Wired in-ear headphones with mics and call quality
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
A: I’m looking for in-ear monitors with the best in class call quality using the in-line mic. Is this an oxymoron? From what I understand there is a limit to how good an in-line wired mic can be, and all reviews seem to gloss over call quality while walking about or in noisy environments. I don’t want a Bluetooth headset. I just want to know which in-ear headset gives me great music audio and call quality?
A: Unfortunately, the only really valid answer is “none of the above.” Wired in-ear headphones sold for the iPhone almost universally use Apple’s own three-button remote and mic and are virtually all identical to the performance of Apple’s pack-ins.
There have been a very small number of mics that are slightly different, but none of these add any significant features such as noise cancellation, and any actual call quality differences are unlikely to be profound. For example, Scosche’s TapLine remote + mic solution, found on several of their recent headphone/earphone models, moves the mic away from the remote, allowing you to more easily adjust the proximity of the mic in relation to your mouth and thereby possibly allowing you to increase call quality under certain conditions.
Other than these subtle changes, however, the microphones themselves are not designed in any particularly special way that would make a significant different to call quality. Part of this is simply due to the fact that more advanced features such as noise cancellation require powered multi-microphone arrays such as those found on Bluetooth headsets, and in the iPhone itself. IEM manufacturers tend to focus on providing good audio quality for music rather than adding more complex and expensive technology to the microphone itself.
Ultimately, at this point there seems to not be any ideal solution that provides both good music quality and call quality in the same package, even among Bluetooth-based solutions. Most stereo Bluetooth headsets and adapters are focused on providing music playback and similarly omit features such as noise cancellation or higher-end microphones. On the other hand, the devices that provide the best support in this regard are almost exclusively within the domain of monaural Bluetooth headsets designed solely for making phone calls rather than listening to music and other audio.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple
- Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct
- Apple adds nine more apps to universal search in Apple TV
- WSJ: iPhone to see modest changes this year, eliminate headphone jack
- China tightening restrictions on mobile games starting next month
- Supreme Court patent ruling bodes well for future Apple cases
- Apple to pay $400M to consumers over e-book price fixing case
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation
- Twelve South BookBook for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Spigen Rugged Armor, Style Armor + Wallet S for iPhone SE
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app