Among the announcements announced at the recent Apple, conference was presented the substitutes for the company’s historic “buttons” headphones. A long awaited change from previous earphones was poor. It remains to be seen what these EarPods have in their wombs.

First radically different point of previous headphones: their futuristic design, more refined. The headphones are stiff, so it has a significant impact on the comfort of the port. After several tens of minutes, the headphones are felt and the sensation can even become painful (one hour of use at least). Too bad, but ultimately not problematic for occasional use (metro, plane …).

Holding the earpiece in the ear is good. No evolution at the remote control, it is identical to the previous one. Let’s move on to the first impressions and results of the audio measurements. Most importantly, right?

Very sensitive evolution in terms of quality
In comparison with the old model, the EarPods clearly propose a very sensitive evolution in terms of quality. Indeed, the old earphones marked by a small bandwidth, a hollow sound, without bass and not very precise give place to a much more complete frequency response.

The slight bulge in the bass makes the sound more alive, while the peak at 8kHz makes the listener sibilant(the ‘ch’, ‘s’, ‘f’ & co very accentuated to the point of becoming unpleasant), but not too. The first few seconds leave a feeling of precision but to listen well, it is especially the highlighting of the treble that causes this, rather than a sharper rendering.
A wave not so square
The principle is simple: one injects a square wave (signal, in fact, rectangular, very charged in harmonic) and one compares to the recorded result. The result on a helmet or an enclosure is almost comparable to the movement of the membrane of the transducer that it contains. On the left, on an intra-good quality, we see the attack very steep, a little too push but very quickly contained. If the trace is then sloped rather than flat, it remains on a very clean curve in the whole. On the right, on the other hand, from the attack one observes the “slowness” of the membrane which has more difficult to stabilize afterward. Hearing effect: the basses and mediums lose in impact, and the overall appearance seems less dynamic, more “soft”.

However, we must relativize this result: we are in the presence of a hands-free kit supplied with a smartphone; marketed separately. This new headset is clearly better than the previous Apple model and, for a headset supplied with a smartphone, is very correct. Competition is no better. For daily but occasional listening (not all day), the EarPods will do the trick – except for the ultra-perfectionists of the sound.

Challenging weight?
If you are looking to buy headphones in this budget, it is probably more reasonable to turn to classic ear buds or to increase a little financial investment to catch a pair of in-ear headphones in the vicinity. So with 2 small grams and 5 cm more cable than the old models, 12 g and 110 cm for the EarPods, a remodel remotely remodeled (7 mm more and better finishing), a rigid plastic box anything but practical in as a single accessory, but really different headphones.

Apple sets aside the classic button format, the one that one tries to fit in the hollow of the auricular without really reaching it, for a modeling in the form of a drop of water closer to the intra-auricular. Close, but not really intra-auricular: the conical end advances in the conduit but there is no end fitting that joined with the walls.

The challenge for Apple is summarized by Jony Ive: The human ear is so unique! There are not two of them. Designing headphones that fit all ears would be like trying to make a pair of shoes that goes all over, we mean it’s impossible. But that’s exactly what we tried to do with the new EarPods. So impossible or not?

Result on the holding of headphones: it is the fortunate chance. Not only will the dimensions of the ears stick to those of the earphones, but especially that the two ears of the same person are identical, which is rarely the case.

This is why the in-ear manufacturers deliver several sizes of ear tips, which are not chosen symmetrically but for the sole purpose that the earphones properly join with the ear canal. The headset’s performance depends on it, but also the quality of the sound. There is nothing worse than having an imbalance between the two ears, with an earphone that clogs and another that lets air pass. The smooth body of the EarPods makes the earphone that is not perfectly adjusted will necessarily slip. Too bad because the drop form of water proves quite comfortable.

What about Audio?

Apple does not provide technical information about its EarPods, we expected. Apple’s new headphones, we will not have to sacrifice ourselves to learn more. The EarPods incorporate a conventional dynamic transducer but are equipped with a new cone, with a paper membrane while the previous cone was made of plastic.

This change of material explains iFixit the best coverage in mediums and bass. Apple also specifies that the small vents located at the bottom of the earpiece rod cause an airflow with the other opening in the back of the earphones, increasing the air pressure on the membranes thus percussion in the bass. By blocking and unclogging the vents with your fingers, you realize that it works!

The volume released is sufficient, at least adapted to the relatively low power of the iPhone. Be careful, however, the EarPods do not isolate very little of the ambient noise: do not hope to find yourself in the same haven of peace that with intra-auriculars. And in the opposite direction, it’s the same. Your entourage will hear quite distinctly what you are listening to. And yes, with all their vents, the EarPods behave more like an open headset than earphones. Now, this is not necessarily a fault, some people prefer to hear a minimum what happens around them.

With these new headphones, Apple had to do better, which was not frankly difficult. And it must be admitted that overall, these headphones are rather satisfactory. But to really take advantage of their balanced sound, with properly bass, midrange and high frequencies, your ears will have to be adapted to comfortably accommodate the EarPods. Because no, their design as elaborate as it is will not sit to all ears!

The outfit and more importantly the sound reproduction will depend on it. Apple has certainly produced more research and development than it seems, but the ultimate result, the Omni-atrial earphone, could not be achieved, and could not be achieved without the use of different sizes. Delivered with a new Apple device, these standard earphones can, of course, be kept and used if they fit in place. But from there to buy them separately … That said, there is not a lot of competition that holds the road, it would simply be able to try the EarPods before cracking.