Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 | A satisfactory option for less demanding users

The Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 true wireless earphones are bold and experimental in design, but muffled sounds will be an issue for instrument lovers

September 14, 2022 12:53 pm | Updated 12:53 pm IST

Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 | A satisfactory option for less demanding users

Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 | A satisfactory option for less demanding users | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Before investing in true wireless earphones, it is essential that you understand your own needs (and dare we say ‘quirks’) as a listener and tech user. Are you a connoisseur of studio-quality sound who listens to Carnatic music and/or heavy metal to unwind? Or are you a gym lover whose earphones need to block out the groans of weightlifters while you train? Perhaps a mix of both?

When the Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 came to us from the electronic wearables company Fire Boltt, we quickly set about to testing its features. In particular, we tried to determine what class of users would make the most of this TWS product priced at ₹3,999.

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Design

The product ships in a sturdy box with two wireless earbuds, one portable charging case, two spare earmuffs in varying sizes, a user manual, and a USB charging cable. We received the black model, which arrived in a glossy black charging case. 

At first sight, we were pleased by the charging case, which has a digital meter to show its battery level and confirm that the right and left earphones are charging. However, the case is large and the plastic surface is prone to excessive scratch marks - even though it spent most of its review period resting on a desk. Though lightweight, it does not feel durable and looked weathered in less than a week.

The earbuds themselves have an in-ear design with a magnetic base, but with one key difference: the stems are so long that when inserted comfortably in the ear, they graze your cheek and are impossible to ignore or even hide. Any subtlety goes right out the window.

Stowing the Fire Pods back in the charging case is difficult due to the long stems. I tried doing this in the dark and storage was nearly impossible without some light, despite the magnetic contact points.

Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 | A satisfactory option for less demanding users

Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 | A satisfactory option for less demanding users | Photo Credit: Sahana Venugopal

Overall, the design is bold, experimental, and takes some getting used to. The many scratches on the product - in spite of delicate handling - is highly disappointing.

Sound Quality

The Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901’s 10 mm dynamic drivers and 13mm large bass booster drivers promised an exhilarating musical experience. Yet, the reality was that most sounds felt distant. While volume settings are normal and vocals are true-to-life, instrumentals were muddied, muffled and not as bright as music lovers would expect them to be. On the other hand, the bass was breath-taking. 

For this reason, the Fire Pods are not recommended for users who listen to instrument-heavy genres or layered musical arrangements, as the overall experience is distant.

While the company claims that the Fire Pods can reduce background noise up to 98%, this was not my experience with the product. In fact, the active and environmental noise cancellation features [ANC and ENC] were not very noticeable while testing the product.

Call quality was satisfactory and there was no significant enhancement when using the Fire Pods.

Also Read |Google Pixel Buds Pro: Superior noise cancellation at the premium end

Battery Life

The Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 impressed us with its hardy battery life, but this is mostly due to the charging case packed with 650mAh battery capacity rather than the earphones with 45mAh capacity. The battery level indicator on the case is convenient and will surely be a godsend for users who need a reminder to charge their devices. The battery level of the charging case came down from 100 to 49 after eight days of heavy usage. However, it fell from 21 to zero in one night alone without any use, making it an unpredictable device.

The earphones themselves have an erratic battery life. At one point, they dropped from 90% to 0% overnight even after resting in the charging case. Other times, they remained at 100% charge for hours on end.

There is up to 8 hours of music play time and 9 hours of talk time, according to Fire Boltt. The charging time is about one hour, as we confirmed.

Daily use vs specs

The Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901’s biggest flaw lay not with its technical specifications or audio quality, but one minor feature that became a major inconvenience The Fire Pods come with bright blue and white lights that blink to indicate that the earphones are paired or charging. However, these lights are so harsh that they strain the eyes. What’s more, they flash every four seconds or so when the device is in use. While this might not be a problem for office-goers or gamers, the Fire Pods become a major source of disruption at night, since the flashing lights on both earbuds turn the wearer into a human beacon of sorts. Using the Fire Pods in dorms, nighttime flights, or sleeper trains would definitely irritate not only the wearer who is hoping to rest, but those located nearby.

The Fire Pods would be comfortable for those who wear it while exercising, as the in-ear fit is snug but not tight. The earphones have a waterproof rating of IPX6 and are sweat resistant.

The Fire Pods also have touch controls to handle calls, navigate music tracks, activate ANC mode, and activate the voice assistant. However, there was a lot of lag and more often than not, touch commands did not register. Having a ‘long touch’ command to adjust the volume was not a wise move, as the command to enter ANC mode was exactly the same. In either case, one ends up unintentionally pausing or playing their media instead.

All said and done, the Bluetooth pairing process was convenient and quick. Connecting the Fire Pods to both iOS and Android was a smooth experience. 

Conclusion

The Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 is a bold and experimental TWS product in the mid-range segment, but with a number of caveats. 

The earphones come with an innovative battery level indicator and sufficient call quality, but an easily-scratched case, muffled music, and bright flashing lights hurt its performance. The product would be suited to daytime users who won’t subject the device to stressful conditions and who mostly listen to podcasts or speech-based media.

For others, there are many more budget-friendly TWS products which outdo the Fire Pods Rhythm ANC 901 in both hardware and sound quality.

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