Depending on the context, at any given time I may use one of three different types of headphones:
- The Apple Earbuds included with any iPhone. I use them for making calls, and listening to music/podcasts while at home or office.
- The Bose QC15 while on a plane. Given the number of flights I’ve been clocking in the past ten years, the Bose are one of the best purchases I have ever made. They’re comfortable, and allow me to enjoy a movie or some music without turning up the volume to dangerous levels.
- The downtown headset.
My downtown headphones must be in-ear, robust and with passive noise cancelling capabilities. The sound quality is not that important in the choice, as I normally just listen to podcasts or some throwaway type of music.
For the past four years I’ve used the Sennheiser MM70i. I’ve been very happy with them but both of the two sets I owned, the right ear tip stopped working after a similar mileage. I thought it was time to try something new, so I went for the original Apple in-ear headphones.
As you’ve probably understood from my choice of headphones, I am not an audiophile at all. Far from it actually.
The Sennheiser MM70i were a faithful companion to my city ramblings. They have good sound and noise isolation. I also loved their comfort as well as the practical asymmetric cable, which allows you to let the earbuds hang from your neck when you’re speaking to someone.
There are not any surprises here. Just by picking up the little plastic box you realize that it’s made by Apple. The manic attention to details extends to the container for the small and large size ear tips and for the replacement mesh caps. Two small things, that probably cost a fraction of a dollar to Apple, but that are too often overseen by other vendors.
The ear tips are made of a pleasant to the touch rubbery material. That ensures a good fit and seal of the ear tips in your ear canal. The result is that the ear piece doesn’t fall off your ear, most of the time. More on this later.
Passive noise isolation
Noise isolation is guaranteed by the usual selection of three different ear tip sizes. In my case the medium size works perfectly and helps keep the ambient noise at bay.
When at home, I cannot hear the sound of podcasts played by my wife in the other room, or the washing machine running downstairs.
One annoying thing, compared to the Sennheiser MM70i, is that when rotating my head I can sometimes hear the cable brushing on my clothes. It’s not a big problem, and certainly not as bad as with the Plantronics Backbeat 216 that I tested two years ago.
Let me add a paragraph on how these Apple in-ear headphones fit. I must have rather standard ear canals, because most in-ear headphones I’ve used in my life stay snug without too much adjustments. The same applies to these headphones. I haven’t noticed any particular problem, but during my first test outside the house I noticed how often I kept fiddling with the right ear tip.
That is a problem that I solved by readjusting the angle of the tip inside the canal. My advice is to insert the tip in different ways and see what works best for you.
Admittedly, this section is the most difficult one for me. As I said I am not an audiophile, which means that the vocabulary I use to describe sounds is likely either incorrect or vague.
For example, I don’t know what is or how I should burn-in my headphones. Audiophiles say that after using the headphones for a few hours the sound produced is better than with new headphones.
Anyway, to me the sound sounds warm. Maybe it sounds a bit metallic at times, but never in a disturbing way. To my ears, bass is enough and I don’t need more than what I can get from this pair of headphones.
Using them don’t tire my ears even after hours of use, thanks to their limited weight. In addition to that, the rubber tips warm up to your body temperature, making the headphones extremely comfy to use.
Do I hear notes in my favorite songs that I never heard before? I don’t think so, but then again I am not good at it. Frankly, if you are looking for that kind of experience, EUR 79.00 headphones are probably not what you’re looking for anyway.
I specifically bought these headphones to use when out and about and they haven’t let me down.
First thing, the isolation. I must say that at first I thought it was slightly worse than the Sennheiser MM70i but after learning on how to insert the ear tip, I’ve found that the noise is kept outside in an effective way.
In terms of practicality, I think that these headphones don’t match any other headphones using an asymmetrical cable. Maybe it’s only a personal preference – and other people will not notice this – but I literally don’t know what to do with the headphones when taking them off.
In the downtown bustle, the sound coming out of these Apple headphones is full, in a way that I had forgotten when using the Sennheiser MM70i. Maybe it’s just that these Apple are new. In spite of it, the feeling I had while walking and listening to my music was of a comfortable isolation from the world.
The mic is sensitive and of good quality. The people I called while using these headphones told me that my voice was loud, clear and without too much background noise.
If you decide to buy these headphones for long phone calls though, I suggest you read my post about the best headphones for conference calls. In my opinion, in-ear headphones are not the best ones for long calls as they don’t allow you to hear your surroundings. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, just keep this in mind.
I don’t want to sound like someone who goes around saying “Why doesn’t Apple make everything?” but these headphones are a pleasant surprise.
You’ll likely be disappointed if you are a music connoisseur but other than that the sound they make is right while remaining comfortable.