Crazy­baby Air Nano re­view

These true wire­less ear­phones look good on pa­per but failed to im­press us in ac­tion

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY SÉA­MUS BEL­LAMY

Crazy­baby’s Air Nano wire­less ear­phones re­mind us that it’s pretty dif­fi­cult to make a pair of true wire­less head­phones that can beat the pric­ing of Ap­ple’s Air­pods.

We’re not all that sur­prised: The as­so­ci­ated tech­nol­ogy is still pretty fresh and it doesn’t come cheap. Com­pa­nies who want to take Ap­ple’s wire­less dar­lings head-on thus of­ten end up cut­ting cor­ners in ev­ery­thing from build qual­ity to au­dio fi­delity if they want to claim sim­i­lar fea­tures to what Air­pods of­fer while still match­ing Ap­ple’s pric­ing.

In the case of the Air Nano, the $99 price tag for os­ten­si­bly smaller, sim­i­larly equipped truly wire­less buds looks at­trac­tive, but the fi­nal prod­uct comes with too many an­noy­ing

is­sues for me to rec­om­mend them.

HARD­WARE

As their name im­plies, the Air Nano buds are small. Sized at 0.9 by 0.5 inch, they’re just a lit­tle larger than a set of Rowkin Mi­cro ( go. mac­world.com/ rwmc). They also come with three sets of ear cups and a set of sil­i­con fins to help you find a de­cent fit, and I found the medium-sized cups yielded a rea­son­able amount of pas­sive noise can­cel­la­tion for my ears. Hear­ing mu­sic with these on a crowded city bus shouldn’t be a prob­lem, but they won’t do if you’re seated on an air­plane in flight. I had no dif­fi­culty pair­ing them with my iphone.

But other dif­fi­cul­ties waited ahead. Con­sider the but­tons for var­i­ous func­tions such as play­ing or paus­ing mu­sic or tak­ing a phone call: They’re built into the rump of each bud, but you’ll need to press them with a sur­pris­ing amount of force be­fore they reg­is­ter your in­put. As a re­sult, your ear­bud gets jammed in your ear each time you press one.

Not sur­pris­ingly, I found they grew un­com­fort­able af­ter wear­ing them for around an hour. Worse, the dis­com­fort in­creased ev­ery time I pushed them deeper into my skull in or­der to skip a song or use Siri. A touch-sen­si­tive in­ter­face—such as the one baked into a pair of Air­pods—would have been a bet­ter choice for ear­buds of this size.

Crazy­baby prom­ises three hours of lis­ten­ing time per charge. I found that the true amount of run­ning-time var­ied be­tween 90 min­utes and two hours, although a five-minute charge of the buds will net you around an hour’s worth of use.

The charg­ing cap­sule that comes with

the Nano of­fers three ad­di­tional charges be­fore you’ll have to top off its own bat­tery via USB-C. In light of this, it’s un­for­tu­nate that the charg­ing cap­sule is so poorly de­signed. To charge the ear­buds, you’ll need to line them up with a set of prongs in­side of the cap­sule, but it can be tough to do this in poor light­ning con­di­tions or if your hands are stiff from ex­er­cise or cold. On a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, I found that one or both ear­buds failed to charge af­ter be­ing in the case for an hour. That sucks.

SOUND QUAL­ITY

The sound qual­ity of the Air Nano also un­der­whelmed me, es­pe­cially in the area of bass re­sponse. Lis­ten­ing to Mark Ronson’s Feel Right, for ex­am­ple, the bass was so heavy that it drowned out a lot of the rest of the sound­stage. The swampy ting of the drum­mer’s hi-hat? Gone. The same goes for the punchy feel of the song’s horn sec­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, no mat­ter how much bass a song had in it, I felt the mid- and high-fre­quency noise the ear­phones churned out was fuzzy at best.

Over the course of a week with the buds, I noted a hand­ful of dis­con­nec­tions: The left ear­phone would briefly dis­con­nect from the right, or both ear­phones would briefly dis­con­nect from my phone. I’ve come across this is­sue with a num­ber of truly wire­less ear­phones, and the Air Nano buds aren’t the worst of­fend­ers in this area.

BOT­TOM LINE

Crazy­baby’s Air Nano buds aren’t ter­ri­ble head­phones, but they’re not very good, ei­ther. You’d be bet­ter off spend­ing an­other $40 to $60 on a set of ear­phones that of­fer su­pe­rior bat­tery life, a more com­fort­able user ex­pe­ri­ence, and bet­ter au­dio. ■

The Nano comes in 10 dif­fer­ent col­ors.

At least the charg­ing cap­sule looks cool.

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