Inside Apple’s iPod Earbuds: Dissection Photos

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.