There is a good chance that what I’m about to uncover has as much to do with aging eyes and ears as it does taste and science, but bear with me for more than a few moments, then tell me which side of the fence your butt hangs.
We Mincey folk like wine. I like bourbon better, but wine shows up more frequently at family and friend gatherings. I cannot tell a good wine from an expensive wine. I can tell the difference in taste, but I don’t know which one is a $300 bottle of whatever vs. a carton of wine from Walmart. What does that have to do with AirPods?
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most of the time I would agree with that sentiment, but there are some things people actually seem to prefer but that are butt ugly to me. I think the same holds true of wine. Some wine tastings left me curling my nose and pursing my lips (while looking for a place to discharge) while others far more snooty than me gulped it down like as if they found the fountain of youth in a glass.
My aging boomer ears no longer distinguish the same sound frequencies they did years ago, but I can still tell the differences between music and headphones and speakers. Some are crummy. Some are decent. A few are damned good, but more difficult to differentiate.
AirPods? Love’em. Beats headphones? They’re OK, but a little too bass for me, but our kids seem to love all that extra loud. Their friends, too. That tells me there is more taste than science when it comes to which earbuds or headphones are the best.
Brandon Russell on AirPods:
Apple’s AirPods are one of the company’s most successful products, becoming an overnight hit following their release in 2016. Despite their popularity, Consumer Reports still won’t recommended them.
Why not? Consumer Reports has a bias against white. And against Apple. So it should be no surprise that CR’s view of AirPods vs. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds favors the latter, not the former.
The AirPods deliver the physical thump you get from percussive low sounds like a kick drum, but the earphones lack depth. Think of the acoustic base on Miles Davis’ “So What.” The bass is there, but you miss the round, satisfying rumble of the low notes. The midrange has problems as well. Passages with a lot of instruments blur together for a congested feel, making it more difficult to pick out individual sounds.
I looked for information regarding the sound testers, but CR keeps such details out of the public eye. And ear.
And while the treble is detailed overall, some delicate high sounds, like the vibrating hiss of a cymbal, come out smeared. In fact, our testers say the AirPods’ audio is nearly identical to that of the $30 wire earbuds that used to come free with Apple iPhones.
Every pair of headphones I have– I prefer the over-ear cans, myself– sound better than AirPods, which, to my ears, sound far better than the free earbuds Apple still gives away with each new iPhone.
If my aging ears can tell the difference then why not CR’s ears?
Consumer Reports also notes the design of the AirPods as a negative, saying their looser fit makes audio difficult to hear in louder environments. The report also lamented the AirPods’ limited controls, especially when connected to an Android device.
Anybody else see the problem? AirPods are an iPhone accessory and based upon how they work, how they pair, and how they interact with Siri, Android devices are not allowed. When Samsung’s Galaxy Buds can do all the things AirPods already do, then they might catch a few of Apple’s customers wandering the fringes of loyalty.
Sound is science. The scientific method can be used to determine which product sounds better than another, but the results do not make it so.
Besides, I need a little loudness these days.