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How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.

Music 196

redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."

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196 comments

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Here's The Real Question... (-1, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 months ago | (#47342941)

The real question is how low will Timothy go to place Product Placement AstroTurf on the Slashdot front page... And how many of his Flying Chimps will he call in to mod me down?

Re:Here's The Real Question... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343153)

Do you have any actual evidence that Apple or somebody affiliated with Apple has paid or otherwise compensated Timothy for placing this submission on the front page?

If you're going to make such allegations, please provide at least some evidence or proof that astroturfing is indeed taking place.

Astroturfing is a real phenomenon, but it's also important not to "cry wolf" about it. False alarms, like I suspect yours is in this case, make it harder to expose actual astroturfing when it does happen and can be proven.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343191)

I'm somewhat surprised to see the parent comment modded down to -1. While I could see that sort of mismoderation happening at a shitfest like Reddit, where reasonable thought is surely not present, Slashdot usually managed to maintain a higher standard. The modding should be reversed in this case. The unsubstantiated claim made by Mr. Frosty Piss should be modded down, while the comment questioning his unsubstantiated claim should be modded up. Backing up one's claim with evidence is a basic tenet of both justice and science, as is holding people responsible when they fail to do so. The Slashdot community used to hold such values in high esteem. But then again, I'm also not totally surprised by the mismoderation. The quality of the people here has taken a pretty bad hit lately, especially after all of the beta nonsense drove away a lot of the long-time users.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343197)

Apple Whore.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (-1, Troll)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 months ago | (#47343251)

Slashdot usually managed to maintain a higher standard.

Well, I can go to bed now. I got a good workout laughing so hard at this.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 months ago | (#47343323)

Slashdot's moderation system sucks. It's the worst system there is, except for everything else that's been tried.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (-1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 months ago | (#47343329)

I'm somewhat surprised to see the parent comment modded down to -1.

"You must be new here."

Would you like some "Hot Grits" scraped off of Natalie Portman's ass with your helping of crow?

In Soviet Russia, YOU fuck Timothy up the ass.

I welcome our new robotic headphones...

And of course the solid standard Goatse [goatse.info] ...

- Thank you, I'mm be here until I die, please tip your waitress.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 months ago | (#47343473)

Would you like some "Hot Grits" scraped off of Natalie Portman's ass

Yes!

Re:Here's The Real Question... (1, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 months ago | (#47343461)

Regardless this shouldn't make it to Slashdot.

This is news for nerds - Not news for hipsters!

Re:Here's The Real Question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343269)

/. Beta still rocks!

Re:Here's The Real Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343371)

The real question is how low will Timothy go to place Product Placement AstroTurf on the Slashdot front page... And how many of his Flying Chimps will he call in to mod me down?

At least at first blush it does not look like an astroturfing attempt to me.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (1)

Barsteward (969998) | about 2 months ago | (#47343547)

when he's cheering "Apple has patents" then he's a twat.

Re:Here's The Real Question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343627)

The real question is how low will Timothy go to place Product Placement AstroTurf on the Slashdot front page... And how many of his Flying Chimps will he call in to mod me down?

This comment brought to you by Samsung. Samsung: Your life in sync!

i'd be happy if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47342945)

I'd be happy if they'd just sell ones that don't fall out of my friggin ears every time I move! Even the kind with the rubber/foam ends fall out...

I'd be entirely happy going back to the '80s style on the ear ones that actually would STAY IN PLACE...

Re:i'd be happy if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343155)

Then get any kind except for Apple earbuds. I have a pair of JVC HAFX1X [amazon.com] that are inexpensive, comfortable, sound great and have lasted for years with daily use.

Re:i'd be happy if... (2, Interesting)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 2 months ago | (#47343205)

My Bose noise canceling headphones have worked just fine for several years.

Re:i'd be happy if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343309)

Or that, if he wants to burn a couple hundred bucks. To me, the Bose earbuds don't sound any better but they might be better made. It's hard to argue with five years of dutiful service from my current "cheapies" though.

Re:i'd be happy if... (4, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 months ago | (#47343355)

How about: use headphones, not earbuds.

Step 1 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47342949)

buy Beats

Seriously? (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 months ago | (#47342959)

buy Beats

Read the reviews... Beats might be the Hipster headphone du jour, but on the quality vs price curve, it doesn't work out. Sure, if you want to look "hip" and "happin'n" and "young, dumb, and full of cum", buy Beats. Or you could buy a decent pair of headphones.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47342989)

I agree with you - I was just being snarky.

I bought a pair of Beats last year at the urging of a friend. I used them mayybe 30 times. Now I have an issue where I have to bend the cable a certain way or there's no sound in the left ear. They are total shit in my opinion.

I read somewhere recently that the average cost to manufacture a pair of Beats headphones was like $12/pair.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343235)

What actual hipster would be caught dead with a pair of 'beats' -- not many, I warrant.

Re: Seriously? (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 months ago | (#47343247)

They can improve the quality but the real deal is that Apple is ditching the 3.5mm jack for a digital, DRM, patent-encumbered connector. Beats will have it - if you want the cool headphones you gotta give up your Android. The royalties will enforce exclusively.

Apple has to do *something* to stop its marketshare slide - that they didn't put the $3B into R&D tells you how desperate the internal numbers look.

Re: Seriously? (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 months ago | (#47343299)

if you want the cool headphones you gotta give up your Android.

Yes well, of course the Hipsters wouldn't be caught dead paying tunes through anything but Apple...

Re: Seriously? (1)

sl149q (1537343) | about 2 months ago | (#47343573)

And if you don't want DRM patent-encumbered connectors on your ear phones / ear buds then just don't buy an Apple device. It really really REALLY is that simple.

Personally I'm looking forward to new ear buds with Lightning. Most likely they will have a smaller connector, have better strain relief and last longer.

I suspect that currently Apple swaps about 1 set of ear buds for every Apple Care they sell for iPhones. IFF going to Lightning reduces that by any significant amount it will pay for any increased manufacturing cost and increase customer satisfaction.

Re: Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343593)

I think they will have a problem with the EU if they go for proprietary headphones

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343557)

Name Branding... Because Dr. Dre name is associated with them that's the reason Asshole bought them..Example, Nike shoes/footwear, take the moron trademark, and name away, and their no better then the nameless 15 dollar shoes, and Nike's get laughable more expensive with an athletes name on them. (I know why, the sports star gets a percentage).

There are cheap headphones out there that match the quality of these ridiculously expensive headphones, but when you have a famous or celebrity name attached to them the only goal is to make them cheap, and it is this type of equipment that is solely made for suckers, and not someone (in this case) who actually wants good sound. The other problem are the idiots that write reviews for tech sites, and other sites (reporters/journalists) either because their deaf, dumb, or has some bias/support of the company, and or their getting "incentives" from said company, equipment, money (which of course is for advertising, and not a bribe), of course a famous celebs name is on it so it has to be good.

Re:Seriously? (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 2 months ago | (#47343575)

Obviously Nike profits, and some shoe margins are stupid-high, but in general I'd say the quality of Nike shoes is far higher than what you'd find for $15. Payless shoes hurt to wear and fall apart quickly.

Beats headphones generally get positive reviews, even if they're not considered top in their field. I've listened to them at electronic stores and was impressed. Maybe you can get somewhat cheaper headphones that are better, but certainly cheap headphones aren't as good. Consumer Reports magazine said as much.

Re:Step 1 (4, Funny)

QuesarVII (904243) | about 2 months ago | (#47343015)

Or spend a lot less, and buy skull candy earbuds.

Re:Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343199)

LOL! At least the quality will be on par with Beats, which isn't saying much.

Re:Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343203)

Why is this modded funny? Skull candy have a lot of bang for the buck. I spent $15 on a set and they totally blow away most of everything I've tried, including $100+ sennheiser and sony earphones (the apple ones are amazingly awful). They're cheap enough that it won't bother me too much if the kids break theirs which happens fairly often.

Re:Step 1 (3, Insightful)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 months ago | (#47343213)

Skull Candy is crap. Beats is crap. Skull Candy at least doesn't charge an arm and a leg for it.

Re:Step 1 (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 2 months ago | (#47343439)

I've never used used Beats headphones so I can't personally attest to their being crap. My daughter has picked up more Skull Candy earbuds than she should have had to so I can attest to their being fairly crappy based on the short lifetime they seem to have under regular use. The cables break down internally so that they become useless. My personal choice are Sony's earbuds. I bought a pair years ago to replace the stock iPod earbuds that hurt my ears or fell out all the time. (I don't even notice that I'm wearing the Sonys.) The next time my daughter needs an new pair, I'll pay the difference so she can have a decent pair of Sonys.

Of course, I'll never buy an Apple audio player (the iPod I have was a gift) so I really couldn't care less about what they do with their headphone or earbud jacks.

Re: Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343215)

A cheap pair that fits the ear well will sound better than a pair that doesn't fit and stay in place.

Re: Step 1 (3, Insightful)

chipschap (1444407) | about 2 months ago | (#47343275)

There's nothing that compares with Sony Professional headphones, and they're less expensive than you'd expect. Normally I hate Sony but the pro headphones are one heck of a product line.

Of course, they're ... heh heh heh .... "somewhat" larger and heavier than earbuds, and as for looking hip ... not. Unless the audio engineer look is somehow "in." Be sure to wear thick glasses with black frames.

Re:Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343231)

Uhh, no, they don't. Skullcandy are absolute garbage. I've gone through two pairs and they failed after only a few months each. When they were working, the sound was muddy and overly bass heavy. My Philips and JVC earphones are much better and cost no more than a pair of Skullcandys.

Re:Step 1 (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 months ago | (#47343389)

In my spare time, I've been an audio technician for the past 5 years. Before that, I was a DJ as a hobby, and I've been on stage crew occasionally for the last decade. My current professional job involves system engineering on a multi-million-dollar sound system.

At home, my headphones are a $30 Sennheiser over-ear pair, and I carry $15 earbuds that I can only describe offhand as "black".

It is my professional opinion that all of the audiophile bullshit is bullshit. On a low-end sound system using the cheapest components you can buy, the worst component is your ears. That's where all of your problems start, and you're trying to pay lots of money to compensate throughout the rest of the system.

If you want a pair of headphones that sound great to you, forget about brand names and fancy features. Sit down with a pair of cheap headphones, and listen to the tones in music/tv/whatever that you find most pleasing. Some folks like to hear the deep rumble of heavy bass, while others (like myself) prefer the crisp clarity of vocals that the high end provides. Still others like the nostalgia of 60's disco and AM radio, so they'll have both high- and low-end, but cut out midtones entirely. Know your ears and your tastes, and that will tell you what frequency response you'll be happiest with.

Next, think about features. This should not be a difficult decision, as it mostly just relates to lifestyle. If you ride a bus or train to work and listen to audiobooks, noise canceling is probably a decent choice. Otherwise, it's probably not worth the price. A good fit is more important for keeping unwanted noise out, so if you're in the market for earbuds, look for ones with adjustable rubber. On my traveling pair, I actually have different rubber cones for my ears, because my ears are different sizes. My wife doesn't like in-ear styles, so she carries a pair of folding on-ear headphones in her purse. That was a criterion when we bought them.

Finally, go to Google, and research candidates. Brand doesn't matter nearly as much as having the right headphones for your ears. Buy a cheap pair with the right criteria and try it out. As a general rule, all headphones are made with thin wire and fragile construction that falls apart at the slightest trauma. That's the nature of the beast. Expensive brands just tack on bigger profit margins.

Re:Step 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343429)

In my spare time, I've been an audio technician for the past 5 years. Before that, I was a DJ as a hobby, and I've been on stage crew occasionally for the last decade...

In other words, you really have fucked up your ears.

No wonder $15 earbuds sound good to you.

Re:Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343615)

I agree up to a point. You do realize there are actual differences in frequency response in different headphones, don't you? That is something one can actually measure and is a real, noticeable difference.

Re:Step 1 (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 months ago | (#47343669)

All that advertising, name dropping, media product placements ain't free you know, someone has to pay for it and some customers are willing to pay a whole lot not for the product but for the product branding that goes with it. Just like jewellery, what are you really paying for, nothing except poseur value and ego fulfilment. Tech device's though, tricky, you really don't want to market yourself as sucker as a victim of marketing and Apple is making the slow but inexorable slide down that market and the slide finishes with an avalanche. Buying beats to try market their way out of the problems seems a really silly move, better off to have dumped it out in dividends but the executive team will be after milking Apple for all it is worth reminds me of another company Kodak.

Re:Step 1 (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 months ago | (#47343671)

It is my professional opinion that all of the audiophile bullshit is bullshit. On a low-end sound system using the cheapest components you can buy, the worst component is your ears. That's where all of your problems start, and you're trying to pay lots of money to compensate throughout the rest of the system.

If you want a pair of headphones that sound great to you, forget about brand names and fancy features. Sit down with a pair of cheap headphones, and listen to the tones in music/tv/whatever that you find most pleasing..... Next, think about features.....

I agree with that for the most part except there is a degree of difference between crapware phones and brands like Sennheiser, even in the $30 range. I know that because I went to a store and tried everything they had and stuff from Sennheiser, Bose etc. sounded noticeably better than the utter crapware. That being said the difference is not massive but there is still some difference in sound quality. I ended up sacrificing sound quality for features and got Bluetooth headphones with a built in remote. I also agree that audiophiles can be properly full of BS. A good way to get a laugh is to go to amazon.com, look up a popular set of cheap ass headphones and read some of the lengthy comments written by the audiophile crowd. You'll be tempted to think that they expected live concert quality sound from the thing.

Re:Step 1 (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 months ago | (#47343255)

I'd like to know where you're finding them for $15, because I can't find any for less than $30 or so in stores around here. They'd be perfectly fine earbuds for $15. The problem is that stores are selling those $15 for at least twice that.

I use cheap $15 earbuds myself - after spending $80 on a headset that broke repeatedly and didn't even sound that good, I swore off expensive headphones in favor of something I could regularly throw into a river and still spend less.

Re:Step 2 (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 months ago | (#47343079)

Take all the Beats intellectual property, drawings, and inventory, throw it in a wood chipper, and then set fire to the resulting chips.

Re:Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343243)

People who think that Apple's acquisition of Beats had anything to do with headphones are fucking retards.

they're earphones (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 2 months ago | (#47342957)

They make me sick, literally. Give me on ear headphones any day

Re:they're earphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343167)

Apple ear buds have always sucked, but it doesn't mean the form factor does. Over the ear headphones are really uncomfortable as they press down on the ears and are difficult to use while doing anything other than sitting down or standing in place. I much prefer the compactness, comfort and audio quality of some good ear buds.

sensors (5, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 months ago | (#47342983)

Why would the writer think that adding body sensors are an answer, instead of improving the fucking sound?

Re:sensors (5, Insightful)

haggus71 (1051238) | about 2 months ago | (#47343009)

So true. They are the crappiest headphones out there. I can get a pair of Panasonic ear buds for under ten bucks that sound worlds better.

Re:sensors (4, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 months ago | (#47343049)

I don't usually use earbuds except to work out, but I have a $20 pair of Sony earbuds that sound better than Apple's. It's absurd that the article doesn't mention a single thing about sound quality, and goes into how easily the cords tangle and body sensors like those are the things people care about. You need to get sound quality right before you can even think about all the other ancillary shit to try and sell more of them.

Re:sensors (2)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 2 months ago | (#47343207)

Not to mention Apple earphones are also the most fragile. That narrow-gauge white wire may look thin and stylish, but the tiniest of crimps can degrade the sound, and they break very easily. The $10 earphones I use have better sound (not great, but I'm usually listening on the go, and ambient sounds drown out a lot of the harmonics anyway) and don't break after a week's use. It is Apple once again putting form over function.

Re:sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343571)

The sound quality may not be the best (not the worst either) but I managed to put apple earbuds in the washer/drier three times. The first two times it still worked fine without degradation of audio, the wires was all twisted and became springy. The third time I didn't try, because the earbuds were deformed by the heat of the dryer.

I would say the quality of the wires and construction is actually pretty good.

Body sensors are THE FUTURE. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343011)

Where the fuck have you been? Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike and other big companies have decided for us that body sensors are THE FUTURE .

It doesn't matter that they're mostly just gimmicks. It doesn't matter that they have severe and negative privacy implications. It doesn't matter that they're a fad that'll die out in a couple of years. The are THE FUTURE .

You need to prepare yourself to hear about them for the next 2 or 3 years. It'll be just like 3D TV, tablets, Ruby on Rails, and all of the other overhyped junk of the recent past. They'll be hyped, hyped, hyped, hyped and hyped. Then they'll fail in the marketplace, because nobody actually wants them.

Re:Body sensors are THE FUTURE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343293)

Where the fuck have you been? Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike and other big companies have decided for us that body sensors are THE FUTURE .

They can motherfucking decide anything they want, that doesn't mean I gonna buy any of their motherfucking shit

Re:Body sensors are THE FUTURE. (2)

tsa (15680) | about 2 months ago | (#47343425)

Luckily I have the impression that 3D TV is on the way out already...

Re:sensors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343087)

Well - they bought the wrong company, i.e. Beats. If they wanted better sound they should have bought Dolby Laboratories, Audio Technica, or Grado.

It's sad really, even though Steve Jobs seemed to be a first class picky asshole about how thinks looked, he also wouldn't settle for an imbalance of form and function. Probably learned that from when the Apple 3 went south and he got the boot.

The current wave of products seem to coast on function and go downhill on looks. An example would be the look and feel of iOS 7 and the upcoming OS X Yosemite. By removing features and oversimplifying the look and feel (like making buttons look like text), they've made it much harder to get real work done. You would think Microsoft would benefit by Apple getting harder to use, but they have been going the same direction for a long while.

Re:sensors (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 months ago | (#47343383)

Beats would be the wrong company, if all Apple wanted was a headphone maker. But they also intend to build a music streaming service, which Beats had, with all the licensing deals already in place.

sensors (1)

dexotaku (1136235) | about 2 months ago | (#47343185)

This... a thousand times, this.. Make them not sound like crap, THEN start working on other things.

Music (2)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | about 2 months ago | (#47343187)

"Why would the writer think that adding body sensors are an answer, 'instead of improving the fucking sound?"<br><br>They have to go a bit further back than the hardware I think. I've you've looked at a waveform for what passes as music these days, you would agree<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:D Listening to THAT on even a decent set of headphones won't help it any.<br><br>The folks that put this stuff together need to understand that the entire waveform isn't supposed to look like a solid block just barely under the clipping threshold.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:|

Makers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47342997)

You mean a holding company? Ain't no one in North America getting their soft hands dirty making anything.

Re:Makers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343031)

Um, I used to work at a factory a couple years ago (and yes, it's still there). We were making cylinder heads for Caterpillar engines. One of the largest internal combustion engines in the world.
My hands got dirty frequently.
I suppose if you live in SoCal or something, then it may seem that America doesn't make anything besides the lettuce that they pay the Mexicans to pick.

Re:Makers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343311)

Um, I used to work at a factory a couple years ago (and yes, it's still there). We were making cylinder heads for Caterpillar engines. One of the largest internal combustion engines in the world.

Before you know it they gonna outsource the entire operation to Brazil or Timbuktu

Welcome to the new world !

Re: Makers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343373)

To add to the others: The US is the #1 manufacturer of medical equipment and aircraft, not to mention all of the automobile assembly plants.

Since the parent AC mentions all of North America, it's worth noting that GM, Ford, etc have a heavy manufacturing presence in México.

And anecdotally, my Japanese car was built in the Midwestern United States.

great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47342999)

More gimmicks that get in the way of putting a proper speaker in there.

how about we stick to making the basics better (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 2 months ago | (#47343005)

instead of adding a bunch of features I don't need, didn't ask for, and make the product more complex, expensive, and likely to fail? Everything is headed this way, cars and home appliances being the most obvious offenders, and it's not making lives better.

A pair of phones that sound good, made to last, and are not overpriced, should turn a profit without marketing them as high status items. If not, then marketing has seriously contaminated the mindset of the consumer.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (4, Funny)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 2 months ago | (#47343089)

instead of adding a bunch of features I don't need, didn't ask for, and make the product more complex, expensive, and likely to fail?

My good sir, how dare you besmirch the efforts of those who are trying to make our economy grow ever larger and ever faster? Don't you WANT a booming business environment? Is buying overpriced junk that fails early and often, and leaves our planet an empty husk, REALLY too high a price to pay for petty amusements and diversions that further line the pockets of the already-wealthy? How selfish of you!

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about 2 months ago | (#47343119)

It's hard for the customer to make a good choice when the good choices are removed from the market and replaced with disposable junk.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 months ago | (#47343265)

It's as if most customers choose cheap, disposable junk.

Maybe somebody could start a store like that.

Call it Junkmart, or something like that.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343345)

It already exists: It's called the United States of America.

Almost everything sold in the U.S. nowadays that is targeted toward a person with an average income is pure crap. This has been something of a long time in the making but I first started noticing a lot of crap around 2000 and it has accelerated to the point where it is now difficult to find high-quality goods. Even when you spend more money, the quality of goods is oftentimes rather poor.

What's particularly insidious about this is that there are now generations of Americans who don't even know what a good quality product is. They accept that things break often and perhaps blame themselves for not being careful enough; they also are complimentary of products that in the 1980s and 1990s would be considered mediocre.

This should concern everybody in the U.S. because one of the things that separates wealthy countries from poor countries is the ability to discern quality from garbage. If a nation's citizens don't know a good product from a bad product, they are likely to produce garbage that is only able to compete on price.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (2)

tsa (15680) | about 2 months ago | (#47343445)

That's not only in America. Here in the Netherlands there was a program on TV not long ago about how manufacturers design their products to break down after a few years. There are several ways to do this; the chips in printer cartridges being the most well-known one. But they also told us that Samsung designed the plastics in their washing machines so that they degrade when in contact with the detergent you use to clean your laundry. And many manufacturers build in 'time bombs' in the software of their products, so that they stop working after a certain period.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (3, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 months ago | (#47343471)

While it might be happening, that kind of intentional weakening is actually very rare. I also suspect that that Samsung incident wasn't intentionally planned. We simply have better capability to engineer things accurately to a lower price point, which also leads to more flimsy materials.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (1)

tsa (15680) | about 2 months ago | (#47343437)

That exists already in the Netherlands. It's called the Action [action.nl] and it's mighty popular.

Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343337)

It's hard for the customer to make a good choice when the good choices are removed from the market and replaced with disposable junk

My good sir,

In a true open market the unsatisfied customers can become the producers of the goods they really want

Unfortunately we do not live in a true open market. Inspiring entrepreneurs are being warned they can't do this, they can't do that due to patents and/or copyright hindrances, and the government which is being sponsored by the huge corporations isn't making the situation any better either

Not such a new idea. (1)

c (8461) | about 2 months ago | (#47343027)

But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats.

You mean like these [lg.com] . Somehow, I have a feeling those patents might not be as useful as someone might think...

EarPods were shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343043)

Let me tell you what everyone else thinks are real headphones.

Shure SE-846: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H8YOI04/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00H8YOI04&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=I73QKZFGWTCRE4T6

Quad-driver, built in sub woofer, nano-welding, cost: $999.99

Westone W50, 5 driver headphone, $750: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JRPVO90/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JRPVO90&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=4YPWGVNX5U4D6NHO

Westone also makes a triple, quad, and six driver model. I personally have the $500 dollar Westone 4R which has been replaced by the W40 for $499: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GB2YASO/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00GB2YASO&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=EZFV75JAAFGFNRXU

Apple is trying to innovate something they haven't innovated on. They aren't designers or manufactures of real headphones. They make cheap shit.

How can headphones be truly innovated on though? By creating sound in 3D fashion, and perhaps by stimulating the nerves of the ear directly using microwaves rather than by using soundwaves to do it. There are actually numerous patents to use microwaves to stimulate the brain and nerves directly, bypassing the cochlea and ears, dating back decades but only the military took interest because of their desire to weaponize it. A few of those patents are here: http://www.oregonstatehospital.net/d/russelltice-nsarnmebl.html#patents

A goal for improving sound quality is to record soundwaves more accurately and then reproduce them more accurately without loss. Right now soundwaves are recorded and replicated from a single space in time, perhaps in a stereo fashion with two points, one for each ear. But sound waves are more dynamic and the trajectory and complexity is not currently recorded or replicated. Surround sound is done in a virtual way, instead of stimulating each nerve independently like in real life as the wave travels through, allowing you to hear multiple points of sound traveling from multiple areas at once. We want to record sound from thousands of points per ear and replicate the sound from thousands of points to truly playback sound as it was meant to be heard.

I doubt Apple will be the innovator here because they take cheap shit and put their name on it, never actually developing anything new.

Re:EarPods were shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343075)

Let me linkify those links.:
Let me tell you what everyone else thinks are real headphones.

Shure SE-846: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H8YOI04/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00H8YOI04&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=I73QKZFGWTCRE4T6 [amazon.com]

Quad-driver, built in sub woofer, nano-welding, cost: $999.99

Westone W50, 5 driver headphone, $750: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JRPVO90/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JRPVO90&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=4YPWGVNX5U4D6NHO [amazon.com]

Westone also makes a triple, quad, and six driver model. I personally have the $500 dollar Westone 4R which has been replaced by the W40 for $499: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GB2YASO/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00GB2YASO&linkCode=as2&tag=obamaswecom-20&linkId=EZFV75JAAFGFNRXU [amazon.com]

Apple is trying to innovate something they haven't innovated on. They aren't designers or manufactures of real headphones. They make cheap shit.

How can headphones be truly innovated on though? By creating sound in 3D fashion, and perhaps by stimulating the nerves of the ear directly using microwaves rather than by using soundwaves to do it. There are actually numerous patents to use microwaves to stimulate the brain and nerves directly, bypassing the cochlea and ears, dating back decades but only the military took interest because of their desire to weaponize it. A few of those patents are here: http://www.oregonstatehospital.net/d/russelltice-nsarnmebl.html#patents [oregonstatehospital.net]

A goal for improving sound quality is to record soundwaves more accurately and then reproduce them more accurately without loss. Right now soundwaves are recorded and replicated from a single space in time, perhaps in a stereo fashion with two points, one for each ear. But sound waves are more dynamic and the trajectory and complexity is not currently recorded or replicated. Surround sound is done in a virtual way, instead of stimulating each nerve independently like in real life as the wave travels through, allowing you to hear multiple points of sound traveling from multiple areas at once. We want to record sound from thousands of points per ear and replicate the sound from thousands of points to truly playback sound as it was meant to be heard.

I doubt Apple will be the innovator here because they take cheap shit and put their name on it, never actually developing anything new.

Re:EarPods were shit (0)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 months ago | (#47343475)

Let me linkify those links

Nice try, but in proper hyperlinking the link text is not supposed to be the URL.

Re:EarPods were shit (1)

ami.one (897193) | about 2 months ago | (#47343097)

Sound directly from bone conduction: Head Bones : https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com]

Another 'No Speakers' approach: Sound Band: https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com]

Player inside the in-ear phones: Dash: https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com]

Re:EarPods were shit (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 months ago | (#47343483)

Sound directly from bone conduction: Head Bones [kickstarter.com]

Another 'No Speakers' approach: Sound Band [kickstarter.com]

Player inside the in-ear phones: Dash [kickstarter.com]

Re:EarPods were shit (3, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 months ago | (#47343271)

And people make fun of others spending too much money on Apple?

Exactly how big do you think the market is for $500-$1000 headphones?

Do you buy Monster cables too?

Re:EarPods were shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343419)

don't buy monster cables. those are waste of money (I use the cheap $10 dollar cables from Fry's or newegg; never would blow $100-$500 for some cable that gets a digital signal through equally to a $5 one). I would consider spending $200 on a pure silver headphone cable, custom made, because they look so damn cool and are made of pure silver. But I haven't yet done so finding the standard cable to be adequate for basic listening.

Trust me when I say spending $1000 on headphones is worth it. Actually spending $300-$400 is where it's at. Buy a nice quad or triple driver. Once you get to that point sound quality is hard to surpass and you're paying for slight improvements or built in subs. But believe me I wish I could afford the Shure SE-846 at $1000 or one of the models that are custom modeled just for my ears.

Do you think the EarPods sound good? Wait till you hear the Westone 3's or 4s. The clarity and detail blow the fuck off any cheap headphone. It is simply not possible to get good sound from headphones for under the $300 amount. There might be a few exceptions for dual-drivers I'd make, but those cost about $200. Anything less than $200 I simply could not recommend because they all suck.

GO to http://www.head-fi.org/ for more info. The market for these headphones is actually large. Rich people, men, audiophiles, business types.. geeks, nerds.

Guys like me perform lots of listening tests and can't handle static, mp3/aac artifacts, lack of high frequencies or lack of bass, etc...

Re:EarPods were shit (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47343413)

"I doubt Apple will be the innovator here because they take cheap shit and put their name on it, never actually developing anything new."
That's pretty backwards. Usually they take something else and make it better and charge a lot.

Headphones is science and engineering.

3 or more separate drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343045)

Would be nice.

I'm missing something (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 2 months ago | (#47343051)

How are headphones on a different level than your ears any sort of benefit? (Asking for an overly literal person.)

questionable (1)

idanity (591710) | about 2 months ago | (#47343071)

more like a sensor that induces subliminal messages to buy more apple stuff.

Want the Sound Quality To Improve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343099)

Then maybe start releasing tracks in at least 320 kbps or ALAC.

Re:Want the Sound Quality To Improve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343171)

Give me 256kbps AAC over 320kbps MP3 any day. Smaller file sizes (No, I didn't pay apple $100 extra to get $8 worth of more flash storage built-in), fewer problem cases for AAC than MP3.

Once you get to ~192kbps or so (VBR) on modern encoders, including LAME mp3, you're as transparent as you're going to get. At that point any weirdness you still hear is just the way the encoder handles edge/problem cases, and throwing more bits at it just increases the file size. Honestly I see transparency from quicktime AAC-HE around ~160kbps, and as low as ~130kbps aoTuV ogg vorbis, and that's on pretty solid gear.

Of course, give me lossless over AAC, Vorbis or MP3, to be sure. Then you know you don't have to even wonder, and you can encode your own lossy rips at will.

Re:Want the Sound Quality To Improve? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 months ago | (#47343493)

Meeh. Why even bother with lossy codecs anymore when we have the HDD space. Give me just RIFF WAVE or FLAC and be done with it.

Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343101)

How About Apple starts by making headphones with cables which don't easily fall apart first (like they should have 10 years ago)?

Apple innovations like their Magsafe chargers protect their laptops by falling apart when someone trips on the cable. They should focus on improving the joins in their headphone cables first, instead of aesthetics.

sell hifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343115)

1) Sell Hi fidelity songs on iTunes and outfit iPods and such like Neil Young's Pono player
http://www.npr.org/2014/03/12/289299019/kickstarter-campaign-begins-for-neil-youngs-music-player

2) Just use soft rubber vacuum fit earbuds and forget the hard plastic junk, no matter how it's shaped.

3) maybe combine hifi recordings with a Dre Beats headset with 24 bit audio.

4) Utilize established engineering metrics such as effective bits to talk about end-to-end performance. No marketing interpretations (falsifications), please!

Etymotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343143)

http://www.etymotic.com earbuds are the best sounding earbuds i've ever heared. the ones I have dont sound too basy and are not fatiguing at all.

EarSensors, yay! (3, Funny)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 months ago | (#47343175)

Heard at the Apple Headquarters monitoring their users:

Oh no, we've got excessive vibrations on little Johnny (User 2317687491XXL), I think he might be pounding his meat again, better shut down his web access.

Studio-style headphones (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 2 months ago | (#47343281)

Whatever it takes to get kids to stop wearing those god damn bulbous studio style headphones while out and about (beats typically.).

They are this generations version of the jnco jeans.

Seriously, does an ipod/iphone/whatever portable device even have the output for speakers that size?

Re:Studio-style headphones (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343595)

I bet you want them to get off your lawn too gramps?

Yeay More Personal Information to Hoover (2)

mentil (1748130) | about 2 months ago | (#47343319)

Just what I want -- for my NSA-backdoored, malware-infested, free-apps-spying-on-me smart device to ALSO be able to exfiltrate my vital signs. You think GPS location and when you use your device tells alot about your life habits, wait until heartrate and blood pressure are available. Advertisers would LOVE this data: "look, our ad is exciting to this person". Worse, they could also detect heart conditions and uniquely identify the person wearing the earbuds. Think about that for a second. Instead of just assuming that this iPhone was registered by person X so it's probably being used by that person, it'd be able to know if someone's borrowing it (and using a cloud data lookup, by whom.) Wait until the NSA ("we kill people based on metadata") starts using vital sign 'fingerprints' and bombing them with no verification.

Crap sells well to the Addle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343377)

The same people who think Apple earbuds sound good, or that any sound from anything since the original iPod is worth a pinch of coonpoop will buy apple crap for the same reason they buy other crappy sounding dreck: They do not know what good sound is; and they do not care. They just want to be cool.

Whatever. (1)

Noxal (816780) | about 2 months ago | (#47343387)

They'll still fall out of my ear and sound like shit when they don't.

or.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47343405)

They use science and engineering to make better headphones.

I mean, sure maybe they can put is a sensors to detect how rad I thing music is based on how I rock my head.

Re:or.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47343513)

They can. They will put an accelometer there to go with a cool "how much you rocked" app. With that you can see how much you moved during each song. However the actual reason for this will be datamining which will be used to improve the iTunes store.

I would love some quality earbuds (1)

AdamStarks (2634757) | about 2 months ago | (#47343585)

But unfortunately, I have a mild case of cauliflower ear on both sides of my head. So color me as not giving the slightest of fucks.

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