back to article Apple unleashes not-crap iPhone iPod earbuds

Three months after they were said to be on the horizon, Apple today announced availability of the dual-driver in-ear headphones with remote and mic ($79) and single-driver earphones with remote and mic ($29). "Availability," however, is a wee bit of a squishy term: Apple's web store says that the higher-end model will ship in "7 …

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Anonymous Coward

only the vol won't work with iphone

according to this support doc doc with the iphone, all the buttons will work except the vol up/down.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3310

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Unhappy

Does it really matter how good the headphones are...

... When the iPod Touch itself (1st Gen, anyway) is as hissy as hell. I've sent several back for replacement and eventually given up. Plugging in a decent pair of buds produces hiss - even when the player is paused. It is/was clearly a problem in the amp since taking the volume righht down to zero cuts the hiss, while any other setting produces the same level.

Annoyingly my old iPod Mini is hiss-free. Anyone know if the second gen iPod Touch is any better?

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Anonymous Coward

Couldn't resist

What's it going to take to get Jesus on the mic?

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Stop

Audio Quality

The audio quality of all the i* devices is pretty rubbish. If you like sound quality you have to look elsewhere - Apple can't help you.

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Jobs Horns

@Chris

Can't comment on the superiority of the Touch Gen2 v's the older one, but I do know that there's quality "issues" with the Touch Gen1. Some of them are more treble-heavy than others, although even mine - which is one of the better ones - is notably worse quality than either the Nano Gen1 or iPod Gen5, just too "light". Maybe Apple decided that all the other things that the Touch can do* were more important than the sound quality (hence the icon choice).

(* am I the only person who thinks that the Touch makes a better eBook reader than the so-called dedicated ones - like the Sony that everyone raves about?)

Interesting to hear about better 'buds for the iWhatevers, but I don't think I'll be giving up my Shure e2c's anytime soon for the Apple ones. :p

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hogwash

The frequency response of iPods doesn't go down to 5hz anyway- like a lot of gear, they go "twenty to twenty", unlike a lot of ears.The important thing is how the curve behaves. I'd rather have a pair of sennheiser HD-25s (rated down to 16Hz) where "response" equates to "makes almost reasonable sound at this frequency". Yeah, maybe the driver will move if you put a 5Hz sine through it, but it's not going to be dripping with fidelity. Hell, a pair of good headphones which say 50Hz-20kHz on the box, but which have reasonable response across this range are going to sound better than a lot of the toy headphones which claim OMFGWTFBBQFrequencyLOLResponse of some wildly optimistic range.

Oh, and don't rush with the review on my account, I'd no more trust the opinions of the Register on audio gear than I would Hello magazine for information on high-energy physics. Owning a pair of ears doesn't mean you have the first clue what you're listening for, even if you once read a wanky consumer hifi magazine full of arm-waving unscientific claptrap :)

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Anonymous Coward

Low impedance headphones?

Re: Chris, 1st gen iPod Touch hissy

I'll admit I know next-to-nothing about headphones, but I recall some complaints about headphone hissing with MacBook Pro's on an Apple thread. It turns out that the problem was that some users had low impedance headphones. The solution was to buy a pass-through device that increased the impedance, or get headphones with a higher impedance. Maybe this would help?

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Elrond Hubbard

What a jerk.

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Jobs Horns

Apple quality earphones, Hmmm

I wouldn't touch apple earphones with a barge pole - at any price. The ones that came with my iphone are still in the box untouched. I'm still amazed at how many people actually want warranty replacements for the supplied earbuds. Personally I think they sound better with one channel missing - even better when they've lost both.

For in ear use you can't beat Shure (not the 110s, but 210s and upwards), or if you prefer on or over the ear headphones then Seinheisser are a very good place to start, but be careful, the amp in the iPhone/iPod touch isn't up to much IMO and will probably have difficulty driving a set of top of the range cans.

Shure also do a seperate inline mic that's compatible with both iphone the 2 and 3G iphone, its a bit big but it works, and will work with any headphones.

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Flame

re Audio Quality

"The audio quality of all the i* devices is pretty rubbish. If you like sound quality you have to look elsewhere - Apple can't help you." Sound engineer are we? So, go on, tell us which is the best player in you wise opinion?

I am so bored of this. The iPod/iPhone apparently has one of the best DAC on the market. This information comes from comments made on El Reg (see "That old trope again.. " http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/18/apple_25_year_report_card/comments/). The way I see it, real audiophiles wouldn't use a device that cannot play the FLAC format. To be honest a real audiophile would probably shun portable devices.

Slag Apple off for their marketing strategy or slag 'em off 'cause you don't like Steve Jobs (although none of you have actually met the guy to know that!) or even have a go at the way that they conduct their business, but the quality of their products is generally of high build quality, the ease of use is brilliant and if nothing else the performance is of a high quality (which in part goes to explain the cost). The Apple bashing that goes on at El Reg is getting really boring, and is starting to sound a little like jealousy, time to change the record?

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Anonymous Coward

niche ??

"iPods' ability to record on-the-fly notes and memos without third-party hardware - and thus Apple walls up yet another mini-market niche"

Creative Zen have had mics on them since before the nano was around, not exactly a new idea

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Meh....

Why buy or wait for Apple ones anyway? I got myself a set of Sennheiser MM50iP which work in the exact same way as the ones Apple provide with the iPhone but with much better sound quality. They are about £35-40 if bought online, have a mic for hands free and a button which works the same as on Apple's set.

I admit that I know very little about earphones in general, but these sound pretty good to me and stay in my ears so they'll do me just fine.

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Thumb Up

Apple white?

unless you REALLY want Apple white headphones, then iPhone users can always get the Sennheiser mm50 iPone , which more than do the job. not cheap, but iPhone compatible with working mic.

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5Hz to 21KHz -- really?

If they've managed to produce that faithfully then you'll likely be seeing Apple earphones worn by all major artists whilst on stage -- the widest range I can find for in-ear monitors is about 10Hz to 21Hz and that's for triple-driver units that retail for around the $500 mark.

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Etymotic HF2

I hate the standard earbuds and love my Etymotic ER6i, so when the opportunity arose to combine the hands free calling and "remote" functionality of the standard earbuds with top notch audio i bought the HF2's... and whilst they ain't cheap, they are phenomenally good, only real issue is sound isolating headphones usually result in you taking either really loudly or really quietly as you can't hear your own voice!

Dual Driver ones will be interesting to hear though....

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@Chris and @AC

@Chris

I can't comment on iPod Touch 1st Gen v 2nd Gen, but I have both 1st Gen iPhone and 2nd Gen iPhone, and the first Gen iPhone sound is the worst I have heard from any MP3 player. The hiss overpowers the music on sensitive headphones at low volumes, and as you noted the hiss is still audible even at zero volume and when the music is paused. The bass response is awful on flat EQ, and if you turn on bass boost, the amp produces more distortion than bass.

The end result of this is you can only use a 1st Gen iPhone with in ear headphones that have a slightly bass heavy response and low sensitivity. I find the mid range Sony or JBL fit the bill nicely. The JBL are slightly cleaner, and the Sony more for bass heads.

The 2nd Gen iPhone has much better sound. Hiss is basically gone, and bass responce is slightly better. Using the bass boost EQ setting still sounds awful, but not so bad as an average Joe will notice. If you are a bass head you still need to select bass heavy headphones, but otherwise the sound quality is very good.

@AC, great news about the iPhone compatibility of the Apple in-ear model. I might have to buy a pair and try them now to see how they compare.

For those that didn't read the KB article, it says if you have an iPhone that the Mic and call-answer/end/pause/skip button will work, but the volume control will not, so no big deal since you don't loose any functionality, you just have two buttons that do nothing...

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3310

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iPhoneys

As soon as I read "In a blow to those unfortunate iPhoneys" I knew to stop reading Myslewski's article. He could have given readers a technically brilliant piece on what was good and/or bad about Apples headphones ... instead, he chooses to expose his own prejudices and so, in my book, negates any pretence to journalism he may have.

I'll go elsewhere for a review of Apple's headphones. I prefer not to read articles by someone who, heaven forfend, might be termed a 'self-opinionated twat'. Not that I would use such terminology in public!

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Stop

Ultimate Ears on 1st gen touch

Thought you might want an alternative to Etymotics. I bought some UE Super.fi Pro 5s which come with a noise attenuator for use on planes, etc. They're also a bit cheaper than the Etymotics and are slightly base heavy (there is a special version which is for base fans). I wish I could have afforded the triple.fis though.

The point is these removed/mask the hiss on my 1st gen touch.

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@Ascylto

Are you an iPhoney? :[

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Anonymous Coward

Oh yeah, and..

It's not that the headphone amp "isn't up to much", it's just designed for mobile headphone load. If you're trying to drive something a little heavier then you might want to look into a pocket-sized headphone amp. Of course, this puts you into nutter territory, so you'd better care slightly too much about the sound.

When you hit this point, you're better off considering if you can't stand nice quality IEMs (in-ear monitors) like the top-end Shures and friends. If you can cope with having to poke stuff in your ears, you'll look like much less of a dork when walking around- and won't need a separate headphone amp and/or be flattening batteries as fast :)

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Unhappy

F**king iPods

The iPod truly is the audio tool of the devil. If I could ban one item of modern life, it would be the f**king iPod.

As a poor sap that has to travel into work every day on Liverpools MiseryRail network, I can atest that there is very little of the 'personal' about the stereo from one of these devices. Why the fuck can't they design a pair of earplugs that keep the sound in the ear, rather than annoying the crap out of anyone within 20 feet?

I truly, truly hate the iPod.

{Rant over}

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@AC

Indeed, Apple may be a loathesome bunch of lying wads, but actually, iPods sound OK. The DAC and headphone amp is a lot better than in most other digital audio players. With a decent pair of headphones, they sound nice, whereas the more shoddy devies (iRiver, I'm looking at you) tend to betray poor SNR with decent isolating IEMs.

The Ety 6is mention above are just fine, for example, and are a good impedance match to an iPod. They don't have the most pronounced low-frequency response in the world, but they're crisp. If you can afford to get the custom earmolds for them, they sound great- once you're used to putting the damn things in. However, even with the rubber tipes they come with, they sound great when properly seated. An iPod will sound really nice with these, as long as you're using 192k encoding or higher.

However, a lot of more simple-minded SUXX/ROXX types can't separate "Apple suck" from "All of Apple's products suck", and assert that they sound crap. The other thing, of course, is that some people simply don't know how to listen properly- witness your average boy racer boom boom car (which is loud but sounds terrible, even inside), or the popularity of Bose equipment.

For the record, I agree that Apple are pretentious, slimy and annoying. The cult of mac members are smug and creepy. However, some of their products are actually quite good. Damnit.

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Thanks for all the advice

especially @Philip Harvey.

I use Senheisers at the moment, but I might look at JBL headphones. Thanks!

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Paris Hilton

@Chris Young

Yes, they can indeed design headphones that don't leak. The problem is the piss-poor headphones that come with the iPod leak, as do various other crappy ones. My IEMs don't, my closed-back circumaural cans don't.

However, a lot of people use rubbish headphones, which sound awful, are packed with ear-wrecking levels of harmonic distortion and leak like.. umm a leaky thing. Sympathies.

The irony is that I wear IEMs for my iPod which give me 23dB of isolation, so I don't hear the tss-tss-tss of leaky headphones. I also got a friend to listen in a quiet room, and they couldn't hear any leaks from mine, even cranked.

It's not the fault of the iPod, though the craptastic headphones that Apple bundle are pretty culpable..

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@ Shakje

Your question is not worthy of a reply.

My point is that these contributors try to sell us reasoned arguments and technical data about products. I can appreciate a good review of a product. Indeed, most of my purchases are based on the reviews of others. Myslewski can't make the argument without displaying prejudicial comments about others and that makes the rest of his piece unworthy of my reading. If he wants to slag off owners of iPhones, or any other device, ... fine ... I can cope with that, but not to then go on to state technical and purchasing advice.

I don't know whether the Apple headphones are good or crap. What I do know is that Myslewski can't tell me without prejudice.

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Happy

Old ears

At my age, my hearing cuts off above 5kHz and 8kHz in left and right ears, respectively. Consequently, I can use £1.95 earphones and 64kb/s MP3 sounds just fine. :)

Audiophilia is a disease that is cured by age. ;-)

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Coat

Re: Audio Quality

"The audio quality of all the i* devices is pretty rubbish. If you like sound quality you have to look elsewhere - Apple can't help you."

It might come as a surprise to you that the sound quality of the 2G shuffle is very good indeed - a decent set of headphones helps of course, and I'm using Sennheiser CX330s.

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