Friday, March 30, 2012

An Ode to Earbuds, Great and Small. But Mostly Small.

By request from my friend Nancy – who, by the way, is the one responsible for getting me into this Disney running thing in the first place – today’s post is all about earbuds.  Yes, those nifty (or not) little doo-dads we jam into our ears to let the tunes flow, to steady our pace, to lift our worn-out exercise spirits.  I don’t know about you all, but I NEED my music to run.  But keeping the beat going comfortably has turned out to be a lot harder than I’d ever expected.

Apparently, I have freakishly small ear canals.  Which has led to more ear infections than I care to recall, which, in turn, has led to a decent amount of hearing loss.  (Okay, spending much of my teens and 20’s planted in front of guitar amps may have been a contributing factor, too.  But that’s another story altogether…)  So, when it comes to earbuds, I’ve got two complications: not much space to hold the suckers, and a need for lots of volume.  Folks, I’ve tried a bunch.  Look for yourselves…

Earbud stew

Those that will mostly stay put in my ears are so tight, they hurt after 10 minutes.  The little ones are rubbery and seemed like the perfect match, but, though they’re small enough not to hurt, they constantly fall out in our humid Florida air.  Know which are the most comfy?  The 90s-era headphones.  No pain, the little foam covers soak up sweat – bonus! – and they wouldn’t budge if I managed a triple flip in the middle of a training run.  But they have lousy sound quality and, well… I feel pretty geeky wearing them in public.

Not long ago, my quest for the Perfect Earbuds led me to these:

They’re made by Sony and I found them at Target for less than $30, which is at least $20 more than I think earbuds ought to cost.  I’ve been using them for several months now, which is a decent endorsement, I suppose.  They don’t cause pain, though I sure wouldn’t describe them as “comfortable,” either.  The little speakers don’t really fit my ears, but the giant loop keeps them from falling to the ground and tripping me mid-stride.  And they can take the highest volume setting on my iPhone, so even though the buds aren’t planted where they should be, I can crank it up loud enough to hear  Christina Aguilera tell me “I am a fighter” and “I ain’t gonna stop” when I’d really like to round the corner for home and eat a cookie.  Or twelve.

As Nancy’s request attests, I know I’m not alone on this subject.   So tell me – what have you found in the earbud market that works and doesn’t work?

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I just stumbled across your blog (I adore running as Disney, too!) and I had to comment on this. I have so much trouble with ear buds, as well. I've tried a bunch (I'm convinced that the earbuds that come with Apple products are actually torture devices) and I've had all sorts of problems, from aching ears to feedback from the cords.

    I have small ear canals, too, so if the ear bud is too big, my ears will ache. I've had two pairs of Skull Candy ear buds and they are the best. They fit my ears and the quality is better than many I've tried.

    You can find them at Target (I bought my second pair at LAX on my way to the Disneyland Half because I left mine at home) and I swear by them. They aren't the cheapest, but they're not too expensive, either, and well worth the price.

    Happy Running!