Earin - Truly Wireless and Innovative

January 12, 2016

Earin is one of the few earphone manufacturers that rose to prominence on Kickstarter. We took a first look at the unit when launched in Singapore for SGD 349 last month. Since then, we got our grubby paws on a unit for a full review.

Pros (+): Incredibly lightweight; Simple / innovative presentation
Cons (-): No storage for stabilizers; No microphone to take calls

Design
The unboxing was quite unexpected - in a surprisingly good way. Here's the outer layer. But beneath that...

there's no need to open a tab or slide anything. The box consists of 2 magnetically latched pieces. Just pop it open by a pulling off the top layer. It's incredibly simple. 
Earin box

The interior is refreshingly sparse. There's just the 2 earbuds, the charging capsule and a rectangular box...

which turns out to be the accessory toolkit. 
Earin accessories box

Once the components are taken out, the contents reveal:
- Earin earbuds
- Comply foam tips (Comfort) M-size 
- Stabilizers (aka fins)
- Charging capsule
- Charging cable

There are also no user guides. All the instructions are on the interior of the top lid. It would've been great to have some graphics to supplement.

Now to the Earin balanced armature earbuds. The 3.5g weight is incredibly light, definitely the lightest we've seen in a pair of earphones. They are very compact at 15 (diameter) x 20mm (length). If we didn't know better, we'd mistake these for a pair of ear plugs. The design is so simple that there are no buttons on the unit at all. They come with Comply Foam tips which we'll talk about later.

Features
The design of the 42g charging capsule is quite ingenious. It is a silver cylindrical contraption. 

Pull the side with the LED to open the device. There are 3 contact points on either side, giving a hint of how to insert the earbuds back for storage / charging. The capsule shouldn't open accidentally as there are magnetic latches to prevent the occurence. 
Earin charging capsule

As there are no instructions, we did a trial and error on how to store the earbuds. Thankfully, we figured out that the Earin logo on the buds double as the point to contact. Insertion is done at an angle as seen below. 

Small size comes at a cost - there's no inbuilt microphone. So if someone calls, you'll have to take the earbud out and hold the phone to your ear to talk to the caller.

Bluetooth pairing was not a consistent experience. Once you take out the earbuds, they are auto on. Go to your device, turn on the Bluetooth, search for 'Earin L' and select it. The first time worked fine for me but there was a varying degree of success in connecting to different devices subsequently. Do note that the Earin can only connect with a single device at a time. 

The Earin comes with an accompanying mobile app that can be downloaded from Google Play or App Store. The original UI mockup is very different from the actual (below). When you open the app, Bluetooth on the Galaxy S4 automatically turned on. You can tell the battery life of the left and right earbuds, adjust the left / right channel balance and add a boost to the bass. The most useful feature to us was the Gain Control (for Android) which allows a boost in the audio volume 'cos the default max volume of the device was a little soft.

Performance
It's interesting that only one pair of tips are provided in an era where some manufacturers provide anywhere from 3 to 7 different types of ear tips. Not that it's a bad thing 'cos the default M-size fit me perfectly fine.

The Comply Foam (Comfort 400 series) tips don't disappoint for comfort and noise isolation. The way to use them is to squeeze them, insert them into your ears and leave the foam to expand. When tested on a bus, the passive noise cancelation effectively blocks ambient sound to the extent that I daresay that these tips perform almost (not quite, but almost) as good as some active noise canceling earphones. I can use them in excess of an hour without any discomfort.


There are 2 modes to wear the earbuds.
1. With stabilizers
On first time use, fitting the stabilizers (fins) may take a while as you need to acclimatize to how to slide them in and how to orientate the fins. Once you get the hang of it, it's quite simple. They provide a better fit and an assurance that they won't fall out so easily. One thing to note is the fins need to be taken out before you store the buds in the capsule.

2. Earbuds alone
This is the most common and convenient way to use the earbuds. Squeeze the foam tips, insert them with the L / R markings inward and that's it. Taking them out from the capsule and storing them is hassle free. If you're going out for commutes on the train / bus, this is more than sufficient as the Earin lodges quite well in the ear. Want additional assurance? Use the fins.

While the wireless earbuds themselves are a conversation starter, somehow the sound quality becomes secondary. But it shouldn't. The Earin supports aptX which promises 'near CD-quality' sound, a feature that you will appreciate if you are able to appreciate the finer nuances in your music. A sample of dreamy Tame Impala's The Less I Know The Better gives a rather well balanced performance. This is reinforced with Armin Van Buuren's Touch Me with a combination of engaging bass and vocals coming through with gusto. 



A niggling point is that the audio signal on the right earbud tends to drop intermittently, though this can easily be fixed by pausing and playing the track.

The 60mAh Lithium-Ion battery will power the earbuds for 2h50min in stereo mode. 10 minutes before dying, there'll be a chime to alert you. The charging time for earphones takes 75min in the capsule which will display a red LED when charging. Note that whenever you store the earbuds, they will automatically charge.

For the capsule, it takes 75min to charge the 600mAh Lithium-Ion battery which holds enough for 3 charges of the earbuds. The side lights up red when charging and green when done.  

Overall
The presentation of the Earin product and packaging boiled down to two things for us - simplicity and innovation. The product is not without flaws but forgivable if you are willing to be a first adopter of a very innovative device that will get you some quizzical glances when commuting. The overall experience of using the Earin is quite agreeable. It makes you well aware that technology of the future is already here. With more interest in this product category, we can't wait to see how wireless earbuds evolve.

Now available for sale on audiosplitz (Singapore)!
Carousell:






Audio Sources
The Less I Know The Better - Tame Impala (Tidal 1411kbps FLAC) on Samsung Galaxy S4
Touch Me - Armin Van Buuren, Rising Star (Tidal 1411kbps FLAC) on Samsung Galaxy S4


Credit to Leader Radio Technologies for an evaluation unit.

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