
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that's allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example switching from your phone to your home or work PC.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
No
NFC
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.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No

The AirPods only connect to other devices via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, they can only pair with one device simultaneously but do keep multiple iOS devices in memory for easy pairing when you open the case.

0 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : N/A
Analog
What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB
What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A

They do not have an audio cable. If you want the same design with a wired option, then consider the Apple EarPods.

0 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 5% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 5% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
N/A
Optical Input
What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

The Apple AirPods have a charging case that provides up to 5 additional charges when the earbuds are docked. However, it has no inputs or outputs and is only used to charge or pair the headphones.

8.0 Wireless Range
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:
Obstructed Range
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
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

The Apple 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 earbuds with your iCloud account.

3.5 Latency
What it 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:
Default Latency
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
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
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

Like most Bluetooth headsets, the latency is not ideal for watching movies and videos. 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 a lot of video content. Also, we have yet to test for AAC, but that is more an audio quality codec than a low latency one.

In the box

Apple AirPods In the box Picture

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

Compared to other Headphones

Apple AirPods Compare Picture

The Apple AirPods are truly wireless headphones with a decent sound and good active features. However, they're more optimized for iOS so they won't be as good for Android users and they're also not as stable due to their one-size-fits-all design.

Google Pixel Buds

The Apple AirPods are much better wireless headphone overall than the Google Pixel Buds. The AirPods have a more comfortable fit, especially for those used to the Apple one-size-fits-all earbud design. They also have a better build quality and unlike the Pixel Buds, they are truly wireless and each earbud can be used independently of each other.  The Airpods also have a slightly better sound even if they do not have a lot of bass. On the upside, the Pixel buds are a lot more stable for physical activity and sports. Their adjustable earbud fit design also caters to more listeners than the AirPods.

Samsung Gear IconX

The Samsung Gear IconX are a much better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods. The Gear IconX have an in-ear fit that isolates better in noisy conditions and produces more bass than the AirPods thanks to the better seal they create in your ear. They also have a dedicated app which gives them access to a preset equalizer, sports data and a built-in coach to keep track of your progress whereas the AirPods feel lacking in features. The IconX also have 4 gigs of onboard storage. On the upside, the AirPods are better integrated into the iOS platforms which gives them a few advantages over the Samsung if you have a lot of Apple devices already. They also have a much longer 25hr battery life than the Gear Icon X and more stable and reliable connection with less latency, especially on iOS devices.

B&O PLAY E8

The Beoplay E8 are a better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods. The E8 have a more isolating in-ear fit that also translates into a better bass range thanks to the better seal they create in your ear. The E8 also have a customizable sound and better app support than the Apple AirPods even on iOS devices. The BeoPlays also have a better control scheme that gives you all the essential functions whereas the AirPods rely heavily on voice-enabled controls which is not always practical. On the other hand, the AirPods have a longer cumulative battery life at 25+ hours compared to the BEeoPlay's 15hrs at best. The AirPods also have a more reliable wireless connection with greater range and better latency than the E8, especially on iOS devices.

Jabra Elite Active 65t

The Jabra Elite Active 65t are a better truly wireless option than the Apple AirPods. The AirPods have a longer cumulative battery life than the Elite Active 65t, at 25hrs compared to 15hrs. The AirPods also have less latency, especially on iOS devices, so they're a bit more suitable for watching videos and their open earbud design is also more comfortable than the 65t's and more suitable for monitoring traffic when running outdoors. However, the Active 65t have a better balanced and more customizable sound. They also have a lot more bass than the AirPods and isolate better in noisy conditions thanks to their in-ear fit. This makes them a far better choice for commuting than the AirPods. The Jabras are aslo more stable, which makes them better for sports and physical activity in general.

Beats BeatsX

The BeatsX are versatile and good all-around wireless in-ears. They also have the W1 chip, which makes their latency and range surprisingly great. If you need a bit more bass and isolation and do not mind the in-ear, around-the-neck design of the beats X then they're a great alternative to the AirPods but they're not truly wireless.

Jaybird X3

 

The Jaybird X3 are good sports headphones that are more stable than the AirPods but are also not truly wireless. They sound a bit better and come with a good app that lets you customize their sound profile. If you need a stable wireless headphone to take to the gym then they're a great choice but they won't be as comfortable as the AirPods for everyday casual use.

Jaybird Run

The Jaybird Run are great, truly wireless sports headphones that are more stable for physical activity than the AirPods. They're slightly more comfortable than the Jaybird X3 and a little less cumbersome. Unfortunately, they have a lot of latency so if you watch a lot of videos than the AirPods would be the better choice, especially for iOS users.

+ Show more

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
B&H

6.4Mixed Usage
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 Apple 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.
6.7Critical Listening
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
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.
Score components:
Average for commuting or traveling. The open design lets in a lot of ambient noise seep into your audio, which is not ideal for the loud environments, typically, involved in commuting. On the upside, they're super portable and have a good battery life and charging case so you can keep them on you at all times.
7.5Sports/Fitness
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.
Score components:
Good for sports. The earbuds 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.
6.4Office
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. They're also comfortable so you can wear them for hours. However, their earbud design is quite open so they won't isolate you from the office chatter and ambient noise.
5.6Home Theater
Score components:
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.
5.3Gaming
Score components:
Sub-par for gaming. They have a mediocre microphone, they lack customization options and have a bit too much latency to be suitable for gaming.

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