Looking for what amounts to Apple's earpods in black.
September 28, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for non-sealing earbuds with iPhone controls that aren't white, and I can't find them. Do you have any recommendations?

I commute on foot and by public transit, and feel extremely uncomfortable when I can't hear at least some of what's going on around me. I dislike large headphones, and instead prefer earbuds - both for comfort and for pocket-friendly storage options. I had my phone stolen from me at a bus stop a little over a month ago, because I was holding it in my hand and not paying attention, so the ability to play/pause/skip tracks and adjust volume via the cord is important.

I'd use Apple's earbuds, but given my recent theft experience and the fact that I'm in the #5 city for smartphone theft and the rate is on the rise, I'd like something non-white so that I'm more inconspicuous still.

Do any of you know of such a thing? I've googled extensively, but have had no luck finding something non-sealing with an inline controller/mic in non-white. I can't be the only one looking for something like this, right?
posted by unsound to Shopping (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Skullcandy has about 100 choices
posted by H. Roark at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2012

I love my thinksounds.
posted by hijinx at 10:22 AM on September 28, 2012

There are these ones at good prices.
posted by JJ86 at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2012

These maybe? They don't appear to have soft rubber canal cups though they do look like they stick in the canal a bit. I'm saying they should allow in noise but still sound ok.
posted by chairface at 10:26 AM on September 28, 2012

My workout earbuds are iPhone control capable, totally not white (well, the in-ear portion of the buds are, but that's mostly invisible), and they were under $20 at Target. I don't see them online, but it's not hugely uncommon to find iPhone controls even on lower-end headphones these days. IIRC they're the "play/pause" style without volume controls, but I can usually feel the volume buttons on my phone in my pocket for volume adjustments.

Ah, they're basically this Philips headset, although a generation or two ago. They come in a variety of colors, and were surprisingly cheap.
posted by Kyol at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2012

The Skullcandys, thinksounds, and JLabs suggested above are of the "sealing" type which is what the asker doesn't want.

I'd look at Sennheiser's line of sport earbuds. Anything without 'CX' in the model number doesn't go in the ear canal, and anything with an 'i' in the model number has iPhone controls.
posted by zsazsa at 10:29 AM on September 28, 2012

Best answer: I think the OP does NOT want in-canal earbuds like some of the ones linked. At least that's how I interpret the request for "non-sealing".

posted by cnanderson at 10:29 AM on September 28, 2012

Not earbuds but Koss Porta Pro KTC are foldable and have great sound. And they look vintage, which may help deter thieves.
posted by cazoo at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm looking for non-sealing earbuds with iPhone controls

I think most folks are missing the non-sealing part. I got some fairly shitty but very cheap black iPhone buds from Meritline some time ago. I can't find the exact product right now, though.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2012

Response by poster: All of those look like the sort I'm trying to avoid - maybe I have a mistaken impression about the styles of these things, or am using the wrong wording, but earbuds with that shape are the ones that seem like they completely block ambient sound. Ones I've tried that look like those (with the soft silicone piece) behave like earplugs if I have them in and the music off (I've tried Sony and Sennheiser models).

Can any of you confirm that the headphones you've linked still let you hear a reasonable amount of what's going on around you?
posted by unsound at 10:33 AM on September 28, 2012

Best answer: Wait, here they are.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:33 AM on September 28, 2012

The J-Lab ones I linked to are single buds. Take that as you may.
posted by JJ86 at 10:33 AM on September 28, 2012

I used to use the thinksound ts02+mic. Contrary to their appearance, and to some of the above posts, they do not seal and let in quite a bit of outside noise--which is exactly why I switched to Etymotics, which are sealing, since the subway is loud and I don't want to blow out my ears with volume in order to listen to music on the way to work. Just because a pair of earbuds has a fairly large earpiece doesn't mean they block out all outside noise.

So, in any event, I can recommend the thinksounds, as they were comfortable and sounded terrific. If you really want a lot of options, check out this ridiculous chart of IEM (in-ear-monitors) reviews. Pick ones in your price range with a blue square next to the name and a low score for isolation and give them a try.
posted by sinfony at 10:37 AM on September 28, 2012

I just got a pair of Airdrives. They have an interactive volume slider and microphone, and you can pause the music, but not advance tracks -- BUT they block basically no ambient sound. I wear them when I'm walking on city sidewalks, and I can hear everything around me. Wearing them inside my house, I can hear my kid stir when he wakes up from a nap, and the next-door-neighbor's dog barking. They're incredibly comfortable, and I love them. If you can give up track control, these are your headphones.
posted by KathrynT at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2012

I have a pair of the Sennheiser MX 680 headphones. They sit in the opening of the outer ear and don't seal out outside noise.
posted by zsazsa at 10:41 AM on September 28, 2012

Is wearing one earbud an acceptable solution to being able to hear your surroundings? I do that when I run and I find it to be a decent compromise. The other earbud just hands down my back. If you're willing to only have one earbud in your ear it would give you some more flexibility in selecting the style.
posted by 26.2 at 10:41 AM on September 28, 2012

I've been using these black earbuds from Sony (which have mic/controls on the cord and are not an in-canal style).
posted by theatro at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2012

Yurbuds allow a good amount of ambient sound in, while still sounding okay. (They do suck as far as wind noise, unfortunately.) I keep the volume at a comfortable level and have no trouble hearing people coming up behind me.
posted by Lexica at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2012

Oh, and I just remembered two other possibilities. AirDrives sit in front of the ears, not over them, so they don't block ambient sound.

AfterShokz work through bone conduction; they rest on the cheekbones instead of in the ear canal, so don't block any outside noise.
posted by Lexica at 10:04 AM on September 29, 2012

« Older I have a job interview. I'm getting sick. Help!   |   Endocrinology anyone? Low Glucose - What do you... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.