iPhone 5’s New EarPods Have More Bass Than Dre’s Beats Earbuds [First Impressions]



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.

The packaging of the new EarPods is pure porn.

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.

The placement of the earphone jack on the bottom instead of the top makes sense for pocket use, but may be a problem if you tend to keep your phone in a dock while listening to it.
  • Michael Rosenberg

    I have to agree with you. For the price these headphones are amazing…especially how much bass they send out…I personally haven’t had one slip (and trust me I tried to make the slip lol) all in all apple really did a wonderful job!

  • Whodakat

    Fit wise, they stay in longer than my old ear buds, but still not as good as I would like. They stay in for about 15 to 30 minutes and then my left one will slip out. As they are really light and not in ear headphones, they will sit on what feels like the cusp of falling out for a long time, where as the earbuds, once they got to that point they fell right out.

    As for the sound, the are phenomenal for the price. Gizmodo calls them garbage? Shocker, they are huge Apple fans. What Android actually made them? Then we love them! /s Seriously, I think Giz is garbage so I guess we have our own opinions. They are night and day in comparison to the old ones. A long time back (about 8 years ago) I had a pair of high end Shure headphones and I think the separation is on par with them. Now I haven’t heard a new pair, but these sound good. How does someone go from Shure headphones to $29 earbuds? Your $500 headphones get stolen once, and it kind of sours you to the whole expensive accessory experience. That being said, I’ve been listening to mine today, and I swear the fade in and fade out parts are 1000 times better. Its like I’m listening to different music.

    There has to be a way to keep them from slipping…

  • ddevito

    Glad to see they finally fixed them, however, audiophiles should have better earphones anyway. I would suspect even these ear pods to not do the iPhone’s sound quality justice.

  • Cortney Sauk

    Ars Technica did a story on audiophiles a while back (I’m pretty sure it was Ars) but any ways. The point of the article was that even seasoned experts and audiophiles could not tell the difference between Monster Headphones and plain ones. They also found that most people could not pick the more expensive headphones out of blind tests.

    For those audiophiles who complain and say they suck, it’s most likely they are biased towards Apple, or are in favour of other headphones due to name, price or imagined quality.

    For $40 (in Canada with shipping, still waiting for mine to use with my iPhone 4) I don’t expect them to be “magical” but I do expect them to be better than the originals, which I still use. If people want to complain they can go waste their money on garbage like Monster Headphones.

  • bpbp

    I’m a snooty audiophile and a studio engineer here in L.A. and these things sound amazing for a stock pair of earbuds. They won’t replace a high end speaker monitoring environment, but the smooth top end and clean bass is quite amazing. I think mine actually put out down to 50hz so you can hear kick drums and sub bass on dance tracks. Never thought I would see that happen. It also sounds like there is some kind of enhancer on the top end to spread out the stereo signal, but I don’t see how that would be possible with wire, paper, and plastic.

  • Martin Dobson

    Commenting on the relocated headphone jack portion of Leander’s post:
    I’m glad to see that it has not irked as many people now as before the phone was released. I’m not necessarily in favour of it being on the bottom but I am happy that all the i/o ports are all on one side.

    I wonder what kind of rise the iphone 5 would have gotten had it started with the headphone and dock connector on the bottom, then switched to have it on the top like every previous generation of iphone? “Udder Blasphemy”. So, again, I enjoy this little switch. it just makes sense. I always thought that it looked silly having a dock cord out the bottom charging the phone and a headphone cable coming out the top left.

    I primarily use bluetooth headphones, Jaybird Freedom and Outdoor Technology Bluetooth Tags, (1 for jogging and the other for everyday use where I don’t care if they break) The absence of cable snag possibility appeals to me more then corded, also my cat chews all my corded headphones. Personal preference though. I am excited to see how well the Earpods are, good post Leander!

  • rogifan

    There’s no way these headphones could be garbage. If they were nobody would be giving them good reviews. Are they as good as $300 headphones? No. But for $29 why would anyone expect them to be?

  • destroysall

    I couldn’t help but really LOL after reading “The packaging of the new EarPods is pure porn.”

  • mhar012003

    The new iphone 5 earphones have good sound, but they fall out of my ears…so they are worthless.

  • Stefbystef71

    Ok. Two weeks with the new EarPods and this is my verdict. With the old Apple earbuds I had always the problem of them falling after seconds and slight movements changed the sound quality (which was crappy anyway).

    The new EarPods are far better, not perfect but better. They really fit as advertised and the sound is richer and “bassier”. I am running up the stairs very fast almost every day and they never slip out. Small changes on the position of the EarPods have minimal impact to the sound experience. In the past, I had to correct the position of the earbuds every few second, especially when I was on the move.

    The only problem I have is a tiny spot on the right EarPod seam. It is a little bit too sharp and is slightly pealing my skin. I will ask for a replacement.

    As I said, they are not perfect. But for 30 $ they are pretty good. I appreciate Apple for making the effort and trying to make the best ear-fitting earbuds. At least they do look into it