Wireless headphones have long and firmly taken their place on my list of preferences. At first, these were massive structures with wires and an external block, then they were replaced by a device that once turned my idea of the compactness of wireless solutions – Sony Ericsson HBH IS800, for its time it looked like a miracle. This impression could only be spoiled by a rather mediocre sound, which, by the way, was produced by most wireless headphones. Because of this, headphones were bought, tested and put aside, since there was no desire to rape the hearing.
Then came the segment of fully wireless headphones, which were completely devoid of the last connecting link – wires. It became interesting to know what kind of sound can be produced by completely wireless solutions equipped with enhancers and AptX technology, but without wires. I have been looking closely at various options, of which a lot has appeared over the past two years. And this is if you do not take into account the nameless Chinese manufacturers. I chose, compared, and, as often happens, such an opportunity suddenly appeared. I was offered to test Erato Apollo7S – I agreed without hesitation.
For the first time the name of this company caught my eye on Kiсkstarter, where a fundraiser for the release of completely wireless Apollo 7 was opened.
I looked, was amazed at both the declared characteristics and the price, and safely forgot about the manufacturer. And now I have in my hands an improved model with the S index.
- Headphone type – in-ear
- Connection type – wireless
- Version Bluetooth – 4.1
- Profiles Bluetooth – A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- Aptx CSS.
- Frequency range – 20-20000Hz
- Impedance – 16 Ohm
- Sensitivity – 100dB
- Emitter type – dynamic
- Material – plastic
- Color – black, gray, pink
- Weight – 8g (4g one earphone)
- Add. Features – Built-in noise canceling omnidirectional microphone
Packaging and equipment
The headset came to me in a complete set, completely new. The box is made of high-quality, very dense white cardboard, with a dust jacket on it, which lists the main characteristics of the device.
Inside is a very rich set, which includes a cable for charging the case, replaceable silicone tips of three sizes (the average size is already on the headset), a set of ear spacers, called stabilizers by the company itself, as well as my favorite foam tips of three sizes, packed in pairs in separate bags .
In addition, there are memos in three languages, an instruction book and a warranty card.
Both the delivery set and the quality of the packaging create the right feeling of an expensive, high-quality item.
Appearance and materials
The headset is made of plastic, and the charging case is made of anodized aluminum, in my case black. There are other colors too – pink and silver and gray.
The body of the headset most of all resembles a pistol cartridge, at least, this is the association I had when I first looked at the device. Minimalistic design, no protruding parts and almost complete symmetry around the pivot (excluding the small button at the bottom).
The earbuds themselves are very light – only 4 grams each. In the hand, as in the ears, they feel weightless – very quickly you stop noticing them.
They can work both in pairs and independently of each other. To do this, each has a button with which all control is carried out, an LED for indicating operating modes, as well as a microphone hole for voice calls and commands.
The base is made in the form of annular contact pads, through which the headset is charged in a case-pencil case. An unusual and elegant solution – contact pads are perceived as part of the design, not as a functional element.
The button is soft, informative, with a distinct click – from this point of view, everything is fine. The sound guide is of medium length, smooth, without a retaining groove for the attachments – it seems that the attachments should slide when removed from the ear, but this does not happen, everything is reliable.
The opening of the sound guide is covered with a metal mesh that acts as a sulfur filter.
There is a compensating hole at the base of the sound guide.
The design is also unusual in that the dynamic emitter is installed not in the headphone case, but in the sound guide. The speaker itself has a diameter of only 5.8 mm, which does not prevent it from producing high-quality sound.
Each earbud bears the company name as well as the right and left earbuds. The designations of the sides are made at the base of the earphone in very small print, which you have to look closely at – it's inconvenient.
Build quality is excellent – no seams, no punching lines, no burrs. This applies to both the headphones and the pencil case.
The pencil case, aka a cover, aka a charger, is made of aluminum and high-quality plastic. Nice tactile and very compact. Fixed in extreme positions. Inside you can see two jacks with contacts for charging headphones. At the end there are two LEDs responsible for indicating the charge of the headphones, as well as the pencil case itself. A standard microUSB cable is used to charge the pencil case. The battery capacity in the case is 300 mAh, which is enough to fully charge both earbuds twice.
I caught myself thinking that due to the fact that the pencil case fits very comfortably in the hand and has a compact size, I got used to twisting it in my hands and clicking it like an anti-stress, opening and closing, opening-closing was made very pleasant and informative.
Features of operation
Due to their low weight, the headphones sit confidently in the ear and do not fly out even with active head movements. However, despite this, I prefer to use 'stabilizers'. I would not want to lose one of the headphones – they are very expensive.
The manufacturer claims it is IPX5 water resistant, which means it is protected from splashing water from any direction. This allows the device to be used in the rain. Whether the gadget can survive prolonged exposure to sweat is unknown. And given that at a certain angle something like wires can be seen inside the compensator holes, the use for constant sports is a big question.
Of the shortcomings of ergonomics and design errors, I did not like a few more points.
First, the button on the earpiece is opposite the microphone and the LED, which means you have to look for the position of your fingers when you turn on the earphone to see the indication, otherwise the LED turns out to be blocked by your finger. Hence, the second minus follows – the risk of quick clogging of the microphone opening with sebum.
Another miscalculation that you encounter during operation is associated with the stabilizer attachments, which I love very much and therefore constantly use – there are no grooves and chamfers on the body intended for these very stabilizers. The stabilizers are simply pulled on the body even to the very button.
Would love to see a retaining ring or stopper. Ana the stabilizers themselves do not have any designations of the sides, which is why when you first put them on you have to apply them this way and that in order to understand which one to put on. Strange miscalculation for a premium product.
Two more minuses are associated with the pencil case. First, one LED is used to indicate the charge of both earbuds, which means that it is not possible to understand which earphone is charged and which is not.
Second, if you like to wear headphones with stabilizers, you will be disappointed – headphones with stabilizers do not fit into a pencil case. Therefore, you will either have to mince the petals or charge the headphones one at a time.
According to the manufacturer, the operating time of the headphones on a single charge is about three hours. My headphones played on average for just three hours. Together with the charging case, the total time can easily reach nine hours of music playback. Not bad. Fully charged earbuds charge in the case in about 20-25 minutes. During charging, the LED lights up and goes out after it is finished. The same applies to the indication of the charge of the pencil case itself – it lights up during charging, and goes out when finished.
Functionality and management
To turn on the pairing mode, you need to hold down the button for 3-4 seconds, after which the LED will start blinking red and blue. When connected to the phone, two headphones will appear in the list of devices at once, each of which can be an independent device.
The headset notifies about turning on with a voice, saying that the power is on, and when connected to the phone, it announces that 'the headset is connected'.
I strongly recommend not to neglect the instructions – this is one of the few devices from which I had to study it. A single button, as it turned out, can do a lot. This is a full-fledged playback control, where only rewind is missing, and the launch of voice assistants Siri (iOS) and Google Now (Android), and the inclusion of proprietary sound modes, and, of course, answer / reject a call.
However, the control itself requires getting used to. For example, a headset has its own adjustable volume level. To make it louder, you need to press the button of the right earphone twice while playing music, and to quieter – the left one. In this case, the volume will change only on the headset itself, but not on the device. The same two presses on the left or right button with the music off will activate the voice assistant.
To turn on the next song, in playback mode, hold down the button on the right earphone for two seconds, for the previous one – on the left.
If you press the button four times while the music is off on the left earphone, the playback mode will switch, which will be accompanied by a red indication and a sound signal.
There are three modes in total: 1) 3D Normal; 2) 3D Wide Enable; 3) 3D Disable. When you select one or another mode, the sound changes significantly.
Just when choosing playback modes, the ergonomics miscalculation associated with the location of the LED appears. In this case, you have to do finger balancing, because holding the earphone so that it is convenient to press and at the same time see the indicator is corny inconvenient.
Of the unusual moments, I can single out the fact that when you turn it on, you need to start both headphones, and to turn off both headphones, just hold down the button on one of them.
Finally, let's move on to the most important and important parameter – sound quality.
However, before describing the sound itself, one important point should be clarified – the company positions the headset precisely as a tool for listening to music, which it even writes separately in the instructions. Thus, they are trying to neutralize the lack of implementation of fully wireless headphones – when watching a video, the sound lags by about half a second. The company is aware of this, and has prescribed a recommendation to disable 'enhancers' when watching a video. An unpleasant moment that will not allow you to comfortably use the headset for watching movies and videos. Keep this in mind.
Taking this headset for a test, I was full of skepticism and did not expect any outstanding results and sound quality. Moreover, I was mentally ready to say to myself: well, what did you expect, this is Bluetooth. As a result, skepticism turned out to be unfounded.
Testing was conducted under the conditions in which the headset will most likely work for most users.
The main source of sound was a Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, which supports the AptX protocol, and the material was a premium Spotify account in Extreme quality, as well as my permanent Prime Test CD1 test disc.
The sound seemed to me very balanced, without obvious blockages in certain frequencies. He's also just awesome. You don't expect this quality from a wireless device. Yes, of course, it falls short of the best representatives of wired headphones, but, despite this, it makes a very good impression. Despite not the most even frequency response, all frequencies are in place, no obvious dips or peaks – again, a very balanced sound.
In more detail, we can note deep low frequencies with elastic, persistent bass, and at the same time there is no buzz. The bass is not excessive, it is as much as needed. Moreover, the kick effect is not observed either at minimum volume or at maximum.
The middle is clean, detailed, clearly audible, does not mix with the top.
The treble is not flashy. Even at maximum volume, they do not hurt the ear and do not overlap the rest of the sound. If you really find fault, then the tops at high volume are slightly lacking in saturation and strength. But, thanks to this, there is no sand and 'porridge' even at maximum volume.
In terms of detail, the headset has shown itself to be very, very good. The sound cannot be called academic, however, all instruments are clearly audible, and at the same time there is no feeling of excessive dryness and crystallinity inherent in audiophile solutions. That is, the sound is alive, not mechanical.
In my opinion, the slightest lack of depth.
If we digress from the audiophile formulations and try to describe the sound in simple human words, then we can say that everything that is necessary is audible, you enjoy listening. In the process of listening, there are no obvious flaws that you can catch on the run. Nothing bothers or confuses. Again, the sound is great.
Apollo 7S is also very sensitive to the sound source and the quality of the sources. A poor quality file can spoil the listening experience. Therefore, I highly recommend using quality material that will allow you to unleash the potential of this headset.
I cannot fail to note another important parameter for me – the headset does not play outside at all and at the same time has excellent noise isolation. Sitting in a quiet room with a person listening to the Apollo 7S at high volume, it will not work to understand what he is listening to. This is a very important parameter for me. I like to realize that I do not disturb others with my music and I myself do not hear someone else's.
The maximum volume is high. I couldn't listen at the maximum – my ears hurt. The constant level at which I listen to this headset is 60-70%.
Quite unexpectedly, wireless headsets became interesting to me not only in terms of convenience and technology, but also as a source of really good sound.
The Apollo 7S is balanced in terms of runtime, design and sound.
The general characteristic that suggests itself after acquaintance with this product is significantly above average. This is the case when you don't have to compromise between sound and convenience. The only factor that can scare you away from the purchase is the cost of Apollo 7S – in the Russian market it is almost 24,990 rubles. It's a lot. Similar solutions from Bose cost 10 thousand less. And the Erato company itself has solutions that can compete with Apollo 7S, for example, the Muse 5 model, which costs 14,990 rubles.
As a result, we have a cool product that changed my understanding of the quality of wireless sound, but in terms of price it remains unattainable.