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Apple earpods: am I losing my mind!?

  1. AthenaZephyrian
    I just, out of curiosity, plugger a pair of stock earpods (not to be confused with airpods) into my iphone. They had soundstage I'm not used to hearing on any bust the best of IEMs (though which rears its head on most decent earbuds), the tonal balance was a bit mid-centric, but still managed to sound muddy, the bass and treble were rolled off, and they sounded congested.....but way, way better than I remember $20 sound being.

    I compared them to my LZ-A4's, which won in every category, but the difference wasn't nearly as large as it was when I got into the hobby, some five years ago.

    I seriously question whether I've lost my touch.
  2. Tragic
    You really shouldn't post things like this when I'm waiting for 900$ earphones (RHA Planars).....
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  3. AthenaZephyrian
    Hey, I've got stax, a vintage stax power amp, capacitors to retrofit it, the SoCas pad mods, and op-amps+capacitor for Vbe bypass to throw in a tubey, all in the mail. Like $1200. And earpods sound "surprisingly not terrible"..... not "amazing" but "maybe I wouldn't have gotten into this hobby as quickly or zealously if tech had been as good back then".

    I don't regret my purchases. I have so much fun with this hobby, even if a lot of differences are small! :)

    And lemme tell you, a good pair of cans on with amp+DAC beats the crap out of a good pair from a computer. There's big, noticable difference between tube and SS. There are noticeable differences between op amps be they in tubes or SS. FLAC vs. 128kbps MP3 has a clear winner. High-grade v. low grade IEMs have a clear winner. Planars vs. dynamics are a big and partisan shift...and I personally think there's a clear winner. Open back v. closed back have a clear winner, imo. Tube rollin' makes a difference.

    It's all about tuning to your budget and sound preferences. If you have no budget preferences except "whatever gets me the best damn sound and doesn't put me in the freedom house", feel very happy about your purchase.
  4. Tragic
    I hear you brother.
    It's just a bit jarring when someone voices a bit of sanity in the mix here!
    I've gone through several different amp/dac set-ups and I'm currently using a Lyr2/BiFrost multi-bit stack.
    I've got half a dozen over ear sets collecting dust on a wall since I decided iem's are my thing.
    I have Vega's, Jupiters and JHA custom 13 something or others.
    Then there's the zillion dollars worth of music I have and the Tidal subscription...
    It all sounds grand to me and I wonder why I want more?
    Collecting is a blast and I used to blow my cash on watches and never imagined one could drop similar dinero on audio gear but you definitely can.
    But hey if my wife can drop a grand on a designer purse once in a while I'm good right?
    Best wishes to you.
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  5. AthenaZephyrian
    I feel that. I saw a thread with a ton of ABX tests of DACs, amps, cables, and so forth. There were some tests that suggested amps were all the same--but more suggesting they could be differentiated with some ease. DACs faired pretty badly; above a certain price point, there doesn't seem to be much difference. Cables...well...that was a massacre with short cables.

    Ooooh wow. I looooove OE's, apparently as much as you like IEMs. Yeah I just torrent :p

    I get that. I also collect vintage, high-end fountain pens, but audio takes a much bigger toll on my wallet.

    Indeed, and best to you as well.
  6. paulindss
    I don't have a fancy collection. But i was positive impressed by earpods to.
    The bests 20$ chinese iems still sound better. But the earpods are one of the bests earbuds out there for sure. The earpod user has no reason to be ashamed at all
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  7. AthenaZephyrian
    Unlike Beats users.... >_> *stares pointedly at my little sister*

    At least opt for V-modas....
    paulindss likes this.
  8. wind016
    $20 ain't that bad anymore. You get better sound from Chi-fi stuff than Sony Best Buy stuff these days. Aren't the real airpods like $160?
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  9. AthenaZephyrian
    Agreed. Sound quality's floor has risen dramatically since the inception of portable audio, taken off with the popularization of smartphones, and gotten yet another boost when apple found competitors in the industry.

    And yes. Assuming they have similar drivers to the earpods...horrifically overpriced; why pay to lose half of a $160 pair of IEMs? Just drop another $40 (if you buy apple, you have the money) on LZ-A4's. Tuneable, open-backed, and stellar sound quality. And you won't accidentally drop them down a drainage grate on the way to work.
  10. H T T
    Apple EarPods do quite a good job doing “a dance club in your head”. I don’t hear the bass rolled off as you describe when I have a proper insertion. The EarPods sound like they are EQed the Karmon(?) response curve with bass elevated, vocals on the warm side and the treble gently rolled back. My problem with the EarPods and such is they ALWAYS fall out of my ears with ease.
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  11. AthenaZephyrian
    I may have inserted them wrong. They're so weirdly shaped.

    That said, what you hear in a club may be rolled off, due to crappy speakers that mostly hit the mid-bass.

    They seem to have reasonably audible mid-bass, but the very low sub-bass is a bit lacking. The bass that they have is nearly colored (audibly tonal), which usually translates to "you muddied it, manufacturer". Take a look at their FR curve:
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
  12. H T T
    The EarPods in my ears have big mid-bass but sound like they reach below better than the graph. That is me cranking the EarPods into my ear. A bit of my moving around and the deep insertion is lost and much more reflective of the graph.
    AthenaZephyrian likes this.
  13. AthenaZephyrian
    That's fair. I did notice that they produce ample bass when pressed in firmly and held there.

    Just trid EQing my headphones to Harman flat, out of curiosity. I toned the bass down a bit....but wow, I'm never, ever going back.
  14. Peddler
    Well I love my Airpods. I also have the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10's, Magaosi Hybrid iem's, 1More Triple Driver IEM's and many others. Whilst I'm first to agree that the multi-driver IEM's definitely sound better, the Airpods so sound very good. Exhibiting a low noise floor, nice open sound which allows for situational awareness and a wonderful level of convenience which is pretty unique.

    I paid full retail for the Airpods and don't regret it one little bit. In fact I have to say that the combination of the Airpods and the rather excellent Sony WH1000xm2's have pretty much stopped me from continually looking to upgrade.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    scrane likes this.
  15. XERO1
    The Earpods are a definite improvement over the original Apple Earphones, which sounded like absolute garbage, but I’ll take a $15 pair of Sony earphones you can buy at Target over the AirPods any day of the week ( I own both BTW :grin:).
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018

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