Apple’s new EarPods are starting to make the rounds as people pick them up in Apple Stores in anticipation of a new round of Apple iPods and the iPhone 5 coming later this month. I’ve picked up a pair of my own EarPods for testing and the results have been nothing short of surprising.
The EarPods were developed after scanning the ears of hundreds of individuals to find a shape that would fit most of them. Because the EarPods are made out of a hard plastic and there aren’t any replaceable rubber tips, they may not be the perfect fit for everyone. Some people fall outside of that average range with smaller or larger ears than others. It happens, so you might want to keep this in mind during the review.
Just because the EarPods fit me doesn’t mean they’ll fit you.
First, let me just state that I hate having things in my ears. I’ve developed tinnitus over the years and that means an annoying ringing in my ears that is only amplified by anything that blocks or otherwise filters sounds coming in my ear. Having earbuds in usually means my music or podcasts are accompanied by an annoying ringing sound. To my surprise, this isn’t true with the EarPods. Not only do these things not go deep into your ear, but the lack of a rubberized tip means no forming to the walls and blocking outside sounds or causing uncomfortable pressure.
What really surprised me about the EarPods was just how little I felt them once I put them in. You knew they were there, but I felt as though I could wear them all day without having a bit of that sore ear syndrome associated with having something in your ears all day long.
The Apple earbuds are basically just round speakers with a protective hard plastic coating. In order to get them to stay in my ears, I have to apply pressure to them and wedge them in my ears. This is incredibly uncomfortable and I can’t listen to them for more than a half hour without my ears becoming so sore they actually hurt.
Edge: Apple EarPods
Sound quality, like most things, is a creature of perception. You can scientifically compare sound recreation in terms of frequency response and consistency, though for me it all comes down to how these things sound to the wearer while listening to music.
The EarPods have a significant bass presence and produce an even tone that is similar to that of some of the more expensive headphones I own. If I had to compare the tone to something I already use, then I’d liken them most to my Bose OE2 headphones. It’s not quite as rich as listening to music in high-quality studio speakers, but it does rank up there with the sound I’d expect from headphones that cost three times what Apple is charging for them. To me, they’re more comfortable than anything from Beats by Dr. Dre with a sound quality sitting somewhere just under that price range.
The original Apple earbuds sit in the middle of the road in the budget earbud market. I have a pair of $10 Sony clip style headphones which clip onto my ears that sounds about the same as these. It’s not to say the Apple earbuds are low in quality, but I found the sound to be somewhere in the middle of the earbud market. Not the worst; not the best.
Both of these have roughly the same audio quality through the microphone. I called my wife with both of these and she couldn’t tell which one was which. As far as microphones are concerned, they’re about even.
Edge: Apple EarPods
If you’re looking for a good pair of earbuds that won’t fall out of your ear at the first sign of movement, then the Apple EarPods are certainly worth looking into. They sound great and feel very comfortable. These aren’t exactly going to take professional audio professionals by storm, though. They’re still budget headphones.
I’d say that folks not looking to upgrade their iPhone or iPod should certainly put the EarPods on their short-list for external headsets for their phone or mp3 player. I personally wouldn’t recommend them for long-term use despite being more comfortable if only because anything shooting audio directly to your eardrum poses a risk to your hearing if not kept at a super low volume.
What do you think? Are the Apple EarPods worth the $29 price tag?