Cons: Not The Last Word In Detail
Some folks just love to hate Apple products, for a list of good reasons at times. Apple goes the extra mile to make much of what they sell proprietary. Try and use an after-market cord and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The Apple Company holds their own idea of what they feel the audio market is into. Many at Head-Fi embraced the original IPod as it really offered a standard of audio quality and playback UI in it's day. In recent years many on the forums have noted a truly non-audiophile stance choosing not to play FLAC and offer basically the same sound quality they always have as other manufactures embraced HD audio and continued to improve with portable audio playback on a multitude of levels. So it seems these EarPods offer us a slight improvement in sound over passed offerings, even if they are strictly not an audiophile product on most levels.
And again with the Apple EarPods we have a strange invention which borders on one of a kind. Actually they are one of a kind. Due to the uniqueness some folks like them and some don't. Still being that they end up being the best headphones folks own, you see them being used everywhere. For your general public they end up being good enough for most uses.
I'm guessing these difference in Head-Fi opinions come from getting a fit or not. I personally found a huge difference in sound upon adding foam covers enabling a good tight fit. With the fit came the bass that some folks describe as lacking. It's maybe a design that is just not going to fit every ear. The other issue is keeping them in place, also depending entirely on ear characteristics. Apple goes to describe how they did hundreds and hundreds of ear shape studies finally coming up with a form factor which is not exactly and ear-bud and not an IEM. Interestingly they have been out for awhile and still no one else has even come close to making something like them. It makes you wonder why there is nothing else in the market even coming close to emulating how they seem to work.
They are mid-centric and have a nice sound-stage, though don't have a very detailed lower mid or bass response. What bass there is has a nice placement and seems fast and blended well.
Compared to many IEMs there is just an overall lack in detail. If you also factor in they used to be priced around USD $29.00 which just adds to the less than stellar reputation they have earned at Head-Fi. Still I have used them for a long, long time and found they do have a place in the world.
They actually deliver a nice sound-stage for what they are, offering a very middle of the road personality.
Some people just don't like the feeling of IEMs.
Being semi-open they give audio clues to stuff going on around you, making them safe out and about on the street.
They really do all the genres well, being a jack of all trades.
Due to their design, they only fit one way, getting the right Ear-Pod into the correct ear.
The Bad Stuff:
They don't fit everyone's ears. The fact that the fit is crucial to getting the Apple EarPods to sound correct.
They actually bug some folks on the way they fit.
Lack of fit increases the treble and midrange character.
White can show wear.
Even with the best fit and source the bass only goes so low and disappears into nothing. This sub bass has a slight distorted and overly warm undefined character.
Most of us who have Apple products have not purchased them with the intention of using the included Apple EarPods. In that regard they are viewed as a free extra, which are mostly given away as gifts. They actually seem to sound better after 50 hours of burn in. Finding foam covers or purchasing aftermarket rubber covers allows a tight fit enabling the Apple EarPods to stay in place and increases the bass response and sound stage. They would not maybe be a product to go and buy for listening purposes, as the market today offers a plethora of better bargain portable listening devices for $20 or less.
EarPods now sell for $14.99.
Still getting the fit right and spending time adjusting to the sound signature can result in the Apple EarPods being a nice extra set of headphones, which are built well, last a long time and do a wide range of genres. They are really not as bad as some make them out to be.