How are Apple's new in-ear headphonse?
January 30, 2004 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Anyone tried Apple's new in-ear headphones? [more]

The standard iPod buds hurt my ears. Are these worth getting? I found one mixed review. Any alternatives to recommend? (Maybe the Sony Fontopias?)
posted by staggernation to Technology (16 answers total)
Well, as far as alternatives are concerned I can whole-heartedly recommend the Etymotic ER-4Ps. Worth every penny many times over. Best isolation (careful walking the streets with these) and incredible sound. I also just ordered their new hands-free cell phone set. Company is very responsive to inquiries and has great customer service. I have to thank riffola for turning me on to this company.

Also see this thread. And this site.
posted by anathema at 12:36 PM on January 30, 2004

staggernation you'd be better off getting Senn MX440 or MX540. Far better quality and comfort for under $20. If you want to spend more then go with Shure or Etys. As good as the iPod is, Apple's bundled earphones are not good enough to use with it.
posted by riffola at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2004

I haven't tried them or the Sony's but recommend Bang+Olufsen's A8 ear buds, readily available for a fraction of the official cost on eBay.
posted by dobbs at 12:39 PM on January 30, 2004

Relevant Head-Fi thread.
posted by anathema at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2004

I too recommend the Etymotic ER-4Ps. They are probably not for everybody though, and they cost a lot of money.

I've never used the Apple canal phones, but canal phones in general are really weird and take a while to get used to. One annoying property is that if the cord rubs on anything, you get that 'eating doritos while wearing earplugs effect' not pleasant. The Etys come with a clip that holds the cord in one place, but it takes fiddling every time you walk somewhere to get it all straightened out.

It also takes a while to sort out how they seal in your ear and how to put them in right.

Once you get them all sorted, though, the effect is crazy. The isolation is dangerous. When I first got mine I was constantly narrowly missed by cars. They make you notice how much you rely on your ears to navigate. On the subway, you can't hear the screeching stops. It's really eerie to walk down a crowded street with them on it sounds so good and your so isolated that it feels kind of like your watching a movie.

I second anathema's comments on Etymotic's service and support. They rule. I called them to order a pair and the guy on the phone was like, "Eh, call this other place. They're selling them cheaper right now".
posted by jeb at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2004

ipodlounge doesn't think they're too good
posted by lotsofno at 4:23 PM on January 30, 2004

I can't comment on Apple's in-ear phones, but would recommend the Etymotic ER-4 (or ER-6, if you don't want to spend $250 on headphones) as well.

As jeb mentioned though, in-ear phones takes some time to get used to, and microphonics can get really annoying while moving around. They're also a bit disconcerting to place correctly - there's something about sticking something into your ear canal the just feels wrong, but they sound great once you get them in there!
posted by trident at 4:29 PM on January 30, 2004

I've had the Fontopias for about two years now, and I'm really happy with them. Plus, having the black cord reduces the mugging risk of walking around with an iPod. :-)
posted by stonerose at 4:36 PM on January 30, 2004

Perhaps a stupid question but with these Etymotic isolating headphones can one turn the volume down lower than normal earbuds (which I keep loud to block out outside sound), thereby making them better for your ears in the long run?

Also, is there a layman's explanation between the 6 and 4 models?
posted by dobbs at 6:02 PM on January 30, 2004

Just to be clear, lotsofno is refering to the Apple set, not the etys.

If you want decent sound for use with portable audio you could always grab a pair of ear-clip Koss KSC50. Etys just don't go to the gym. The Koss cans really surprised me. Very inexpensive and damn good sound, strong, well defined bass and very clean highs. I was looking for something to use with my iPod at the gym so I went nuts and bought three different ear-clip type cans. The worst were the Panasonic Shockwave RP-HS51. Horendous sound. Used once. Never again.
The Sony MDR-Q55SL have slightly better sound than the Panasonics but are about twice as expensive. Both the Panasonics and Sonys have horrible high end. The high frequencies sound as if a bottle is being smashed on your head and the bass is fairly nonexistent. The thing about the Sonys is that they are very comfortable. At some point I'm going to attempt to mod the Koss cans with the Sony ear-clips. That would be perfect.

Also, is there a layman's explanation between the 6 and 4 models?

The ER-4 series has better isolation and better sound accuracy. Listening to music with these is like hearing music for the first time. It's that dramatic.
posted by anathema at 7:53 PM on January 30, 2004

One annoying property is that if the cord rubs on anything, you get that 'eating doritos while wearing earplugs effect' not pleasant.

I believe Etymotic has begun addressing microphonics by using a braided cord.
posted by anathema at 7:57 PM on January 30, 2004

The already-discussed and -linked Shure e2c's are, bar none, the best investment in audio hardware I've ever made. I recommend them unreservedly, for the iPod or any other application.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2004

If you want decent sound for use with portable audio you could always grab a pair of ear-clip Koss KSC50.

If you dig around on Head-Fi enough, I think you will find that the classic KSC-35 is a bit better regarded. It's the same driver, but the enclosure works better for many people (and looks way more oldschool). They sound great, far better than most earbuds, although they don't provide much isolation from external sounds.
posted by Galvatron at 9:14 PM on January 30, 2004

I hated the earbuds, so got the Sony w.ear Q22LP and love em (and only 20 bucks).
posted by amberglow at 9:41 PM on January 30, 2004

I'd urge anyone using in-ear headphones to seriously reconsider...if you enjoy music you should really hear it as best you can. (IMHO)

Get a pair of Sennheisser HD25s. Or at least test a pair...they are a great combination of lightweight & fantastic sound. And they take some punishment...I've had a pair since '97 & they've been used in deserts, on beaches, sweaty clubs &c. & are still going strong altho' being able to replace the jack lead & ear pads helps.

The cans, headstrap & lead all detach to help with storage.

This guy thinks using them with an iPod is 'awsome' ;-)
posted by i_cola at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2004

Anyone in the market for a relatively high end in-ear phones right now should take a look at the Shure E3C, you can find them for under $150 if you look hard, and they offer a great bang for the buck. If you don't mind spending more then get the Etys ER4-P with the 4P to 4S cable convertor from Etymotic. This will give you the iPod friendly ER4P drivers and the better cabling of the 4S.

The Etymotic ER6 is a waste of money, you're *far* better off getting the E3C by Shure.
posted by riffola at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2004

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