Product Type: Apple headsets
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Not the Apple of My Ears
Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
Member Name: rosebud2001
Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
Advantages: Good sound quality with lots of power
Disadvantages: Poor design, uncomfortable, lack durability, that power can harm your hearing
I own two iPods which means I have two pairs of Apple headphones. The first set I got are the basic headphones and they came with my old iPod Classic Photo, with the second set having a microphone and volume control, which I got with my iPod Touch.
As with all headphones you get with Apple products, these are white and have the round earphones as opposed to the more comfortable elongated buds. The headphones do come with foam covers which does make them more comfortable to wear.
The microphone is located on a small thin rectangle of plastic which is also home to the remote control. . It's located just under the right earphone and is designed to sit close to your mouth.
My first set of Apple headphones were used a fair bit when I first got my old iPod and I actually consider myself rather fortunate that they still work. Sadly the same cannot be said for these, and it seems to me that durability hasn't been a factor when Apple designed these headphones. Furthermore, for a company which likes to position itself at the forefront of modern design, these suck big time when it comes to aesthetics.
Perhaps when the iPod was launched back in 2001 these looked cool - but over ten years have passed and so far as I am concerned I have watched Apple refine the iPod to such an extent its almost unrecognisable from those first models - with the exception of what I have always believed is the product's weak spot - the headphones.
The sound quality isn't the worst I have experienced and in that regard I have to be fair to Apple - these compare far better to the headphones I have had to endure with other brand mp3 players I have bought over the years including Sony, Archos and Sansa. They are also better than my JVC Marshmallows but the comfort level lets them down in comparison with the assumption that everyone has an ear the same shape and size being the biggest problem.
The headphones offer a far better level of volume than many other brands and this is a bit of a mixed blessing. Whenever I used my iPod at the gym with these headphones it really did filter out all external noise. Unfortunately the level of volume runs the risk of damaging hearing.
I do like how I can turn the volume down on my iPod using the remote control but because of the position of the control on the headphone - ie right beside your mouth - it's hard to actually see if you are turning the volume up or down and you do have to get used to it and remember the switch closest to your ear is the one you use to turn the volume up.
If you press the centre button you can use this to skip forward to another song and this control can also be used to answer and end phone calls if you use the headphones with an iPhone. The remote control doesn't work with non Apple products.
The microphone is good if I want to use the Voice Memo feature on my iPod and I do have to say it's easy to use and gives very good sound quality. Using it with the Voice Control feature on my iPod is something else altogether and while it could well be the Voice Control software at fault it's very frustrating to continually get the wrong song come up when I use it. In the past I have asked it to play Madonna and Voice Control has taken me to the Village People instead. On another occasion I asked it to "play music" and it responded by telling me it would play Coldplay.
As a result I really would prefer if this didn't have a microphone at all and instead had a remote control located further down on the headphone so I could actually see it easily.
The worst thing about these headphones is their lack of durability. Because I haven't used the headphones I got with my iPod Touch very often they are still working fine but my daughter broke hers within a few short weeks of getting her iPod Touch with one of the earphones just completely cutting out altogether. Mindful of the fact she prefers earbuds, I spent £70 buying earbud style replacements from the Apple store in the US, only to have them break in a similar fashion after six months' use.
If these headphones were cheap to buy this wouldn't bother me but if you want to buy a genuine pair of these headphones they will cost £26 from the Apple store. There are plenty of cheap copycat versions about but having bought a pair of them in the past believe me when I tell you they are even worse than the genuine ones.
The thing is for that sort of money you can get far superior - and far better designed - headphones from manufacturers such as Sennheiser, Sony and Panasonic.
There is also the problem when using these headphones out in public that whoever is sitting close to you will be able to hear what you are listening to. When my daughter has been using Apple headphones I have frequently had to tell her to turn the volume down dramatically when in the car as I have been able to hear that awful, tinny sound leaking from her ears. So if you plan on using these on the bus or train, you should consider those around you when setting the volume.
If Apple want to make the iPod perfect then I seriously think they need to look again at the headphones they include with them. Yes, these have become iconic and the sound is actually pretty good but the lack of comfort and the lack of durability is a big problem.
The design of this set with the microphone and remote isn't particularly good either even though I am sure Apple's heart was in the right place when they designed it as you can use the microphone without having to move it closer to your mouth. It's not quite hands free however as you still need to use the controls on your iPod to activate Voice Control and start memo recording, which makes the location of the microphone, coupled it being very difficult to see the volume controls on the "remote", a bit of a dead loss.
I can only assume that Apple have stuck with this design of headphones on a cost basis due to the vast difference in price between these and the more comfortable earbud design which cost a full £40 more than these do.
I know a lot of Apple fans love these headphones but for me they really are Apple's weak spot which is a pity because the sound quality isn't actually that bad - it's the design that's the problem.
Summary: The weak design link in Apple's impressive array of products