Originally Posted by audiophilia
The old Apple in earphones were horrendously bad. The new ones are not that much better. In fact, for the price, they are dreadful. The imbalance/lack of bass is epic.
I agree with you on the old ones. Complete garbage. They were also not really IEM's, in that the earpieces didn't go that deep and they had conventional drivers rather than balanced armatures.
But the newer IEM's, with dual balanced armatures, are really very good. I have found that the highs are slightly cleaner and the overall sound is less fatiguing with the smallest ones. Perhaps, though I have no data to back up this assertion, I wonder if that is maybe because the tube is much shorter, and thus there is less space for high-order modes (HOMs) to develop. By comparison, the sound of the Etys is less fatiguing - they use foam filters, which may help randomize HOM's - but their earpieces are (to me) less comfortable.
I can't imaging anyone finding that they lack bass. Unless your frame of reference is a hooptie with 150dB worth of subwoofers and stock mids/highs, or you did not achieve a proper seal, that is simply impossible. You really need to try them again, but work on getting a proper seal this time.
Used properly, the bass is, if anything, more prominent than that of Ety ER4's and similar to the Shure 530s. Bass articulation is also markedly similar to the Shure 530's, though there will always be something unnatural about the bass from IEM's due to their inability to excite the body's actual receptors for bass frequencies in the face and chest.
There are some Ultimate Ears IEM's and Grado headphones that have a markedly more prominent mid
bass (the 80-160Hz octave), if that kind of coloration appeals.
The one thing that disappoints me about the Apple IEM's is that they are a bit power hungry. They sound somewhat cleaner with a dedicated amplifier. Much more so if you listen loudly, because at least a white MacBook and a 5.0G iPod can/will audibly clip at high volumes. I have not thus far been able to detect differences in them driven by my HeadRoom Total AirHead compared to my HeadRoom Portable Micro Amp, but I plan to do some measuring of the two amps, and maybe some more rigorous (blind) listening at some point in the future, because part of me thinks I might be hearing a difference between them using other headphones.