This New AirPods Competitor Solves the Main Problem With Apple's Buds
Apple’s release of its “true wireless” AirPods made waves in the wearables market. But they also haven’t been upgraded since their 2017 launch, giving other companies time to step up to the plate to deliver a better product.
As it stands, AirPods are the highest-selling earbuds in the United States and Canada, according to a Research and Markets May 2018 report. But that coveted title aside, many users have complained that their AirPods keep falling out of their ears. Colorado-based Decibullz intends to capitalize on this particular design flaw by giving consumers earbuds that fit like a glove for $179.
“These are, no doubt, staying in better than AirPods,” Decibullz CEO Kyle Kirkpatrick told Inverse. “We did testing with gymnasts, extreme athletes, and competitive cross fitters. They’re staying in, the AirPods don’t have a shot.”
The Black Diamond True Wireless earset, which launched on Kickstarter Tuesday, turns custom fitting earbuds into a DIY process. The outside of the earbuds is made of thermoplastic, which softens after being dunked in two inches of hot water. All users have to do is boil water, dip the earbuds in for roughly five minutes, and then press the warm glob of plastic in their ears. It feels like smashing Play-Doh into your ears (which is a little gross) but the results were impressive.
During a live demonstration of the product, I tried to recreate the motions of a “competitive cross fitter” by vigorously head-banging and shaking my head as if I was trying to get water out of my ears. They didn’t budge.
“Our ears are incredibly unique,” explained Kirkpatrick. “I always make the analogy, imagine if Nike only made three sizes of shoes — small, medium, large — 90 percent of the population would be ticked off but that’s the way we treat our ears. Ears are too diverse for that.”
Personally, I thought Decibullz was on to something. I hate the feeling of silicon earbuds pressing against the inside of my ears, but for many products that is what’s needed to make sure they stay in.
The Black Diamonds let me pop on the smallest sized ends, so there was no pressure in my ears, while the outer plastic mold firmly held them in place. This also seals your ear off to outside noise, which dampens natural sound and makes for an immersive listening experience. I opted for bluegrass.
Aside from simply staying in your ears better, the Black Diamonds come with Bluetooth 5.0 — the next generation of the wireless technology that AirPods have yet to implement. This doubles the speed at which your phone can transfer data to the ear-set and lets users walk up to 40 meters away from their phone before they disconnect.
They’re compatible with Siri and other digital assistants, waterproof, and have a “digital audio passthrough” feature, which lets you opt to let in outside sound when you need to be aware of your surroundings. The Black Diamonds can hold up to five hours of charge and the charging case provides an additional five charges, making them last up to 25 hours. That’s an hour more than AirPods.
If Decibullz is able to hit it its $50,000 goal in a month, the DIY earbuds will begin shipping by May 2019. Early Kickstarter backers will be able to get a pair for $99.