Apple EarPods White In-Ear Only Headsets Reviews

Apple EarPods White In-Ear Only Headsets

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Articulate, comfortable, enjoyable

Dec 22, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:full range sound, excellent definition, comfortable, moderate isolation, convenient case

Cons:microphonic cords, mild midrange emphasis, controls don't work with all devices

The Bottom Line:

If you want excellent sound while having the comfort that will allow you to listen abundantly, the Apple in-ear headset is hard to beat and is a great value.


Do you really want to plug your ears?

The idea of in-ear headphones always sounded like torture to me, based on my intolerance of earplugs I'd tried for sleeping in noisy environments.  When ever you seal off your ear cavity you may block sounds, but other sounds appear to cancel out some of the advantage.  Suddenly you can hear all your internal body sounds like swallowing, breathing, blood pulsing in your veins--sort of like when your ears are full of water as when your snorkeling or swimming.  Not only that, but plugging your ears often creates uncomfortable pressure against your eardrum.  

So I was delighted by the comfortable way this headset plugged my ears.  The tiny transducers are suspended inside an extremely flexible soft plastic globe (you get 3 sizes) which can adapt to the shape of your ear cavity much better than foam can.  There are no pressure spots.  You do feel a little pressure when inserting the earpieces but that disappears as soon as you let go of them.  I find no accumulating discomfort even after several hours listening. 

Those extraneous sounds plus more do occur however.  The "more" refers to easily audible vibrations that travel up the cords whenever you cause them to move or brush against something like your clothing.  That's the price of having the transducers floating in the soft globe--there's nothing to clamp out these vibrations.  So if your moving a lot while listening, this may bother you and interfere with the music.  When I'm out in the breeze sometimes I can even hear the wind whistling around the opening at back of the globes through which the cables and transducers are routed.  As you crank up the volume all these noises become less audible unless you're listening to music with periods of relative silence.  

The comfort is better than most over the ear headphones I've tried.  Also, the ear globes stay put very well and because they weigh almost nothing you don't feel them when you move.  An over the ear headphone tight enough to stay on with moderate movement would likely be less comfortable.  

So yes, plugging your ears may be the best choice.  

How do they sound?

Just so you know, my music library is encoded entirely in high bit rate formats: either 320kb AAC for my older additions or Apple Lossless for everything I added after it was offered.  My comments may not apply if you listen only to highly compressed 128kb MP3 or AAC files.  

In a word, the sound is excellent.  Provided you are careful to get a good seal of your ear cavity (I had to use the largest size globes), the bass response is very impressive.  You can hear the slam and rumble from subharmonics on bass drum strikes in classical recordings, for example.  Not as much as with a megabuck dual voice coil servo subwoofer (Velodyne DD, for example), but way better than typical home audio systems.  And the tiny drivers have no bass hangover boominess that affects so many loudspeakers or is created by room acoustics.  Transient attack is superb and you pretty much hear everything.  Percussion in rock is punchy and quick.  Subtle acoustic echoes are easy to hear.  

Being really fussy, there are two areas of minor complaint.  First there is a slight midrange emphasis which can obscure detail when the music is busy--like a full orchestra going full blast.  I compensate for this by using an equalization setting (featured on many portable devices) that reduces the relative midrange.  My Apple devices have a setting called "classical" which does this.  Second, as with all headphones, you're hearing "binaural" sound, not stereo.  Most recordings are mixed for stereo, where both ears hear the sound of both channels from stereo speakers.  With headphones, each ear never hears the sound recorded on the opposite channel.  On many rock & pop album mixes some of the sounds are not fed to the opposite channel.  As a result, with headphones the soundstage can sound unnatural on certain recordings.  For whatever reason, this headset seems to make this more obvious than most.  

Compared to the sound quality of the very, very best over the ear headphones these come up just slightly short.  My 35 year old Sony MDR-V6s have deeper bass slam, lack the midrange emphasis, and have a little better sheen on the cymbal crashes.  And there are quite a few headphones even better.  But the differences are more than made up for by the comfort of this headset.  While I haven't listened to many other in ear models, you can bet that few will offer better comfort because they will either have foam inserts or be heavier.  

If you want excellent sound while having the comfort that will allow you to listen abundantly, the Apple in-ear headset is hard to beat and is a great value.

Some other issues

There is a control on one of the ear chords that has a "+", a "-" a center hold button and a microphone.  With my 80gb pre-classic iPod these controls do nothing, and with my iPhone 4s,  the hold button answers calls and the others do nothing.  Apparently on many models of iPods, the + and - buttons also control volume.  See Apple's website for details.  

If you've only experienced the standard hard plastic earbuds that come with Apple portables, these will blow you away.  The standard earbuds don't seal well and sound different depending on their position.  The in-ear model provides a shocking improvement.  


Recommend this product? Yes


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