At this year’s IFA we were introduced to the new wireless Earin M-2 earphones. The Swedish company, acquired by Will I Am under the auspices of his house i.am+, has managed to improve the already excellent Earin M-1 and squeezed a lot of interesting technology into a tiny space. In our full review, we’ll investigate the technologies used and the audio quality of the Earin M-2. Are these earphones worth recommending? Find out in our full review!
- Compact and stylish design
- Good sound quality
- Powerful bass
- Low latency
- High volume
- Excellent separation between stereo channels
- Automatically assigned L and R earpieces
- Digital assistant
- A lot of interesting technology
- Battery life
- Frequency separation not always optimal
- Touch isn't always precise
- Case isn't IP certified
- High price
The Earin M-2s will make you travel light and empty your wallet
The Earin M-2s have been in development for two years and are finally available for purchase online on the company’s website. The official price is 249 euros (around 285 dollars). That’s not especially cheap, but as you'll' see below, if you compare it to competition in terms of quality and price, it’s a long-term investment that might be worth it. With the being said, it’s not a figure that anyone would spend light-heartedly, whether you’re a tech nerd or not.
Elegant and discreet
The Earin M-2 box has the same spirit as the headphones. It’s elegant on the outside, built entirely of cork, and the box has magnets to keep it securely closed. On the inside, there are the earphones placed inside the transport case, a micro-USB cable, and the replacement tips made of silicone and memory foam.
The case for charging and transporting the earphones is made of aluminum and has a sliding track. When you open and close the case, it makes a pleasant clicking noise. On the top, you’ll find the micro-USB charging port surrounded by three small orange LEDs arranged in a circle (more details on this later). There’s nothing else to disturb the design of this black cylinder, which can easily be carried in the pocket of your jacket.
Unfortunately, the case isn’t certified against damage from water and dust, so you should be careful where you store it, for example when you’re at the beach or pool.
When you open the case, you’ll see the earphones in plain sight. Don’t be afraid to open the case in the reverse direction, since the headphones are magnetically attached and won’t fall out, even if the case is open. Next to each headset there’s an orange LED that flashes while the Earin M-2s are charging. When the LED is on and not flashing, it indicates that the corresponding earphones are fully charged and ready to use.
Once you’ve taken the earphones out of the case, you’ll immediately notice that they’re compact, discreet and not just plastic gizmos that protrude from your ears like Apple’s AirPods or other true wireless models from Boze or Jabra. Despite their compact plastic body, the Earin M-2s are solid and the completely black look makes them suitable for any situation. Unlike the case, the earphones themselves are splash and sweat-resistant and IP52 certified.
At the end of the earphones, there’s a flat surface made of glass. Both the earphones are touch-sensitive in this area. Gestures will let you control music, make phone calls and interact with voice assistants. You can use one tap to play/pause/respond to a call, two taps to reject a call or move to the next song, three taps to move back to the previous song or a long tap to send voice commands to your smartphone’s digital assistant. This works with both Google Assistant and Apple Siri. You’ll have to ask them to turn the music up or down since there are no gestures dedicated to volume.
So much technology in so little space
The two earpieces are perfectly identical and there’s no distinction between left and right from a physical point of view. The system will automatically understand in which ear you’ve placed them and adjust accordingly. When you only use a single earpiece, the audio is automatically sent in mono to the individual ear so that you don’t lose the audio transmitted to the earpiece you’re not wearing.
The Earin M-2 connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.2 LE, but the technology inside isn’t that simple. Both headsets have the same identical Bluetooth chip for connecting to the smartphone and a chip made by NXP for synchronizing the headset.
The first time you use them you’ll have to connect both earphones individually to the Bluetooth of your smartphone (or tablet or PC) so that each individual part automatically connects and works as soon as they’re removed from the case.
The first earpiece removed from the case will connect to the smartphone and become the “master” earpiece, while the second one will become the “slave” and connect to the main one. This is an original solution that will save you the hassle of always having to wear a specific earpiece in each ear.
The connection between the two headsets uses NXP’s NFMI (Near Field Magnetic Induction) MiGLO technology and a 10MHz in-head frequency. What does this mean? It’s simple: unlike the Earin M-1s that used an around-head connection, the Earin M-2s connect to each other using the same technology used to synchronize hearing aids. So you don’t have to worry about the frequency that will pass through your skull, since it’s safe and not powerful enough to do any damage.
The very interesting dual antenna system allows you to keep the latency of the earphones relatively low. The Earin M-2s have an average latency of about 200-300 ms, which compared with other devices is really excellent. For the sake of comparison, the Samsung Gear IconX earphones have a latency of 500 ms and the Sony WF-1000X earphones have a latency of 400 ms.
Occasionally I’d hear a small delay in the synchronization between the headphones, but it happened so rarely and it was just a quick blip (much faster than Spotify’s buffering to be clear) that I don’t think it’s a problem, although I felt that it needed to be reported.
Each headset also has a system of two microphones, which is useful for noise cancellation, the use of digital assistants, calls and the Audio transparency mode that I’ll talk about later.
Earin M-2: technical specifications
|Speaker||Knowles® Balanced Armature|
|Speaker sensitivity||106dB SPL ±2dB|
|Connection to smartphones||Bluetooth 4.2, chip produced by NXP|
|Connection between earpieces||MiGLO NFMI (Near Field Magnetic Induction Communication), in-head 10MHz|
|Maximum Bluetooth distance||10m|
|Codec audio||AptX, AAC, SBC|
|Dimensions||24x15mm (headset), 99x23mm (case)|
|Battery||60mAh (for headset), 600mAh (case)
4 hours of use according to manufacturers (+10 hours extra in case)
|Other||IP52 (headsets only), Noise cancellation, Audio transparency, Micro-USB|
Excellent stereo separation but quality can be improved
The incredible technology contained within these tiny earphones makes for fantastic stereo separation . Personally, although I don’t call myself an audiophile or a headphone enthusiast, I’ve had the opportunity to try enough true wireless earphones and I’ve never heard such a clear separation between the two audio channels.
Obviously, there are high-end models that can do better and new models (also presented at IFA) equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 that use a newer technology. The Earin M-2 can certainly boast excellent quality in the most compact form that I’ve had the opportunity to try.
The Earin M-2s use Knowles™ Balanced Armature speakers that guarantee a high level of sound quality. Personally, the only criticism I have concerns the mid-high frequencies that at high volumes can be overtaken by the bass level, but this problem may not matter that much to you. It depends on the kind of music you like.
The audio quality is above average, and after choosing the ear tips that best fit your ear, you will enjoy surprisingly powerful bass for this kind of product. The rubber material really does play an important role in the sound quality of your earphones, and the wrong choice can greatly compromise the final performance. At first, I would use the standard ear tips mounted on the headphones, but only later switched to the ones made of memory foam and was surprised by the incredible difference in audio performance.
The volume is very high at 75 dB and you’ll not always need to push the volume so high thanks to the excellent isolation and noise cancellation offered by the Earin M-2. The earphones support AAC, AptX and SBS audio codecs. It’s a pity that you won’t find the highest performing AptX HD or LDAC codecs.
A minimalist app
To control the headphones you can install the dedicated Earin app from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The app doesn’t have many features, but the ones that are there are useful . You can, for example, force the headphones to switch off even if they’re not stored in the case, control the gain (which matches the multimedia volume of the smartphone), adjust the balance as needed and control audio transparency.
The audio transparency works in a simple way: if set to ON, the external sounds will be collected from the headphones’ microphones and amplified to avoid completely isolating you, which happens if you set the function to OFF. There’s also a very interesting automatic mode that will activate audio transparency when the music is paused while activating noise cancellation during playback. The volume can be adjusted in audio transparency function along with the type of frequency.
The app also allows you to update the firmware of your headphones, which is constantly improving. The update takes about 90 minutes (an infinite time), but during the update you can still use the earphones for the majority of that time.
Always ready to use
The Earin M-2s start recharging once they’re in the transport case thanks to the two pins on each earpiece. It takes 90 minutes to charge from 0 to 100%, although you’ll rarely have to recharge them from scratch . The manufacturer states that the battery life is about 4 hours and gets an additional 10 hours thanks to the case. During my test, I noticed that the autonomy is reduced to about 3 hours with high volume and the use of the audio transparency function.
For the quality, power and technology offered and if you take into account the tiny size of the earphones, I can definitively say that the manufacturer has done a great job.
Earin M-2 technical specifications
|Dimensions:||160 x 83 x 41 mm|
The Earin M-2 is not a product for everyone, but that doesn't mean that it’s a bad product.
The compact transport case, the small size and the technology used to connect with the earpieces to the smartphone and to one another justify the high price. Combine that with a satisfying audio experience and you have great, reliable true wireless headphones.
Every now and then I’ve experienced little hiccups using the headphones. The microphones do their job and are great for noise cancellation (or amplification in audio transparency mode), but they’re not the most suitable for calls. But these are just small issues that don’t have a huge impact on the overall experience and that could be solved with subsequent firmware updates.
Overall, I think the Earin M-2s are a great example of where the world of true wireless earphones is headed and I think they’re a good long-term investment. The price certainly isn’t for every budget, but if you want a pleasant, smooth experience, Earin M-2s are worth every penny.
They’re not suitable for people who use headphones the whole day because they’ll really isolate you from the outside world and because the battery life isn’t that impressive. They’re still great companions for the office, sports or commuting.
While I'm waiting for the next generation of earphones equipped with new wireless technology, the Earin M-2s have a special place close to my heart (the inner pocket of my jacket).