Apple AirPods vs BeatsX

Discussion in 'Latest Tech News and Rumors' started by tinyman392, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. tinyman392

    tinyman392 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 10, 2008
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    iPhone 6
    Apple AirPods vs BeatsX
    One major question that has been asked by many when it comes to Apple's new W1-chipped, BT headphones is a question of which to get, AirPods or BeatsX. We'll go into a quick overview of which one would better suit your needs.


    I never really thought I'd be saying this, but the way the headphones function actually is a talking point here. In all my 10 years of doing headphone reviews, the way the device functions never really made it as a talking point. With the AirPods, it becomes one quite quickly.

    Sure, they may be small little features, but they do make a difference in the day-to-day life if music is your niche. Whether in the office, on your commute, or relaxing at home, the automated features that the AirPods offer are pretty big.

    • Automatic pairing: seamless automated pairing isn't the biggest feature on the list. It's done once then forgotten about. For other BT headphones, its done n times then forgotten about until you get a new device.
    • Automatic device source: iOS and MacOS seamlessly chooses the output source based on whether the AirPods are connected to your ears or not. So when your headphones aren't on, audio is streamed through your device. Makes total sense. Unfortunately, when the AirPods are on, it doesn't automatically stream the currently playing source; this is an area of improvement.
    • Automatic pausing: this is annoying for some, but still a useful feature. Simply pull a headphone our of your ear to pause it. Only works when using stereo, which is a downer and a place of improvement.
    • Automatic power: when the device is taken out of the case, it turns on. When it is put back, it's turned off. This feature doesn't seem big; it's as useful as the fingerprint unlock. It saves you two seconds to turn on the device and two to turn off. You never realize how much of a hassle it becomes to simply turn a device on and off until you go back to it.
    • Double-tap Siri: if you use Siri, this is quite useful actually. It's quicker than the 2-second hold for Siri as a double tap takes less than a second. I personally would rather have a single tap for play/pause, double for next song, triple for previous song and maybe a quad for Siri...
    With the AirPods, you get all of this, which really changes the way you interface with a pair of headphones. But this is what Apple has their heart in, what has always set them apart. Human interfaces. They have in no way ever been perfect, they aren't perfect now, but they have always walked into a direction that was truly exploratory, but worked wonders. This, and this only, is going to be the reason why you buy a pair of AirPods; it's for the convenience.

    When going over to the BeatsX, you get the automatic pairing, but that's it. You don't get the automatic device source; I'd love if it automatically changed the audio output to the device if you magnetically connected the earbuds. You don't get automatic pausing (possible through addition of a pressure sensor in the housing). You don't get automatic power (again, magnetically connecting would fix this). You don't get double-tap Siri (possible using accelerometers).

    What you do get with BeatsX is the welcomed addition of a remote control with volume, play, pause, next, previous, and Siri controls. The fatal flaw of the AirPods becomes the strength of the BeatsX. However, it is possible to replicate all of the AirPods' features into the BeatsX, and that would make it a killer device from the functionality standpoint.

    When considering AirPods vs BeatsX, I do feel that with the AirPods you are paying part of the premium for the tech; rightfully so, too!

    Sound Quality**
    Sound quality on neither headphone is stellar. They are good, but not great. And for the premium that you are indeed paying for them, they need to be great. And it just isn't. Realistically, you can find a better sounding pair of BT buds for cheaper, and if sound quality is the end all, do it.

    For a dimes to dimes comparison between the BeatsX and the AirPods I'll give short impressions. Overall, they hold the same sound quality, but focus in different areas.

    In the bass regions, the AirPods actually have deeper bass. It's not as tight or controlled as the BeatsX, but does have more depth. The texturing is more present in the AirPods compared to the BeatsX which is nearly non-existent. Though the BeatsX does have tighter, more controlled and less obtrusive bass overall. It's above average on speed (I can't believe I'm saying this about Beats). However, it still manages to distort on bass; this baffles me... It rarely happens, but happens.

    In the midrange, the AirPods provide a smoother experience with its sound signature. It's less fatiguing to listen to, but also less detailed while it's there. The BeatsX are quite the opposite. The midrange is edgy, almost too edgy, but with good detail and excellent energy through the upper midrange. Again, two different headphones with two distinctly different focuses.

    Then we reach up top where we see a similar pattern as was with the mids. The BeatsX is simply more lively, though a little sterile at times. It adds a little more air to the top end to set off the open, energetic signature. The AirPods are a little more closed off in its extension but offers good detailing and a smoother treble experience all together, but not without energy. Essentially, the AirPods are less fatiguing without the extension.

    Realistically, the sound quality turns into a battle of preference. They are equal in quality, but focus very differently. In either case, if sound quality is the end-all for you, I'd steer clear of both.

    This is one section where neither the BeatsX nor the AirPods take any gains. Though the AirPods do have the tech and human interfacing to recoup some of this, the BeatsX really doesn't. The way you interact with the AirPods, and how it does everything autonomously and seamlessly is one of the primary reasons it has become my goto buds; for no other reason has it done this. The audio quality on both is acceptable*, but lets be honest, for this price point I expect more out of them, even with the BT premium attached.

    In reality, I feel that the AirPods are the better overall deal unless you need a remote or sound isolation. If you do need either, the BeatsX are a good alternative if you want the W1 chip, which does offer the automatic pairing feature (such a nice feature). But in reality, I'd be quick to say, you pair n times and forget about it; n is typically small. So, if you're after the BeatsX, don't, find a good pair of BT headphones. MEE, Klipsch, etc. They all offer a better bang for the buck.

    Now, if Apple were to implement what I suggested into the BeatsX, then yes, I would actually say, for the convenience of the device, get them. But until then, you can do better.

    Final Thoughts
    So when it comes down to it, I ask the question, do you need isolation? Do you needthat remote? If you answer yes to either, then go get the BeatsX. If you answered no to both, then go get the AirPods; simply for its convenience which is the premium you are paying for.

    *BeatsX currently does come with a 30 dollar iTunes credit if you register them. This may make their value a little better in the long run, more comparable to others in its price range.
    **The BeatsX currently aren't burned in, with less than 5 hours of use on them. It is possible that things will change during burn in.