My oh my, is Apple getting a lot of hate from professionals reviewers for the new EarPods. Gizmodo calls them “garbage,” and The Wirecutter’s mixed review says they are no better than $10 earphones. But lots of new iPhone 5 users on Twitter today are saying “ftw.”
I actually like them too. Then again, I liked Apple’s old earbuds as well. They were cheap and cheerful. The price to performance ratio was really good.
The new EarPods sound way, way better than the old ones. In fact, to my ears, the new EarPods have more bass than a pair of $160 Tour earbuds from Beats by Dr. Dre, which are marketed for their extra bass boom. And they cost $130 less to boot.
Apple says the EarPods were three years in development, born of an intensive process or prototyping and 3D digitization of hundreds of different ear canals. The guts are based on a baffle design, which moves more air, and feature a cone made of paper, not plastic like most other earbuds.
I’ve spent the morning listening to the new EarPods. They sound great. There’s good separation of the instruments and pretty good bass. The bass isn’t as good as that from a pair of AKG K414P headphones, which I used as a reference. But the bass is better than the bass from a pair of Tour earbuds from Beats by Dr. Dre. I listened to some electronica (a mix by Adam Freeland), some classic rock (Martha by Jefferson Airplane, which sounded great) and some reggae (The Pioneer’s Longshot Kick De Bucket, which could would have been bassier. A lot bassier actually). I also watched a couple of TV and movie trailers, including the new Walking Dead trailer.
The EarPods are perfectly comfortable. They are light and airy. They don’t hurt my ears, even after extended listening. They don’t slip out, even when I shake my head. That’s not true for everyone though. Some of the other writers on the Cult of Mac were complaining about fit.
The wire is a pleasantly rubbery. Not too bulky, but not tangly either. On the right-hand speaker wire is a mic and remote, which works well. The volume/play/pause button has been beefed up and is a lot easier to find and manipulate than the fiddly one of old.
On a related note, there has been a lot of wailing about the placement of the headphone jack on the bottom of the iPhone instead of the top. It causes a problem if you tend to listen to your phone while it’s sitting in a charging dock, for example. But the change makes sense. I keep my iPhone in my back pocket, upside down. In this case, the headphone jack is in the prefect place — pointing up.
I’m not a snooty audiophile, and I know that a lot of more discerning listeners are going to hate the them. But for everyday listening, the EarPods are really really good..