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ATPM 12.01
January 2006


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Accessory Review

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,



Developer: Griffin Technology

Price: $20 (list); $18 (street)

Requirements: audio device with mini-phone jack

Trial: None

I am not an audiophile. By that I mean I am not one of those folks who can tell the difference between one high-end sound system and another. I use inexpensive ($12) headphones with my iPods and slightly more expensive ones ($29) with my portable DVD player, because there is more noise to block out where I use it. But I have never owned fancy expensive earphones or headphones.

These EarThumps made me feel as if I’ve stepped it up a notch, or even several notches. The audio folks may sneer, but for us regular folks who don’t know the difference, these earphones are terrific.


Griffin EarThumps

Griffin Technology is the first place I go to look for iPod accessories. Its branding has been successful in that regard. EarThumps are designed for use with iPods, although I had great experiences with them with my cheap portable DVD player as well. I had been using a set of behind-the-head headphones, which were functional enough at the gym. My first trip with EarThumps relegated those old headphones to the scrap heap, or would have if I had a scrap heap.

I have not been a fan of in-ear phones in the past. The buds that come with iPods have always given me a headache—it is something about the way they change the shape of your ear because they are metal. The EarThumps, though, have soft rubber on each post, which adapts itself to the contours of your ear. Griffin thoughtfully includes three sizes so you can find the right fit. The coolest part of the whole deal, for me, is the little case that comes with it, so I can wrap up the cords and keep them from getting tangled. I am easily impressed.


The soft carrying case with webbed pockets protects your EarThumps.

There is something about the in-ear experience that screens out most of the external sounds, in ways the cheap headphones never will. It was so protective that it made Jon Secada sound good. The high points seem to be comfort and the blocking out of external sound. Griffin sent two pairs for review, so I had a friend who uses Apple earbuds try the EarThumps. He says they were comfortable, and the proper size did keep out more street noise. He was not uncomfortable with the Apple buds, though, and does not use them often enough to keep them, so I get two pairs!

I’m glad I have two pairs, because I did not look forward to using the same pair for exercising at the gym and for watching movies on the portable DVD player. These are separate locations, and it’s handy to keep the listening devices separate, too. I want to describe the DVD experience, because it was much more profound a difference than the gym experience. It is what sold me on the product.

Without going into too much detail, the place where I watch movies is very loud sometimes. The speakers on the unit are cheap, so it is not designed to go very loud. I needed headphones to be able to hear it at all. Then I found that the unit just would not go beyond a certain loudness, and it was insufficient. I gave in and bought some $39 headphones with padded earpieces that blocked out most of the noise.

Then I tried the EarThumps and had to turn down the volume on the DVD player. These earpieces are so good at keeping out ambient noise that the volume was too high! I was delighted. Now I leave a pair of EarThumps at that location and keep a pair in the car for the gym.

They do not keep out so much sound that you can’t hear a car horn or fire alarm; I don’t mean to say they could be dangerous. I rated them Very Nice because I have a nagging suspicion that folks who know sound systems would find them inadequate. But for me, for my everyday use, they are excellent—and a great value.

Reader Comments (22)

Flex · January 6, 2006 - 10:20 EST #1
Thanks very much for this review!

Ever since I saw these on Griffin's website I've been wondering if these are any good.

Because of this review I'm going to get a pair!

Grover Watson · January 10, 2006 - 06:18 EST #2
Earthumps? I call them wallet thumps! While the bass response is good,
even great by knuckhead standards, there is almost NO mid-range and treble response compared to say , a pair of Sony fontopia earbuds. I was so hopeful when I saw the review in ATPM that finally, someone had produced a decent pair of earbuds in the $20-30 range. No such luck.
You've got to spend at least $50 to find a decent pair of earbud headphones.
This is an extremely average set of earbuds. Stick with Sony and give up the extra $25. You won't regret it. I lost my fontopia earbuds. that's why I was shopping around. I still miss them. I wasted major $$$ trying to find a cheaper product. Dummy me!
This is the 5th pair of earbuds I've bought and they SUCK. I also did not appreciate having to repay an extra $12 to have this garbage delivered
to my house!
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · January 10, 2006 - 10:29 EST #3
Oh, this is interesting - Grover, your comments made me remember that I turn down the treble on every system when I have that chance, and turn the bass up. So I did not miss the treble on these like you did.

Thanks for the input.
DW Wizzle · January 15, 2006 - 06:43 EST #4
I'd have to disagree on comments about the sonys. I had the 51 and the 71s and both had severe cord disentigration issues. They were useless after 3 months. No sound out of either ear. Read the reviews of people who've had them long. There are a significant amount of comments about poor sony workmanship. i'd keep looking because they are poorly made. They sound good but they will die on you quickly.
alex · January 18, 2006 - 03:38 EST #5
yes, I had the Sonys for awhile too and they sounded great. But the rubber on the cords disintegrated and I have the feeling that I accelerated the process by trying to fix them. But for a few months, they were great.
bud · January 21, 2006 - 04:24 EST #6
Very true about the sonys the original phontopes were great the cord material was 'normal' when i finaly replaced them after 3 years with the new phontopes they lasted 2 months b4 the cord diesntigrated I replaced them 3 times taking them back to the store and the same thing happened on each occassion - not what i was expecting from a sony product -Im gonna give these Griffinds a go methinks
Jveek · January 29, 2006 - 22:10 EST #7
I have tried several pairs of earphones to replace the lackluster ones that came with my ipod. Including: Sony 818, Skull Candy Earbuds, JVC Gummis, Apple in-ear, Koss "the plug" and Maxell Digital Ear Buds P9. No, I did not want to spend more than $60 CAD - all these earphones were either horribly fitting and uncomfortable OR terrible sounding.

Then I found the EarThumps...not much $$, fit, feel and sound great. Sure, there are better for twice the price, but I'm not paying it.

Happy with the EarThumps.
JVEEK!! · February 1, 2006 - 20:29 EST #8
i also live in canada. mississauga ontario - toronto. i saw the EarThumps and i fell in love. lol i just bought an white 30g ipod g5 and needed new ipod like earbuds. i was wondering if you bought the EarThumps online or at a local store or store website. If at a local store im wonder where as im not totally into the online credit card thing. so Futureshop? The Source? Best Buy? Compusmart? or did you buy em online. thank you
jveek · February 2, 2006 - 00:50 EST #9
Believe it or not, London Drugs. $34 canadian
Aaron Marks · February 2, 2006 - 13:37 EST #10
Well, now is your chance to try them. They're on sale for $12.34 by following this link.

I've got a pair of the Sony Fontopia's and I love them. I wanted to get a pair for my wife, but was waiting for them to go back on sale. I'm gonna try these and see how they compare. Oh, and for the record, I've had the Fontopia's for about a year and the cord hasn't disintegrated at all. I use them for daily commuting on my bike, as well as weekend mountain bike rides, so they definitely get a lot of abuse. I don't know why other's have had bad experiences with them.

Just ordered them for myself. Shipping was $6, and there's no tax for orders sent to California (looks like they're based in Ohio).
Tom G · March 9, 2006 - 12:21 EST #11
I purchased the black EarThumps as a replacement for the stock iPod ear buds which hurt like hell after 10 minutes. I was going to get Sony Fontopias but 2 friends cautioned against it. both have have multiple pairs break for one reason or another and, other than my PS2, I have literally never had a Sony product that lasted any length of time. The EarThumps are a VAST improvement on the stock ear buds. The isolation is good but not so much that it dangerously disconnects you from your surroundings. Yes, the midrange could use a little more presence but it isn't missed too much. True audio snobs...I mean audiophiles will want to spend a lot more than $20 anyway. For my purposes, however, which includes listening at the gym and ocassionaly when food shopping (I have a dock with speakers in work and another in the car), these things are perfect.
jason · April 18, 2006 - 09:28 EST #12
Just got these headphones. Can i just say that i am very dissapointed. the mids and highs are non-existant. Steer clear of these unless for some reason you ONLY care about bass. But I dont understand why people would only care about bass!
Ivan · June 9, 2006 - 05:02 EST #13
I am not a audiophile but I can honestly say these earphones are terrible. The sound reproduction is tinny and whoever said these earphones are about Bass must be deaf. The Bass is non-existant and the mid and high range is just terrible. Stick with the crappy iPod Apple earphones. Yes they aren't good but they make the music sound like studio quality sound compared to these terrible things.
Bob · June 14, 2006 - 21:22 EST #14
Haha, Sony earbuds, along w/ all their products, SUCK. Seriously, they break.
Nik · July 6, 2006 - 11:50 EST #15
I agree, I had the fontopias too.....not worth the money @ all. they stopped working within 3 months of purchase. I just ordered the earthumps and can't wait to test them out. Infact, I also ordered the Griffin earjams for my iPod earbuds - I used to have a pair,but sadly lost them while travelling. Griffin does make good products. I loved the ear jams, and hope the thumps live up too expectations too!
Melinda Schwab · July 20, 2006 - 16:39 EST #16
I was looking to find replacement pads/earbuds for my Sony earbuds which popped off and Sony doesn't sell only the pads so I was looking for an option less than $50 which it will cost to buy new Sony earbud headphone set with new pads...Will these fit?....Help Help Help!
anonymous · August 30, 2006 - 10:37 EST #17
Do these fit other MP3 players besides the iPod?
ATPM Staff · August 30, 2006 - 11:29 EST #18
They should. They use a standard 3.5mm mini plug that practically every other portable player uses.
Larry · September 14, 2006 - 15:34 EST #19
I bought a boought a zen nano plus (1gb) but did not like the supplied buds because they were uncomfortable. After some searching I decided upon the earthumps and have been very pleased with the comfort and sound. I listen to almost every kind of music and find the reproduction is quite good. The thumps seem to be very efficient since I can turn down the volume on my player by almost 50% compared to others. I paid $16 for mine at Staples. They were much more in the store, but got them to price match their website. I have had my thumps for about three months and they seem to be holding up well. The extra earpieces in different sizes and the carry case are a nice bonus. This is a great value!
Ted Loveland · October 9, 2006 - 14:29 EST #20
I admit I am not the biggest headphone person, but I do know when something sounds decent or better! These earbuds are extremely good for their price. I have had them for about 3 months but I wish I would've gotten them much sooner. I like alot of bass, and this gives me exactly what I want.
Somebody · November 12, 2006 - 12:50 EST #21
You know iPod earbuds don't hurt when you turn them the right way!!! I've had my iPod for almost a year (its a shuffle) and turning it a different way helps!
Paul Davidson · December 28, 2006 - 05:24 EST #22
I have tried various earphones recently and I have come back to these for two reasons:

a)They produce the perfect sound for me

b)You don't have to turn the volume up very high at all to get a good sound. I have a 2g ipod nano which with other earphones I have to turn the volume up really high to get a good sound, but with these I can have the volume up a quarter of the way and I get good volume.

I do not know what impedance they have but it must be low because even low volumes give a good sound.

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