Review: Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

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Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

Model: MA850G/A

Apple have a lot to live upto considering their last attempt at in-ear noise isolation earphones. These earphones were poor to say the least. I love most Apple products, but found it hard to love those earphones. Considering Apple’s track record of producing great inovative products, its surprising that these got past Apple’s R+D department. Poor fitting, average sound quality, awful in every respect.

Have Apple finally got it right? Read on to find out.

What’s in the Box

  • Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
  • Carrying case
  • Three sets of silicone ear tips (small, medium, large)
  • Two replacement mesh caps

Technical Specifications

  • Frequency response: 5Hz to 21kHz
  • Impedance (at 100Hz): 23 ohms
  • Sensitivity (at 100Hz): 109 dB SPL/mW
  • Drivers: Custom two-way balanced armature (woofer and tweeter in each earpiece)

Length and Weight

  • Cable length: 1065 mm from audio jack to splitter; 330 mm to earpiece
  • Weight: 0.4 ounce (10.2 grams)

Connector

  • Four-conductor 3.5 mm audio jack

*Compatibility Information

The remote and mic are supported only by iPod nano (4th generation), iPod classic (120GB), and iPod touch (2nd generation). Audio is supported by all iPod models.

Requires software version 1.0.3 for iPod nano (4th generation), 2.0.1 for iPod classic (120GB), and 2.2 for iPod touch (2nd generation).

Note: All the controls work on the iPhone except volume.

How good is the sound quality?

Initial impressions were quite good. Even when used straight from the box, the sound is very good. Bass could be tighter and the treble seems to be over enthusiastic, but like all earphones these benefit from being run in for a good 24 hours. Thats when the bass tightens up and the treble becomes much sweeter. They genuinely sound very good. Am I really listening to a pair of Apple earphones?

I tried them on my original iPhone and a Hotaudio USB Dac1 and they really do sound superb. The definition and separation is stagerring considering the price. I listened to various tracks from The Doobie Brothers to Mariah Carey and they sure can play a tune. You can hear instruments not heard on cheaper earphones and backing singers who you didn’t know existed before. Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody is a great track to use. Before I heard just Noddy Holder, now I can make out two more singers in the background, one on each side.

I compared them to my Sennheiser cx300 and Shure SE110 earphones and I have to admit, the Apple earphones sound much better.

Will they work with my iPhone?

Yes, the audio works fine and the Mic quality is very good quality. I could hear the caller perfectly clear and they could hear me without any problems. They commented on how clear I sounded and that was in a noisey enviroment near with an air conditioner above me. All the buttons work well except the volume up and down. Not really an issue but it maybe fixed in a firmware update.

Are they comfortable?

I have the previous Apple in-ear headphones and they were terrible. Always falling out of my ears. The new model fit my ears brilliantly. I am using the Medium size plugs and they are very very comfortable. Soft and unbelievably light. When your wear the earphones, you can hardly feel them in your ears.

How good is the noise isolation?

Very good provided you can get a good fit. The isolation is quite good. Not as good as the Etymotic ETY8 Bluetooth earphones, but about the same as a pair of Sennheiser CX300 earphones. The Apple earphones do feel much more comfortable and amazing light compared to other earphones. My ears seem to work best with the M size ear plugs. But you get a small and large pair in a very well designed case which looks like a capsule. If you change the plug then the isolation is superb. I tried the Etymotic triple flange ear plugs and they work really well. Bass is much stronger with these plugs.

Should I buy them?

If you have one of the supported iPods, you’d be a fool not too. The Apple earphones produce a sound which is very easy to appreicate. If you have only ever used the free earbuds, you will be amazed by how detailed the sound is compared to these. If you have used other earphones from Sennheiser or Shure, I would recommend demoing these earphones. You may be surprised. Apple have done a tremendious job with these. High quality sound. Well designed earphones and case, especially the earplug holder which looks like a capsule. Simply, but very effective. Dual driver earphones for the money including a remote and mic is just crazy! Get them while they are still in stock. You won’t be disappointed.

Honglong’s Rating:
A great pair of earphones which are comfortable, sound great and have a built in Remote and Mic. For the money they are hard to beat.

9 out of 10

plus sign

+ High quality sound thanks to the dual drivers
+ Inovative case
+ Remote and Mic

minus sign

– Doesn’t quite work 100% with an iPhone (Yet!)

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7 comments

  1. Hi there, I’m an Etymotic er6-i owner since 2005. They’re simply amazing, but somehow less than ideal with my iPhone, since they lack the cord-control and mic I’d love to have.
    BTW I’m worried about the noise isolation, since Rome is quite a loud city: do you think Apple’s earphones matches the er6-i isolation, which is stunning? (on a bus, I can’t hear a word from the guy sitting next to me if I have the music on at less than 50% volume.
    Etymotic says they provide 30dB noise isolation, which is great.

    I hope you’d help me out on this.

    • Hi Francesco,

      While the Apple In-Ear headphones sound great and the isolation is good, they do not match the noise isolating ability of Etymotic earphones. I would advise buying the Etymotic HF2 earphones if you require high quality sound, a mic and great noise isolation.

      For the money though the sound and isolation is very good, just not comparable to the Etymotic earphones you have.

      honglong

  2. Thanks for the fast reply.

    Could you please make some examples in real life environments (such as a bus, on a sidewalk of a street, in a mall, ecc.)? With the music on, do you hear other people / noises filtering through the earphones?

    Sorry for bugging, but I don’t have a chance to test them out myself :°

  3. Hi Francesco,

    I have tried the Apple In-Ear Headphones in an office environment with air con and the only thing you can still hear are people talking. They sound very low, but its noticeable. Of course when you play music or films, its hardly noticeable, but with the Etymotic earphones the background noise is reduced even more.

    Highly recommended for the price and if you get a tight fit with the ear plugs apple provide then the cancellation will be better. Maybe you could try your Etymotic ear plugs with the Apple earphones? If they fit, you would have the same isolation that you are experiencing now with the HF2 earphones.

    honglong

  4. Thank you so much for the thorough answer; it’s greatly appreciated.

    I don’t think Etymotic ear plugs would fit, since it is my understanding that Apple’s “wrap” the earpiece, whereas Etymotic’s covers the filter (therefore, they have a smaller “jack”). BTW, I might give them a try, since I’m SO attracted by the cord control/mic. And I could still resell via eBay and stick to my Etymotic, if the experiment would turn out to be bad. If so, it’ll be my pleasure to write about on this very article, just to let other users be aware of the results of this poor, italian guinea pig 🙂

    Thank you so much, once again!

  5. “One last thing” (we go Apple’s way): would you waste 5 mins of your life for me and measure the little metal projection (it could be the filter), both the lenght and the diameter? I then could measure Etymotic’s earplugs and see if it matches; we could be useful to your readers, also.

    Don’t be shy and insult me if you’re willing to 😉

    • Francesco, no need.

      I tried the ear plugs from Shure and Etymotic and they do not fit the Apple earphones.

      So your choices are the Apple earphones or the Etymotic HF2 earphones which cost more but offer better sound quality.

      I have the Apple earphones myself, so make of that what you will!

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