Inside Apple’s iPod Earbuds: Dissection Photos | iLounge Article

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Inside Apple’s iPod Earbuds: Dissection Photos

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, September 7, 2006
Articles Categories: Reports

If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside a pair of iPod earbuds, here’s your chance to take a look. Though Apple has gone through several different iterations of its now-famous pack-ins, this particular pair is from the batch shipped with the most recent iPods - nano and 5G.

Each earbud consists of a plastic outer shell, a gray cable, and a thin metal mesh shield that covers a miniature speaker driver inside. The earbud can be broken into three pieces, each at an intersection of white and gray plastic. Gray plastic is on the sides of the mesh shield; a thin layer of smoky plastic is found inside the shield, along with a copper ring in its center. This entire piece separates from the main white plastic housing to reveal the driver.

The driver uses an iridescent metal that looks green, gold, or silver depending on the light reflecting off its face; it is also noticeably magnetic and will attach itself to the mesh shield if given the chance. A number is stamped on its front - here, 5H8 - and a combination of foam and glue are used to keep it attached to the plastic housing. Once the foam and glue are loosened, a knotted wire is shown inside with two soldered contacts on the rear of the speaker driver, one green, one red. The knot prevents the contacts from being pulled loose from the driver and falling out of the housing.

The back of an iPod earbud includes what appear to be six venting holes; they’re actually covered inside with foam. These holes are increased to a total of eleven on the metal speaker driver plate inside. Note that numerous earphone makers have told us that they’ve experienced major problems trying to inexpensively duplicate the sound quality of Apple’s earbuds - many factors, such as the spacing inside the housing, the housing material, number of holes, padding, and front grille affect the sound in positive ways.

Apple’s headphone port plug uses a tiny rubber cap on top of a hard plastic and metal base. The white stripes on the metal separate the headphone plug into left- and right-channel audio signals; AV cables for the iPod have a third stripe that designates part of the metal to carry a video signal. Super interesting? Not really, but we wanted to share the pictures just for those who might enjoy knowing what’s inside of the things they put inside their ears.

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Comments

1

interesting, but i’m with tkandme, i’d like to see the guts of some high quality multi-driver ‘phones.

great article btw.

Posted by mrmojorisingi on September 7, 2006 at 6:28 PM (PDT)

2

Disecting the higher quality earbuds like the Shure ones would be great to see, especially if a report was done that really showed the difference between the apple earbuds and the shure.  Kind of a ‘What makes high quality headphones high quality.’

Posted by gtrdlr on September 8, 2006 at 7:06 AM (PDT)

3

With proper equalization, the iPod earbuds sound MUCH better.  For example, plugging them into a computer and using the equalizer in iTunes yields much better bass response than normal (as midrange and treble are fairly good already).  If I recall correctly, most people only complain about there not being enough bass…

Posted by usbcd36 on September 8, 2006 at 1:54 PM (PDT)

4

I find iPod earbuds to be bulky, uncomfortable and regular sounding at most. They’re no match for iPods. Apple has homework pending on this matter. And how about a decent black pair to go with black iPods? Would it be too much to ask for?

Posted by institutoaplaplac on September 8, 2006 at 5:30 PM (PDT)

5

I was very happy when my stock white ear buds became borked. the 20 bucks Sony repleacements far exceeded the Apple. Not only that they came with a roll-up-case. Beat that kids from cupertino….

Posted by johnfoster on September 9, 2006 at 1:04 AM (PDT)

6

I feel like I’ve entered the DiscoveryLounge. Where’s Ted?

Posted by FahrenheiPod 451 on September 11, 2006 at 5:23 PM (PDT)

7

The quality of the apple earbuds must have declined over time, because the pair I have with my 3G iPod are the best single-driver earbuds I’ve ever used.  Nothing even rated up to $100 comes even close.

I’ll take multi-driver Shure E3c, Etymotic ER6i, or UE Studio3s any day, but still…these ain’t bad listening.

Posted by Norellicus on September 13, 2006 at 7:54 AM (PDT)

8

If you listen faded or the motto at full volume,it sounds really good!

Posted by Anthony on February 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM (PDT)

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