Note: This article was first published on 26th October 2018.
Earin was one of the first to deliver truly wireless earbuds back in 2015, and back then the Swedish company’s first product (the Earin M-1) impressed reviewers with its cool design and the quality of sound. However, it also drew a fair share of criticism for the unstable connection between earbuds.
This is a common problem experienced in this class of true wireless earbuds because pairing to your smartphone was only through the left earbud, audio to the right earbud was pushed over from the left earpiece via Bluetooth, which at times led to dropouts. The omission of a microphone meant you couldn’t make calls with it, and there was no way to tell how much battery life remained in the charging case. So, you could be leaving your earbuds in it to charge, only to find them flat after several hours because the case itself was out of charge.
The new Earin M-2 fixes some but not all of these issues, as it shifts from using Bluetooth for transmission between earbuds to near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) MiGLO technology by NXP and a dual antennae design for better wireless connectivity and stability between earbuds and your smartphone, as well as between each earbud.
The M-2 looks markedly different from the M-1, with a more tapered carrying case and even slimmer earbuds than before. The earbuds now look like pills you fit straight into your ear, with the back of the earbuds now featuring a touch panel that allows for simple commands, like picking up a call.
It is very minimalist in design and a better use for the surface than to use it for charging, but you really have to angle the earbuds nicely in your ears when fitting them in. Unfortunately, there’s still no way to tell how much charge remains in the charging case, as the only indicators simply reflect the charging status of the earbuds.
Each earbud has a dedicated dual-microphone arrangement so you can take and make calls. The microphones also allow the M-2 to implement an Audio Transparency feature that’s much the same as what you find on Bragi’s Dash. This is akin to adjustable noise-canceling, so you can choose to let in more sound from the outside world when you need to be aware of your surroundings.
You adjust Audio Transparency levels by way of a companion app on your smartphone, as well as make the usual balance and gain adjustments. You can turn audio transparency on, off or set it to auto here. (Auto enables audio transparency only when the audio is paused). You can have a decent conversation with it enabled, but we thought music sounded better with it off, so we left it in auto mode for the most bit.
With the M-2, both earbuds are interchangeable so you don’t have to worry about which bud goes in which ear. Internal sensors in the earbuds will determine where each bud is and transmit the audio appropriately, with the first earbud detected being the primary. If the secondary earbud is removed, the primary earbud switches to mono, however if the reverse happens, the secondary earbud cuts off audio so while it doesn’t matter which earbud goes in which ear, the order in which you put them in still counts.
Pairing the earbuds to my iPhone 8 plus was a quick and easy affair, but the same couldn't be said about the companion app as it took quite a few times for the earbuds to be recognized. Even though you only need to pair one earbud to your phone when playing the music, the app requires that you pair the buds one after another before letting you into the settings, and that proved to be troublesome.
Given the shift to NXP's NFMI MiGLO for pairing between earbuds, we expected a smooth and stable connection on par with what we experienced with the Bragi Dash, but that wasn't the case as we would occasionally still get random dropouts. The audio transparency feature does work well for letting in audio when you want to better hear a conversation but didn't really add much in terms of external noise reduction as the earbuds themselves do a pretty good job when they fit well into your ears.
From an audio perspective, we'd say the Earin M-2 is one of the better pairs of true wireless earbuds we've tried so far - but that's provided you can get a good fit. In some sense, the earbuds are almost too small, thus making it tricky to get them in your ear nicely. Get it right, and the earbuds offer up pretty good bass response.
For example, with Far East Movement's Girls on the Dance Floor, we thought the earbuds managed to produce full-bodied bass with impact - not the easiest thing for true wireless earbuds to do. They also managed to keep up with the faster moving piece fairly well too.
Moving on to a rendition of Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pidgeon, we were a little disappointed to find that the buds didn't pick up the backing instruments that well. Instead, most of the focus was placed on Pidgeon's vocals, which were warm and nicely rendered.
Modern pop and RnB pieces work well with these earbuds though, as they delivered a nice rendition of John Legend's Stay with You. The guitar work on the track was nicely rendered, and the vocals had a good amount of separation
In general, the Earin M-2 performed well with acoustic pieces, but the high mids could do with a bit more clarity, as evidenced when we put on a recording of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. With this piece, it seemed like the piano was a bit rounded off and not quite as sharp as it should have been, taking away from the piece.
The Earin M-2 is a good pair true wireless earbuds if you're looking for casual audio listening. It performs well for most genres of music and manages to provide decent bass for true wireless earbuds, something that's not easy to do.
Four hours of battery life is about average for this form factor right now, so it's certainly on par with what's out in the market at the moment. While we didn't feel like the implementation of Audio Transparency necessarily added much value in this case, it can be a handy feature if you don't want to have to take out your earbuds. We just wish the app experience was better, as you'd expect initialization to be more seamless and for it to have at least some basic EQ options served up for its users.