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Whether AirPods the audiophile? Test the sound quality of wireless headphones Apple

AirPods headphones you probably either already bought, or are thinking about. Many weighing whether wireless headset Apple 12 000. Experts 3DNews, professional testing audio equipment, I decided to test the sound quality AirPods according to the method of FSQ, which is used on the competition car and home audio.

The main issues of concern to potential buyers — “Not lost?” and “How often do you have to charge?” already found the answers. But this approach is not entirely fair to AirPods. Even the way they positioned Apple itself gives the impression that they are just a wireless version of the EarPods. But what if you mentally put AirPods on a par with other compact headphones (“ear buds” in-ear and) their price category, and no matter wired or wireless, and evaluate at their main parameter is the sound quality?

The FSQ method was originally designed for the evaluation of automotive acoustics as an alternative method IASCA and subsequently adopted by the international society AES. Pretty quickly FSQ began to be used in testing home speakers. The method in its standard version includes 14 test tracks, which are assessed the following characteristics of the acoustic system:

  • Stock sound tract undistorted volume level.
  • The correct phasing of the audio.
  • The presence of resonances, noise and interference in audio path;
  • The ability of the audio section to reproduce the lowest audio frequencies.
  • The flatness of the sound path.
  • The linearity of the stereo image width of the sound stage.
  • Micro-dynamics and separation sound stage in depth.
  • The position and focus of the stereo image in the horizontal and vertical planes, and the naturalness of the transmission of musical attack.
  • Musical and timbral balance of the sound of musical instruments and vocals.
  • The linearity of sound in terms of volume and macrodynamics.
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    One of the advantages of this method is that a clear evaluation criteria, which compensate for subjective testing. In many tests, the expert only need to answer if he can hear on the recording the sounds that it should be, or Vice versa — those that should not be.

    For comparison were also tested wired headphones EarPods supplied with the iPhone connected to the iPhone 7. The test records the FSQ was previously converted from WAV to Apple Lossless format (ALAC).

    Testing showed that the AirPods not wheezing at maximum volume, which is 70 dB. They do not have obvious problems with the coordination of the phases, although in the range of low frequency sound in phase is localized slightly less clearly. If wired EarPods bass is heard starting frequency of 25 Hz, the AirPods from 20 Hz.

    In the tenth test on micro-dynamics and depth of sound stage (a small piece of music with two instruments — bass and drums) in the AirPods on the soundtrack is heard and the shock of the fingers on the fingerboard, and even the occasional touching the plate with his elbow drummer. Thus in AirPods these sounds louder, more clearly, the friction of the bow on the strings of the double bass. Headphones of this type cannot fully capture the depth of the scene, but AirPods and EarPods put musical instruments in the middle plan, not entirely inside the head of the listener

    As a result of listening experts came to the conclusion that the AirPods give “very good sound in the class of in-ear headphones”. While wireless headphones sound quality ahead of the standard Apple wired headset.

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    Have AirPods and the EarPods have a common dignity. A strong feature of both models is their open design, which occurs detailed sound panorama. Of course, headphones of this type, and headphones in General cannot capture the depth of the scene, but the EarPods and AirPods, at least, there is the feeling that the sound source is in the mind of the listener. Both models have good phasing of the speakers, which is based on clear positioning of the sound sources horizontally, although AirPods has a slight advantage due to the active sync headphones by radio.

    EarPods and AirPods have a similar timbral balance that emit medium-high and high frequencies, making the sound becomes very “bright” on the verge of field. The AirPods amplifiers in the amplifiers in the EarPods with a Lightning interface, are configured in such a way that at maximum volume was not any audible nonlinear distortion. The volume capacity is relatively small. Because of this, and even for open design headphones Apple hard to listen to music in noisy places.

    The other aspects of the AirPods sound significantly superior to its wired counterpart. Both models can best cope with the MIDs, but AirPods sounds in this range are better articulated, much less “mess”. The AirPods sound is a very distinct attack and micro-dynamics and bass, extremely deep for “liners”, though it is not the same as headphones in-ear design and larger form factor.

    Annoying problem AirPods noise in the low frequency range, which is not in the EarPods. Do not blame the Bluetooth, which in conjunction AirPods — iPhone works brilliantly, and electronics of headphones.

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