Choosing iPhone Headphones

For the past 18 months I’ve been using a set of cheap in-ear headphones for listening to podcasts on my iPhone. So when these cheapie earphones recently gave up the ghost, I began my search for a replacement set.

I’m not keen on spending big bucks on earphones as their failure rate seems out of proportion to their cost. I’m always amazed at the high cost of some models available at the Apple Store.

I have previously had a couple of Sennheiser earphones and was happy with the sound quality, but found their cables tended to fail at the connection with the 3.5mm plug.

I searched the online Apple Store for a similarly priced set of earphones to my previous Sennheisers and came up with

the V-MODA Remix Remote Headphones at Au$99.95

V-MODA Remix

and the Sennheiser i300 Mobile Music Headset at Au89.95.

Sennheiser i300

Both the Sennheiser and V-MODA earphone sets have an inline switch for controlling volume and play/pause of audio tracks, together with a microphone for iPhone use.

The Sennheiser earphones come with 3 pairs of silicone earbuds of varying sizes whereas the V-MODA set comes with a total of 8 (yes 8!) pairs of replacement earbuds in 4 different sizes. The V-MODA set also has detachable sport ear-hooks to prevent the earbuds falling out during your daily jog.

V-MODA Remix Detachable Sport Ear-hooks

The features that impressed me most with the V-MODA earphones are the Kevlar reinforced cable and the 45 degree 3.5mm plug fitting which allows you to get a good grip on the jack when removing it from the device. It looks like this usually vulnerable part of the headset is likely to withstand many years of tugging the jack out from your iPhone or iPod.

The Sennheiser earphones have a more flexible cable which thankfully, does not transfer the scraping sounds when the cable drags against clothing, as much as the V-MODA cable does.

The Sennheiser plug feels much more vulnerable to damage when removing it from the audio connector. It is thin and smooth, making it difficult to get any traction when pulling it from the iPhone. It is all too easy to end up putting strain on the cable instead of the jack.

As for sound quality, I found quite a difference between the two sets of earphones, although I have to say I am no audiophile.

The Sennheiser produced a good all-round sound with decent bass and good noise isolation, whereas the V-MODA earphones lacked bass, producing a very tinny sound quality. I felt their noise isolation was either lacking or gave the effect of being overly cutoff from my surroundings, depending upon which size ear bud was fitted. There seemed to be no happy medium with the V-MODA.

Disappointingly, the V-MODA earphones were uncomfortable in the ear, the serrated chrome band just behind the silicone bud felt rough in my ears and made it impossibly uncomfortable when trying to sleep with the earphones in my ears. Yes, I go to sleep with my earphones in, listening to podcasts or audio books!

So from a comfort and sound quality angle, the Sennheiser i300 earphones win hands down, but the extra ruggedness of the V-MODA Remix’s Kevlar reinforced cables and tough plug/cable joint cannot be ignored. My choice though, will be to go with the Sennheiser i300 Earphones next time. The problem is that “next time” could be a long way off, if the strength of this V-MODA audio jack connector is anything to go by, I doubt it will be failing any time soon.

Sennheiser i300

Pro’s: A richer bass sound quality. Comfortable in ear. Good sound isolation.

Con’s: Fragile audio jack to cable with not much grip. Bulky inline mic/audio control switch

V-MODA Remix

Pro’s: Kevlar cable. Solid well-shaped audio jack connector. 8 pairs of earbuds. Detachable sports ear-hooks.

Con’s: Tinny sound, lacking in bass. Uncomfortable in the ear. Friction noise transmits along cable to earphones.

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  1. Excellent timing! I’ve been mulling on a new set of headphones for a while now and will likely take the plunge when I (hopefully) get my new Mac in a month or so.

    I had a pair of Sennheiser MM-50i previously and loved the sound quality and fit, but they failed twice in as many years. At least the first failure was covered under warranty.

    If you want “cheap and acceptable”, I have been using, as a stop-gap, a cheap set of Ultimate Ears (Logitech) 200vi. They were only about NZD$70 (USD$40) so I wasn’t expecting much from them, but they’re still way better than the Apple standard issue set.

    The best fitting earbuds I ever had were the MM-50i with silicone caps from a pair of Sony MDR-EX70(?) that had died. The ever so slight difference in the sizes made for a perfect fit. Unfortunately, I left them on the first pair of Sennheisers when I sent them in for warranty. 😦

    • jane73
    • August 7th, 2011

    Hi Allister
    Yet more evidence that Sennheiser are vulnerable to cable failure, which is such a shame as their sound quality is good.
    I will look out for those Logitech earphones on my travels, always useful to have a spare set around.

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