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.