Apple Earpods Earbuds Earphones for iPod iPhone Review




Bought another set of natural-sounding in ear earphones that are a marked improvement over the Apple stock iPod / iPhone / iPad earbuds that came with iPods prior to 2014; those being the   Apple Earpods Earbuds.



At roughly $30 per pair, these earphones cost about the same as Apple’s earlier stock model, but feature significantly improved sound and fit.  After having gotten used to the $10 to $20 caliber earbods, it was initially hard to embrace this added cost, until we spent several albums listening to our music collection on the iPod with them.  All we could say at first was, “Seriously?  Wow !”  This earbud set represents a higher class product than sub-$20 earphones we’d enjoyed listening to for years, and after examining several of those medium to low-end models, we began to accept, and happily mind you, that to get truly accurate audio reproduction, you just can’t go cheap on your earphones.  We’ve traveled the cheap route often, but really never found the consistently high quality, across all headphones parameters, that is available in Apple’s Earpods, and you get all that for just $10 more on average.

Picture of the Apple Earpods, earbuds, shown in original packaging, front.
Apple Earpods, earbuds, shown in original packaging, front.

Earpods offer practically everything that’s important, from rich but not muddy bass, to low-tin midrange, to snappy and resonant high frequencies.  They don’t distort, even when playing an iPod at full volume.  They insert into the outer ear easily, and remove just as quickly, and they stay in place, without having to fiddle with them every few minutes, to reposition them for the best sound.  Wearing them never grows tiresome, and their low-mass and flexible cable minimizes microphonics.  Flexible strain relief is provided at the gold-plated connector end of the cord as well as at each ear driver and at the microphone / remote control too.  The only place it’s missing is at the Y, where the single cord splits into two (left and right).  Nonetheless, they appear well constructed, for years of trouble-free listening, talking, and remote controlling an iPod or iPhone.

Earpods include a high fidelity microphone that can be used on some iPod and iPhone models, for recording memos and carrying out hands-free cell phone or Facetime calls. Plus, the remote also features buttons for adjusting the volume as well as pausing and navigating music tracks on any media player that support this function through a 3.5 mm jack.

So with nary a reservation, we declare Apple’s Earpods as a high fidelity audio product, which is close to perfect.  We would, without hesitation swap the earlier Apple stock earbuds for these.   No attribute that you’d care to discuss on those older buds is better than the corresponding trait in this set.



Picture of the Apple Earpods, Original Carton, Back.
Apple Earpods, Original Carton Back

Benefits, Pros, and Features of Apple’s Earpods Earbuds

No ear tips to fit or change.

Instructions tell of how to safely listen and avoid possible hearing loss, as well as detailed procedures for how to use the built-in in-line remote control and microphone with various devices and services such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Vokul, and other digital assistant programs.

Flexible and effective strain relief on the mm male plug (that plugs into your audio device), on the mic / remote, and at each earpiece.

A stereo gold-plated 3.5mm male plug is featured, along with a very light-weight, low mass audio connecting cable. Though light, the cable appears quite flexible and rugged.  We’ve used Earpods for several months now on daily walks, and have jerked them numerous times when we dropped the attached iPod.  Still they continue to function flawlessly.

Very low microphonics thus.

In ear, yes, but not inside the ear canal.  Like the first generation Apple stock buds, the drivers here sit just at the entrance to the ear canal, inside the outer ear.



So, they’re more sanitary, less apt to become misaligned, and you can still adequately hear the outside environment.  Be careful though, not to play them too loud, because they can deliver enough volume to mask out exterior sounds like cars coming.

Elaborate packaging included.  Earpods indeed look expensive because of this, and their unusually small sound ports make them a curiosity.  How can such big sound come through openings that small?

Smaller sound ports means less exposure of the drivers inside, to sweat, rain, and other foreign debris.

The rubber edge cushions around each audio driver appear in the older stock earbuds have been eliminated on the Earpods, with no discernible impact on comfort.  These deteriorated quickly and fell off anyhow.  So it’s good that Apple abolished their use in this modernized version of their classic earbuds.

Reproduces all audio frequencies clearly.  No noticeable sound coloration or harshness thus.  They sound notably flat (the good kind of flat, that is), but will deliver the extra bass or treble you desire, if you apply an audio equalizer.



The left and right earbuds are embossed with easy-to-read L and R letters respectively, located on the business side of the driver assembly.  Easy to find therefore.

Hard to confuse LEFT and RIGHT speakers.  Earpods employ a symmetrical ear bud design, in which the LEFT bud fits most comfortably and sounds the best, in the left ear, and the RIGHT bud fits best into the RIGHT ear.

Excellent sensitivity, producing somewhat higher levels of clipping free volume as the iPod stock buds for a given volume setting.

Roughly the same front-to-back depth as the iPod stock earbuds.  So they do not jut outward from the ear any further than is actually necessary.  So they’re fairly comfortable when listening in bed, with one ear resting on a pillow.

Thirty inches of highly flexible audio cable is provided from the bottom of the Y vertex to the audio connector, and an additional twelve inches of cable from the top of the Y to the drivers.



EarPods stay put in the ear, requiring virtually no subsequent adjustment or repositioning, even in marathon iPod jam sessions.

Low magnetism leakage.  You could make the drivers in the older stock earphones repel each other if you held them the right way.  And they’d stick to some surfaces.  However no discernible magnetism leaks out of these Earpods drivers.

The come in bright white color.

One year limited warranty.

Picture of an unboxed set of Apple Earpods Earbuds.
Apple Earpods Earbuds removed from original plastic carton.

Disadvantages, Problems, Cons, and Concerns of the Apple Earpods

These are moderately expensive earbuds, and indeed most of us hate expense.  But you really get what you pay for in this product; a great-sounding, well-supported earphone.

No travel pouch included.  However, with a little effort, they can easily be wrapped back up and stored in the original plastic case (inner case), though this would take a bit more time than just throwing them into a pouch.



No harmonic distortion or driver size and composition figures given.  In fact we found no specs in the included printed materials.  We visited the Apple Web Site to get them.

May be inappropriate for certain environments, where the user would like not to hear much surrounding noise.  Since these buds do not actually “plug up” the ear canal, they only somewhat reduce outside noises from being heard while listening.

Likewise, these do not keep the sound inside the ear very well.  So you may disturb nearby passengers on trains and planes, if you play your music very loud.

Given the highly miniaturized form of the cables and connections here, these earphones cannot be repaired, practically, as the wires inside are hair-thin.  So once they break, they’re done.  We don’t mind this for el cheapo earbuds.  But we’d like to be able to fix our earbuds should they fail, the more expensive they become.

Specifications

  • Type: Open air.
  • Apple Earpods frequency response: 5 – 21,000 Hz.
  • Apple Earpods Impedence: 23 ohms.
  • Sensitivity: 109 DB.
  • Weight: 10 grams.
  • The profile is simple, to the point, and appears quite durable.

Our Rating

We’d rate the Apple Earpods ear buds at 98 out of 100, and they’re among the best quality earbuds we’ve tested. The extra 15 hertz at the low end of the frequency response, as well as the extra 1000 hertz at the high end adds greater fullness and realism to the sound you get, even on lower bitrate AAC files.  We could find very little else but good things to say about them, and so, would recommend them to even our most particular audiophile friends and novices alike, although a novice listener might not fully perceive just how great Earpods sound, until she’s heard some bad ones first.  These are nonetheless, and excellent refinement for Apple’s stock earphones, as only improvements were made, and no losses in quality.

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References

Revision History

  • 2015-12-29: Added even more appropriate tags.
  • 2015-10-04: Added more appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-07: Added more appropriate tags and categories.
  • 2015-06-23: Originally published.