Apple AirPod Review for Youtubers, Livestreamers and Humans

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As a media professional it was easy to rationalize the purchase of a set of Apple’s Airpods. Sold-out for much of the holiday season, I was happy to score a set and put them through their paces over the last few months. There are lots of reviews on the AirPods out there, but I’ll be taking special note of the microphone and usability for media creators wish to use the AirPods for creating as well as consuming content.

WHY BUY?

There were several reasons I decided to take the plunge on this truly wireless set of headphones.

+ Wireless Mic: As a media producer, I (mistakenly) reasoned this was actually one of the cheaper and less obtrusive methods of connecting a wireless mic to my iPhone for video recordings, facetime/skype, and livestreaming (more on this below)
+ Known Fit: Apple earbuds either fit or don’t, and I knew from owning the included wired iPhone earbuds that I’d likely fit the AirPods
+ hands-free phone (and video) calls: The single bluetooth earbud I had purchased last year was great for listening to podcasts, but the mic was unusable for phone and video calls. For the car or in the office, the AirPods didn’t disappoint as a call headset replacement
+ Lower Latency audio for video. My single earbud I’ve been using over the past year was great for audio, but latency made every video sync like a bad Chinese movie

PROS

+ build quality and design: elegant magnetic charging case with satisfying click when closed
+ effortless pairing to iPhone and Apple computers
+ dual-mics – can use either earbud alone for listening to podcasts or phone calls – allows for extended listening/calls since you can swap earbuds throughout the day to keep one charged
+ auto stereo-to-mono mix when listening with one earbud – audio nerds like me appreciate fine details like this 🙂
+ auto stop-start when AirPods removed from ear (doesn’t work in all applications)
+ sound quality is good (IF it fits your ears – more on this below) but definitely not audiophile or monitoring level worthy

CONS

+ plastic case is a lint magnet
+ one size/shape: either fits or it doesn’t; either comfortable or not
+ can easily fall out – lots of amazon 3rd party solutions of additional wings or tethers … which will make your earbuds not fit in the charging case
+ tap and double-tap is useless: can’t reliably use them
+ Left-earbud pairing issues: Right earbud seems to pair more reliably as single earbud
+ latency – not good for streaming youtube/netflix/music videos; strangely slightly better (though not as good as wired headphones) when watching local media on iPhone
+ poor mic for recording – sounds like an average remote Skype caller even when recorded locally using 3rd party apps like FilMic Pro or MoviePro
+ easy to lose and poor “Find My Phone” implementation requires airpods to be charged (obvious) and actively paired to a device to play a sound (less obvious)
+ as of the writing of this article, cannot use AirPod mic when Livestreaming to FB/YT via iOS app

WISHLIST

+ sweat/waterproof
+ reduce audio delay (latency) (to at least match AptX low-latency standard??) or software-fixable when streaming video?
+ allow “wings” for secure fit while not compromising fit in charging case
+ integrate Tile-like bluetooth finder
+ make professional version with usable mic for livestreaming/recording video/audio

SUPER-wishlist:

Not that anyone’s asking, but I totally wish Apple made an iPhone X PRO version with best camera on FRONT for selfies, manual video control etc. Pair this with Apple AirPods PRO versions with amazing mic and no-latency audio and I’d pay more for a carry-anywhere media creator’s pocketable kit.

VERDICT & RECOMMENDED ACCESSORIES

+ bummed about latency
+ convenience, and freedom from all wires is amazing
+ great for podcasts and phone calls, but not great for streaming movies, music videos and youtube when audio sync matters
+ amazing freedom when truly wireless becomes the best option in years to come
+ great set of truly wireless headphones but not usable as good wireless microphone for Youtubers/Livestreamers

I noted in the video how susceptible the magnetic case is to picking up lint. To prevent this I highly recommend a silicon cover for the case which has the added benefit of a tether point to reduce the likelihood of inadvertently leaving the tictac-like box anywhere. There’s even a waterproof option like this one:

The silicon AirPod case I picked up isn’t waterproof, but covers the lightning port and allows the lid to be used normally without having to un-sheath the case:

I noted in the video how I “lost” my AirPods for a week. My motto, as my kids will attest to, is to not make the same mistake twice. That’s why I strongly recommend tethering your AirPods to a Tile.

Bonus selfie-video and stand option: this inexpensive smartphone stand and selfie stick is super-light and can hold your phone in portrait or horizontal mode very well. Made of lightweight plastic, it’s not the most sturdy option I own, but this lightweight option can go anywhere and doubles as a great stand when I need to get some work done with my travel keyboard.

Sadly the poor mic on the Apple AirPods have not been the Podcasters dream for wireless mic freedom. You’d think with the long list of Cons and Wishlists I’d be more bummed and return my set of Apple AirPods. But the more I use them, the elegant design, ease of use and battery life make it my carry-everywhere pair of headphones. Whether I’m in the car listening to a podcast or on a voice/video call, the AirPods have become a guilty pleasure I’d recommend to everyone they fit and those who can live with knowing the mic isn’t great for recording and streaming video isn’t going to be great.

+ buy a silicone case which has a tether and charging port cover to prevent dust when in pocket
+ tether a Tile to prevent loss

THANK YOU! + THE NotSo FINE PRINT

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