The EarPod is Apple’s latest revision of its iconic (but leaky) earbuds. Finally, somebody has decided to get rid of the flat, circular design, which didn’t always sit well in the ear. After analysing people’s ears for three years, Apple feels that most people will find the EarPods comfortable. We’re inclined to agree.
They’re sleek and light, with a curvy, teardrop shape that makes much more ergonomic sense. They’re not as snug as rivals with ear tips that burrow into the ear canal, but not everybody finds that comfortable. The Apple EarPods sits just outside the canal, pointing inwards with a tapering output that’s more efficient and less leaky.
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We say ‘less’ leaky, because other people could still hear your music if its loud enough. Without a good seal, proper isolation is simply unavoidable. It’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but it’s still not ideal for a quiet office. On the flipside, you’ll be able to hear it when the outside world tells you to turn it down.
Sonically, the EarPods are head and shoulders above the older earbuds. Apple puts this partly down to the introduction of paper-based drivers (as opposed to plastic), intended to improve mid-to-low frequency response. Check out this teardown to see how it looks on the inside.
The sound is spacious, the detail is good and there’s a solid grip of rhythm and dynamics. Compared to the closest rivals, however, they’re a little harsh in the midrange, and could do with more clarity and precision.
We think that Apple’s claim that the Earpods “rival high-end headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more” is an exaggeration, but for budget headphones, the Earpods are fine.
Casual listeners are likely to be very happy with the ones that come bundled with the likes of the new iPhone 5s and the latest iPod Touch. When it’s time to upgrade, however, better sound can be had for a little more money.
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