Amid the excitement over the new iPhone 5 it might be easy to miss a new accessory announcement, but the all-new EarPods released today should not be overlooked. The completely redesigned earbuds were engineered with comfort in mind to accommodate more people’s ears while also providing higher audio quality.
Apple has been developing the EarPods for the past three years, utilizing 3D scanning to do extensive research on the geometry of a wide range of people’s ears in order to determine the best possible fit for a variety of ear types. Instead of the standard round shape, the new design is shaped to nest comfortably just inside the ear and features a more stable fit unlike any earbuds on the market.
Instead of forming a seal inside the ear like traditional earbuds, the EarPods have a tiny speaker opening designed to intentionally direct sound into the ear canal and minimize sound loss. A built-in acoustic port in the back tunes mid-range frequencies, while one in the stem provides richer bass. Together the ports allow for airflow around the speaker, letting it move more freely and produce better low-frequency sound.
Other updated features include better moisture resistance and an improved built-in remote that will allow users to adjust volume, control music and video playback, and answer or end calls with a pinch of the cord.
So with years of development are the new EarPods better than Apple’s older headphones? We found the new EarPods provided a better fit across users without feeling to big in smaller ears or too small in larger ears. One of the biggest complaints we’ve had with the old headphones is that they tended to fall out of bigger ears and this wasn’t the case with the EarPods. They proved to provide a firm fit without the normal slipping we experienced in the past.
The fit may be improved but how about sound? We listened to them across a variety of devices, music genres and video genres to see how they performed in the real world. Music reproduction is probably the area where we saw the biggest difference between the old headphones and Apple’s EarPods. We were impressed with the improved bass and crisper mid range sounds the new EarPods delivered. The old Apple headphones tended to be a bit flat and lacked some of the dynamic punch in the bass and mid range we experienced with the new EarPods. The high range was crisp but some of us found it a bit too light compared to higher end in-ear headphones form Koss, UE or Shure.
The targeted sound delivery of the new EarPods delivers better sound and also let us set our volume lower without missing any details in the music we were listening. This added benefit is sure to be welcomed by parents concerned about kids playing music too loudly or for road warriors looking to eek out every bit of juice form their battery.
While they might not provide the sound isolation and fit of in-ear headphones or produce music as well as a pair of high-end headphones, the new EarPods are without a doubt some of the best headphones you can get for $29. They are a great upgrade for anyone with older Apple headphones or for anyone looking to pickup a second pair of less expensive headphones for the office or travel bag.
The EarPods are on sale now as a standalone accessory for $29 so go out to your local Apple Store and pickup a pair or two. They will also be packaged with the iPhone 5 and new iPod line announced yesterday.