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Time for some controversy

The have an oval looking thing on the side of the earbud. That’s actually the speaker. It’s meant to bounce sound off of your tragus and down your ear canal. It’s not guarded by much, but due to the fact that the earbud sits outside your ear canal, earwax clogging is improbable. A cord measuring 3.93 feet long connects these earbuds to your, most likely, iThing.

Because the Apple EarPods have such an inflexible and oddly-shaped casing, how they fit varies from person to person in the extreme.

Because the Apple EarPods have such an inflexible and oddly-shaped casing, how they fit varies from person to person in the extreme. For some, they fit great right in between their tragus and antitragus. For others, the little white jerks just won’t stay in for any reason, and especially not if you move at all. If you intend for your headphones to last for years, these are not the ones you want to be using, as they have several weak points and poorly-guarded joints. If you tug at the cables, they will break after a while.

Color us surprised

Considering the relatively abysmal performance of their predecessors, we didn’t really have high hopes for the Apple EarPods. How wrong we were. Despite the visible tracking error, the frequency response of the Apple EarPods will satisfy anyone who likes the sound of the Monster Beats Pro, or similarly bassy headphones. The EarPods are a bit erratic in the mids and highs, but overall they stay within our ideal limits very well outside of a significant emphasis in the bass sounds.

The Apple EarPods leak sound into the open air like crazy.

The had one of the strongest distortion performances we've ever seen, which is not only perplexing, but fantastic. This means there is little divergence between the sound that they produce, and the source material. Again, we were surprised considering they cost $30.

There is, however, a minor issue with tracking, or the balance of volume between the right and left channels. The 2dB difference is audible if you know what you're looking for, but for most people this blemish will passed unnoticed.

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As much as the have improved, some things don't change. Though they have improved audio, the shape and fit of the Apple EarPods basically ensures that virtually no sound is attenuated. This is unlikely to change unless the famed Apple EarPods are given a dramatic redesign. Vice-versa, the Apple EarPods leak sound into the open air like crazy. So, if you have to bump your tunes high to hear them over the bustle around you, be aware that you might be annoying everyone else with your music too.

Not the best in the world, but extremely impressive for $30 new

The Apple EarPods certainly don’t hang tough with the high-end of headphones that well, but they definitely punch out of their weight class when it comes to audio quality. Not only do the EarPods give their users a decent amount of bass, but they also have a super low amount of distortion: a drastic improvement over the old earbuds. Despite their issues with clarity and potential fit problems, Apple is shipping a serious pair of budget earphones with their newest iPhone.

It’s important to note that, like the old Apple earbuds, the Apple EarPods also has some questionable durability. You may or may not care, due to how cheap these earphones are, but don’t expect these to last very long. To maximize their lifespan, try not to yank on the cables to remove them from your ears: it puts a lot of stress on an easily-breakable joint.

If you’d like to try them out for your media player or smartphone, the Apple EarPods can be had for $30 from Apple. They’re a serviceable, inexpensive pair of earphones, especially if you’re not sure you want to make the high-end plunge right away. Just keep in mind that they won’t last that long with regular use.

The are a product that has a decent sound quality. However, they still have some of the hallmark problems inherent to the earbud design, and that will cause consternation over time.

The distant drums will echo.

The had an impressive looking frequency response curve, as it is much improved over the last iteration of these earbuds. Ideally, we're looking for a flat horizontal line in the graph, meaning that at every frequency the had the same volume output. For the most of the continuum of audible sound, these headphone stayed well within our ideal limits. However, there was a major blemish was near the lower end of the spectrum, as the s just don't seem to be able to reproduce much high-end sound.

We also noticed that these headphones had an issue with the decay of sound. What’s that? Well, ever listen to music on a pair of crappy headphones and some of the sounds like drums just kinda echo or linger on too long? That’s something the Apple EarPods do with lower frequencies. Currently, we’re working on a good way to show you this in the future, but for now you'll have to take our word for it.

You will hear them, they will hear you

Some things don't change. Though they have improved audio, the shape and fit of the basically ensures that virtually no sound is attenuated. This is unlikely to change unless the famed are given a dramatic redesign. Because they sit outside your ear canal, the leak sound into the open air like crazy. So, if you have to bump your tunes high to hear them over the bustle around you, be aware that you might be annoying everyone else with your music too.

Impressive, most impressive

A super-low distortion measure from a pair of $30 headphones? Damn. Only when the divergence from the source material crosses the 3% threshold will you notice and the never comes near that. In fact, you'd have to push the volume to over 113.03dB to achieve it. Don't listen for too long, however, as you may suffer hearing loss.

Tracking

Here’s that blemish we saw earlier in the frequency response graph: the tracking of the Apple EarPods is a little off. Because the error is over 2dB, audio enthusiasts will absolutely hear the right side being louder than the left, but overall the difference is relatively minor.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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