I am not a fan of the Apple EarPods that come with the iPhone 5, so when id America sent a pair of their new Metropolitan In-Ear Headphones (US$29.95) I was eager to give them a try.
My main complaint with the EarPods is that they refuse to stay in my ears, preferring instead to pop out at inopportune times during important phone calls. Then again, I've never been fond of in-ear headphones either, since they're usually quite uncomfortable. But my frustration with the EarPods was enough to make me give the Metropolitans a try.
Design and Functionality
The headphones come with four sets of tips -- one made out of memory foam, the other three made of a rubber material. I tried the memory foam tips first, basically treating them like the pair of memory foam earplugs I own -- squishing them down, inserting them into my ear canal, and then letting them expand to fit.
The memory foam tips were tight and did a good job of blocking out ambient sound, but I found them to be quite uncomfortable. That left the rubber plugs to try. Fortunately, changing the tips is easy to accomplish -- it just takes a pull to take off a set and a good push to install the new set. The Metropolitan headphones are made from aluminum, so there's no concern that you're going to break them.
I must have the world's most narrow ear canals, as the smallest set of rubber ear tips worked beautifully. With the ear end of the headphones figured out, I plugged the gold-plated right-angle connector into the audio port of my iPhone 5 and started listening to music. The Metropolitan headphones are definitely stronger on the bass end than Apple's EarPods, so if you're a fan of really loud rock you're gonna love these. I tried several music genres, playing with the iPhone's equalizer (Settings > Music > EQ) to sweeten the experience on several albums. What I found was that the Metropolitan headphones also have really decent treble response, too.
The Metropolitan features a fabric covered cable, which I found to be somewhat noisier than the rubberized coating Apple uses on the EarPods. That's not an issue if you're sitting still listening to music or talking on a phone call, but it an be annoying to hear the rustle of clothing against the cable if you're moving a lot.
There's a microphone and remote on the cable in the usual spot. When on the phone, pressing the single remote button once answers a call; pressing it again hangs up. While listening to music, a single press pauses or restarts music playback. A double press is used to skip to the next track on a playlist, while a triple press skips to the previous track. Siri is just a long press-and-hold away, and rejecting an incoming phone call can be accomplished by holding down the button for about two seconds. My only gripe here is that there's no volume control from the headphone button -- you have to change volume on the device.
When used with the iPhone 5 to make phone calls (people actually do that on occasion...), my phone call recipients found the voice quality to be about the same as it was from the EarPods -- in other words, not that great. I think there's just something inherently wrong with the dinky microphones used in headphones of any sort.
If you're tired of Apple's white EarPods and cables, that may be worth the price of the Metropolitan headphones alone as they come in Brilliant Red, Navy Blue, Lime Green, Rose Pink, and Jet Black in addition to the Aluminum Silver I tested. In each case, the cable color matches the headphone hue.
Apple's EarPods are included with every new iPhone and the latest iPods, but they don't appeal to everyone's tastes. id America's Metropolitan cost about a dollar more than the Apple 'pods, and can provide a much more comfortable listening experience for people who don't like the feel or functionality of the Apple product. They're much less expensive than the $150 Beats Tour In-Ear headphones that I've tried before and offer sound quality that's not that much different.
- Excellent price point
- Fabric-coated cables don't tangle easily
- Includes a small cloth carrying bag
- One set of memory foam ear tips, three sizes of rubber ear tips included
- Sound quality meets or beats other in-ear headphones that are much more expensive
- No volume control on the button/mic
- Noise of cable bumping against clothing can be annoying when in motion
- Microphone isn't very sensitive
Who is it for?
- Anyone who finds the standard Apple EarPods to be uncomfortable or loose, but doesn't want to spend an arm and a leg for quality in-ear headphones.