It’s time to face the cold, hard truth, everyone.
Apple’s standard headphones — also known as “EarPods,” which everyone seems to use on a daily basis — are just not that good.
Sure, they do lots of fancy things, and Apple puts those two buttons on the cord to great use. But when it comes to actual sound, EarPods fail to match competitors even cheaper than its $US29 price tag in the Apple Store.
I get it, everyone has white ear buds, and you should too, right? Makes you fit in amongst the hip iPhone crowd. But the truth is, you’re not getting much more than that social marker; the sound makes it not worth it.
So what’s the deal?
There is one basic thing about Apple’s earbuds that causes the biggest problem, and that is the way they sit in your ear:
Every earbud designer has to do the best with the technology they have. Apple seems to have made the choice that it was more important to make it easy and quick for people to take the earphones in and out than it was to make them sound the best they can.
So what Apple did was make its earphones into little pods that fit perfectly in your ear. They are also largely comfortable to a wide range of people, but here’s the thing — they sit further back in your ear.
This is also why these headphones don’t tend to fall out a lot, especially during exercise. But being set further back leads to a big loss of sound quality. That’s why Apple headphones sound kind of tinny and distant compared to others. They are also much quieter.
How many of us have tried to use our Apple headphones to watch some kind of video on our iPads or computers and never been able to get the volume loud enough, or listened to a podcast that was just too quiet? It’s a problem I’ve consistently faced.
The ear position also causes sound to leak out, and more environmental noise to creep in. That distorts the overall experience.
It doesn’t mean Apple EarPods are terrible. If you don’t care about sound at all and can deal with the lack of volume in some situations, you might be just fine with Apple’s solution. But there are so many other options out on the market now that you don’t need to settle.
After getting fed up with the quality, I decided to buy these Skullcandy earbuds and I love them. They take an extra second to put in, but they don’t really fall out and the sound is intimate and powerful (by the way they cost me about $US18 at Best Buy).
The earphones plunge deep (but not uncomfortably so) into your ears and give you plenty of base and overall sound balance. They also don’t let a lot of sound out or in, so you’re just getting a better experience. And they have a microphone and a remote on the cord as well which may not be quite as fancy, but it works well enough.
I’m never going to bother with Apple’s earbuds again. It’s not worth the sacrifice in sound quality just because they come free with new iPhones. And given that there are better, cheaper alternatives, there’s no reason to settle.