A bold step into true wireless headphones

Erato's Apollo 7 comes in a nifty carrying case that doubles as a charging dock.
Erato's Apollo 7 comes in a nifty carrying case that doubles as a charging dock.PHOTO: ERATO
Erato’s Apollo 7 comes in a nifty carrying case that doubles as a charging dock.
Erato’s Apollo 7 comes in a nifty carrying case that doubles as a charging dock.PHOTO: ERATO

Even before Apple released the wireless AirPods to complement its headphone jack-free Apple 7 last month, Taiwanese start-up Erato was already working on a set of earphones that skips any need for the jack - and any wires at all - altogether.

The Apollo 7 earphones, which went up on crowdfunding website Kickstarter in May and are now available at selected retailers, are branded as true wireless earphones.

The only way to use these in-ear earphones is to pair them via Bluetooth to your phone or music player. They come with Bluetooth 4.1, which supports high-resolution audio formats such as the aptX, AAC and SCB codecs.

At $499, they cost more than double the AirPods ($238).

And while the Apollo 7 performs respectably, with decent clarity and volume, the earphones' sound profile can seem rather flat with some genres such as rock or electro-pop, with an anaemic bass and lacklustre detail. Simply put, they just don't sound $500 great.

Another gripe I have is the synchronisation lag between both earpieces while switching tracks. When I do so, one earpiece starts playing the new song while the other fades off from the previous one.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $499

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 5.8mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz - 20kHz

    WEIGHT: 4g each


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Despite their being incredibly light, coming in at only 4g per earpiece, I can still feel them in my ears because I was worried they might fall out.

While they didn't fall out from my ears when I was jogging or doing jumping jacks, they jiggled just enough for me to be constantly worrying about them during my workout. That's when the set's stabiliser add-ons come in handy, as they allow users to hook them into their ears for a firmer grip.

The Apollo 7 comes in a nifty carrying case that doubles as a charging dock. Charge the case and it's good for two full earphone charges, which adds up to about 8hr.

Another plus point: Its omni-directional microphone was surprisingly good at picking up my voice while I was making calls.

Lester Hio

• Verdict: The Apollo 7 marks one of the first bold steps towards true wireless earphones, but there are lots to improve in terms of sound quality especially at its $500 price point.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'A bold step into true wireless headphones'. Print Edition | Subscribe