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Incipio's f80 Hi-Fi Stereo Earbuds keep you knee-deep in clear sound for a budget price

For most Apple users, the standard EarPods that come with your iPhone or iPod are a perfectly serviceable music/podcast delivery system. That is until they get misplaced, leaving you walking around on the streets actually interacting with society without the warm embrace of music around you. Eventually everyone needs to replace their earbuds. Should you just buy another pair of Apple EarPods or should you give the identically priced Incipio f80 stereo earbuds a spin?

Specifications

  • 8mm driver
  • Comes with three sizes of earbuds to fit most standard-sized ears
  • Inline microphone
  • 100db/1mW sensitivity

Design Highlights

If you like matching your earbuds to your outfits, you're in luck with the Incipio f80 earbuds as they come in a wide range of colors. The buds' flat cord is ideal for a quick wrap around your device for storage in a pocket before jumping off the subway or walking into work.

The three included sizes of earbuds ensure that even the most uniquely shaped ears will be able to enjoy the groove of their favorite tunes. My ears normally start to hurt a bit after using my Apple EarPods for more than 45 minutes. With the Incipio f80s, my ears spent a whole two-hour walk feeling perfectly comfy.

Functionality Highlights

The Incipio f80 brings a surprisingly deep range of sound with it for a pair of relatively budget-priced earbuds. Bass has a considerable amount of weight without ever overpowering the actual music, providing nuance to rock, jazz and hip-hop that outshines Apple's incredibly solid default EarPods. Even when really pushing the limits of your volume knob, there's never any distortion, just a clear, clean solid dose of sound.

The included inline microphone works perfectly; it took my wife several minutes to notice I was talking to her hands-free. Even my beloved EarPods occasionally suffer from microphone distortion so Incipio's clarity was a happy surprise. When it comes to earbuds, the clarity of music is what comes first, but it's a nice little bonus to be able to make clear calls as well without having to pull something out of my ear and move my phone.

The Bad

There are really only two downsides to the Incipio f80, one based on construction and the other on personal preference.

On the construction front, the back of the microphone dongle popped off while I was initially removing the earbuds from their packaging. I was able to easily snap it back into place with no notable loss in microphone quality, but it is something to consider. Over a few months of use, this important piece may come loose. Of course, if you treat your earbuds with just a little bit of love, this won't be a problem.

The other issue is the lack of any sort of volume or navigation controls. Maybe I'm just spoiled from using my Apple EarPods, but it's nice to be able to adjust the volume of my music, hit pause or switch tracks just by pressing a button on the earbud cord. If the trade-off is the solid sound and comfortable wear of the Incipio earbuds, this is a modest inconvenience, but for some people it may be a deal-breaker.

Conclusion

Apple's EarPods will set you back US$29.99. Meanwhile, depending on the color, you can find the Incipio earbuds for between $27.99 (for white) and $34.00 (for red). How much the lack of on-cord controls bothers you is a personal choice you're going to have to make. But for budget-minded music enthusiasts looking for a solid pair of replacement earbuds, the Incipio f80 earbuds provide a wonderfully clear wall of sound without breaking your wallet. Audiophiles may be mad we're giving this set of buds such a high score, but for the cost, you're getting four-star sound.

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