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Hands on: Apple's new EarPods headphones

R. Matthew Ward | Sept. 17, 2012
It's become de rigueur to describe Apple's white earbuds as "ubiquitous" and "iconic". Beyond their ubiquity and iconic status, though, Apple's earbuds have frequently been derided as offering sub-par sound.

That may sound like faint praise, but getting excellent performance out of earbuds is extremely difficult. For this style of headphones, at this price, Apple's EarPods are impressive, and in my initial testing they appear to be a fantastic upgrade over the previous model. In my experience reviewing headphones, I've found that good headphones enhance the listening experience, while bad ones get in the way of it. The previous Apple earbuds got in the way; the EarPods instead fit right in the center of that range-not enhancing the listening experience, but not detracting from it, either.

First impressions...

Most people who end up with a pair of EarPods will have received them bundled with another Apple product. While some of them will opt for better sound through third-party headphones, many (most?) will happily listen to the EarPods, never realizing they're getting a much-improved listening experience compared to Apple's previous toss-ins.

If you don't have a set of EarPods, are they worth spending $29 for? In the world of headphones, $29 is fairly inexpensive, and if you're simply looking to upgrade from existing Apple earbuds, or to replace a lost or broken set, I can recommend the EarPods-they're easily worth their retail price (which puts them far ahead of the company's previous models). Whether you want to spend a little more for even better sound is another question. We'll be updating this article with more-thorough impressions of sound quality after we've spent more time with the EarPods.


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