A few years ago, I received a set of successfully-kickstarted true wireless stereo earbuds. I’ve always been wary of crowdfunded audio projects, because they’ve often either not shipped, or failed to live up to expectations. The Earfun Free TWS buds, for the most part, did everything they said they would.
I wasn’t expecting much from the small and unassuming package, but I was pleasantly surprised by decent sound, above average battery life, forwarding thinking features like touch access to digital assistants and USB-C cables when the industry was still largely using the tried and tested, cheaper micro USB connections. They delivered an awful lot for their initial $49 selling price, making them an unbeatable entry in the budget sphere.
Things have changed an awful lot when it comes to TWS earbuds since then. Chinese manufacturers have increased their quality by magnitudes and new designs are stuffed with features to help differentiate them from the torrents of similar products vying for eyeballs on the internet.
Earfun’s latest set, the Earfun Air, doesn’t really do much to stand out from the pack – but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth your attention. Instead of the usual, ubiquitous TWS bud, they opted for in the Earfun Free. The Earfun Air moulds itself a little more after Apple’s Earpods, with stalks that prod out of the bottom, like earphones of yore – just without the unnecessary dangling wires. This configuration does have its benefits; with shifted internals, they tend to be a little less bulky than buds and pebbles. These, when inserted, are almost flush with the meaty knobbles of my pinnae. This means I can actually lie on my side, head against pillow with these inserted, and not feel too much in the way of discomfort; something I can’t say for the ultimately better, but decidedly bulkier sets I own.
The fit on them is comfortable and mostly secure, but I did feel that without anything to stabilise them, they could fall out if you’re being a little too frenetic. The set comes with three pairs of tips for you to find the best fit and seal. Each earpiece has touch-sensitive controls, letting you do basic operation without having to haul out your phone. I quite like that the volume control is simple; holding your finger on the right control increases volume, while doing the same on the left decreases it. Too many sets I’ve used have weird, arcane systems for controlling volume that make me reach for my phone in frustration. I wish the rest of the controls were as intuitive, but they’re not; double taps and triple taps on different buds are the order of the day. One thing you don’t generally find in this price category is in-ear detection. Take one of them out of your ear and the audio pauses, to resume again once you’ve stuck it back in your ear.
The storage case is a sleek little number, thinner than most I’ve used. It’s a matte black plastic that’s a bit of a greasy fingerprint trap. It’s held closed by a secure magnetic lid that’s not too tight, so it’s easy enough to get open. Getting the buds out of the case can be a little trickier. Thanks to their shape, how tightly they sit in their cradles, and their general smoothness, they can be slippery buggers. The case itself is equipped with Qi wireless charging, which is a nice addition in a set this price (it’s just $10 more than the original Earfun Free), though the port for charging the case is located on the bottom, and there’s something about that that just rankles (for no good reason). As for battery life, you can expect around 6 to 7 hours of use from the buds on a single charge, with the case letting it charge up enough to give you up to an additional 28 hours.
The one thing that does differentiate from others in its class though, is the IPX7 certification. That makes them fully waterproof; safe from most sources of water ingress. While I wouldn’t recommend it, you could probably submerge them completely, but Bluetooth’s inherent issues mean you wouldn’t be able to swim with them and still expect audio. Still, they’re safe for walking in the rain or heavy sessions at the gym if that’s your wont.
This waffle is all meaningless if the Airs were just awful to listen to. They’re a decent set. They support Bluetooth 5.0, which makes connection easy and stable. You won’t get aptX sup[port oar active noise cancellation, but expecting those at features at this price point seems a little greedy. One you’ve got the right tips in and created a good seal, there’s a nice thundering bass that accompanies some crisp highs – but it’s really in the mids where the whole thing loses its lustre. The single dynamic drivers don’t do an exceptional job here, falling to congestion. The highs are nicely sculpted, and – as long as you have tips that create a seal – they’re propped up by some solid bass. There’s practically no distortion even at high volumes, with neither the highs or lows being too overpowering. As said though, if you use the wrong tips you’ll likely find the sound to be on the flat, tinny side. There’s a fancy quad array of microphones that mean your calls and voice notes don’t sound like you’re stuck in a tunnel, so that’s nice.
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Last Updated: November 3, 2021