The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Apple/Beats Audio Gear

Originally published at: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Apple/Beats Audio Gear - TidBITS

Choosing Apple earbuds or headphones becomes more complicated when you factor in gear from Apple subsidiary Beats by Dre. To wrap his head around all the options, Julio Ojeda-Zapata constructed a huge comparison chart. This companion article separates the various Apple and Beats devices into categories to assist you in your decision.

That’s a very useful article and that spreadsheet comparing models deserves a wide circulation. Bravo.

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My Apple AirPods Pro had a defective case, plus I discovered my missing Pod on the flight from Colombia to Miami.

In Miami, I must have spent two entire days inside two different Apple stores on what was supposed to be a vacation and shopping trip.

When there is a defect, Apple does not just give you a brand new one in the box. Nor do they open a brand new one, exchange the defective part, and then send the whole defective package back to a returns center.

They will exchange for a new or reconditioned one as a spare part, which comes in a plain white box. It’s a service part.

Except, the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach had no spare cases in stock. Neither did any other nearby Apple stores.

Oh, and even though I had AppleCare+, a lost AirPod Pro bud costs something like $91 to replace.

AppleCare+ only kicks in if the item breaks or is defective. And if you caused the damage, say by stepping on your pod and cracking it? It’s $91.

The discount AppleCare+ provides is like $10 less than what you’d pay without AppleCare+ to buy a replacement pod. Not sure what the co-pays are if the whole thing gets stolen.

So, the manager came over to explain to me why there is no immediate exchange for defective Apple products. I reminded her there is a 14-day trial period for ANY Apple product. Bring it back with all the packaging and my receipt and get all my money back.

So, the next time you need an Apple product serviced, and they tell you it will be a week or longer to get your item repaired, just buy the item and make sure you return it within 14 days when you come pickup your repaired item. Let them deal with how they handle out of box, used inventory.

The manager was also a superb salesperson. She confirmed I could buy anything Apple and get a refund within 14 days if I returned it, but told me since I already knew what AirPod Pros sounded like and how they fit in my ear, suggested I try the Beats Studio Buds instead, while waiting for my repair. The Beats were only $144. And I would just be trying them out, right? (Every heard of the Puppy Dog Sales Close? I bought the Beats.)

Well, when I got to the store on Saturday, with my Repair Order in hand, no one could find my AirPod Pros. Spent hours waiting while the staff went on a hunt for the product. Got there around 4:30 PM, left empty-handed around 7:45 PM.

Turns out the store had sent my case with one pod in it to Newark, New Jersey from Miami. Why give me a new one, when they could fix mine. Or who knows what their story was. But the story about the cases coming in on Friday was a total fabrication. My repaired case was in transit using FedEx Ground and wouldn’t be back in the store until after I left to return to Colombia.

So, guess what. I liked the Beats Studio Buds better than the AirPod Pros. The bass is stronger, they are less distorted at higher volumes, and they don’t fall out of my ear, ever. So, I kept them to have music on the flight home.

Another manager swore on his mother’s grave that as soon as my repair arrived, it would be sent to my drop shipper nearby in Florida, who always gets my stuff to me in 7 to 10 days. Except another lie, they didn’t ship it. They sent me an e-mail telling me it was ready for pickup at the store. Except I was no longer in Miami anymore.

When the Air Pods come back, I’ll have two sets of in-ear headphones.

Apple had lied and screwed up so badly, they never charged me for the missing pod. I haven’t got them back yet, so we’ll see if they just fixed the case or also replaced the missing pod. Which, BTW, I found under my couch upon me return home. My housekeeper while cleaning let one Pod fall out, and it ended up behind my couch. Maid is now instructed to NEVER clean my desk.

I think I am just an unlucky person because this kind of nonsense seems to always be happening to me. Then again, I must have overheard 10 customers with issues being asked “Do you have an appointment?” and without an appointment, being turned away, as the next available appointment was 6 days in the future.

I am old enough to remember Apple Stores always having a few Geniuses to handle walk-ins. Not anymore.

I asked Shena, the so-called manager at the time, for her business card and e-mail address. Well, I guess Apple doesn’t provide personalized business cards for managers of their stores or allow them to provide their business e-mail address.

This is what Shana wrote on the back of a generic Apple Card for the store. And don’t waste your time waiting for a “manager” because they have no authority to do anything that a manager would normally do in a retail environment, like hiring, firing, or making customers happy.

It makes me sad to see how Apple is now run. All that is important today is revenue and profit. Managers are obviously pressured to deliver financial results. Customer Satisfaction is a long ways down on the list.

They know that their customers are trapped. We will not switch to Android or Windows. So, their goal is not total customer satisfaction, but to do just enough that we don’t give up on Apple and buy another brand of product.

The products are still superior to any other brand . . . but Apple is a de facto monopoly and acts like it.

It’s very nice of you to say that. Thank you.

A very nice summary! My only comment is that in my experience the noise reduction function of the Air Pods Pro is very poor. I go for a walk every morning in an urban environment and I wanted something that would reduce road noise while I listed to Apple Music. When I first got the Air Pods Pro the noise reduction was very effective. After the first firmware update, not so good - and it is still not good. I can clearly hear traffic noise. I walked by a tennis court today and I could clearly hear the tennis balls bouncing. Maybe it would work in an airplane…

David

Engine noise is filtered out quite well with AirPods Pro in my experience. But somebody talking next to you, not so much. They’re definitely attenuated, but you can still hear somebody’s talking. I’m sure there’s better ANC out there (especially over-ear), but now that I’ve become used to having my APP with me on a plane, I wouldn’t want to miss them.

The other day I was on a flight where I needed to plug in my regular old iPhone headphones (wired) to watch an in-seat movie. The difference was very pronounced. I had to crank up the volume way high to drown out the engine noise. Pretty sure that wasn’t great for my hearing. :wink:

For these situations, it’s handy to have a device that plugs into the plane’s audio system and transmits the audio via Bluetooth. For example, Twelve South produces several models with various additional capabilities.

That’s a nice idea, albeit a bit pricey.

How does that work with AirPods and their pairing to iCloud? Can you pair it ad hoc to this dongle without losing the iCloud pairing? I guess what I’m interested in is if they can be paired/unpaired from this dongle as easily as say from your iPhone or Mac. And if you can easily go back and forth between your iPhone and this dongle.

For a complete owner’s manual–go here. Specifically, in regard to switching your Airpods between the iFly and your phone, each source remembers that it has been paired; you may need to go into the Bluetooth settings to reconnect your iPhone. See here and here.

The Airflys are a bit expensive but if you look up ‘bluetooth transmitters for headphones’ on your favorite shopping site or search engine, you can probably find similar products and reviews.

Thank you, @aforkosh. :slight_smile:

That’s a very nice chart! It must have taken quite some time to compile. A nice resource.

Maybe this question is off topic for this thread, but I’ll try. I’m all in on Apple stuff, and have purchased both the AirPods and AirPods Pro. I’ve tried all of the tips, etc. etc, and have given both of them to my wife because I just can’t get a comfortable fit. (I might be the only person in America who can’t wear AirPods). :grinning:

I’m still on the hunt for ear buds that fit me for walking and exercise, and I’ve long known about Ultimate Ears, where you get your ears molded and they make custom buds for your ears. I think that virtually every touring musician these days uses them. But they seem designed for stage monitoring, and they are very expensive if one isn’t sure that they are absolutely the right thing: Custom In Ear Monitors - Ultimate Ears Pro.

Lately, I’ve seen ads for Ultimate Ears FITS - UE FITS Instant Fit Truly Wireless Custom Earbuds – Ultimate Ears, which uses some proprietary technology to “mold” the buds to your ears using an app instead of expensive casting.They are less expensive, and seem more geared toward consumer use, instead of being aimed at rock musicians. (I believe that they price out about the same as the AirPods Pro).

I’m curious if anyone here has any experience with them, especially someone who has difficult-to-fit ears like myself. It has a little “too good to be true” quality for me. Wondering if they actually do fit comfortably, and am curious about the sound quality. I’d love some feedback before I jump into trying them.

It breaks my heart not to be able to use the Apple units, but it’s tough to wear ear buds that aren’t comfortable.