It’s not easy to launch a brand with no heritage and no profile into an absurdly competitive part of the consumer electronics market and make a success of it. It’s not made any easier when your chosen brand name sounds kind of juvenile and even a bit weird to customers in the West. And yet Earfun has enjoyed success upon success in the last 18 months or so, including a What Hi-Fi? Award for its Air true wireless earbuds at the end of 2020 and five stars for the ANC-featuring Air Pro follow-up.
Now it’s time for the follow-up to the follow-up. These Air Pro 2 true wireless in-ears are an evolution of the Air Pro design that was itself an evolution of the first Air design… so is a policy of pretty much relentless evolution paying dividends for Earfun?
The Earfun Air Pro 2 are on sale now, and in the UK they’re priced at an extremely keen £69. In the United States that equates to $89 or so, while in Australia you’re looking at AU$119. So no matter the territory in which you’re shopping, the Earfun are eye-catchingly affordable.
That’s not the same as suggesting they’re without competition, though. Google, Panasonic and Sony (just for instance) all have some very acceptable AirPods alternatives to sell you at this sort of money – and these are not brand names that provoke any hilarity.
There’s certainly no arguing with the seriousness of Earfun when it comes to the way the company has specified the Air Pro 2. Some of these features are absent from true wireless earbuds costing twice as much.
Like what? Well, Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, for starters. Then there’s active noise-cancellation, 35 hours of battery life (seven hours from the earbuds and another four full charges held in the case) with ANC off and something like 30 hours (six from the earbuds) when it’s switched on. Wireless charging is available from any Qi-certified pad – from flat, you can get two hours of playback time from just 10 minutes on the juice.
Then you’ve IPX5-level moisture resistance, six mics for optimum call quality and 10mm titanium full-range dynamic drivers. Without even mentioning the touch-control or voice assistant compatibility, it’s obvious Earfun isn’t scrimping.
No two ways about it, the ‘stem’ design Earfun has chosen here makes the Air Pro 2 look (just like every other ‘stem’ design) like Apple AirPods wannabes. That’s not as much of an issue as the finishes that are available, though: Air Pro 2 is only available in black, and there doesn’t seem to be much (ear)fun in that level of ‘choice’.
Otherwise, it’s budget-end true wireless earbuds business as usual. The price pretty much dictates that the plastics used for the earbuds and, especially, the charging case are nothing special – the overall package is quite hard to the touch and in no way luxurious. But there are bound to be trade-offs when trying to build a product like this down to a price, and we’d much rather some humdrum plastics than a lack of top-line specification.
And anyway, neither the shape of the earbuds nor the material from which they’re built prevents the Air Pro 2 from being easy to position comfortably. And they’ll stay comfortable for a good while, too – certainly as long as it takes for the battery power to evaporate.
There are two quite distinct varieties of sound the Earfun Air Pro 2 is able to deliver: the sound when the active noise-cancellation is switched on, and the sound when it isn’t. And the differences are fairly dramatic.
With active noise-cancelling engaged and a 16-bit/44.1kHz file of Car Seat Headrest’s Destroyed By Hippie Powers playing, the Air Pro 2 could quite easily be described as ‘entertaining’. Certainly, there’s plenty of low-frequency presence, which is what passes for ‘entertainment’ with quite a lot of brands, and good momentum to the presentation too. The vocal in the midrange is quite distinct and detailed and manages to avoid being subsumed by the plentiful bass. At the top of the frequency range is an unarguable bite, but treble sounds are quite spiky and unrefined. Coarse, almost.
Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
Microphone type Feed forward/back
Battery life 7hrs (buds); 28hrs (charging case)
Waterproof rating IPX5
Dimensions (case, hwd) 65 x 52 x 32mm
Weight (case) 53g
Listen a little longer and further shortcomings are revealed. That low end, while both substantial and assertive, thumps along without much variation. The soundstage the Earfuns create isn’t especially well defined. And the noise-cancellation itself, while reasonably effective at negating external sounds, leaves a definite counter-signal in its wake – so ‘quiet’ is never quite available.
Switch the noise-cancellation off, though, and things take a turn for the tedious. The dynamic headroom that was previously evident all-but disappears, leaving a presentation that sounds flat and compressed. Low frequencies lose a stack of confidence, which just exposes the lack of refinement in the treble response even more. Plus, of course, you get quite a lot more external sound along with your music.
Elsewhere, the news is equally vexing. For some reason, the three supplied sizes of ear-tip (‘S’, ‘M’ and ‘L’) are almost identical. Call quality, despite the six-mic array, is humdrum. And the touch controls are responsive up to a point, but those instructions that require multiple taps seem easily misinterpreted.
It doesn’t do to labour a point, but our previous experience with Earfun had primed us to expect, well, a rather more fun experience than the Air Pro 2 are capable of delivering. On paper, they look the part and then some – but it’s sound that counts, and in this respect these earbuds have some fairly significant shortcomings.
- Sound 3
- Features 5
- Build 4
These are the best in-ear headphones from budget to premium
Read our review of the Award-winning Pansonic RZ-S500W
Also consider the sporty, five-star Sony WF-C500