Updated: Aug 20
The Earin A-3 are the world’s smallest and lightest earbuds, and honestly? I’m not sure how I feel about them. You might not have heard about Earin before, but they were the first to bring true wireless earbuds to the market back in 2015.
Let’s talk about the case first. It’s really compact, that’s the first thing you’ll notice. Most of it is made with a matte finish aluminium that’s really nice to the touch, it feels premium and it’s definitely miles better than glossy plastic. On the rear, you get a black plastic area for wireless charging, which is definitely a nice feature to have. This black plastic area also houses a button to put the earbuds into pairing mode when they’re in the case. You can also charge these via USB-C at the bottom.
That’s about it for the case, so let’s move on to the earbuds because they’re really unique. There’s no stem design for these and they’re general open-fit earbuds, but what’s really cool is that either earbud can be used in your left and right ears. That’s right; the earbuds are essentially identical, so you don’t have to fumble to figure out which earbud goes into which ear. This works through an accelerometer in the earbuds.
If the E in the EARIN logo is facing up, it’s associated with being put into the right ear. If the N is facing up, then the earbuds assume it’s in the left. Something nice that Earin has done here is that if you’re sharing your earbuds with a friend to watch a movie or something and you both have it in your right ears, the earbuds switch to mono instead of stereo, which is pretty cool.
Now, I typically don’t like open-fit earbuds, and while I do still have some quibbles with the A-3, I actually found these to fit really securely and comfortably in my ears. They don’t feel secure, but they didn’t fall out even when I was eating and drinking with them in. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of complaints about these not sitting well for other people, so your mileage will definitely vary. If you’re looking to get these, I recommend purchasing them from a retailer that offers refunds without too much hassle. I know purchasing from Earin themselves comes with a 14-day return period, so that’s one good point.
There are touch controls in the small fins that protrude from the ear, and while there’s an Android app available for download from the Play Store, I couldn’t get it to recognise that the earbuds were connected to my phone. The best part? I heard the iOS app was better, so I downloaded the iOS app.
No luck. It just kept connecting and disconnecting and asking me to reconnect and put the earphones next to the iPhone. Overall, I’d say this is the area where Earin has failed terribly. The user experience with the app is absolutely horrific, and I’m saying this without even getting into the app to see what it offers because I’m just unable to even get past the connecting stage. I’d rather not even have the app at this point, because it’s just sitting on the screen mocking me from both phones.
That also means I couldn’t customise the touch settings, but right out of the box, you get double-tap for play/pause control and that’s it. There’s also wearing detection, but I found it a bit unreliable; best case, it took 2 seconds to activate, and worst case, it took 5 seconds. 5 is a bit too long, but the inconsistency of it all is just frustrating.
Sound quality really is the one redeeming factor here. Earin has somehow managed to cram 14.3mm drivers into this tiny shell along with all the other electronics and mics and stuff, which is really very impressive. There’s aptX support and you get a nicely balanced sound, with surprisingly decent bass and a wide soundstage with clear and detailed treble and vocals. There are a few problems that creep in from time to time though.
Because of the open-fit design, external noise leaks in, which means I found myself playing music at a really high volume in order to really get to hear all the details. We’re talking 70 to 80% volume here, which is way too high. At that stage, distortion starts to creep in. I wouldn’t say it’s a very big deal, but because of the open-fit and the fact that there’s no ANC at all in these, you’re going to have a pretty tough time listening to music in noisy environments. If you’re out for a jog in the park or something, that’s fine; you get the best of both worlds with awareness of your surroundings and good sound quality, but if you’re on the train or something? It’s gonna be tough.
Despite that, I’m very impressed with the fact that instrument imaging is still great, and the feature where you can use either earbud in either ear? Very cool. It’s a great concept all around, to be honest. I just think that the A-3 is let down by the terrible apps and the fact that there’s no ANC included. If both points were fixed, I think this could be a very enticing product for people who don’t like earbuds with silicone ear tips.
Battery life is okay, Earin claimed around 5 hours on the earbuds with a total of 30 hours when you add in the charging case, but I found that to be a bit exaggerated. Perhaps it was because I had to use the earbuds at higher volumes, but I got around 4 hours or so out of the earbuds, so it’s pretty average, but I’ll cut it some slack because of how small they are.
At S$299 or US$199, it’s not cheap, and I think it’s priced a bit too high for what it offers. If Earin fixes the apps and throws in some sort of ANC in a future firmware update, I’d say it might be worth it then. But right now? I’d just stay away from these.
Content by Cheryl Tan