I have a medical condition that causes my earbuds to fall apart. Sometimes the speaker detaches from itself, sometimes the chords get all chewed up and I get tiny electric shocks when I run slower than five miles an hour, and sometimes they disintegrate entirely, never to be seen again (or maybe found a couple of months later in a bag I stopped using or tucked in a couch cushion). In truth, I just usually buy crappy headphones that are made for standing at a bus stop or wearing while doing data entry.
My efforts to turn these pitiful listening devices into warriors of sound is in vane; they can’t compete with my escape from zombie island, or my efforts to feel the flow of the landscape as I carve the trails on a berm slide, or one-ear jamming to raging tunes while shredding the pavement on my 150cc scooter, or (more frequently) my six hours of labor riding my bike and walking all over town, taking my headphones on and off to talk with people as I hang posters for work.
Luckily, I had a gift card to REI that I wanted to cash in before heading to Vermont. I was in Massachusetts visiting family and friends for the winter holidays, and took advantage of a massive sale that was going on, which marked a set of $80 Yurbuds down for $20. They didn’t have a smaller-ear model of similar value, but for $20, I’d stretch my ears and make them fit!
Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way with cartilage. I could get them to sort of pop in, but they’d fall out with too much agitation, such as a light jog, and annoyingly the rubber fitting kept falling off the earbuds. The packaging insists that if they don’t fit, the user can take a picture of her or his ear, send it (the photo, not the ear) to Yurbuds, and they will send back the correct rubber fitting size. However, the speakers themselves were so big that I’m not sure that would have made too much of a difference. Also, although they came with multiple sets of rubber fittings, I lost too many during the two months I had these ill-fitting earbuds. I ultimately returned this pair and opted for a version that fit me, even if they were more expensive.
I found the Yurbuds Inspire 300 For Women. At $40, they’re a bit pricey (and by that point I’d spent the rest of the gift card on gummy bears…just kidding…kind of.), but overall I’m happy with the investment. There are some negatives, but looking at their website I see the more expensive options have those downsides covered. My REI, however, only had this set available, and anyway I don’t know if I’d be willing to spend more money on a set of headphones. So, lets first focus on the things that make these headphones better than any pair I’ve used before.
- Fit and Comfort
These earbuds fit perfectly. I apparently have standard “woman” sized ears, and these earbuds mold into them easily. There is a method to inserting these, so if you have a difficult time, make sure the rubber fitting hasn’t turned around. The rubber fitting has a little nose (see above) which nuzzles up into your ear canal. At first, you’ll feel it sort of mushed into your ear, but as you twist the earbud down, you’ll feel the slight pop into place as the nose fits into your ear canal and the white plastic part sits into the groove in the lower part of your ear. It’s a truly perfect fit, in my opinion.
- The Magnet
The smart kiddos at Yurbuds realized that a big bummer about earbuds is that when you take them off (such as to order a coffee or otherwise talk to another human being, as is polite) they just sort of jangle around. Previously, I have woven my chord under my shirt so they can just hang over the neck, but these earbuds have an impressive magnet on the back of each, so you can let them sit neatly behind your neck without them rattling about.
- On/Off Switch
It’s a little thing, but makes a big difference in my line of work, when I’m turning my music or audiobook on and off all the time. I wish it worked for volume control and track changing as well, but those are saved for the higher model Inspire 400. Luckily, Suri comes to my rescue regularly, when I need to switch things up. The on/off button also works to answer phone calls and to communicate with Suri on your iPhone, so if you aren’t completely tapped of patience it’s still a nice resource.
- Loose Rubber Fitting
These earbuds, like my Ventures, tend to get a bit greasy after a long day of doing my thang, and the earbuds get loose and fall out. I’ve only lost one, and just like the Ventures they come with an extra set, so it wasn’t catastrophic, but I feel that a little o-ring, similar to those that come with gauged ear plugs, would do the job well and for not much money.
- Chord Clip
The Ventures had this neat little clip on the chord, to help keep the cord attached to a collar, bag strap, or even itself. It’s a nice little edition that kept the chord from flopping all over the place and potentially getting snagged, and these could benefit from that addition as well.