Throw away your iPod earbuds

Throw away your iPod earbuds

Summary: Apple makes the undisputed best MP3 player on the market but it ships with what may be the worst earbuds ever made.


jobs_w_ipod_earbuds.jpgApple makes the undisputed best MP3 player on the market but it ships with what may be the worst earbuds ever made. It's definitely a conflict: how can such a slick MP3 player as the iPod ship with earbud headphones that are so inferior?

Apple would tell you that they're perfectly acceptable or that it's an opportunity for their third party developers to sell alternatives, but it's no secret that Apple's iPod earbuds are amongst the worst in the industry. They're hard and feel like two stones in your ears; they split, tear and rip if you just look at them wrong—and they sound awful. Apple, almost admits as much in their feeble attempt to upsell you to their "better" US$40 in-ear headphones and MDR-EX51LP Studio Monitor headphones, white are basically re-branded Sony models.

If you're going to invest US$100-400 on a music player, you deserve better. Do yourself a favor if you're buying an iPod: keep the Apple earbuds in their original packaging and pick up a pair of third party earbuds instead. If you're on a budget there are in-ear models from Sony that start at around $40 that are head and shoulders about Apple's included models, if you want a better sonic experience, invest in a pair of higher end models from quality vendors like Future Sonics, Etymotic, Shure, Grado Labs or Sennheiser.

For a few extra bucks you'll get better sound at low volumes, amazing bass response and crystal clear vocals. It just doesn't make sense to spend so much for your MP3 player only to have it wasted on the lousy sound produced by the included earbuds. Budget for a pair of better 'buds when you buy your iPod and you won't be disappointed.

Topic: Apple

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  • It's a feature

    MP3 artifacts just get worse with better audio channel, so actually Apple is looking out for its customers.

    Well, that and they're promoting an aftermarket business where they collect 10% of the wholesale tab without spending a dime.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Only if...

      ...they get the 3rd-party vendors to actually sign up. That Made For iPod program is still very much voluntary, and several of the big vendors (Bose, Altec Lansing, among others) have already voiced stinging criticism over the 10% licensing fee for the priviledge of having 'Made For iPod' stamped on their packaging material.
      • "Made For iPod"

        You'd have to be out of your mind to voluntarily sign up for that program, if what you make is headphones. You're essentially giving up 10% of your profit for a sticker that might as well say, "Made For Listening". There's nothing special about the iPod's jack that would make any set of mp3-style headphones fit better than any other.

        Now, I could see the program being useful for cases, docks, etc. But headphones???
  • Dell DJ (v1) suffered the same problem

    The earbuds included with the original version of the Dell DJ were so ergonomically ill-suited that I never used them. I don't even know if they had decent sound quality or not, but their large, perfect circle shape was not going to feel comfortable in a smaller, ovoid-shaped ear canal.
  • What are you talkin' 'bout?

    The earbuds you refer to are not top of the line, neither are they susposed to be. Their sound is acceptable and they are status symbols of coolness.
    • No, they are NOT acceptable sounding...

      ...but they do a great job as a bull's-eye for getting one's self mugged.
  • Earbuds

    I don't have an iPod, but I've had several different MP3 players, and, in general, most of the earbuds that came with them were substandard.

    Having said that, any device billed as the standard in digital audio players ought to have outstanding sound, which would include outstanding earbuds.

    As far as a replacement, I bought Sony MDREX71SL earbuds for my Archos player, and they sound excellent.
  • hyperbole?

    try to keep your "reviews" a bit more technical, and spare us the "worst in the world" garbage. thanks
  • Wouldn't it be better to buy your own anyways?

    Rather than put in an expensive component that people might want to change anyways, it's better to leave a bare minimum earbud at minimal cost. That's the only logic I can see.
  • Better iPod earphones

    The standard iPod earphones are bad! <a href="">Sound isolating iPod headphones</a> sound so much better than the standard iPod earphones. I got myself a pair of Etymotic ER-6i <a href="">sound isolating iPod earphones</a> for travelling and absolutely love them.
  • RE: Throw away your iPod earbuds

    You are absolutely correct. I am angry that I used iPod ear-buds for two years in high-school. Then I discovered Ultimate Ears Super-Fi 3 ear-phones. I have also encoded my music in Windows Lossless for the true audiophile experience!
  • RE: Throw away your iPod earbuds

    YES, I agree! The iPod earphones are bad. There are so many good <a href="">iPod headphones</a> to choose from.

    I have a pair of <a href="">Ultimate Ears 5 Pro earphones</a> that blow the socks of the standard iPod ear buds.
  • RE: Throw away your iPod earbuds

    Completely true! Personally, my favorite headphones are the JBuds J2 earbuds from . I just got the Onyx Black JBuds J2 and they sound GREAT: . I???ve had them for a few weeks and they???re the best headphones I???ve ever owned. They are extremely comfortable and very durable.
  • RE: Throw away your iPod earbuds

    just saw JLab's new J3 sweeps, they are doing a daily $500 giveaway plus tons of other free stuff. check this out!!!
  • RE: Throw away your iPod earbuds

    In the fourth line of your 3rd paragraph, you used the wrong "there". If you're attempting to be persuasive,that's going to lose you some credibility...
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