Help me choose some good earbuds!
February 9, 2009 1:55 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose some good earbuds! I need a new pair of earbuds for my iPhone.

I would like some new earbuds. I seem to go through almost two pairs a year, no matter how much I spend or research!
I do have a couple of special requests, which I hope the HiveMind can help with...

* iPhone-compatible mic & track-change clicker
* If at all possible NO rubber-tip things. I know they have their advantages, and all my last few pairs have had them - except they regularly get lost, replacements are a pain.
* Strong / reinforced plug. I keep my iPhone in my pocket, and find some plugs end up getting cable damage. A right-angled plug might be better.

My 'earbud history':
UltimateEars Super.Fi 4 - very nice, but the rubber bits don't seem to stay on well enough. Cable near the plug seems to be damaged after ~6mo. use.
Bose Triports - awesome sound, rubber parts stay on. Just a little large to fit in ears, plus no iPhone clicker.
Sony MDR-EX somethings - nice buds, rubber parts again don't seem to stay on too well! No clicker again.
Apples iPhone buds - didn't mind them too much, except they break easily for me.
V-Moda Vibes - again with the rubber parts! Loved the rope-style cable, although it eventually broke at the plug :(

Etymotics? Some other UE? Another make? How are the Apple in-ear buds?

posted by nafrance to Technology (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh boy, how I wish you had asked this a day ago! I too was on a search for good earbuds (although with different requirements to you).

The standard advice (which you may have seen) is to check out for a pretty good review site, and's forums for a forum filled with experts on this sort of thing. Asking your question there might be worthwhile, if MeFi can't help you.
posted by SamuelBowman at 4:00 AM on February 9, 2009

I have the new Apple in-ear headphones. The volume buttons don't work on the iPhone, but the microphone and clicker works fine.

The sound is excellent, but they still have the plastic tips you don't like. That said, they seem to be affixed to the actual headphones themselves more strongly than others I've seen.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:50 AM on February 9, 2009

Apple re engineered their in ear headphones, now they have two drivers instead of one. They do have the rubber tips. They don't claim compatibility with iPhone, but everything does work except the volume control, but you got one anyway on the side of your phone.

I was going to buy them, but since the volume control doesn't work with iPhone I decided against, going with the Sony MDR EX85's (no clicker/mic but fits original iPhone) and love it.

I have the same problem as you, but my new EX85's come with a case - takes about a minute to use and I use it all the time, lets see if it changes the lifespan of these earphones.

Funny thing is if they did not include a mic/volume/clicker thing on the Apple In Ear's, I would have bought them. I can't stand having something dangling (probably bigger in size then orignal iPhone buds I assume) that doesn't even work.

Apple in ear via Amazon
posted by glenno86 at 4:56 AM on February 9, 2009

I too hate the tips usually, but I've been quite happy with Griffin's TuneBuds. They aren't the best headphones I've ever owned, but the price/quality mix is just about right for something so easy to break or lose.
posted by j-dawg at 5:22 AM on February 9, 2009

I bought this at my local Target. It's a microphone/clicker for the iPhone that you can plug your favorite headphones into. It was only $10.

No advice on the headphones since I really like a pair that have the rubber bits.
posted by advicepig at 9:52 AM on February 9, 2009

I have the Shure 530s, and if I could give you one bit of advice, it would be to forget about any design with more than one speaker driver. The negative consequences of the additional weight of each "bud" more than outweigh the sound quality. They're so heavy you have to loop the cable over the tops of your ears, otherwise they'll fall out from their own weight. Dumb, dumb design.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:00 AM on February 9, 2009

I will say in their favor (or not, depending) that in-ear-canal ear buds are incredible at outside noise reduction. So much so that they could actually be dangerous to wear while walking around outside (traffic & such).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:02 AM on February 9, 2009

If you are really looking for earbuds, not iems, this thread may help. And generally, any questions about headphones can be best researched at the head-fi forums, where tons of knowledgeable people argue about them endlessly.
posted by rtimmel at 12:54 PM on February 9, 2009

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