Ahead of CES 2021, Earin — the company that single-handedly started the true wireless earbud industry — has launched its latest product, the $199 Earin A-3, true wireless earbuds that the company claims are smaller and lighter than anything else on the market today. Available with a black or silver charging case, the A-3 use an open design, which means they sit just inside your ear’s concha and they don’t use silicone ear-tips to create a seal with your ear canal. Earin says this is more comfortable than the in-ear designs, and you could wear them all day without fatigue if you wanted to.
The Apple AirPods use a similar approach, but they suffer from relatively poor sound quality, especially when it comes to low-end bass. You’d expect the A-3 to have similar problems with audio quality, but the company’s engineers have stuffed a massive, custom-designed 14.3mm speaker element inside the tiny enclosures. Earin says these are very powerful and move a lot more air than its previous models.
That driver apparently doesn’t leave much room for any other components, or for a bigger battery — the A-3 only get five hours of playtime, despite not needing to power features like active noise cancellation (ANC) or hands-free voice assistant activation, like the $249 AirPods Pro offer.
The elegant, anodized aluminum charging case is surprisingly big when compared to the A-3 earbuds, but the company sayss this is the result of having a big internal battery (it stores an additional 25 hours of life) and the ability to do wireless charging (in addition to a USB-C connection).
One very unusual aspect of the A-3 is their lack of left and right designation on the earbuds. Instead, they’re designed to automatically detect which ear they’re in and can adjust the stereo channels accordingly.
Another intriguing feature is the built-in accelerometer. It performs three functions: It can sense finger taps as an alternative to the capacitive touch controls when used in conjunction with the single external microphone, it can detect and transmit voices for calls, and it’s also used for the left/right detection feature. The Earin app for iOS and Android supports the customization of touch functions, downloadable firmware updates, and shows you the battery life remaining in each earbud.
Despite their open design, the A-3 are able to deal with dust and a certain amount of water. They have a claimed IP52 rating which is enough protection for a sweaty workout, though not much more. The buds have wear-detection sensors, which lets them pause and resume playback automatically when you remove or reinsert them. Powering the earbuds is Qualcomm’s QCC5121 chipset. It supports SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX low latency Bluetooth codecs.
It remains to be seen if the A-3 can deliver audio quality that’s on-par with other $200 true wireless earbuds. With an open design that inherently lets in a lot of ambient noise, this will be a challenge. It will also be interesting to see if folks are prepared to fork over that much money for a set of earbuds that don’t have ANC, long battery life, or the secure fit of a set of in-ear earbuds. The A-3 will initially only be offered to Earin’s original Kickstarter backers, as a Founders’ Edition, but will soon be sold through Amazon and Earin’s website.