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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Impressively sleek design
Solid battery life
Balanced, nuanced sound quality
Awkward, somewhat uncomfortable fit
Quirky connectivity issues
A little expensive for the offering
These earbuds sound and look incredible, but their fit and connectivity do leave a bit to be desired.
Earin provided us with a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read on for their full take.
The Earin A-3 Earphones are some of the most unique true wireless earbuds in the space. And that sort of makes sense, because Earin was actually an early adopter of the true wireless market—releasing a pair right around the same time that Apple dropped its AirPods.
The A-3 are the latest generation of Earin’s offerings, and the look, feel, and performance of these headphones are very different from the other flagship models in the space. In some ways this is good, because the A-3s give you a futuristic design, solid build quality, and really nice sound. In other ways, the headphones’ differences are drawbacks—like the poor fit and quirky connectivity. I spent right around a week with my pair. Read on to see how they stack up.
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the A-3s is how different they look. From the matte, brushed aluminum case all the way to the twist-dial design on the outside of each earbud, the design is really unlike anything else. The all-metal case sports a half-circle design with a flat top that flips open. I received the silver version, but for my money, the all-black option looks just a bit sleeker.
Simplicity and unobtrusiveness were clearly the goals here, and Earin definitely succeeded on both points.
The earbuds themselves don’t even really look like earbuds. When in your ears, they look like flat circles that sit flush inside your ears, basically without any protrusion. The flat ridge running across the middle of the circles looks a lot like the rotary dial you’ll see on old television sets (and it functions that way too when you’re actually twisting the earbuds into your ears).
While I don’t normally like hyperbolic claims on marketing sites, Earin’s promise that these are the “smallest wireless earbuds on the market,” actually seems likely considering just how tiny the A-3s are. Simplicity and unobtrusiveness were clearly the goals here, and Earin definitely succeeded on both points.
It’s difficult to review the comfort and fit of a pair of true wireless earbuds because it is so dependent on each user’s ear shape and preference. I tend to prefer silicone tips that grab your ear with two points of contact but don’t sit too tight inside the canal.
The rigid, pokey plastic of the earbuds and the odd, unflexing shape makes them almost unbearable to wear for more than 30 minutes at a time.
The A-3s don’t feature any silicone tips at all, instead relying on the tapered plastic point that houses the speaker drivers and sitting in your ear like Apple’s original AirPods. This fit might work for some, as indicated by the fact that so many people use AirPods. But in my case, the rigid, pokey plastic of the earbuds and the odd, unflexing shape makes them almost unbearable to wear for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Earin has designed the earbuds to twist, rotating the angle so more ear shapes are compatible, but I can’t help but think the choice to omit any form of rubber on the ear tips was a misstep.
The attention to detail on the construction of the A-3s is pretty impressive. The hardshell metal case seems durable, and even though I was a bit concerned that it would be prone to scuffs and micro-scratches, I haven’t left any permanent marks on mine yet. The earbuds, though definitely not built of premium, soft-touch plastic, feel resilient to drops and grime.
An inherent benefit of not including any silicone tips means the part that goes into your ear—an area normally prone to wax buildup—is exposed and easy to keep clean. Earin has also secured an IP52 rating for water and dust resistance. This isn’t the highest score I’ve seen, so I wouldn’t recommend submerging these earbuds into water or exposing them to a lot of dirt and debris, but it’s nice to see some protection.
Rating the sound quality of a pair of true wireless earbuds gets complicated because factoring in fit and natural isolation is so important. Earin advertises “passive noise isolation” on its site, which should mean they naturally block sound, rather than cancel it. Unfortunately, because these earbuds do not sit well in my ears, the sound quality suffers a bit because I don’t get a good seal or any natural isolation. This may be different for differently shaped ears, but it’s important to note.
In practice, the A-3s feel really balanced, providing detail and nuance across most of the frequency spectrum.
The sound quality itself, once you fiddle with the feel and provided you aren’t sitting in a particularly loud environment, is really nice. There are 14.3-millimeter drivers in each bud that seem to offer a solid amount of headroom. The frequency response covers the requisite 20Hz to 20kHz, and because there’s the Bluetooth aptX codec available, you’ll get less lossy audio.
In practice, the A-3s feel balanced, providing detail and nuance across most of the frequency spectrum. I did detect a bit of muddiness around the low mids, but this was only at high volume so I’m guessing this was due to some unintended distortion artifacts. All of this is great, but it’s really a shame the fit is so hard to dial in, because it takes away from an otherwise stellar-sounding product.
Considering just how tiny each earbud enclosure is, it’s surprising that there are five hours of listening time available on a single charge. That amount expands to about 30 hours when you factor in the battery charging case. These numbers trended fairly accurately in my real-world tests, and I’m confident the A-3s will last a whole week of average use with the case.
The case itself charges fairly quickly via USB-C, but at three hours of charge time, it isn’t the fastest I’ve seen. What I do like is that Earin has chosen to include Qi wireless charging in the battery case. Considering the grab-and-go nature of true wireless earbuds, I’m continually surprised at how few manufacturers leave wireless charging out of their offerings.
While Earin’s wireless charging works really well, the company did have to sacrifice on the design a bit. Because wireless functionality doesn't work through metal enclosures, the back of the charging case has an unsightly black plastic plate to allow wireless pass-through. This probably doesn’t look quite as noticeable on the all-black version, but keep this in mind if you go for the silver model.
Earin advertises the A-3 earbuds as “no left or right” earphones. This is an interesting choice, because it means each earbud has the ability to establish its own independent connection to your source device. This is helpful for using one at a time, but I found that it results in some hiccups when getting the earphones connected for the first time.
I had to manually force the earbuds into pairing mode right out of the box—a fact that isn’t usually the case with earbuds—and I actually had to pair and re-pair them to my phone a couple of times before both sides worked well.
This isn’t the biggest deal for me, because I’m used to troubleshooting Bluetooth issues, but for the average user, this could be annoying. Once paired, the sound has surprisingly low latency, making the headphones good for video use, and even with a lot of other Bluetooth devices in my home office, I found very little interference.
There is a smartphone app dedicated to the Earin A-3s, which is nice to see. However, with only a few options—like monitoring battery life, adjusting the on-board tap controls, and updating firmware—the app doesn’t do a whole lot to expand functionality. The touch controls are also sort of hit-or-miss, likely because the surface you’re supposed to touch is so small and difficult to target.
At $200, the price of the A-3s is neither cheap nor particularly exorbitant. It seems to be the going rate for mid-to-premium-tier earbuds, and I don’t find the cost egregious here. The look and feel of the A-3s' build definitely fits the price, and if you can get the earbuds to sit nicely in your ears, they sound every bit as good as other $200 earbuds. However, the quirky connectivity and uncomfortable fit may just be unacceptable for this price level, depending on your priorities.
There aren’t actually that many earbud brands so focused on a sleek footprint, so one of the only competitors I think is even a little comparable to the A-3s are the Verve Buds from Motorola. These buds sit almost as flush in your ears and feature a super-tiny, pill-shaped battery case. They are a little more plastic-y in the build and don’t sound quite as good, but they also go for less than half the price.
Good for certain users.
It’s difficult to come down on one side or the other with the Earin A-3s. There’s a lot to like about them—a sleek design, a solid build, and balanced sound quality. However, all of this is contingent upon your ability to get the earbuds to sit nicely in your ears, which just wasn’t easy for me. There are also some frustrating inconsistencies when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity. And these last two points are pretty important for a pair of earbuds. Overall, the A-3s could be an incredible buy for some people, but for others they may just be disappointing.
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