Review: Griffin TuneBuds Comfort Earphones for iPod & iPhone


Two years ago, Griffin Technology released EarThumps, a pair of inexpensive in-canal earphones that we found passable, as they were nice looking and comfortable but too heavy in the bass department. Now the company has released TuneBuds ($20), which are basically just rebranded, recolored, and slightly tweaked versions of the EarThumps, though the changes are positive: the new versions are a little better than the ones they replace.

Review: Griffin TuneBuds Comfort Earphones for iPod & iPhone

TuneBuds continue to feature the same style and same three sets of silicone rubber in-canal tips as before, but now come in new colors and no longer include a carrying case. They were originally released in metallic silver, blue, and pink finishes, but are being joined by other colors—purple, light blue, light green, and red—to match the bodies of late 2007 third-generation iPod nanos. Additionally, they all come with a new iPhone-friendly headphone plug, though they shouldn’t be confused with Griffin’s TuneBuds Mobile, a separate jet black pair of earbuds with fabric cables, an integrated microphone and a control button; the standard TuneBuds are mic-free, and intended solely for listening to your iPod’s audio.


Review: Griffin TuneBuds Comfort Earphones for iPod & iPhone

In short, the concept behind TuneBuds remains the same as with EarThumps: deliver an alternative to Apple’s packed-in earbuds that offers similar clarity of sound, but with a decided bass bias. That difference is instantly apparent in direct comparative testing against Apple’s earphones: as with many other low-end canalphones, such as Sony’s bottom-of-the-line offerings, the TuneBuds make all of your iPod’s music sound like you’ve turned up the bass, at the cost of a lower sound floor with more neutral midrange and high-end sound. Pop the TuneBuds in and you’ll notice that everything sounds like it’s filling up your ears: drum beats, guitars, and vocals are all audible, though they sound like they’re all in the same general place on a stage, and not spread out.


Review: Griffin TuneBuds Comfort Earphones for iPod & iPhone

You’re not getting much more bass detail, but rather just sound with the mid-bass and bass portions emphasized, so elements of a song that are audible in Apple’s earbuds are still audible here, just emphasized differently. Background beats come closer to the front, while treble details tend to disappear into the bass, making the sound less crisp than with Apple’s earbuds and higher-end earphones. We’re not huge fans of this type of presentation, but some users—particularly ones shopping for inexpensive earphones—really enjoy it.


Review: Griffin TuneBuds Comfort Earphones for iPod & iPhone

Cosmetic improvements aside, we can give the TuneBuds some credit for one thing in the audio: though they’re similarly bass-weighted, we found them to be a little more controlled, and hence less objectionable, than their predecessors. If you’re a bass fan on a budget, these are good headphones to consider, particularly if you’re looking for something to match the color of an iPod nano or shuffle; otherwise we’d recommend looking at more balanced options, such as Sony’s MDR-EX81s, which generally demand and deserve slightly higher prices.


Table of Contents

Our Rating


Company and Price

Company: Griffin Technology


Model: TuneBuds

Price: $20

Compatible: All iPods, iPhone*

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Jeremy Horwitz

Jeremy Horwitz was the Editor-in-Chief at iLounge. He has written over 5,000 articles and reviews for the website and is one of the most respected members of the Apple media. Horwitz has been following Apple since the release of the original iPod in 2001. He was one of the first reviewers to receive a pre-release unit of the device, and his review helped put iLounge on the map as a go-to source for Apple news.