Friday, 26 Oct 2012

Curiosity got the better of me: I succumbed to the hype and bought a set of Apple’s new EarPods. These are my thoughts on them after a week.

Basically, they sound OK. They are most certainly a huge improvement on the buds Apple used to make, but the sound quality is not amazing. More noteworthy is that I find them comfortable to wear for any length of time. They also maintain a good fit to the ear by themselves, twisting only slightly out of the optimal position when not held manually. (The old buds were rubbish in both these regards.) Quantitatively speaking they are fine value for the money (they don’t cost much!) but not a brilliant shopping choice.

There is one thing about them however that I have not seen remarked on anywhere else, which makes me not regret this purchase at all.

Maybe it is only owing to a peculiarity of my ears, but somehow the EarPods manage to imbue the low bass range with that subterranean quality of a great bass listening experience on large high-fidelity speakers.

I have never experienced headphones manage to reproduce this before. Circumaural speakers tend to make that bass range sound purely ærial; intra-aural, sealing buds tend to jackhammer it directly against the ear drums; non-sealing buds (of which I have only used cheap ones, admittedly) lack almost all punch. The EarPods somehow manage to drive the bottom end of music with respectable oomph while at the same time being subtle and understated about it.

They aren’t closed, so noisy environments will drown out their bass delivery efforts. But that seeming weakness yields a great upside: it is very comfortable for me to turn the volume up loud and keep it there for quite a stretch without ever getting fatigued by a relentless onslaught of bass – even though it is anything but weak or tinny. Part of that is also the consistently open and transparent sound at any volume level.

Their mediocre crispness at the top end can be distracting when you pay attention, however.

All in all, I am enjoying these as a workhorse set I can pop in to keep myself happy while preoccupied.

In conclusion: buy these not for the exceptional quality they are advertised for, but for their great comfort.