Sleek, yet still powerful: the new iPod earphones

Written by: Dale Mugford

Categories: News, Reviews

Apple iPod Earphones (USD $29.00) starstarstarstar
Website: Apple Store
New iPod EarphonesHaving caved in to what must have been significant request, Apple has finally released some sleeker, form-fitting earphones, and I’ve already picked up a pair for my 30g Video.

Having tried Apple’s terrible, tinny, and low-volume in-ear earphones, I was hopeful that these new iPod earphones would finally achieve what I had missed in ditching my old Sony Fontopia earphones – smoother, thinner, and elongated stem earphones that fit so snugly you forget they’re there. I also hoped that the excellent sound quality (in my opinion) that was present in the previous, stock iPod earphones would remain, or improve.

So how do they measure up?

I was in Toronto over the weekend to see a friend who was having day surgery. I took the opportunity to visit the Eaton Centre Apple Store, the first of a growing batch of Apple retail stores now in Canada.

I was with my girlfriend who knew I was interested in picking up a pair and as I laid eyes on the new earphones, I picked them up, examined the box and said “They have them!”. She offered to buy them for me (she knows the way to my heart is often molded in white plastic).

We left to find a nice pub for lunch, and after being seated for a few minutes, I promptly asked to use her 60g 4th gen iPod to try out the earphones. I carefully unpacked them and plugged them in. I straightened the cord, and tucked them into my ears.

Immediately, I noticed they felt smoother and more comfortable, yet snug (the thin circle of light grey at the edge is rubber). Trying out a full sounding track from the Sea Snakes’ debut album Clear as Day the Darkest Tools, I smiled- as the rich, crystal clear and thumping music rang through my synapses.

While the previous iPod earphones weren’t poorly designed by any stretch of the imagination, they weren’t a perfect fit for everyone either. Apple has made a solid attempt (in this author’s humble opinion) to try and make that so.

While paying the premium for another set of Apple earphones while having 2 fully functioning ones already (Original iPod & Radio Remote earphones) seems a bit crazy from an “out of Jobs’ reality distortion field” point of view. Listening to my iPod for hours was impossible because, over time, my ears would easily get sore using the original earphones.

I’m sure these new ones won’t cause the same problem- and instead keep me rockin’ in the free world all day long.

There are 32 comments on Sleek, yet still powerful: the new iPod earphones:

RSS Feed for these comments
  1. T | Sep 20 2006 - 05:16

    So you’ve written a ‘review’ based on trying them out for a few minutes in a pub? What rubbish.

    “I’m sure these new ones won’t cause the same problem”?

    You’ve written you’re *sure* because you’ve not actually used them for long enough to provide either a valid opinion or a useful review.

    Being the first to write a review might seem big and clever, but try and ensure that what you’ve written is at least worth reading, huh?

  2. Grady | Sep 20 2006 - 05:44

    So why did you ditch the Sony Fontopias in the first place??

  3. querlink | Sep 20 2006 - 05:30

    hmm, your review sounds nice and cosy, like a holiday-tale. i like that. but in the middle-part it drifts slightly to a sort of soft-porn-speech (“I carefully unpacked them and plugged them in. I straightened the cord, and tucked them into my ears.”)

    Oh boy, i’m felling kinda smooth right now. i ‘ve to get this earplugs too.

  4. J | Sep 20 2006 - 05:46

    haha… nice job T, you’re a whiny douchebag. I appreciated very much knowing that the ipod earphones of old – which seemed to only fit into large old man ears – are now supplanted by something more pleasant.

    thanks dale, I know they’re worth checking out for myself now.

  5. PhrosTT | Sep 20 2006 - 05:54

    “I also hoped that the excellent sound quality (in my opinion) that was present in the previous, stock iPod earphones would remain, or improve.”

    I hope you’re freaking joking. The headphones that came with the original gameboy outperform the stock ipod headphones. I can’t even believe people can pretend to be into music and wear those at the same time.

  6. al | Sep 20 2006 - 05:03

    Apple fanboy.
    They could have reeked of manure, as long as they came out that white moulded plastic, this reviewer would still be gushing.

    Utterly lame.

    Buy an iRiver. Use Sony earphones.

  7. _asais | Sep 20 2006 - 05:27

    These earphones we get with new iPod or we can buy them only seperate in Apple store?

  8. Cary | Sep 20 2006 - 06:34

    That was the worst review I have ever read, I cant believe that made it to Digg. If that is all it takes then clearly I need to become a product reviewer.

  9. Mark | Sep 20 2006 - 06:26

    I tried the headphones and they are just as horrible as the first generation headphones. Do not use them for running. I had to run holding them in my ears for 30min. I have a pair of the sony in ear headphones and they work much better.

  10. Frank | Sep 20 2006 - 06:45

    “The headphones that came with the original gameboy outperform the stock ipod headphones.”

    LOL – Go buy some BOSE and shutup, fanboy.

  11. Angel | Sep 20 2006 - 06:56

    Give the man a break. No one forced you to read anything. If you’re unsatisfied read another review. Moan moan moan.

  12. Ralph | Sep 20 2006 - 06:55

    My cat’s breath smells like cat food

  13. Eric | Sep 20 2006 - 06:00

    So, how do they sound compared with the latest generation earbuds? You mention rich, crystal clear thumping music? Is that better, or worse than the xperience you had with the existing buds?

  14. ZuZ | Sep 20 2006 - 07:29

    LoL Ralph.. its so weird.. coz my cat’s breath smells the same too.. i wonder if there is a conspiracy going on for cats to rule the world :P LMAO

  15. HeyFrank | Sep 20 2006 - 07:38

    “LOL – Go buy some BOSE and shutup, fanboy. ”

    You’re an idiot if you think BOSE is good. Who’s the fanboy now? :(

  16. audiophile | Sep 20 2006 - 07:47

    what you really need are some etymotics. these ROCK any big name brand headphone you’ll ever find. I love them, and as my girlfriend says ‘best.. present.. ever!’

    i never new headphones could trump diamonds!

  17. Joe | Sep 20 2006 - 07:45

    What a waste of my time! Can I have the few minutes of my life reading this back?

  18. Walafrid | Sep 20 2006 - 07:11

    Seriously. There is an unbelievable amount of discourtesy here. Nobody is forcing anyone to read this article, and I think there must be better ways of expressing dissatisfaction than ranting and abuse.

    I’ve not always been positive about things posted here, but my aim has always to be constructive when I’ve done so. I’ve always found the Mac community to be friendly, but the hostility here is just sad.

    Thank you for your article Dale, I was wondering how the new headphones would turn out, though I suspect I won’t be buying any simply because I already have some that work.

    Please don’t be put off by this stuff. To everyone else, please don’t feel patronised by this — that isn’t my intention — but I just feel sad that this is what this has become.



  19. Davie Jones | Sep 20 2006 - 07:21

    I poop in my hand, and gently place it in the toilet…..

  20. Jake | Sep 20 2006 - 07:37

    “I also hoped that the excellent sound quality (in my opinion) that was present in the previous, stock iPod earphones would remain, or improve.”

    Thanks for the thoughts, but on this point I’ll strongly, yet politely disagree with you. The original headphones were horrendous. The sound was horrible, and if you’re saying those were positive, I’d strongly recommend trying out something like the brilliant e3 Shure or some other, actual high quality headphones. You’re missing out man, you’re missing out.

  21. Jack | Sep 20 2006 - 08:30

    Don’t listen to all of those jerks. Half of them couldn’t even write a proper review, heck half of them couldn’t write a sentence without producing one grammatical mistake. Plus unlike what others are proclaiming here, the majority of the people truly liked the old iPod headphones for there sound quality, but found them too large. While I do wish you tested them in your ears for longer than a couple of minutes (But lets assume you did) you effectively answered everyones most important questions,
    1) Do they fit
    2) Do they sound good.

    Insightful, Thank you very much!

  22. Andrew | Sep 20 2006 - 08:08

    I dont see why you say the in ear phones are tinny. Perhaps they weren’t in all the way. Mine have heavy bass and good range throughout considering the cost. I’ve tried those 200 shure ones and I couldn’t tell the difference.

    Thats just my opinion though.

  23. Alex | Sep 20 2006 - 08:20

    @ Walafrid: I’m afraid the digg community that links up to this review is filled with hostility whenever they are getting something that wont come on a silver plate. I believe computer geeks have to learn to behave. Well, that goes for all humanity (Almost) I guess or people who don’t daily work with service.

    However, I believe this review wasn’t so good, because it simply do not give test comparing the old with the new with different types of music, could as well tested them out a bit longer before publishing.

    Otherwise I found it a nice tale to read but not very usefull.

  24. hmm | Sep 20 2006 - 09:37

    are you kidding me?
    sure the design might be a little different, but i highly doubt apple made the sound any better in this version. try a real pair of earbuds or headphones and then compare the two. I’m sure you will change your mind…

  25. Pete | Sep 21 2006 - 09:34

    This thread REALLY needs to be moderated……. Nice way to help out Adam when he’s got a bunch of problems on his hands…. You flamers should all be ashamed…… Anyway, nice review Dale, could you possibly post again after using them for a couple of days? I hate the old ones, as they do become painful after extended use.

  26. angelo | Feb 17 2007 - 02:48

    also remember that, while hardcore (and wannabe) geeks have relevant opinions quite often, they never come across as being polite or tactful, or even civil by any measure.

    this is because the geeks were nothing until the internet came along. they were too busy getting their asses kicked in high school, and in the lab/library till the wee hours of the morning in college. the internet is their newfound playground where they can now beat up on unsuspecting but well-meaning individuals. for no real reason either, simply because they *can*.

    thus what is said is quite often the truth, albeit expressed like the miscreant neanderthal bully they have traditionally been scared of since their formative years. well, flame on you stupid bastards – at least it gives you some meaning in life. you make my internet an amusing place.

    what do i think of this earbud review? yes, its silly to say they have ‘excellent sound quality’. ‘Excellent’ relative to what? apple earbuds are far from audiophilic quality. however, not everyone needs to or is interested in listening to audiophile quality sound. at least the reviewer still is correct in pointing out the better fit and comfort of the newer stock earbuds from apple, which are valid points.

    what do you think of my comments?

  27. discounted bose speakers | Jun 10 2008 - 01:31

    Bose doesnt necessarily make great hedphones. The speakers on the other hand are pretty good.

  28. acer | Jul 05 2008 - 03:15


  29. Diamond Blades | Dec 10 2008 - 04:26

    iPod ear buds are the best of the lot, but prefer headphones.

  30. Banksy Prints | Dec 18 2008 - 02:16

    Your average iPod / iPhone user will find the sound to be “high quality” – after all you’re playing MP3s anyway.

  31. Dino | Jan 04 2009 - 02:40

    Oh yes , I like , I like . though I think ear buds are ok , I much prefer headphones but like so many people I find them a little bulky , so I’m really happy that efforts are being made to make them sleeker and smaller.

    Heheh this is a far cry from those early earphones that looked like milk cartons that were so popular so many years back.

  32. Joe | Jun 30 2009 - 08:17

    I agree with PhrosTT, the gameboy headphones did have excellent bass response–better than any earbuds since! Anybody know where I can buy a pair?? Someone else agreed with me and stole them from my desk at work.