As you may know, Apple announced their new wireless AirPods on Wednesday. You can read my thoughts by clicking that previous link. Yesterday, Doug Adams and I were recording an episode of your podcast The Next Track, where we discussed Apple’s new product announcements, and the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone. Before the show, I went to my storage room to pull out a pair of EarPods. I haven’t used these for years, and, in fact, I haven’t used them at all, since they don’t fit in my ears. I tried them when they were first launched, and put them back in the box.
But I took out a pair yesterday, wondering how they sounded. Back in the day, I did use Apple’s earbuds when I went out walking, and I recall that they were weak, but acceptable for a small, lightweight headphone to listen to on the go. But after a while, discovered the excellent Sennheiser PX 100-II i headphones. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) These small, light, on-ear headphones have an inline remote and microphone, and I use them often, when walking, when recording podcasts, and when making phone calls at home. They also fold, so they’re practical for listening anywhere. They have excellent sound, and even decent bass response.
But back to the EarPods. They sounded horrible. Like AM radio, but worse. Even the cheap headphones I used with a Walkman in the early 1980s sounded better. I was truly surprised how bay they sounded.
This is interesting, because, while Apple touted the pairing abilities of the new AirPods, they didn’t say much about the sound quality. Pairing is important, but sound quality should be the benchmark by which they are judged.
Christina Warren, writing for Gizmodo, tried them out, and said:
Let me put it this way: AirPods sound way better than wired EarPods. I know that isn’t saying much, but it’s worth noting when you consider that the design is very, very similar.
Sounding “way better” is probably not good enough for something at this price. I’m curious to see what others say about these AirPods. We won’t really know for a while, since they won’t be released until October. But given the poor quality of Apple’s EarPods, I guess the bar isn’t set very high.