Which ear buds best stand up to abuse?
March 10, 2012 1:03 AM   Subscribe

Which ear buds best stand up to abuse?

And I don't want to hear anything about treating them right. They will be physically abused. I'm falling asleep with them on, apparently doing back flips and cartwheels in my sleep, and waking up with wires wrapped around me like I've been captured by Lilliputians. The milk in my fridge lasts longer than the ear buds on my head.

I probably can't use regular headphones because I usually end up sleeping on my side or face down with one ear or the other pressed into the pillow, but I'd be willing to try headphones if they were Tonka Tough from end to end.

Has anyone tried something like these Sony wireless mp3 players? Would they be sleep-wearable? And a lot more durable than wired ear buds?
posted by pracowity to Technology (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I have the V-moda remix remote earbuds. They're currently about $40 US on Amazon. The speaker cases are a single piece of steel, the joints between the buds and the jack are reinforced. They are very solid, and I highly recommend them. Review.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:18 AM on March 10, 2012

Response by poster: But do you abuse them? Crappy ear buds treated delicately will last a long time, but I won't be treating them delicately.
posted by pracowity at 2:51 AM on March 10, 2012

I had a pair of Shures last me through several years worth of factory use. Box cutters, machinery, industrial tape guns -- at one point I nicked them and had to wrap that part in electrical tape. They survived until they got stepped on, crushing the outer casing. Even that wasn't really a death blow (more electrical tape!), but I could tell the difference between the crushed side and the non-crushed side, so I finally replaced them.

I had other headphones I tried, and I'd either pull them apart accidentally, or cut them apart with the many sharp objects I used, or crush them under heavy objects. The Shures were actually too good at blocking noise, so I couldn't hear the phone ringing, which is why I was using other headphones at all.

This was several years ago, so maybe they don't make 'em that way anymore, but I was pretty impressed.
posted by Arethusa at 3:52 AM on March 10, 2012

I use Etymotics er6i. They get tossed into my backpack with my laptop, lunch, phone, and assorted other stuff and float around in the bottom pretty often. That's some pretty good abuse, but they still work very nicely. As a bonus, they are fantastic for blocking out noises around you (ahem people carrying on loud phone conversations on trains).

I never had luck with Shures, there was always too much noise if the wires rubbed together which drove me nuts. I've never had wire noise with Eymotics. I've been using er6is for about the last 7 or so years, and in that time I've gone through about 4 pairs. My friend's dog ate the earbuds off my first pair - who knew headphones were tasty dog snacks?? The next one I killed by accidently stepping directly on one of the earbuds and smashing it flat. One of them ended up getting a weird fade in & out after a few months, but I mailed them back to the company and they replaced them for free.

One longevity tip for them is to buy replacement filters from the company & replace those every so often. It really does help.
posted by lyra4 at 5:35 AM on March 10, 2012

They're hardly high-quality, but I've had great luck with the Sony clip style headphones. I don't often sleep wearing them, but they get tossed in my backpack and abused in other ways. I swear - I don't know what I do, but I'm really good at destroying electronics, including most other earbuds I've tried. Also, at $10, it's not a big deal if you don't like them, or if you destroy them every once in a while.
posted by Metasyntactic at 6:09 AM on March 10, 2012

another vote for shure. they have a 2-year warranty and in my experience they are very good at honouring it. i recently had a free upgrade to the 315s because i'd had to return two pairs of 215s in a year.
posted by ascullion at 7:34 AM on March 10, 2012

I've had a pair of Zagg SmartBuds for about a year now. Very well made, and take being slept-in quite well. Cord length is generous, and they have this (IMO) unique method of wrapping around your head so that they won't get painfully yanked from your ears if the cord catches on something. $50 from their website, $27.40 from Amazon. Definitely worth a try.
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:37 AM on March 10, 2012

Another for Shure. I abuse the crap out of mine and they stand up to it. I've occasionally been tempted by other brands that have been reviewed as tough and regretted it every time and come running back to Shure.

Their warranty service is astonishing too. No quibble replacements every time.

Worth. Every. Penny.
posted by merocet at 8:03 AM on March 10, 2012

This is worlds dorkier than regular ear buds, but when I fall asleep listening to my ipod, I use sleepphones. I can wear them all night, toss and turn, sleep on my side without an earbud digging into my ear, and it keeps my ears warm.

It doesn't block out noise the way that earbuds to a certain extent do, but it does have the upside of there being no chance of something getting stuck in your ear canal. (This happened to me once! I fell asleep wearing earbuds and the little foam thing came off the earbud and lodged itself in my ear canal. Um. I had to go to an urgent care place and have them get it out of my ear.)
posted by fireflies at 8:05 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

After losing multiple sets of earbuds in a row to sleep abuse/wire breakage/cat attack, I decided to go the cheap and disposable route. My current set is a pair of Panasonic buds I picked up at one of the Marshalls/TJ Maxx/Ross stores for probably 6 bucks or so. They've lasted a surprisingly long time, have decent sound, block a good amount of outside noise, and are pretty comfortable to sleep in.
posted by gennessee at 10:23 PM on March 10, 2012

My solution to this problem is these guys . I tend to destroy earbuds but these guys have held up amazingly well, sound decent (not audiophile quality, but not horrible), have an amazing cable that somehow doesn't tangle and cost less than $3 bucks including shipping. After I got the first set, I bought three more pairs just in case -- so far I haven't needed them.

I usually carry them in my pocket w/ change, keys etc and use them in all sorts of circumstances but they keep on working. I had a close call when I thought that the left earbud stopped working but it turned out that the jack on my ipod broke. Apparently, the $3 headphones were not the weakest link.
posted by bsdfish at 10:58 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

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