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Summary:

One of the issues I’ve had with with Apple’s iPods is the inclusion of those annoying ear-bud headphones. From sound quality to comfort, they are without a doubt the worst part of the package. When Apple released the iPhone they did manage to enhance the wretched, […]

One of the issues I’ve had with with Apple’s iPods is the inclusion of those annoying ear-bud headphones. From sound quality to comfort, they are without a doubt the worst part of the package. When Apple released the iPhone they did manage to enhance the wretched, white audible tether with a decent microphone and control mechanism that wound up being useless to folks like me who cannot use the earbuds. It drove some to hardware hacks (YouTube link warning) and others, like Shure to the design room and manufacturing line.

Shure announced their MPA-3C Music Phone adapter back in the fall and finally started shipping the cables in late November. I snagged one almost as soon as it was available and have been using it for a couple of weeks. I can’t say I’d go as far as Shure did by calling it a “sleek modular accessory,” but I can definitely give the product a nod in terms of construction and quality. The cable is a little over two-feet long and is definitely more substantial than what Apple’s builds into their stock headset. The iPhone connector is small and angled so it doesn’t protrude too much from the unit and is less likely to be accidentially disconnected. The VoicePort™ Microphone delivers great sound – friends could hear me clearly even on the bus – and is easy to keep in close proximity with the attached clip. It’s worked well with the three sets of Sony headphones I use (one for working out, one for travel and a higher quality pair for working with audio for videos or podcasts) with the only real complaint being cable management (you’ll need to use some type of cord tie to keep your cable at a manageable length).

The best part of the MPA-3C, however, is the ability to use the integrated control button to play/pause music and answer/disconnect calls. It works about as well as the “squeeze” control on Apple’s headset with my only complaint being that it is just a bit too sensitive to pressure (I’ve accidentially pressed it more than a few times).

At a list price of $49.99USD, it’s a fairly expensive add-on to an already expensive phone. However, if you are unable or unwilling to use the Apple inlcuded ear-bud headset, dislike the available third-party compatible headsets that have a call-control button or just want to use your favorite headphones with your iPhone (with call control), Shure’s MPA-3C is one of the best alternatives on the market. You should be able to find them in your local Apple store and they are available online via Amazon, Apple or directly from Shure.

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  1. I hadn’t seen these – so I’m really interested to hear your comments on them. The cable issue sounds like a problem, though – my Shure headphones have a _long_ cable – which is great, but what will I do with the bit between the mic and the earphones when I’m wearing it?

  2. I actually like the apple headphones. They’re not big, they’re not ugly and they work. I don’t need to blow out my ear drums and I enjoy the fact that people can talk to me while I have them on and I can HEAR them.

  3. The problem with this adapter is that it’s 2 feet long – with Shure’s headphones that’s not a problem as the cable is effectively two pieces (this is designed to replace the bottom half). With any other headphones, you’ve got a mess of cable.

    Monster makes an adapter called the iSoniTalk, which has an adapter which plugs into the iPhone and the headphone cable plugs into that. The microphone/playback control piece is on a seperate cable that can clip to a collar or lapel.

    I just got the V-Moda Vibe Duo headphones and those are awesome now that they’ve been redesigned to incorporate the answer/end-pause/play button.

  4. I love the adapter, but as Andrew says, the cable length works best with a set of Shure earphones with their split cable.

    I bought the Shure earphones partly for quality, and partly for comfort – and they have really transformed the sound. For me, the Apple earbuds are a little too large for my ears (which also makes the Apple iPhone bluetooth adapter a bit tricky to use).

  5. The MPA-3C was actually available in limited quantities from August through October, the large shipments didn’t begin until late October. While Shure makes nice products, unless you have one of the very latest ‘SE’ series Shure headphones, it’s a poor choice over the Monster iSoniTalk.

    First, there’s no integrated clip on the MPA-3C, which means you have to find some way to attach the mic and button to you. (This is even a problem with the SE headphones as the cable-keeper aligator clip is next to worthless.)

    Second, the MPA-3C is priced at double what you pay for the iSoniTalk, if you can even find it at MSRP.

    Third, the MPA-3C can hang at an awkward angle if you have headphones with a 90-degree style plug.

    (I have a set of E3Cs, which I love, but they have a long cord and a 90-degree plug.)

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