I need a recommendation for an iPhone earbud/mic/controller combo that doesn't suck.
November 21, 2009 9:15 PM   Subscribe

I need a recommendation for an iPhone earbud/mic/controller combo that doesn't suck.

A little backstory: The stock earbud/mic/controller that comes with the iPhone slides out of my ears, so I decided to buy a set from a third party. Having used these Skullcandy cheapies for a while and having really liked them, I decided to go up to the Skullcandy FMJ's.

The problem is that the build quality on the mic is such that anytime I use them on the elliptical, sweat gets in and they start to randomly send control signals to my iPhone. Pausing and fast-forwarding stuff randomly, repeatedly activating Voice Control and refusing to allow it to deactivate. I'm on the third pair now to have this problem (plus another pair that was broken straight out of the box). It's really unfortunate because when things are working, these are great headphones, but they only work for anywhere from two days to a month before this becomes an issue, and I'm just done with it. To Skullcandy's credit, they've been good about cheerfully and quickly exchanging the ones that break, but I can't for the life of me understand why a company capable of making excellent cheapies makes such craptastic expensive earbuds.

Anyway, ideally, I'm looking for something in a similar (or cheaper!) price range where the fact that I actually sweat when I work out is not going to cause my headphones to go berserk. I'm debating the Apple in-ear buds but I'm a little concerned that they don't appear to have multiple sizes of ear cover - I've definitely had to adjust different sets of earbuds to fit my ears properly. Anyone with experience with these in particular, how have you found the fit? And how is their durability?

I also definitely want to be able to answer/end calls and at least play and pause music with the controller, otherwise I'd be sticking with the tried-and-true cheapies. I looked into possibly getting some sort of extender/mic combo I could plug the good cheapies into, but it appears nobody's really been able to get the hang of that properly from all the reviews I've been reading.

Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thank you!
posted by loudguitars to Technology (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have the vibe duo from v-moda. I like it, though it does seem to require that you be somewhat careful with the connector, or else you may end up permanently losing sound in one earbud.

I think you should consider getting a set of cheap earbuds (sans mic/controller) just for the gym. Make the perfect gym playlist, and you don't need the controller. And you're surely not one of those people who talks on the cell phone while on the elliptical, to the consternation of all other gym patrons around them, right? So who needs the mic?

I use a set of pretty cheap Sony Fontopia (the ones with the rubber gasket earbud things) at the gym, and they're perfectly acceptable. I don't know the make/model, but it's whatever runs about $30 at Best Buy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:12 PM on November 21, 2009

Heh, no, I am not one of those people that actually talks on the phone at the gym, other than to say "Hey, I'm at the gym, can I call you back later?". However, I also would prefer to just have one set of headphones.

I had heard about the v-modas having issues with one earbud dying, that's why I've avoided them thus far. I really need to make sure whatever I'm using is durable.
posted by loudguitars at 10:21 PM on November 21, 2009

I think the trick with the vibe duos is not to keep them in your front pocket (as I used to do). That seems to bend the jack too much, and the earbud dies. I've had my current pair for a year without any hiccups.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:34 PM on November 21, 2009

I believe there are passthrough mics/controllers available that let you use you choice of earphone.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:09 PM on November 21, 2009

I've gone through four pairs of the v-modas. My latest find is the Roxy by JBL, which has been super sturdy & has decent sound, and is half the price of the v-modas. Definitely recommended.
posted by judith at 11:16 PM on November 21, 2009

Riki - Yes, there are, but the models I've researched have all gotten consistently poor reviews. However, if anyone has a brand that they would recommend from their own personal experience, I'm all ears.
posted by loudguitars at 11:17 PM on November 21, 2009

I have the Z.buds from Zagg, which seem quite robust so far (I've had them for a few months now). They come with a decent variety of earbud replacement pieces so you can pick one that works for you.

However I have no idea how they'd hold up under gym conditions, as I don't wear them while working out.
posted by nat at 11:53 PM on November 21, 2009

I use the Shure SE210 w/ Shure Music Phone Adapter. This combo will run you about $190.
posted by nickthetourist at 8:22 AM on November 22, 2009

The Apple in-ear ones are pretty great. Mine have survived about 8 months of use so far though they do show some signs of wear. The strain relief on the plug is tearing and the rubber earcups are too lose on the earbuds so they tend to pop off. However, sound quality is great and they're pretty comfortable.
posted by chairface at 2:06 PM on November 22, 2009

according to my boyfriend, these are nice: durable, lots of tips, nice over the ear design, only about $60.
posted by jenmess at 6:32 PM on November 22, 2009

nickthetourist, how durable are those? I've heard good things about the Shures in terms of sound quality, but $190 for the combo seems pretty darn steep unless they're super, super durable.

chairface, are you a fairly active person or a heavy user of your headphones? I'm just sort of trying to gauge how long I can make these things last.

Jenmess, those look really cool, though it looks like the price has gone up since he bought them due to the dollar crashing - the 450 Danish Kroner they cost is now about 60Euro and $90. I didn't even get to the point of figure out how much it'd cost to get them shipped from Denmark. Their US distributor is in my area though, I may just send them an email and see if they'd consider doing a direct sale.
posted by loudguitars at 8:15 PM on November 22, 2009

The MacAlly TunePal has the distinct advantage of being inexpensive = $20.
posted by omnidrew at 9:11 PM on November 22, 2009

omnidrew - Do you use those? I did a little poking around and almost every review I found said the sound quality was awful and/or they broke very quickly. If you've had other experience I'd love to hear it.

Inexpensive would be great, but I'd rather buy one pair of headphones that's going to last me several years rather than ones that repeatedly have to be replaced.
posted by loudguitars at 9:27 PM on November 22, 2009

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