Quality true wireless earphones tend to have at least one thing in common: They’re expensive, at least compared to cabled Bluetooth in-ears. EarFun, however, continues to impress in this regard. The $50 EarFun Free is one of the cheapest true wireless options we’ve tested that we can recommend, and now for only $10 more the EarFun Air ($59.99) offers a variety of improvements, from better battery life to an improved 4-way microphone that attempts to cancel out ambient sound. Both models are waterproof, something we often don’t see in earphones more than twice the price. So what’s the catch? It’s not in the audio performance—the Air sounds full and rich. The on-ear controls could be configured more gracefully and the microphone isn’t the reason to buy the Air, but otherwise, there’s very little to complain about here.
Available in white or black, the Air’s design features stems that descend from the earpieces and touch-sensitive controls on the outer panels. The fit is comfortable and secure, but the earpieces lack any sort of stabilizing fins to help keep them in place, making them perhaps less ideal for the gym despite their waterproof build. The earpieces ship with four pairs of silicone eartips in various sizes. Internally, the earphones employ “composite bio-cellulose” drivers to deliver the audio.
The touch sensitive panels on both ears offer a wide range of controls—they’re not necessarily intuitive, but the panels are at least responsive. Tapping twice on either earpiece controls playback, while a triple tap on the right ear skips forward a track. Touching and holding on the right ear’s panel raises the volume, and the same gesture on the left earpiece lowers it. A triple tap on the left ear summons your mobile device’s voice assistant. There is no track backward navigation. Many of these tap sequences also serve to answer, end, reject, or hold an incoming or in-progress phone call. So yes, other than the lack of backward track navigation, most of the bases are covered here, but there’s a learning curve to remembering what each ear handles.
The flip-top charging case has a USB-C port on its bottom panel for the included USB-C-to-USB charging cable, which is of generous length. A single color-coded LED on the front face tells you roughly how much battery life is left in the case (green is plenty, orange is halfway, red is dire).
The Air’s excellent IPX7 rating means it’s fully waterproof and can even be submerged up to a meter, although Bluetooth signals don’t do well underwater. The earphones should do fine with sweat, rain, and getting rinsed off under the faucet. The charging case, however, is not waterproof.
The Air is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0, and supports AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs, but not AptX.
EarFun estimates the Air’s battery life to be roughly 7 hours, with an additional 28 hours in the charging case, but your results will vary with your volume levels. The case is compatible with wireless Qi pad chargers.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Air delivers powerful bass depth matched with some sculpting in the highs. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and at more moderate levels, the lows still feel substantial.
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Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Air’s general sound signature. The drums on this track receive a strong enough bass boost to sound a little larger and rounder than they would on more flat response earphones, but they don’t veer into thunderous territory. Callahan’s baritone vocals are delivered with solid richness and enough high-mid presence to keep things clear. The acoustic strums benefit from a bright, crisp high frequency response, as well. Generally speaking, this is a balanced sound signature with a bass-forward lean—it could perhaps use a tad more high-mid presence, but it never sounds muffled.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence to retain some of its punchy attack, but a little more could have gone a long way. The vinyl hiss and crackle that is usually relegated to background status moves forward in the mix a bit—so there’s some sculpting in the high-mids and highs, not rampant boosting. The drum loop also sounds a bit heftier—there’s some low frequency boost here, which also brings out the sub-bass synth hits a bit more. For $60 true wireless earphones, the bass response here is impressively full and deep without going overboard. The vocals on this track are delivered with strong clarity and no added sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound the most natural through the Air. Lows are dutifully represented without pushing the lower register instrumentation too far forward in the mix, while the higher register brass, strings, and vocals maintain a crisp clarity without sounding overly bright. It is, without a doubt, still a very sculpted, boosted sound, but the sound signature sounds most clear and natural on classical tracks.
The 4-mic array offers decent intelligibility—using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could understand every word we recorded, mainly because the mic’s signal is strong. But clear? Not so much; there’s plenty of Bluetooth distortion fuzzing up syllables and sibilance. However, your call partner should be able to understand you on a solid mobile connection.
Is the Air worth the extra $10 over the EarFun Free? We’d say so—even if they sounded and fit identically (to say which sounds best or fits better would be splitting hairs), the Air offers wireless charging and slightly better battery life. EarFun’s budget lineup continues to surprise in terms of audio performance, and even if the controls are a tad convoluted, they work just fine. These two models are both inexpensive, as are the $80 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air and $30 JLab Go Air. Not surprisingly, perhaps, we’d probably rank the four pairs corresponding to their prices, with the two EarFun pairs in the middle of the pack and the Anker pair the leader for budget models. The more you spend, even under $100, the more you get in terms of audio quality.
EarFun Air Specs
|Active Noise Cancellation||No|