earbuds plural of ear·bud
A very small headphone, worn inside the ear.
As a runner I have tough requirements for earbuds. Here is a short list:
- stay in the ear even through running, this is where advice cannot be taken, get a set with multiple ear size fitments pieces
- sound isolation, a good fit in the ear will allow you to keep the volume down, your ears will relax and you will hear more of your earbuds AND outside sounds
- microphone, pause/play, volume up/down, the type of functions that come on earbuds included in the purchase of a smart phone. The less you need to touch your phone while running, the longer it will last. When I commute run I’m always talking or texting.
- must survive my sweat. This is not a feature that you can test in the store. Simply being waterproof isn’t enough
- must survive the wash cycle, leaving them in your clothes should not be a death sentence
The above list seems do’able. If we can put a man on the moon then we should be able to achieve this loftier of goals. I have tried a few earbuds in my 4 years of running. Here are a few memorable ones… (spoiler alert) the search continues.
- Iphone’s earbuds: all but iPhone Gen 2 have a wire insulation that will survive sweat. The earlier models would not stay in my ears, but the company Yurbuds had a solution for this in Figure 2 Yurbuds. The newer generation iPhone earbuds fit into my ear canals nicely, they survived running without falling out. The bad: with my chemistry, the buttons and or microphone with every set of these earbuds has failed. 100%. They will survive the winter months pretty well when there is enough clothing separating my sweat from their buttons. Usually they fail by engaging the pause/play (which when held down wakes up Siri). Music will pause/play on its own, calls ended, Siri asking what I want. It is infuriating!
Figure 2 Yurbuds which fit early iPhone earbuds
- Shure EC(all), I have tried E3c, E5c, and others. Much improved sound quality, good seal to block out sounds and let your ears relax. The bad: They will not stay in the ears. The wire insulation gets hard/soft with temperature and they will fall out of your ears. I recall many not having the buttons and the wire so their functionality is sub par as well.
- Bang & Olufsen A8. Since I had poured hundred of sheckles on the Shures, I figured ‘why stop’. A few hundred dollars later I got the classiest earbuds I could find. They hang on the ear so they won’t fall out every thought they are heavy. You will not be able to wear sunglasses with these, the over-ear part is too thick. The foam around the speaker is not meant for sweaty surfaces, but it works. These lasted over a year. The bad: They failed possibly due to the way I wound up the wire and put them in my pockets. One side went out intermittently, putting the wires in a bind and they worked for another few months.
- Motorola Bluetooth Headset, Wires failed me, so I tried wireless. I recall these were on a crazy sale, so I tried them. That was dumb. The bad:, they are a vice pinching the softest part of your body, (the pinna). Instant headache! And they bounce like crazy. Buy these for people you do not like.
- Yurbuds Ironman, Yurbuds expanded to making a headset. I bought the ones called ‘Ironman’. The box told the story of their invention, an athlete could not find a headset that worked, they all failed or bounced around, etc. It was telling MY story. I wept with joy and knew my search was over. I was wrong, they suck. The bad: The over-ear part push your ears out very far. I looked like Liv Tyler’s idiot brother who was cut out of the LOTR movies. There were pause/play buttons and they stopped working after ONE run, the day I bought them. I went back to the store and exchanged them as ‘defective’. That set last ONE RUN! I threw them out and chalked it up as me paying my stupid-tax.
- The Bowers and Wilkins C5, this is a high quality headset. Its method of staying in one's ear is a outward spring tension pushing into the internal curvature of the ear. It is a good solution and can be tweaked to handle running without any bouncing. Good sound, stays in place. The bad: buttons failed after months of use. Not a bad life expectancy relativelty, but costs dollars per run.
- The Bose SEI2I, The ‘active’ version of their headset. I left out the Sony/Seinheiser pieces of junk, but these are shaped the same. They are the most comfy in-ear earbuds I have ever worn. Interestingly, they come with a short cable, but an extension, so you choose between too short or too long. (?) They take a decent beating. The FIRST set I had survived hundreds of consecutive runs (with and without sweat)! The bad: Finally, a earbud that will stay in my ears, seem to survive my sweat, but I washed them once and the dryer’s heat melted the wire insulation. I haven’t wash-tested every headset I have owned, but I have washed a few and MELTING?? Come on!!>?@#wtf!>!?1!1. Needless to say, I was so mad at Bose (whose founder died today L ), that I bought another pair. They lasted 6.00001months and now the buttons don’t work. My ‘alien-blood’ sweat hath done it again. I can pause/play, but the microphone and volume up/down are inoperable. Two pairs, about 1.5years of service.
Over $1000 spent, and the search continues