I’ve tried many wireless earbuds, but I still return to AirPods
Throughout the course of my working day there is one constant: headphones. I’m either listening to music, a podcast, the news, or on a Google Meet call basically all day. And I also like to be able to move about without missing anything, so they have to be wireless. Since over-the-ear headphones can get tiring, I use wireless earbuds most of the day.
And for those, I have finally resigned myself to using Apple AirPods. Specifically, at least for now, the second generation AirPods. The wireless earbuds that I ridiculed when first announced are my favorite and by a fairly wide margin now.
This is actually my second pair of AirPods after the first met an untimely death at the hands of our washing machine. In between, I’ve tried and enjoyed a lot of alternatives, but ultimately ended up back where I started. It might say more about me than it does about the AirPods, but I’m still a little surprised.
The alternatives to AirPods
I am pretty terrible at buying headphones. I wouldn’t ever claim to be an audiophile, but I love music and I seem to enjoy earphones. And after my initial spell of ridicule, I tried AirPods and instantly fell in love with them. But when I left them in a pocket and destroyed them in the washing machine, I decided to try out the competition first instead of just replacing them with a second pair.
I won’t list everything I’ve tried, it’ll get way too boring. But brands like Razer, Xiaomi, Amazon, and Huawei are all in there, as well as some smaller ones such as Anker’s Soundcore. I only ever came across a couple of pairs of wireless earbuds I really didn’t like, but none I liked as much as AirPods.
The closest was Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro. Everything about them is great. The sound quality is superb, the ANC is very good, they’re not actually too expensive and the battery life is at least comparable to Apple’s. The FreeBuds Pro is actually more feature-packed than my AirPods since I went for the regular old second-generation ones.
But none of that or anything offered by any wireless earbuds has mattered as much as what the AirPods can offer to me: comfort.
AirPods just fit my ears
This is where it might say more about me than anything else. Perhaps my ears are built differently, but no other wireless earbud fits me as well as the AirPods do. The combination of the shape and the weight and the lack of a silicon tip makes the AirPods just nestle into my ears better than anything else. And this has been the case since Apple included the EarPods in the box with the iPhone.
I can sacrifice ANC, I can sacrifice a little on the sound quality. Purely because these seem to be the only buds that actually fit me. With all the others I’ve tried, even the FreeBuds Pro which I did come really close to sticking with, my ears feel fatigued after a couple of hours. With the AirPods, I can pop them in and forget they’re there, which is important to me and my daily routine.
If I want to really enjoy a piece of music, I reach for my favorite over-ear headphones, currently the Audio Technica ATH-M50X. But I don’t want to wear those all day. They’re wired, and for podcasts and meetings, they’re overkill. For everything else I use AirPods. They sound surprisingly good given their size and since I work at home on my own all day, I don’t miss ANC.
I carry an iPhone and I’ve recently moved to working on a Mac again, and using AirPods helps to appreciate how tight Apple has its ecosystem integration down. Switching between the two is so absurdly seamless, it’s almost like magic (and yes, I feel dirty using that word).
So, that’s me. I’m an AirPods guy now. Or I will continue to be assuming Apple doesn’t radically change the design down the line. My ears just seem to be designed for them. I’m sure Tim Cook is thrilled.
If you have a favorite pair of wireless earbuds right now, toss it into the comments section below and tell us what makes them just right for you.