The Tronsmart Apollo Air Earbuds are part of a new midrange market for quality, yet cost effective, wireless listening. This upsurge of new wireless earbud headphones on the market can be a little baffling for buyers. There are so many ultra cheap headphones that it’s easy to look at the lower end of the scale and ask why you would pay extra for a pair. That’s an easy answer: for the sake of your ears. Let’s face it, you only get one pair of ears and have to look after them.
Music from the Air
The Tronsmart Apollo Air wireless headphones are Bluetooth-enabled active noise cancelling earbuds. What this means is that they contain technology which listens to the ambient noise and reverses the phase (it’s technical – don’t worry about it), effectively cancelling out any ambient noise. This means you can listen in noisy environments.
The pair of rechargeable earbuds in the kit each contain microphones for phone calls and have a charging case, which means when they are in the neat little carrying case, they are being charged. The kit includes the headphones, the charging case and a cable to charge the case. You also get three sets of soft silicone nubs to fit the buds in your ear canal, holding it in and sealing the sound into your ear.
It’s all bang up to the minute technology-wise. The buds use the industry-leading Qualcomm QCC3046 chip to deliver wireless audio and noise cancelling and Bluetooth 5.2 for robust connection, lower power needs and lower latency. That’s a pretty solid chip which is used in some very nice headphones. These buds use that respectable chip to drive a high-tech 10mm graphene driver, making them lighter, consuming less power and delivering better sound quality.
The maximum Bluetooth distance away from the source is 10m. For outdoor use it’s also good to note they have dust and moisture protection to the IP45 standard. Basically, you can wear them outside in light rain, but don’t step into the shower.
From a tech standpoint, these buds tick boxes.
With apologies to Tronsmart, I was previously unaware of their products, I’m embarrassed to say. Apparently, I’m in the minority, as the company has been around since 2013 and has caused some waves with its previous iterations of the Apollo line of earbuds and the high-end Apollo Bold, right down to the lower-end Onyx Ace.
These new Apollo Air earbuds sit firmly in the middle of their price range, which presents an expectation of a certain level of quality. The buds do not disappoint. The sound is full and clear, and in noise-cancelling mode have a warmth and presence that is quite satisfying. There are three ANC modes: ambient, off and noise cancelling. The ambient mode adds a certain amount of outside sound into the mix, improving your awareness, meaning you won’t get mown down by an ice cream truck while walking the dog and grooving to some wicked beats.
Yes, while noise cancelling provides amazing quality and immersion and cuts out all annoying external noise (say from a train carriage) it’s a double-edged sword, as you have to be extra aware about what’s happening around you. They reduce ambient noise to such a degree that you will literally not be aware of warning sounds around you, but then habitual wearers of headphones will be well used to that.
The controls are easy: tap twice on either bud to play, tap twice to stop. Noise cancelling modes are three taps. The volume is one tap: on the left to go down and on the right to go up. Very simple.
The charging case has a micro USB cable and indicator lights for charge levels, charging and Bluetooth connection. The case is study, smooth and rounded for insertion into the pocket and has a lid which closes with a satisfying snap due to a magnetic catch.
All in all, this is a product which speaks quality and attention to detail. The retail price is $69.99. They are a decent fully-featured mid-range pair of wireless buds, which deliver a little more quality than you’re expecting.
Are there any downsides? Admittedly for me, this was mostly personal preference. I dislike silicone nubs, as I hate the feeling of them filling my ear, but I understand the need for them in terms of securing the buds to your ear. I hate the sucking sensation you get in your ear canal, but most people don’t mind it.
For some reason, in my case the left one kept popping out of my ear, but I suspect that might be an accident of personal anatomy rather than manufacturing. Mostly the buds stayed firm in my ear, but they are not fully jog proof, so for sports you need something that locks more firmly in your ear. These are not headphones for extended periods of use and are designed for short bursts.
The sound is very good: there’s bass but not a lot of it, and it favors the high end a tiny bit at higher volumes. This enhances clarity but can be a bit shrill when the volume goes up. I found the controls to have a bit of a hair trigger, meaning you can easily pause when you mean to raise the volume or turn noise cancelling on and off, etc. This is why I favor mechanical switches rather than proximity sensors. Is it annoying that the controls aren’t super positive? A little, but bearing in mind the ticket price, it’s a small niggle.
Also, and this again is a very personal thing, I’m mildly suspicious of wireless tech from an electromagnetic standpoint. It’s perfectly safe and the science says that while long term risks are unknown, for wireless earbuds, anything up to two to four hours a day in 15 to 20 minute bursts should be perfectly fine. Regardless of any paranoia about EMR, earbuds like these are not good for extended use. They get uncomfortable the longer they stay wedged into your ears and over ear wired headphones are best for lengthy sessions.
Cancel the Noise
The Tronsmart Apollo Air are a good pair of earbuds, ergonomic and good sounding. There’s a lot of competition in this price range, but these would be an acceptable choice. They are priced at just $99.99 and available from a wide range of online stockists.