The ‘smallest and lightest’ wireless earbuds ever just launched at CES 2021

Earin A-3
(Image credit: Earin)

Swedish headphones maker Earin kicked off its CES 2021 by revealing the A-3 true wireless earbuds.

Demonstrating a new design that drops the AirPods-style stalk and in-ear tip of the A-2 models, Earin says that the A-3 are the “smallest and lightest” headphones ever made.

That’s a big claim from a company that’s no stranger to making earbuds. Earin says its first set of the buds, simply named the Earin True Wireless Earbuds, became the first-ever pair of completely cable-free headphones when they launched in October 2015.

But while we haven’t gone hands-on with it yet, the A-3 do look extremely tiny. Each bud doesn't appear to stick out of the user’s ears, like most true wireless earbuds do; the only part that comes close is the sliver of a sensor for the A-3’s touch controls.

The move from in-ear tips to a more open design does means that there’s no seal for active noise cancellation (ANC), though Earin says this was an intentional choice to allow more ambient sound in and afford users greater safety when running or cycling in busy areas.

These are no dumb headphones, either. Besides the custom-built 14.3mm driver, each bud contains an accelerometer, which picks up vibrations from your head as you speak. This is combined with the integrated microphone input to, allegedly, improve voice quality when making phone calls. The accelerometer also allows you to simply tap any part of the earbuds to register a control input, just in case you miss the touch-sensitive area.

Even smarter is how the A-3 earbuds can detect which ear its in. There’s not a predetermined left and right bud: both fit within either ear, and once its in it’ll automatically assign a left or right channel. This could save you a lot of fiddling around, making sure you’re putting the right bud in the right ear.

The A-3 also meet the IP52 standard for dust and water protection, which isn’t enough to protect from high-pressure sprays but should do fine for sweat resistance.

Earin hasn’t provided a specific release date, but has said the A-3 will release in Q1 2021: that's between now and March. It’ll cost $199, which puts the A-3 between the standard AirPods and the AirPods Pro — that seems about fair in terms of features, though as enticingly small as the A-3 are, it could all come down to the sound quality of that semi-open design.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.