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Apple Earpods should start with the brain

Maybe I am just a misfit (aren’t all entrepreneurs) but the new Apple Earpods ($29), albeit much better than the previous rendition of standard earphones that come with many Apple music products, still do not fit snug enough in my ear to run with them, nor deliver a well-balanced tonal range to displace the Bose MIE2 (granted: priced at $100 more).

I listened for 5 minutes to different songs on my favorite playlist and quickly recognized the new Apple Earpods, albeit resting comfortably in my ears, still sound tinny with virtually no depth in the bass. The clarity in the highs was phenomenal, only to be matched by a lack of finesse in the lower regions.

While not a bad set of earphones at all for the casual listener, the purported 3 years of research Apple pumped into it have not yielded a set of earphones that stops your search for headphones to make the music on your Apple device come to life.

Apple positioned the earphones uniquely by boasting about a design that started with the ears, rather than the speakers. Yet, I recommend the next version to start with the brain and how it interprets music.

The Apple Earpods are an improvement over the previous version and a nice complement to budget conscious listeners, but they do not deliver the innovation nor the performance to displace a wide selection of premium in-or-over the ear headphones.

With the introduction of the new Apple Earpods, premium headphone providers have nothing to fear. And listeners who enjoy premium sound should keep looking for the quality that matches their more demanding expectations.



About Georges van Hoegaerden

As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur having raised $14M in venture capital and having returned over $100M to investors I noticed a systemic flaw in the way we build systems. And so I gradually evolved my focus from the economics of innovation to the innovation of economics. I completely re-wrote the playbook of economics to serve us all and named it Renewable Economics™.


  • Isfan says:

    It is great to finally see someone talk about this. It has always been a mystery to me why these earphones and their predecessors fit and sound so badly. I’m no audiophile but I’ve never used the units that come with iPods or iPhones. I’ve always bought third party ones. Even many $20 units are better. Surprising for Apple.

    • While the cat’s away (and won’t return), the mice are dancing on the table. We have yet to see real innovation from Apple that did not come from Steve Jobs, and his critical mind would have never given this product a pass. This is not the upstream innovation that destroys the ranks of products that came before. It is a me-too product, with modest improvement. But an improvement of its previous version nonetheless.

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