I’m no Apple-basher. Sure, I use a Dell at work and an HP laptop at home, but my girlfriend is on Apple laptop number three in the past four years, and I went to college near Cupertino in the second half of the 1980’s. If you went to Stanford, you just accepted that you were supposed to pay three grand for a Mac SE and an Imagewriter. So I did.
iPod devotee? Yup, that’s me too. At last count there were four different models in my household, and iTunes should send me a Christmas card.
But there’s one thing that most people won’t admit for fear of waking the sleeping Jobs-Bear. So I’ll acknowledge the elephant in the room. Brace yourself fanboys (and fangirlz.)
The earbuds that come with all Apple products stink.
There, I said it. They are uncomfortable. They don’t fit in most human-sized ears. They fall out when you’re exercising, jogging or even walking. They hurt after thirty minutes of use, and they probably excessively damage your hearing because you have to turn them up so loud to get any bass response at all.
Remember those four iPods I own? I’ve purchased at least twice that many aftermarket headphones in an effort to improve my listening experience. You can’t swing a dead cat around my house without tangling Tabby’s claws in a set of white earbuds tangling themselves up on some random flat surface in my office.
But the good people athave come up with a way to improve the fidelity quality of the iPod aural without completely abandoning the phones that Steve built. Behold, the Whoomp! Earbud Enhancers.
Yeah, I know. “Behold” kinda implies something to look at. And these earbud enhancers really aren’t much to look at. But darned if they don’t work.
The idea behind the Whoomp!s is simple: take the uncomfortable hard plastic torture devices that Aplle calls earbuds and attach a soft foam extension that holds them more securely and comfortably in your ear canal while increasing the sonic attributes.
The earbud enhancers snap easily over the round ends of the Apple headphones. It took a little trial and error and intuition to figure out the best positioning of the Whoomp!s to maximize security and bass response. Bass needs a cavity to resonate in. That’s why sub-woofers sound better when they are the size of your coffee table. Or possibly your 1977 Nova when you’re driving past my house at 3:00 in the morning. (Yeah, I know it’s you, buddy…)
Apparently the space between my ears proved to an excellent empty space funky bass guitar echo, because the improvement in bass response was immediately noticeable. Longtime readers of www.geardiary.com know that I’m a phool for a phunky bass.
There are also small holes cut in the foam of the Whoomp! Earbud Extenders to allow the treble of the original Apple earbuds to pass into your ear since the size of a high end treble wave doesn’t need a larger space to resonate. As a matter of fact, unless your otolaryngolist is staring at your ear with an exam light, it would be difficult for anyone to notice that you are even using the Whoomp!s. (and cheating on Steve Jobs.)
I found them to be comfortable to walk with and tolerable to run with. Would I wear them in an environment where I needed to be able to hear what was going on around me, e.g. while working or running in an urban environment? Probably not. The Whoomp!s work by blocking off your ear canal and thus have a definite noise-canceling characteristics. That’s kinda the point, but not necessarily the safest way to listen to your music.
But they don’t cost but 20 bucks. You already shelled out all that cash for your iPod or your iPhone. Why not go ahead and make your listening experience that much better? I did.
Images courtesy of the manufacturer.
The Whoomp! Earbud Enhancers are available from Comply Foam at.
Cost: $19.95 for two pairs (black or white) $11.95 for a single replacement pair
What I Liked: An inexpensive way to improve the capabilities of your iPod or iPhone earbuds without investing a couple hundred bucks in some Bose earphones. Better comfort and security when wearing while active.
What Could Be Improved: Maybe a few more size options for different ear canals. I have tiny lobes. Shut up.