Thursday, September 20, 2012



To make the new EarPods more resistant to water and sweat damage, Apple’s designers removed the external microphone grate.


The control board in the old earphones isn’t nearly as sealed or secured as the new EarPods, leading to a common complaint among gym-goers finding that their sweet earphones don’t work so well when doused in sweat.

I was pretty happy with the old iPhone headphones. The fit and sound quality were OK. Competing products that had a microphone and remote seemed bulkier and were usually more expensive. The main problem was that they didn’t last. I went through several pairs, but they kept breaking after a couple months of jogging. Hopefully, these changes will make the EarPods more durable.

Currently, I’m using the Philips SHS3200/28 for jogging, but it doesn’t have a microphone or remote. I’m considering replacing it with the Sony DREX12iP, the Philips SHH8107/28, or the EarPods (all of which do).

When I’m working around the house and need a little noise isolation, I’ve had good luck with the Sony MDREX38iP, which (alas) does not have a microphone.

I’d also like to find a product that’s good on airplanes. There I want lots of noise isolation, but I don’t care so much about sound quality. I’d prefer something cheap that I can stuff into my pocket without worrying that it’s going to break.

Update (2012-09-29): Kirk McElhearn:

These earbuds are totally devoid of bass, and even of low midrange sounds. At first, I tried them out when listening to some podcasts. The lack of bass actually makes spoken word a bit easier to understand. But when I put on some music – The Clash’s Train in Vain, from London Calling, for example, with a strong bass riff – the music was hollow and empty.

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I use two headphones now with my iPhone:

- a Jawbone Era, a single-ear headset which also supports A2DP, about 99% of the time as I am just listening to podcasts. I wear it while walking around, exercising, doing housework and so forth. I've broken multiple pairs of headphones and headphone jacks by catching cords in doorhandles and the like, so I refuse to use anything with a cord while active any more. (I guess I could run it inside my clothing...) It's got 5-hour battery life, a real power switch that doesn't require holding a button down, and very helpful audio alerts for low battery, pairing, etc., so you don't have to match confusing light patterns. The way I use it, it isn't actually terribly useful for phone calls because the microphone portion isn't close enough to my face, but it does stay put very well, even while jogging.

- Audio-Technica noise-cancelling in-ear headphones. These work tolerably on a plane (not as good as the larger versions) but have the benefit of being much more compact and require a single AAA battery. Unlike some noise-cancelling headphones you don't have to have the power on unless you actually want noise cancelling. The current version is the ATH-ANC23, which are under $50. I've been using my previous model (ATH-ANC3) since 2008, and they still work great.

The old iPod/iPhone headphones never stayed in my ears at all. I didn't even unpack the last couple of pairs that came bundled with various devices.

I bought my father (who does want to talk on the phone with it, but again mostly just listens to podcasts) a Sennheiser PX100-IIi; he seems to like it quite well.

@Nicholas That’s very helpful; thanks.

You use Apple's headphones for jogging? That's interesting. I ended up killing every single set of Apple headphones I ever used for jogging, due to sweat dripping into them. For jogging, I've had to resort to the water-resistant models that Nike and others sell.

@Matt I killed all my Apple ones, too—multiple iPods and three iPhones, plus one set bought standalone. So I gave up and started using the Philips ones noted above.

Logitech Ultimate Ears - $40 or so at Costco. And yes, the flat cord really does solve the tangling issues (worth it for that alone!)

It seems that the Jawbone Era is maybe not the best choice for listening to podcasts, since it has no pause/play button. Is the sound quality that much better than with the Jawbone Icon HD?

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