Today’s a special day – I get to do a product review!
I don’t normally do these, but I’ve been in the market for a set of wireless headphones ever since the battery life in my Apple AirPods (Gen 1) was severely degraded to the point that I couldn’t even use them for 45 minutes. We’re all working from home now, so I really need something that can last through my meetings. Many people in Sweden swear by the Apple Airpods Gen 2 or Apple Airpods Pro, but I decided to look around the market and try a few different products, especially since I didn’t really want to spend $200+ (2200 kr) for something with a measly 4-5 hours of battery life (less if you’re using the microphone). Now, to be fair, I only considered products that were very close to the profile of the Apple earbuds. I like how they look, how easy it is to store them, the satisfactory “snap” of the case, and their sound profile. (Yes, I like the sound of the Airpods. C’mon, I’m really just using it for music while I’m on the go, some phone calls, and meetings. I’m not in a studio and don’t need studio quality headphones.)
I first bought an Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 which are a set of Total Wireless (TWS) headphones that resemble the AirPods, but are in black and have silicone ear tips. Anker is a well-respected manufacturer of battery packs and other computer accessories, so I figured they must make pretty good products. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed. It had wireless charging, but it overheated my charging pad and melted it. The sound and microphone quality was okay, but I had a real challenge keeping it paired to my MacBook Pro (2018) while using a Logitech Craft and Logitech MX Anywhere 2S mouse, all connected via Bluetooth. It kept breaking up and became unusable. Together with the overheating, I very quickly decided to return the product.
So I kept looking. First I considered the Soundpeats line of products, but couldn’t buy the one I wanted in Europe for some reason. Most of these vendors of alternative TWS earbuds use Amazon as their preferred distributor of choice, but none of them had the product I wanted or could ship to Sweden. Somehow, and I don’t actually remember how, I ended up reading about a new company called EarFun.
Their Earfun Air wireless earbuds even won the CES 2020 Innovation Award & iF Design Award 2020! Today’s review isn’t about the Earfun Air, though. It’s about their brand new EarFun Air Pro – a $99 / 870 kr (currently on sale for $79 / 695 kr) pair of total wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation and ambient mode. For full disclosure: EarFun was kind enough to send me a production set for evaluation. All of the opinions and viewpoints are my own.
First, let me start off by rattling the most relevant specifications:
- Active Noise Cancellation + Ambient mode
- Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- 9 hours playtime + 23 hours with charging case for a total of 32 hours
- IPX5 Sweat and Water Resistant rating
- In-ear Detection Technology
I have to say, when I first read about this, I was very impressed. If it really has Active Noise Cancellation and gives 9 hours of battery life, this would be the perfect set of wireless headphones for my WFH set-up!
EarFun sent me the product via Amazon in Europe. The box arrived damaged, but fortunately the contents were in pristine condition. The packaging is pretty nice – it’s compact but offers the product plenty of protection. Take a look at the photos.
The first thing I did was charge up the headphones in the included case. It has a USB-C connector and comes with a little USB-A to USB-C cable. The case has a red LED by the charging port which blinks to let you know how much battery power is left. Mine blinked twice, which according to the manual means that it has more than 30% left but less than 60%. I left it plugged in for about an hour and when I came back it was fully charged.
Pairing and Bluetooth Range
It’s really easy to pair the device. As soon as I opened the case, EarFun Air Pro shows up in the Bluetooth menu on my phone and I was able to pair the device. To pair the device with my MacBook Pro, I had to disconnect the device from my phone, hold down the button in the case for 3 seconds, and then pair it to the computer. This was clearly illustrated in the included manual.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Bluetooth multipoint so it’s a no go with multiple paired devices. You have to disconnect from one device before connecting to the other. Most TWS headphones in this price class don’t support multiple connections so this isn’t all that surprising.
As soon as I paired it with my computer, I noticed that there was a tiny bit of interference between my Logitech Craft and Logitech MX Anywhere 2S mouse. This isn’t unique to the EarFun Air Pros; many headphones, including the Apple AirPods, have interference problems when you have so many devices connected. And to be fair, the result was FAR better than the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2. That unit kept stuttering, while the EarFun Air Pros keeps the music playing, but periodically skips a half second. Although I’d have hoped for better frequency hopping, this is a much better result for sure.
I didn’t notice any big problems connecting to my phone; I was able to have a full 30 minute conversation on a Google Meet call while on the go. It didn’t break up at all, and the other meeting participants heard me loud and clear.
When the active noise cancellation (ANC) is on, the sound quality is great. Clear vocals and decent bass for such a small set of headphones. I’m very happy with the sound profile.
However, the next two modes are not great:
1) In ambient mode (aka transparency mode), I hear a ton of white noise. This must be the external microphones piping in external noise. It’s ugly – I’m never going to use that mode. EarFun should learn from Apple’s book; the AirPods Pro transparency mode is fantastic.
2) In normal mode, when noise cancellation and transparency mode is off, the sound is flat. It reminds me a lot of when I connected a wire to my Bose QC35 II headphones; it’s not amplified so there’s no depth to the sound. In this case, the EarFun Air Pros are still on with the silicone eartips providing passive noise cancellation, but the sound just feels really flat.
It’s also a little weird that every time you pair them, they default to ANC mode instead of the last mode you were in. It’s a bit frustrating, but with a few taps, you’re back to the mode you wanted. You just have to remember to reset it, otherwise you might be wasting battery power. In summary, I think the sound profile in the EarFun Air Pros will satisfy most people!
The microphone works well. I sat in 5 hours of conference calls using Google Meet and Zoom and no one complained about my voice. However, I did experience a quirk whereby sometimes when I speak up in a meeting, it takes a moment for the microphone to activate properly so the other participants don’t hear me properly. I need to do some more testing to figure out what’s going on. I’ll update this post if I come to any interesting conclusions. When the mic is working as expected, it sounds pretty good. I recorded some samples for you to listen – judge for yourself!
Here’s the microphone in a quiet room:
Noise cancellation during a call worked too well – it distorted my voice at the same time. I ran my Dyson V11 vacuum right next to me while I spoke into the microphone. I thought it was pretty muffled, but you couldn’t hear the Dyson in the background despite how loud it was. Listen to the results and let me know what you think!
At the end of the day, I needed something that worked well for my WFH meetings. For that purpose, the EarFun Air Pro fits the bill well.
Edit: Oct 17, 2020: I was in a loud restaurant yesterday and my family FaceTimed me. I was able to hold a conversation with them and they couldn’t hear any of the background noise from the restaurant. This is anecdotal, and I don’t have a recording of the conversation, but it speaks well to the EarFun Air Pro’s microphone quality!
I am using the default silicone ear tips which I believe is a size M. You’re also given 2 other sizes, S and L, so you can mix and match to your ear’s desire.
The M fits me perfectly and is very comfortable in my ears. I’ve had them on for several hours and don’t feel the need to adjust them at all. This is a huge improvement to the AirPods and other silicone ear tip headphones! When using those, my ears get oily/sweaty and I have to push them back in all the time.
You can tap the headphones to perform several functions, such as skip songs (tap R twice) or switch noise cancellation modes (tap L three times). You still cannot tap to get to the previous track. It works pretty well, but I wish they had allowed users to customize the functions.
When on a Google Meet meeting, I wasn’t able to switch modes for some reason. That might be an expected behavior, but then it would have been nice to have an app so that users could control the setting, like with the Apple AirPods Pro.
The headphones also have a light sensor to detect whether they’re in your ear or if you’ve taken it out. My experience with this was hit or miss, however. If you’re indoors, taking it out of the ear pauses the music directly. However, as soon as you put them down on a table or in your pocket, it thinks that it’s back in your ear, probably due to the lack of light, so the music starts playing again. The next day, it was a beautiful and sunny day in Stockholm so I took a walk through Kungsträdgården to Gamla Stan. Every time I took it out of my ear, the music kept playing. This makes me wonder if it doesn’t work well in bright situations. Regardless, this is definitely an area that needs improvement.
The case has two magnets which help guide the headphones into the right position in the case. The case also has two LEDs – one on the back of the case, near the charging port, and one inside the case. The inside LED is used to show pairing status. If it’s flashing white and green, it’s ready for pairing. The one on the back of the case is red and blinks to tell you how much battery you have left:
Flashes 3 times: > 60%
Flashes 2 times: > 30%
Flashes 1 time: > 5%
1 quick flash: < 5%
This is a pretty intuitive way to communicate when it’s time to charge the case!
Build Quality and Warranty
The earbuds are solid; they’re light but are well constructed. The mold lines match up and the metal mesh for the microphones looks good. It’s an attractive combination of matte and shiny plastic. I’m unhappy with the case, though. It’s bulky, feels really plasticky, attracts oil from your hands, and is hard to open with one hand. Closing the case sounds hollow and cheap.
EarFun does offer a 30-day no questions asked guarantee, and an 18-month replacement warranty. They’ve always responded very quickly to my email inquiries.
They’re advertised for 9 hours of use, but I only managed to get about 5 hours of straight Google Meet conference calls out of them before the voice prompted me, “Battery low, please charging (sic)”. That’s still way better than any Apple AirPods product out there. Usually, when you have to use the microphone, it drains the battery life faster. This is also one of the biggest reasons I wanted to buy a non-Apple TWS product – for extended WFH conference calls. From that perspective, the EarFun Air Pro exceeded my expectations!
This is an impressive product, especially at this price point. EarFun gives Soundcore and Soundpeats a run for their money, and provides a very attractive and practical alternative to the Apple AirPods Pro. I really love the fit – they fit so well and don’t cause my ears to hurt after hours of use. This means a lot to those of us who spend hours on calls and virtual meetings.
The EarFun Air Pro isn’t without its quirks, but overall a solid investment if you need some TWS buds. It might be a bit difficult to find in Sweden, but you should be able to buy a set from Amazon.de when they show up there. Great job EarFun!
Overall rating: B+
- Good sound quality but only when in noise cancellation mode. It’s almost like the Bose QC 35 headphones when the audio sounds better when NC is on vs just connecting it passively with a wire.
- Excellent battery life
- Good microphone quality – listen to my samples!
- Big thumbs up on not melting my wireless charger (this is a given since it doesn’t support wireless charging)
- Value for price! You should be able to get this for about $79 / 695 kr before any sales or deals.
- You can only skip tracks forward – there is no support for going back a track. This is a bummer since when I find a great jam, I want to play it on repeat over and over again.
- I can’t change modes from Noise cancelling to Ambient to Normal when on a Google Meet meeting or on a phone call. Again, this might be a default setting, but not sure.
- The technology used to detect whether your headphones are in your ear is unreliable at best. Sometimes it thinks it’s in my ear even when it’s not.
- Ambient mode is terrible – it amplifies the noise around you but it’s not polished. Large amount of white noise.
- The voices used to announce connections/disconnections and changes to mode settings are inconsistent. This is a minor complaint but still, you would have thought they would have used the same voice actor for all of the prompts.
- Range is a bit weak – I couldn’t even walk to the other room when it was connected to my MacBook Pro. Other TWS headphones I’ve used, including Apple AirPods, have much better range.
- No wireless charging.
- No Bluetooth multipoint support to support multiple devices.
- Case build quality leaves a lot to be desired.