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Apple looking to build 'unibody' earbuds through ultrasonic bonding

post #1 of 59
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By using a process known as ultrasonic bonding, Apple could create new iPhone and iPod earbuds that would have a seamless, more aesthetically pleasing "unibody" appearance.

Headsets and earbuds include a number of different components — such as cables, a jack, a microphone, and the headphones — all of which must be pieced together. The result, Apple believes, can be "abrupt and aesthetically displeasing."

The company could resolve this with new headsets featuring a range of components that would "seamlessly integrate" with one another, as described in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider. The filing, entitled "Ultrasonically Welded Structures and Methods for Making the Same," describes how different components could be welded together for a seamless look.

Apple describes the new headphones as having an appearance that they were constructed as "a seamless unibody structure," even though the earbuds may include two different component pieces welded together.

Combining two different elements in this way may form a weld ring that can be cut, sanded, polished and cleaned. This allows the headphone to appear to be one piece, even though it may actually be a number of connected pieces.




Apple's desire to build a better set of earbuds was also detailed in a separate application published this week, entitled "Curved Plastic Object and Systems and Methods for Deburring the Same." It describes building curved plastic objects in the shape of a cap or grill of a headphone or earbud.

The filing notes that holes are needed in earbuds to allow sound to travel, but the creation of those holes can result in remnants in or around them that degrade both the appearance of the device and the acoustic properties of the headphones.

The solution presented in that application is a tool for "deburring" a curved plastic object. The tool could be coated in an abrasive material and would conform to the shape of the curved object, then polish it by vibrating while in contact with the plastic surface.




Both the inner and outer surfaces would be both "deburred" and polished, ensuring that no remnants remain in the holes or on any surface of the headphones.

The ultrasonic welding patent application is credited to Jeff Hayashida, Jonathan Aase, Rico Zorkendorfer, and Evans M. Hankey. Both Hayashida and Aase are also credited with the curved plastic patent application.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 59
I think they should concentrate on the internals i never either bother to unpack apple iphones because they are so dire.
post #3 of 59
Maybe they should work on making them more comfortable with better acoustics. I don't care how they look.
post #4 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by qualar View Post

I think they should concentrate on the internals i never either bother to unpack apple iphones because they are so dire.

I second that. Many years ago I tried them when I couldn't find my in-ear phones but they were painful.

I have no idea how good the quality was since I didn't use them long enough to find out but I have purchased Apple's in-ear buds before. For the money they are good, but after having a much more expensive pair of Shure in-ear phones they weren't good enough. One thing I liked about them was the length of the cord. It's about 10" shorter than other companies so they aren't getting snagged as often.

The most comfortable in-ear phones I've used are by Klipsch. The price was between Apple and Shure with a decent enough sound for the price but the way the 3.5mm jack assembly was assembled in a way that doesn't allow for abuse.

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post #5 of 59
I'd like if they'd focus on not killing your ears. You can't wear these things for more than an hour or less before it starts to hurt your ears. I also agree that they could sound better. I mean these are for a damn audio device for the most part. Why sell crappy sounding earbuds?

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post #6 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

By using a process known as ultrasonic bonding, Apple could create new iPhone and iPod earbuds that would have a seamless, more aesthetically pleasing "unibody" appearance.



Maybe, just maybe, apple should spend a little less time on making them pretty, and a little more time on making them sound better?

Apple headphones are dreadful.
post #7 of 59
Typical Apple, worrying about the aesthetics of a product when they would be doing the consumer a far greater service by spending the effort on making the performance acceptable.

When I got my iPod, I put the earphones on ebay still sealed. Useless rubbish, no matter how aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

This sort of nonsense has cost Apple quite a few sales. To this day, there is still a widely held belief that iPods are inferior sounding devices compared to rival products from Sony, Sansa etc. All because people took a listen to them using the stock buds and came to the conclusion they sounded inferior. Which of course they did.

Sometimes margins and penny pinching does not pay off. Apple's ear buds being a classic example.

I suspect 80% of the reason behind the existence of anythingbutipod.com could be Apple's inferior earbuds.
post #8 of 59
At least I'll look good while my ears throb in pain.
post #9 of 59
Came here to comment but I see it's all been covered

It's one of the few things about Apple that we can all hate.
post #10 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe, just maybe, apple should spend a little less time on making them pretty, and a little more time on making them sound better?

Apple headphones are dreadful.

The only ones that can be worn for any length of time are the custom fitted ones.

There is also something that is known in the recording industry. Depending on the sound pressure levels, it is a good practice to keep the sound pressure level within a comfortable range usually less than 85 db and usually take a rest after about an hour or so. Now, we don't know what the db rating is when we use earbuds. I don't like wearing earbuds for long periods of time, and I try to find a pair that is comfortable, but unfortunately the best ones are custom fit and they are expensive.
post #11 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

The only ones that can be worn for any length of time are the custom fitted ones.

There is also something that is known in the recording industry. Depending on the sound pressure levels, it is a good practice to keep the sound pressure level within a comfortable range usually less than 85 db and usually take a rest after about an hour or so. Now, we don't know what the db rating is when we use earbuds. I don't like wearing earbuds for long periods of time, and I try to find a pair that is comfortable, but unfortunately the best ones are custom fit and they are expensive.



There are many, many models available for less than apple sells theirs, which are vastly superior to the dreck sold by apple.

There is no need to go to extremes.
post #12 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

dreck sold by apple.

There is no need to go to extremes.

Wow. Filler.
post #13 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

There are many, many models available for less than apple sells theirs, which are vastly superior to the dreck sold by apple. ....

This is true for the earbuds but not for the in-ear ones they sell separately.

The earbuds that come with the device are only meant for kids and old-folks who don't know any better.

They work rather well as a douchebag identifier on transit though.
The guy wearing them with the volume turned up who doesn't even realise that their sh*tty music is being heard by everyone else on the train is always good for a laugh.
post #14 of 59
I have found the Sony earbuds to be more comfortable and have superior audio quality, just about the only thing Sony makes well these days lol.
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is true for the earbuds but not for the in-ear ones they sell separately.

Those earbuds are a total ripoff too. $80 for those? And compared to dozens of headphones for half the price, they don't hold a candle. This is one area where there is no advantage to staying in the ecosystem.

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post #16 of 59
What a bunch of stupidly cynical posts. As though aesthetics (looks) and functionality (sound) are necessarily at odds with each other.

If anyone has married the two* superbly, it is Apple.


*I mean aesthetics and functionality, in general.
post #17 of 59
I LOVE the Playback Control on my Regular iPhone 4S Headset!

Alas, the Cable is Too Short! It must be worse for taller people!

What I'd LOVE to have is:

an Extension, where Apple's Playback Control is connected directly to my iPhone 4S, and I can plug in any Earphones with Mic into that Extension! That way I could have the Best of Both!!!

Q: Does anyone know of such Extension? Or is that Apple Playback Control proprietary only to Apple?

My Dream Scenario:

All BLUETOOTH!!! In Ear Headphones with Mic!!!
Apple's Playback Control built into a wrist watch!!!
In Ear would help to cut off the Street Noise, and Customizable Fit!

FIT -- that's also personal!!! We are all built different.. In Ear = Customizable Fit! Solved!

SOUND = that's relative! iPhones are not mean to be for "audiophiles", particularly on noisy streets etc!

When I recently shopped for Bluetooth, In Ear, Headset & Mic, I was again reminded how much better Apple's Headphone w/Mic sounded, and how much better the Playback Control was!!! This one was particularly terrible: MOTOROLA S10-HD http://j.mp/GOyIpb is HORRIBLE http://j.mp/GYHjET

Of course, with BT Headphones/Mic - it's a trade off as far as fit, particularly when exercising!!!

I'll probably just get Apple's In Ear Headphone Mic, and hopefully the cable will be LONGER PLEASE! Then I'll see if something totally Irresistible is Available! Shopping Online for such products with Returns, $hipping Fees, is a Pain In The REAR..

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post #18 of 59
I don't really understand the hatred of the included iPod earbuds. Sure, they aren't great, but anyone who really cares about personal audio would have a better pair anyhow.

The white iPod earbuds are probably good for 98% of consumers, who are listening to over-produced, lossy compressed contemporary music in relatively poor listening environments. Which is why you see a lot of people using the white earbuds. Plus, many consumers don't baby their personal electronics. Get a new iPod/iPhone, get a new set of earbuds because the old ones are trashed.

It makes no sense for Apple to include $50 premium headphones with every single iDevice. If you care about audio quality, you'd want Apple to continue their practice of including adequate, mass-market earbuds.

From a performance perspective, the "hated" white earbuds are in line/par with whatever has shipped with other consumer-grade personal music players over the past thirty years, starting with the first Sony Walkman cassette players.

I will point out that the vast majority of Apple's patent filings never make it to a store shelf as a finished product. People here are getting worked up over nothing.

Morever, the improved earbuds could be a separate premium product, they wouldn't need to necessarily replace the current included earbuds.

Myself, someone who ignores the included earbuds. I'm using a $30 pair of Scosche earbuds with the inline microphone on my iPhone. The audio quality is a step up, but I use these when I'm out and about. If I want real headphones, I can plug in my Grado SR-80s, but I'm not schlepping those around.
post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by j1h15233 View Post

Maybe they should work on making them more comfortable with better acoustics. I don't care how they look.

I agree. I couldn't care less how they work. I generally use my iPod only on long flights and earbuds are too uncomfortable. Give me my noise-canceling headphones any day.


BTW, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what's supposed to be novel about this patent application. This type of ultrasonic bonding has been in use for decades. Even the pointed concentrators in the photo are pretty standard. And the debarring tool is a joke.
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post #20 of 59
Quote:
They work rather well as a douchebag identifier on transit though.

The guy wearing them with the volume turned up who doesn't even realise that their sh*tty music is being heard by everyone else on the train is always good for a laugh.

I disagree, those douchebags know full well that everyone else on the train is bothered by it.
post #21 of 59
Their stock headphones have always been "pretty" enough. Can they just focus on making them not suck so much (audio quality, comfort, fit, sound bleed)?!
post #22 of 59
What I find interesting with all you posters is that you're still thinking about making the current technology headphones sound or fit better. What Apple should be doing is finding a way to produce a better wireless headset. Screw the cords - I hate and haven't used my corded headset since...I can't remember when.

Apple puts all this focus on wireless this and wireless that, but we're expected to have a corded headset? That's pitiful. I can't stand having to wrap them up around the phone or cram them into a bag.

Apple has to be thinking this way and the rest of us should be pushing them forward to do so as well. It's the way of the future - what better company than Apple to lead the way?
post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

I don't really understand the hatred of the included iPod earbuds. Sure, they aren't great, but anyone who really cares about personal audio would have a better pair anyhow.

The white iPod earbuds are probably good for 98% of consumers, who are listening to over-produced, lossy compressed contemporary music in relatively poor listening environments. Which is why you see a lot of people using the white earbuds. Plus, many consumers don't baby their personal electronics. Get a new iPod/iPhone, get a new set of earbuds because the old ones are trashed.

It makes no sense for Apple to include $50 premium headphones with every single iDevice. If you care about audio quality, you'd want Apple to continue their practice of including adequate, mass-market earbuds.

From a performance perspective, the "hated" white earbuds are in line/par with whatever has shipped with other consumer-grade personal music players over the past thirty years, starting with the first Sony Walkman cassette players.

I will point out that the vast majority of Apple's patent filings never make it to a store shelf as a finished product. People here are getting worked up over nothing.

Morever, the improved earbuds could be a separate premium product, they wouldn't need to necessarily replace the current included earbuds.

Myself, someone who ignores the included earbuds. I'm using a $30 pair of Scosche earbuds with the inline microphone on my iPhone. The audio quality is a step up, but I use these when I'm out and about. If I want real headphones, I can plug in my Grado SR-80s, but I'm not schlepping those around.

Mostly agree, but I can't even get those white ones to stay in my ears. Perhaps they should just include a cable with the controls and mic in it so you can plug in your own headphones into it. The problem with that would be a extra long cord after control module, but I personally would rather deal with that than have the white ones.
post #24 of 59
Most people seem to do just fine with Apple earbuds.

The vocal minority who buy expensive earbuds that fit and sound marginally better fill threads, but not markets.

I agree, they're quality is terrible...but I don't think its much of a concern for them.
post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

I don't really understand the hatred of the included iPod earbuds. Sure, they aren't great, but anyone who really cares about personal audio would have a better pair anyhow.

The white iPod earbuds are probably good for 98% of consumers, who are listening to over-produced, lossy compressed contemporary music in relatively poor listening environments. Which is why you see a lot of people using the white earbuds. Plus, many consumers don't baby their personal electronics. Get a new iPod/iPhone, get a new set of earbuds because the old ones are trashed.

It makes no sense for Apple to include $50 premium headphones with every single iDevice. If you care about audio quality, you'd want Apple to continue their practice of including adequate, mass-market earbuds.

From a performance perspective, the "hated" white earbuds are in line/par with whatever has shipped with other consumer-grade personal music players over the past thirty years, starting with the first Sony Walkman cassette players.

I will point out that the vast majority of Apple's patent filings never make it to a store shelf as a finished product. People here are getting worked up over nothing.

Morever, the improved earbuds could be a separate premium product, they wouldn't need to necessarily replace the current included earbuds.

Myself, someone who ignores the included earbuds. I'm using a $30 pair of Scosche earbuds with the inline microphone on my iPhone. The audio quality is a step up, but I use these when I'm out and about. If I want real headphones, I can plug in my Grado SR-80s, but I'm not schlepping those around.

Good post. I'd like to try the Grado SR-80's. Nice price for a good set of headphones. I have never used the BOSE noise cancelling headphones but trying them on at the airport is amazing. The sound cancelling is awesome and that alone is worth a lot.
My gripe with most in-ear sets I have tried is that they are too top and bottom heavy. I'd like a more balanced audio experience. The Klipsch Image S4i get good reviews - anyone but Solips like these?
post #26 of 59
I use Apple's $79 noise-cancelling earphones and they work fine. Apple should simply bundle those instead instead of the crappy ones they use now.
post #27 of 59
I'd prefer it if they spent some time developing a great pair of wireless headphones.
post #28 of 59
Another vote for just dropping the damn earbuds. I prefer the Beats in-ear headphones, although the ER4's have nicer silicon.
post #29 of 59
I was always mystified at who found Apple's included earbuds functional. Whose ears did they fit?

Eventually I splurged and spent over $100 on some Shure earbuds and was amazed at the sound quality. But the included tips of various sizes didn't include one that fit my ears snugly. So they'd fall out quite a bit. Then I was disappointed at having to spend $15 for packs of replacement filters.

Wanting to amp up my workout with the new Nano, I purchased the following inexpensive "Nova foam" earbuds from Best Buy:

JVC HA-FX35-B Soft Marshmallow Stereo Headphones (Black)

They are about $20 on amazon.com and the foam is perfect. They sound great and fit in my ears. And they are zero maintenance. The next evolution will be wireless and I'll be set.

Much more than quality of sound, I think comfort and staying in your ears is more important.
post #30 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by macologist View Post

Q: Does anyone know of such Extension? Or is that Apple Playback Control proprietary only to Apple?

I bought one when the original iPhone did not accept standard mini-plug due to unusual recess around the plug. I can't remember which brand mine is but there are several available on Amazon.

I searched for: "iPhone headphone adapter control"

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post #31 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by rtm135 View Post

I use Apple's $79 noise-cancelling earphones and they work fine. Apple should simply bundle those instead instead of the crappy ones they use now.

Bundle $80 headphone with a $200 iPod or a $60 Shuffle?

i'm surpassed anyone would expect bundled headphones to rival $120 Noise canceling earbuds w/ built in controls especially when I think about all of the junk buds I've gotten with other devices over the years. They're meant to get you started and prevent the extra cost of $100 earbuds at the time of the sale.

I'm also surprised that no one picked up on the fact that this patent might very well result in better sound. The patent does mention the "debarring" process on the holes. I'm pretty sure that's not a normal step in the sub "bundled" earphone category.

Sheesh people!
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post #32 of 59
I could care less what earbuds Apple ships with their devices. I buy my own high end earbuds anyway. Unless Apple decides to get into the high end audio business I don't think they should be spending time on earbuds. Plenty of other stuff they should be focused on like a redesigned iTunes. It's the biggest piece of bloatware on my PC.
post #33 of 59
I rather liked Apple's use of lasers to punch tiny holes in aluminum to let sound and light through. I wonder if they could build cast aluminum headphones that are truly unibody.

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post #34 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

I could care less what earbuds Apple ships with their devices. I buy my own high end earbuds anyway. Unless Apple decides to get into the high end audio business I don't think they should be spending time on earbuds. Plenty of other stuff they should be focused on like a redesigned iTunes. It's the biggest piece of bloatware on my PC.

Yes and yes I agree I like Apples hardware but man oh man I hate iTunes the only reason its on my computer is because I have an ipod but oh how much it sucks...please do something with it Apple
post #35 of 59
Can anyone recommend the in-ear earphones from Beats by Dr. Dre? Or is this another rip off disguised as a "premium" product?
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post #36 of 59
How's the sound of the Beats in-ear earphone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Another vote for just dropping the damn earbuds. I prefer the Beats in-ear headphones, although the ER4's have nicer silicon.
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post #37 of 59
or just better appearance? or at least comfortable to wear?
post #38 of 59
I hope at least more comfortable even if they don't sound damn good. In fact I think in ears with optional noise cancelation controlled from the idevice itself should be the default. Apple have a lot of money now to develop that kind of thing with no effect in price.
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post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe, just maybe, apple should spend a little less time on making them pretty, and a little more time on making them sound better?

Apple headphones are dreadful.

I didn't know Apple made headphones.

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post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by uguysrnuts View Post

Can anyone recommend the in-ear earphones from Beats by Dr. Dre? Or is this another rip off disguised as a "premium" product?

They are a testament to the power of advertising. There is much better sound quality available for far less. Check out the recommendations on headfi.org Take the Beats price and use it to buy equivalently priced products by Phonak, Denon, Klipsch, Etymotic, Sony, AKG, Radius, Audio Technica, Panasonic, Sennheiser, Shure, MEElec etc.
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