Erato’s Muse 5 wireless in-ear headphones give AirPods a run for their money

Apple’s AirPods are probably the first really mainstream completely wireless headphones, but Erato has been making these for a while now. The company’s latest is the Muse 5, a set of in-ear buds that are cheaper than their debut Apollo 7 option, but still come with a charging case and very respectable battery life.

The Muse 5’s least impressive feature might be their design – it’s a bit like you’re putting bulky buds you found at the local gas station in your ears, with the plastic construction and contrasting color plastic ring on each unit. But they are completely wireless, and effectively so, which is not something you’ll get at the gas station, obviously. Plus, their design is ergonomic – the two-part ear canal soft silicon tips ensure a snug fit, at least in my experience, without requiring tricks like memory foam to ensure a seal.

The overall look and feel of the Muse 5 contrasts considerably with Erato’s Apollo 7, the wireless buds it released last year. But the Muse 5 gets a bit more battery life than its predecessor, with four hours of music playback per full charge instead of just three, and the case packs enough backup charge to get you up to 12 hours of playback without having to connect to a plug-in power source.

Muse 5 is also more unobtrusive than the Apollo 7, which stick some distance out of your ears. They’re also more subtle than Apple’s own AirPods, provided you get the black version, and they’re more likely to sit comfortably and securely in your ears if you happen to have ear shapes that don’t work with Apple’s native wireless buds.

 Sound quality is good on the Muse 5, better than you might expect given the build quality and materials used. They sound as good as wired earbuds in this price range, and have better sound isolation than Apple’s AirPods, and potentially better sound depending on how you like your tunes. The built-in microphone also works well, despite not having any special beam forming magic, although you wont’ want to use it for more than issuing Siri commands and making quick calls.

After trying a number of different sets of completely wireless buds, the Muse 5 strike a good balance in terms of price tag, features, sound quality and design (though they’re lacking the most in this last area). I did experience very occasional dropouts, but that’s par for the course with even teh best among these devices. For $180, the Muse 5 is a good alternative to the AirPods that stand a much better chance of working with your ears, and with sound that won’t leave you wishing you’d waited for something better.

AirPods Are a ‘Runaway Success’, Says Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook fielded questions during a tour of New York Stock Exchange with his nephew on Wednesday, and he provided a non-answer around the initial success of AirPods.

AirPods Are a 'Runaway Success', Says Apple CEO Tim CookAsked by a CNBC reporter of the early response towards the product, and how they were unavailable in most places around New York, Cook called AirPods “a runaway success” and added that Apple is “making them just as fast as we can” to refill stocks and meet demand from holiday buyers.

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If you go by Apple’s own website, that seems to hold true. Anyone who ordered a pair of AirPods a day after their launch would have to wait six weeks for them to ship, and that still seems to be the case. Store pickups are no better, with no available date in sight until mid-February around the US.

Unfortunately, that hardly tell us anything. The availability of a product depends not just on how many people are buying one, but more so on how many a company can manufacture ahead of release, and keep up the production in response to the buzz around it. Cook’s comments on the success of the AirPods hardly contribute to what we could glean ourselves, and a generic statement such as his is something you expect an executive to make after the launch of any product.

There are no concrete numbers to back up his “runaway success” claim, and knowing Apple – which puts everything from the iPod and Apple Watch to the Apple TV and Beats headphones in one category called “Other Products” – it seems AirPods will be included there as well. That makes it hard to decipher which product contributed more or less compared to the previous quarter’s earnings, and as a result it becomes highly unlikely we’ll ever get any proper numbers on that front.

Doing so allows Apple to try out products, such as Apple Watch, that aren’t as big a draw as the iPhone and Mac lineup, while noting to investors that the same products don’t matter heavily in Apple’s global success. To note, “Other Products” only accounted for 5 percent of the company’s revenue in the latest reported quarter.

If the company does decide to release numbers in the future, that will only be when AirPods hit a worthy milestone. Without that, it’s down to market analysis and research firms.

AirPods Will Be Shipped in ‘Next Few Weeks’, Alleged Email From Tim Cook Reads

AirPods Will Be Shipped in 'Next Few Weeks', Alleged Email From Tim Cook ReadsApple had promised to begin shipping the wireless AirPods in October, however, the company has since delayed shipments with no clear timeline as to when customers can expect them. Now, in an allegedl customer response email, CEO Tim Cook himself has said that the shipment should roll out in the next few weeks.

MacRumors got hold of this email response; however it refrains from vouching for its credibility. Cook’s response to the grievance mail clearly mentions that Apple will begin shipping the AirPods in the coming weeks. The grief email from the customer and Cook’s response can be read below:

Customer’s comment: “Give us a release date. I really bought in to the wireless vision you painted. Now I’m stuck waiting with my EarPods but can’t charge my 7 at the same time which I need to do at work. Let us know if it’s a month or 6 months, because then I’ll just buy some other wireless headphones.”

Tim Cook’s response: “Thanks for your note. Sorry for the delay—we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks.”

At its iPhone event in September, Apple got rid of the headphone jack on its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plushandsets, and compensated for it by bundling Lightning-powered EarPods and launching the new wireless AirPods. The AirPods, whenever they arrive, can be bought for $159 (Rs. 15,400 in India).

They are powered by the company’s new W1 wireless chip, the company’s first wireless chip, which enables quick pairing and connectivity with the iPhone. The earphones feature dual optical sensors and accelerometers in each ear bud which work with the W1 chip to detect when the headphones are in your ears and only play when you’re ready to listen. Double-tapping the AirPods enables Siri, and the microphone is designed to focus on voice and filter out external sound.

The AirPods were expected to be announced in October, but Apple announced a delay reasoning that ‘it wasn’t ready to ship’. It was then tipped that the AirPods would be shipped starting November 30 but that didn’t happen either. There’s another rumour that the AirPods won’t be shipped before January 2017.