I’ve recently had the opportunity to try out two very different types of headphones – and what I concluded was that they were actually best used in tandem. But before we begin this oh-so-scientific discussion, let’s review the parts of the ear.
Earhoox are a brand new company, and they designed their headphones specifically to allow ambient noise. I like them already! I am quite a stickler about only listening to music / wearing headphones if you can hear everything around you, particularly after seeing a runner get hit by a car last year. Too many people wear in-ear headphones to run outside, and even if you’re in a car-free area, it is dangerous to the other bikers and runners around you.
Fortunately, Earhoox not only solve that problem, but also do it in an extremely comfortable manner. While they do sit inside your ear and don’t have anything that goes up and around the helix (see, told you I would use the technical terms!), the little rubber hook can either be wrapped around your concha or smushed inside your tragus to provide a perfect fit. The hook feature helps them to stay in quite well without having to jam the bud all the way inside – so you get ambient noise as well as your music in the background. (Now, if they could just invent something to prevent dumb runners from turning the volume up so loud that the ambient noise still can’t be heard…) Of course, the downside of this feature is that if you are using them in a noisy location (e.g., on a plane, on a treadmill at a crowded gym), it’s not easy to hear your music. This is why I recommend the Yurbuds for such situations, and the Earhoox for outside and/or environments where you need to be alert.
One other great thing about the Earhoox is that instead of being full headphones, they are actually little endcaps that go on top of standard earbuds. (You know, the kind you get with new Apple products or as giveaways in race kits and at college career fairs.) I don’t know about you, but I have about a dozen pairs of those cheap headphones sitting at home, and I never wear them because they’re not comfortable, don’t fit my ear, always fall out, and don’t allow any ambient noise, since I jam them into my ears as hard as I can to get them to stay. But adding the soft, flexible rubber of Earhoox helps you to get a great fit, and makes them so comfortable that you almost forget you have them in. Finally, a use for those headphones!
So far, the only downside I can find about the Earhoox is that I kind of had to practice to get them in the first time. Maybe I am just slow and not good with spatial challenges, but I used a mirror and stared at the diagram for a few minutes before I could figure out how to get the hook to wrap around my concha to actually keep them in my ear. (Turns out, smushing them inside your tragus, so the flexible rubber arm expands to lock in place, is much easier for my particular ear shape.) That said, after taking two minutes to learn the first time, I now have no trouble with them, and can put them in without either a mirror or instructions. (Perhaps they are just intuitive and I shouldn’t have bothered with a mirror in the first place? All I know is, I can easily do them without thinking now.)
And the best part about Earhoox? They are insanely cheap compared to other sound solutions on the market. Earhoox come in a pack of five for just $10, so even if you lose your entire headphones, you have another pair of Earhoox at the ready to be put onto another set. Alternately, since they are easy to put on and take off, you can color coordinate the fun neon colors to your outfit, like you do with your sneakers. (Just me that has that many different colored pairs? Oops.)
On the other side of the headphone spectrum, we have Yurbuds. Despite Yurbuds claiming that they, like Earhoox, are designed to not block ambient noise, I did not find that to be the case. On the contrary – the Yurbuds’ hard rubber exterior blocked most of the ambient sound, so while I got very clear sound from my music, I couldn’t hear a thing outside of it. The Yurbuds were perfect for dulling out the noise of the baby crying a few rows back on my evening flight, but I would definitely not recommend them outside/in an open environment.
However, where the Yurbuds excel is in staying put – they have a cool form factor where you put them in your ears and then turn them to the side to get them to “lock in.” Once inserted, you can actually tug on the cord and they will still stay in place. That’s a big plus for someone like me, who is inherently klutzy about flailing my arms around and accidentally pulling my headphones out! These are awesome for weight lifting in a noisy gym, where I’m likely to catch my headphones on the upswing of the barbell – no more losing my tunes when I work out.
Yurbuds are quite a bit pricier than Earhoox, but they come as a full set of headphones – and with other snazzy features like being water/sweat resistant. My cheapo headphones certainly won’t do that! That said, at $29.99 a pop, they are a bit more expensive to replace if something does go wrong or if I lose them.
In the end, I think it’s important to have both of these styles of headphones in your arsenal. Just like you choose different outfits/shoes based on the type of workout you’re doing, you should pick your headphones to fit your activity and location. Running a race or heading for an outdoor workout? Check out Earhoox. Somewhere where you want some quiet and maybe to watch a TV show? Yurbuds are your go-to.
As a bonus, Earhoox has provided me with several pairs of their product to give away to readers! To enter, leave a comment telling me what the most important feature of headphones is to you. Bonus extra entry if you tweet about the entry using this link, and then leave a separate comment letting me know that you did so. Contest will run through Friday, January 11 at 5pm ET, at which time a winner will be chosen. Contest entry is open to all residents of the US and Canada.
The giveaway has officially concluded, and winners are:
38 – Prasert
13 – LauraInPGH
35 – NYC Flt Girl
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on headphones!
Note: Earhoox and Yurbuds provided me with product samples, but I received no other compensation for this review, nor was I pressured to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.