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9to5 Mac - Review: Can the Erato Apollo 7 fill the wireless earbud void before Apple’s AirPods?

9to5 Mac - Review: Can the Erato Apollo 7 fill the wireless earbud void before Apple’s AirPods?
9to5mac - Greg Barbosa
I discovered the Erato Apollo 7 a few months ago during its Kickstarter campaign and nearly immediately knew it would be a pair of earbuds that could fit into my life nicely. It really looked like the first pair of true wireless earbuds that included all the functionality I wanted, without sacrificing any distinct feature. With the AirPods being delayed potentially as far out as January, is there a possibility that the Erato Apollo 7 ($299) is ready to fill the void that Apple left with the iPhone 7?

Design | Charging Case

When I first picked up the Apollo 7s charging case, I felt as though I was holding a futuristic version of a contact lens case, or a compact eye-glasses case. It’s a small, smooth, and tough package that feels solid in the hand all the way around. It’s got a firm weight to it that includes a slide out tray where the earbuds sit in to charge.

Placing the earbuds into the charging tray feels much simpler and more secure than Earin’s own as each piece lodges into place when charging. The individual earbuds have a charging LED to help indicate when each earbud is charging and an external LED on the case itself to show the same.

The charging LEDs on the Erato case are an unobtrusive soft white that simply turn off when the case and buds are fully charged. I’m not a fan of large colorful LEDs on tech products and Erato hit the nail on the head in terms of balance here.

Design | Earbuds

The Apollo 7 earbuds have a dichromatic design, one color for the main body of the earbud, and another one that surrounds the charging contact point and control. Looking at them today I still can’t quite tell how I feel about the design choice. It could be choice of using two colors, or just the paint on the earbuds themselves, but sometimes they just appear…cheap. I think I may have preferred a pair of earbuds that had an all around consistent color.

I do like the torpedo style design, akin to what Earin did with their earbuds. The blinking LED on the earbud is very welcome too as it becomes obvious when the earbud is running out of battery, and whether or not it’s charging once placed in the case.

The button control on the Erato is my favorite part of the earpieces. When not in the ear, the control is an obvious, click-centric button. It presses nicely and sounds great in the ear without producing an annoyingly loud pop every time it’s pressed. Having the ability to control my audio and have feedback that I actually pressed the button is very welcoming.

The earbuds come with a pack of different ear tips and this time around I decided to stick with the smallest Comply foam earbud tips. I found myself liking them substantially more than I thought I would have. Although the Earin included Comply ear tips, I couldn’t quite ever get them to sit in my ear properly. I have to think the difference here is because the Erato Apollo 7’s ear tips design juts straight out versus resting at an angle away from the earbud.

I did notice that after about a week of using these every single day my left ear started to experience some pain along the ear canal and some overall sensitive hearing to sounds. I still haven’t quite settled on whether this is my fault by not allowing my ears to relax after having music blasted into them near millimeters away all day, or that the Apollo 7 earbuds go pretty far into the canal to get a secure hold.

Audio

As soon as I hit play on the Apollo 7 earbuds I knew these would be new everyday wireless buds. All the audio quality issues I had with my Earin and Syllable true wireless earbuds didn’t remotely exist here. The sound was loud, clear, and balanced. While I wanted a bit more kick out of the bass, I was more than happy with the overall audio.

On the Earin earbuds I got accustomed to only listening to podcasts as my ears seemed to favor that during the testing. With the Erato Apollo 7 I was ready and able to enjoy all audio content formats and still have a good auditory experience. Podcast voices came in nicely balanced without any pains of high treble, and bass heavy music never muddled the experience.

 

All in all, I found the Erato’s audio quality easily surpassing my expectations and other true wireless earbuds I’ve been testing. Though the sound can’t compete with headphones that have larger audio drivers, for the size they were they held their own.

Where it did suffer was in phone calls. I found that more than 90% of the time others couldn’t hear me at all, causing me to switch to the iPhone’s microphone during the call. While not too inconvenient, it was definitely a bit annoying to be able to answer from the earbuds but not have anyone hear me. Strangely enough the microphone on the earbuds was just good enough that Siri could understand my requests.

Connectivity

The most impressive part of Erato’s Apollo 7, has to have been the fact that it so rarely disconnected. Across all the true wireless earbuds I had tested, every single one faced a variation on disconnection issues. The Erato Apollo 7 earbuds stayed connected to one another and to my devices without failing me whenever I needed it.

In the moments it did disconnect from my iPhone I would have to reconnect them through Settings, but the earbuds themselves never disconnected from one another. Gone were the issues I had where music in one earbud would get out of sync from the other, or then eventually play at slight delays.

Battery Life

Erato’s specs list the Apollo 7 as having three hours of continuous play time, and four hours of talk time. Based on the play time estimates alone I would say it was accurate. I found myself streaming music and playing for a little over three hours and whenever it died I would just drop them into the charging case that came with them. I used the charging case multiple times over the day and it was more than adequate in getting what I needed done.

Although the Erato Apollo 7 doesn’t have a quick charge functionality in the way the Apple AirPods have stated (15 minutes equaling three hours of battery life), it was never a terrible experience having to slide them into the charging tray.

Misc.

The Erato Apollo 7 includes audible voice prompts while powering on the device, when it pairs to the opposite earbud, and when it pairs with the phone. Not loud or annoying at all, the voice prompts are a welcome addition in letting me know that everything is about to work as well as it should.

The Apollo 7 is also waterproof, something I didn’t even realize could be important until on my second day of owning the pair they fell into my dog’s water bowl. Following the instructions in the guide, I left the earbuds out for 24 hours without touching them. After the 24 hours were up, I picked them up and went right back to playing them as good as day one.

Conclusion

It’s impossible to review true wireless earbuds nowadays without thinking of what Apple’s AirPods could even be like. The Apollo 7 and AirPods share a lot of similarities with the ability to control audio from the earbuds themselves to the charging case. Based on what we’ve seen with the AirPods though, I truly believe the Erato Apollo 7 holds a candle to Apple’s (yet to be released) AirPods.

In features and usage alone I rank it high, but it will definitely have to find a way to compete or turn over Apple customers because the $299 price point for the Apollo 7 is hard to swallow.

Original Article: 

https://9to5mac.com/2016/11/01/review-erato-apollo-7-true-wireless-earbuds/

Ideaing - Gain Freedom With Erato’s Apollo 7 Wireless Earphones

Ideaing - Gain Freedom With Erato’s Apollo 7 Wireless Earphones

Ideaing - Stuart Campbell

For those that love high quality music, or just like to be lost in a podcast, it’s nice to be able to tune out the outside world without sacrificing mobility. I travel a lot and have gone through a lot of various headsets.

At one point, I even carried around a set of full-size headphones because I loved the sounds they gave, but the bulk eventually gave way to various wired earbuds of varying quality. The issue with these though is that wires just get in the way too often.

Living with the Erato Apollo 7 wireless earbuds for the last week, I can honestly say that these are the best sounding and most convenient headsets I’ve used so far.

Disclosure: Erato wanted us to evaluate their headphones so bad that they sent me a pair of Apollo 7 wireless earphones and let me test them in various conditions. 

Convenience

So why are having wireless headsets so great? In a word; mobility. I like my music all the time, at home, at work, and on the go. When you’re wired in, moving around things at work can get you tangled. I often just got frustrated with the dangling cord as I switched notepads, went for my coffee, or rummaged through my bag for a pen.

There are a lot of situations that I found freedom to listen to music in my day to day life with the Erato wireless headphones. For example, cleaning or doing projects around the house were impossible with a wired headsets. I found that my workout was way less distracting as well as I didn’t have my wire flapping around while jogging or while reaching for free weights.

The best part about them is, compared to the Apple AirPods, you don’t have to wait for these at some unspecified date and don’t have to put up with the dorky hanging bits.

 

 Sound Quality

For those have had the pleasure of experiencing a high end set of full-sized Bose or Sennheiser headphones, I would say that these are on par with those high-end brands. For their size and convenience, I haven’t heard any better in a similar price range. I listened to a lot of different types of music to get a feel of the quality in different ranges, and I was impressed.

What impressed me the most was the fullness of the sound at all level. The higher end was clean and the bass was full. I didn’t hear any degradation even at high volume.

Comfort

Included with the Apollo 7’s are two types of earphone tips: standard round tips, and high quality foam tips. I found that the standard round tips worked well to block out outside noise which was nice in a cafe, and could be used as earplugs on a flight. The foam tips however provided superior sound quality and comfort. I left these in my ears for house and had no pain or irritation that I normally experience with earbuds.

One thing that I couldn’t figure out is that that there are a set of stabilizers in the box that I could not figure out how to use. I worked out with these and did a few vigorous head-shakes just for fun, and I couldn’t get them to come out.

 

erato-apollo-7-case-500

 

Features

The Apollo 7’s have little buttons on each earbud, and pushing them in different combinations offers some simple control of things like answering your phone and adjusting the volume. But learning the commands is a bit like learning Morse Code as it relies on combinations of long and short presses.

If you sweat a lot, or are worried about losing these in the sink, Erato boasts nano waterproof technology. I did not try this feature, but it’s good to know a mishap won’t ruin your investment.

One feature I would have liked is a way to tell battery percentage. As it is, there is just a little voice that indicates low battery about 5 minutes before they turn off.

Also included is a nifty charge case that is compact as has extra charge for your headsets so you can charge them on the go. I found this very convenient. The battery life is about 4 hours, but with the case, you can charge easily during a meeting or a nap. Just make sure to snap the earbuds into place in the holder or they won’t charge correctly.

 

earto_inside

 

Connectivity

Hold the power button for 5 seconds. Tap one on your phone’s Bluetooth menu. Enjoy.

The process for connecting these to my phone the simplest Bluetooth connection I’ve ever seen. And even after a week with these, there was never a time I had to reconnect them.

Over the course of using them, I did have a few hiccups, but overall they were very stable. I ran a test around my house and the connection was stable across my kitchen and living room when I had line of site. Going around a corner gave the headphones a bad case of the hiccups. Considering that my phone is usually on my desk, in my pocket, or in my gym bag nearby, this was never a practical issue.

 

Erato Colors

 

Conclusion

The $300 price does put the Apollo 7 earphones on the top shelf, however, if you are in the market for something of this caliber, the excellent quality of sound and convenience of Bluetooth makes the Apollo 7 earbuds worth it. We at Ideaing highly recommend the Apollo 7 earbuds.

Original Article:

https://ideaing.com/ideas/gain-freedom-with-eratos-apollo-7-wireless-earphones

CNET - Erato Apollo 7 Review

CNET - Erato Apollo 7 Review

CNET - David Carnoy  

THE GOOD The Erato Apollo 7 is a lightweight, totally wireless set of earphones that delivers mostly hiccup-free operation. They sound good, are sweat-resistant (they can be used for running), and a charging case with an integrated battery supplies multiple charges on the go.

THE BAD They're expensive, the battery life is only 3 hours and the firmware isn't upgradable.

THE BOTTOM LINE Although it's a bit too pricey, the Erato Apollo 7 is one of the first truly wireless headphones that works well and delivers decent sound.

Erato, a Taiwanese startup, bills its Apollo 7 as the world's most compact true wireless earphones -- that emerging category of Bluetooth headphones with separate left and right standalone earbuds with no connecting cable in between. Apple might dispute that claim now that it's unveiled its AirPods, but the Apollo 7s certainly are very small, lightweight and among the best of this new breed of headphone.

The key to all these truly wireless earphones is that the wireless Bluetooth connection between both your phone (the audio source) and the two buds needs to be rock solid. Or close to it anyway. And that's what's impressive about the Apollo 7s: they worked just like a standard in-ear Bluetooth headphones, with minimal hiccups and dropouts. It's also worth noting that after I paired them with my phone once, I had no trouble pairing them again.

How it works is that you pair one of the buds (I chose the right one) with your phone or another Bluetooth-enabled device, then you turn the other bud on and it pairs automatically to the first bud to form a stereo connection. If you want to use only one bud as a headset, you can do that.

During the nearly three weeks I used the Apollo 7, operation wasn't totally flawless. There were a few minor glitches. For instance, the headphone locked up once and wouldn't produce sound, even though it was paired to the phone. Solution: I powered off my phone, restarted it and the issue resolved itself.

I thought the Apollo 7 sounded quite good for Bluetooth earbuds, with a reasonable amount clarity and decent bass. Included in the box are various silicone and foam tips. Using one of the larger silicone tips I managed to get a secure fit and that tight seal really helps improve sound quality (if you don't like having eartips jammed in your ears, this isn't the headphone for you).

That said, like a lot of Bluetooth headphones, the Apollo 7's performance can be somewhat uneven. By that I mean that they sound very good with some tracks and not as great with others.

They're a touch bright in the treble and a bit forward in the midrange. For instance, with Amy Winehouse's "Valerie -- Live, BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, London 2007" I had to ratchet back the volume because her voice had a little bit of a harsh edge to it at higher volumes. The headphone will also distort with certain tracks at higher volumes, so it's best to use it at around 60-75 percent volume. (It does play loud enough, however.)

A good wired in-ear headphone, such as the $150 Bose SoundTrue Ultra, which both CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg and I like a lot, easily bests this headphone, with smoother, richer sound. Bose's SoundSport Wireless also sounds a little better than the Apollo 7 for about half the price. But the SoundTrue is a wired headphone, and the SoundSport is wireless with a wire connecting the left and right earpieces. The Apollo 7, by comparison, has absolutely no wires. Given that stipulation, they they sound relatively impressive, especially compared to the bulk of the current competition. It also helps that that they maintain a good connection.

Comparisons to rival full wireless 'phones

For comparison in that fully wireless realm, I pitted the Apollo 7 against the Bragi Dash and Earin, the latter of which also lays claim to being the world's smallest completely wireless earphones.

Of the three, the Apollo 7 had the most reliable connection by a long shot. Although I like the Bragi Dash and Earin -- both fit me well -- they had frequent hiccups, which made it it difficult to listen to them on the go (I ran with the Dash).

The Earin, which actually weighs less (3.5 grams) than the Apollo 7 (4 grams), is well designed and sounds good but is missing a microphone for making calls (its price has come down to $200 from $280).

In contrast, The Bragi Dash is loaded with features, including a heart-rate monitor, touch controls, 4GB of onboard storage for MP3s and its firmware is upgradable (the Apollo 7's isn't). I also like how the Dash has a feature that allows you to let ambient sound in so you can have a conversation without taking the earbuds out of your ears (the Apollo 7 doesn't have this feature, and Apple's AirPods have a more open design, so they allow some sound in).

That said, for a lot of people the Dash's feature set may be overkill and the touch controls don't work as well as I'd hoped. That headphone has improved since its launch, but if you don't have a rock-solid connection for Bluetooth streaming, it's a serious issue, and the Dash doesn't.

How does the Apollo 7 compare with the Apple AirPods? Well, I certainly like that the Apollo 7 doesn't look like a pair of white "hipster earrings." And my colleague Scott Stein found that the Apollo 7s have more bass than Apple's wireless earphones when comparing them. But the caveats abound. We don't have final hardware on the EarPods (the consumer version hits in October), so consider that initial bass impression to be tentative. The Apollo 7 costs nearly double the price of AirPods, which is a problem. And the AirPods' battery life is rated at 67 percent longer. Ouch.

Wireless sports headphone to boot

The Apollo 7s are sweat-resistant, so you can use them for running or working out at the gym and you get a couple sets of wing accessories to help lock the buds in place.

The wings are pretty generic and could be better designed (I'd like to see that a little more integrated into the bud), but I'm glad Erato includes them. You can control your music and volumes levels using your phone or use the single multifunction buttons on each ear to skip tracks forward, answer and end calls, and raise and lower the volume. There are microphones built into both buds and when a call comes in, you go into mono mode, with only one of the buds outputting sound. I thought it worked reasonably well as headset, though it isn't business class (sometimes people asked me to repeat what I said).

Battery life is rated at just 3 hours, which isn't great but standard for this type of headphone. But the good news is that a charging case is included, and when you're finished using the buds, you click them into their charging compartments in the case, close the case, and charging begins.

At first I thought it'd be easy to lose the buds. But after getting into the habit of slipping them into the their case, I really wasn't worried about that so much, although the case is made out of smooth plastic and could slide out of your pocket if you're sitting in a deep seat (think couch or lounge chair).

Pause for pricing

In the end my only real gripe with the Apollo 7 is the price. When it launched as a Kickstarter, you could get the headphone in an early-bird special for $250. But now the list price on these is $300, which is simply too much, even if they're among the handful of these type of headphones that deliver a reliable connection and fit well.

I suspect they'll beat the AirPods on sound quality (we'll update this review when we get a final sample of the AirPods), but the AirPods will offer the same reliable connection, battery life and probably better headset performance (for phone calls) for almost half the cost.

Erato does have a couple of more affordable totally wireless headphones coming out later this year -- the Muse 5 and Rio 3 -- but I hope the Apollo 7 comes down in price because it deserves consideration and may get overlooked otherwise.

Here are the key specs of the Apollo 7:

  • True wireless: Completely tangle-free stereo sound wherever you go without annoying cables to tie you down.
  • Bluetooth 4.1: Full support for advanced AAC, SBC, and aptX audio standards.
  • Weight: 4g
  • Single-touch multifunction: With a single button you can power on/off, take a call, play music, skip tracks, change volume or even access Siri easily by tapping, holding, or double-tapping on the button.
  • Aluminum charging case: Two full earphone charges even with the case unplugged.
  • Microphone : Integrated MEMS omnidirectional microphone with an input sensitivity of -42dB (+/- 2dB).
  • Waterproof: Mano-coating offers excellent liquid protection.
  • Voice : Works with both Siri and Google Now.

Original Article: 

https://www.cnet.com/products/erato-apollo-7/review/