Apple’s EarPods: A Review
Ever since I purchased my first iPod Mini back in 2005, I’ve preferred using Apple’s headphones over many other brands. That does not mean that I have not used other headphones since then, because I have used many other brands.
I did an experiment with a group of inexpensive headphones from various manufacturers. All of the headphones were ordered from Amazon and were headphones that sit just within your ear. All of the headphones were under $10 each. None of these headphones had in-line volume adjusters.
The reason I did this experiment was because I was tired of spending $29 on pairs of Apple’s headphones. I use my headphones ALL day. Except for the ride to work, meetings, and the ride back home. I have my headphones in my ears the entire day. This generally includes when I go to sleep as well. With so much use of my headphones, one could see how I could easily go through so many pairs of Apple headphones and why I would not want to spend $29 each time my headphones go bad.
Apple has had three form factors of headphones, the original version, the Apple In-Ear headphones with remote and microphone, and the EarPods.
The original Apple headphones were round, sat inside the listener’s ears and were made entirely of plastic with a small ring of rubber around the front edge. They are the iconic headphones that were introduced in October 2001 with the introduction of the original iPod.
There was a slight upgrade to the classic Apple headphones, with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Apple included the remote and microphone. The upgrade retained the same general form factor, but included the remote and microphone on the right earphone cable.
In October of 2008 Apple introduced a new form-factor for headphones, the Apple In-Ear headphones. The Apple In-Ear headphones were priced at $79 and were aimed a different audience. Apple’s In-Ear headphones allowed the user to choose one of three different silicon inserts that would comfortably fit into the user’s ear canal. The In-Ear Headphones would fit inside a user’s ear, deeper than the standard Apple Headphones or Headphones with Remote and Mic.
Apple’s latest revision to their headphone line is the Apple EarPods. The Apple EarPods are the most radical change to headphone lineup in its existence. The Apple EarPods were in development for a few years. Apple took 3D scans of hundreds of different ears to come up with the most common shape for the greatest number of users.
The biggest change to the Apple EarPods is the actual form-factor. Instead of using a traditional round speaker that sits just inside the ear, Apple has created an oblong shape. The Apple EarPods are still mostly round, however instead of the speaker shielding covering most of the face of the earbud, the speaker is in the front of the earbud. This means that the sound is pushed towards the ear canal, instead of just in the ear in general.
The biggest question to many users is how do the new Apple EarPods sound? Having used many different types of headphones I can say that the Apple EarPods rank right up there with the best of them.
The Apple EarPods do emit a bit more bass than the Apple headphones with Remote and Mic. This would make sense given the unique shape and how the audio is directed. Like many other Apple products, there is a wrong way to actually use the headphones. The actual speaker is designed to go into the ear canal in a more aerodynamic fashion instead of being bounced around the ear drum, as with traditional headphones. The Apple EarPods are designed to fit snugly, but not deep inside, one’s ear.
In order to test, I took an unopened set of Apple EarPods and used them. I also took an unopened pair of Apple’s Headphones with Remote and Mic. I used both of these sets of headphones on a 6th Generation iPod Nano. I set the volume on the iPod nano and began playing a couple of songs. After I played the songs, I swapped out headphones and played the songs again. I repeated this three times for each set of headphones just to verify my results.
There is one more significant change with the Apple EarPods. The Remote and Mic are now significantly larger. This change allows for a user to more easily pause, jump forward or backward in a song, and even answer a phone call. This is not a huge deal, but as iFixit mentions, the larger Remote with Mic will allow for some strain relief.
Overall the Apple EarPods do exhibit a lot more bass than the standard Apple Headphones with Mic. The Apple EarPods are comfortable and can be worn by a user for 8 hours, and maybe even longer.
One of the strange things that I do is I have my headphones on while playing my Xbox 360. The headphones are in my ears, while my Turtle Beach Earforce X11′s go over those headphones. Yes, I know I’m unique. While I have my headphones in my ears, I could either be listening to an audiobook, podcast, or music. With Apple’s Headphones with Remote and Mic, the earbuds would fall out quite easily with very little movement of my head. This has not been the case thus far with the Apple EarPods.
It is important to know that your individual mileage may vary. I am able to use just about any pair of headphones that are on the market, excluding the In-Ear headphones. So I have never had any issues using headphones.
There is not a whole lot to say specifically about the Apple EarPods. They are headphones, they work. As of right now, they have held up. We will see whether or not I have needed to purchase a new set (or get them replaced under warranty) in the next couple of months. If you’re looking to buy a new set of headphones, you might want to give Apple’s EarPods a try. As one last note, Apple has created a video about its EarPods which you can watch below.