Erato Combats Apple AirPods With Cheaper, Cooler Earbuds

With major phone makers such as Apple and Lenovo on a quest to kill off the headphone jack, finding a pair of headphones that deliver solid wireless audio has never been more important. And after creating one of the best true wireless earbuds on the market in the $299 Apollo 7, Erato has returned with new duo of potent wireless earbuds with a even more appealing price.

The Muse 5s will be available in black and rose gold, in addition to blue and silver.

The Muse 5s will be available in black and rose gold, in addition to blue and silver.

Launching today on Indiegogo, the new Muse 5 and Rio 3 have tantalizingly cheap prices for early backers starting at $79 and $69, before rising to $179 and $130 when they start to ship in November. That gives Erato a pretty competitive lineup of products when compared to Apple’s recently announced $159 AirPods.

MORE: AirPods Will Reshape Wireless Audio for the Masses

I got a chance to hands-on with pre-production versions of both headsets, and while the Rio 3 is a good choice due to its lower price and more secure ear hooks, the Muse 5 is definitely the more interesting of the two.

That’s because the Muse 5s features two big innovations that improve on what the flagship Apollo 7s already offer. First is Erato’s FitSeal silicone sleeves, which allow Muse 5 owners to customize the shape of the earbud (small, medium and large) and how it rests on the concave part of your ear, in addition to the size of the ear tips that go in the ear canal itself.

Not only does this provide a much more secure fit than earbuds that rely solely on your ear canal to not fall out, it’s also significantly more comfortable. Let’s not forget that the Muse 5s look a lot less ridiculous than Apple’s AirPods with their weird dangle too.

The second advantage is the Muse 5’s EratoSurround tech which use on-board audio processing to better simulate the distances and spatial sound info heard in various music and movies. Then you add in Erato’s overall high-quality audio and you get some of the best sounding wireless earbuds I’ve tested yet.

In terms of longevity, the Muse 5s pack a 100-mAh battery in each bud that Erato says is good for 4 to 5 hours of wireless playback, as well as a charging case with a 700-mAh battery that lets you recharge on the go. And, in a pinch, you can also use the Muse 5s microUSB port to recharge too.

With a much bigger body and big ear hooks, the Rio 3s are designed more for fitness enthusiasts. Equipped with a larger 120-mAh battery in each bud, they should get battery life that lasts even longer at between 6 and 8 hours.

If you're thinking about upgrading to a phone with a headphone jack, and don’t fancy Apple’s $159 AirPods, do yourself a favor and check out Erato’s two new wireless audio options.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).