Knock-Off AirPods Merged into Bluetooth Receiver

Whether or not you personally like the concept of the AirPod Bluetooth headphones is irrelevant, as an Apple product one thing is certain: all the cool kids want them. That also means that plenty of overseas manufacturers are pumping out janky clones for a fraction of the price for those who are more about the Apple look than the Apple price tag. Are they any good? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something interesting with them.

[Igor Kromin] took apart a pair of fake AirPods and was predictably underwhelmed. So much so that he didn’t even bother putting the things back together. Instead, he took the two poor Bluetooth audio receivers and combined them into one slightly less poor Bluetooth audio receiver. It probably doesn’t meet the classical definition of a “good” use of time and/or money, but at least he got some entertainment out of a product that was otherwise destined for the trash.

As you might imagine, the left and right “AirPod” each has its own battery, Bluetooth receiver, and speaker. It has to, as they have no physical connection to each other. That also means that each receiver is only playing one channel, making them useless individually. What [Igor] realized was that he could put together a little PCB that combines the two audio channels back into a regular stereo 3.5 mm audio jack.

While he was at it, he also wired the individual buttons on each headphone to a center button on the PCB which would allow him to physically synchronize them. Even still, [Igor] mentions that occasionally they don’t come on at the same time. But what do you expect for something that’s nearly a 20th the price of the original?

The last time we saw a hack related to the Apple AirPod, it was when somebody threw them out the window, so one might presume most hackers prefer their iDevice tethered.

7 thoughts on “Knock-Off AirPods Merged into Bluetooth Receiver

  1. You might also want to ditch the small shitty batteries and go for a bigger decent one, as well as add a separate charger IC (the on-PCB one might not be good enough, or might even only consist of two diodes). That said, this is a great idea, and props for the interesting combined button footprint!

  2. Or just get a bluetooth to 3.5mm fidget for a couple of bucks that has the same guts but in a more useful topology to start with. Someplace in my archives I still have my active noise canceling headphones with a little 4″ or so 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable and one of those little thumb drive MP3 players velcroed to the headband. That was a nice hack for flying. The other hack on the headphones was I took the carry case to the local leather store and had them put on belt loop so I did not have to carry them. That setup was perfect when I had to fly a lot.

    1. Do you mean that when something is cheap is automatically means it has to be crap?
      OR
      Do you mean that when something is expensive that is automatically is very good?

      Both are sometimes right but most of the time both are wrong. However, many people don’t care about the quality, they care about the brand. It’s some form of admittance to a club of millions of “individuals” who all want to be unique by having the same overpriced gadget. And if that makes them feel good, then what’s the problem?
      However… the main problem lies in the denial, because you can’t say you’ve just bought an overpriced headphone, so they only thing you can do to save your “reputation” is to state that it is excellent, works like a charm and sounds wayyyyyyy better then anything you’ve had before.

      Now there is also another kind of people that pay about anything as long as the story (or commercial “wrapping”) is good. We all know about super expensive HDMI cables, costing more then 30 times the cheapest cable. Because the packaging and the salesman in the shop told you that these cables are really the best. “You see the difference” he said, “no more noisy pictures” he said. HDMI, digital signals?!?! “Yes, but these are specially gas filled cables to reduce cable losses…” I never laughed so hard. Then went to the store across the street and bought the cheapest HDMI cable I could find and it served me well for many years. The extra benefit was that this cheap cable was thinner and allowed it to be bend nicely at the back of the TV. Where the expensive cable would probably have broken off the HDMI connector from the inside of the TV due to it’s heavy plastic and rigidity. Which if that would have happened most likely would have resulted in somebody saying that I should have bought a more expensive TV.

  3. “As you might imagine, the left and right “AirPod” each has its own battery, Bluetooth receiver, and speaker. It has to, as they have no physical connection to each other. ”

    Considering how often the wires are a failure point in headphones, this may be a plus.

  4. I received a “free” pair of Huawei “Freebuds” when I bought my Huawei P20 Pro phone recently. These retail for around $150, but how many pairs that have actually sold at anywhere near that price, as opposed to being “given away” is, I’m sure, a matter of discussion. Still, the sound quality is very good compared to other wireless earphones I own, and outperform my JBL wired ‘buds and other less known brands. And when I come t selling the handset on in the future, the’ buds will add quite a bit on to the sale price.

    And for the record, I bought a pair of the knockoff i7S wireless buds for around $15 well over a year ago. I wasn’t able to get them to pair at first because the method was so convoluted. When i finally figured how to get them connected months later, the sound and feel of them in my ears was so poor, I gave them away to my cousin.

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