Earphones that sound as good as Etymotics without the cord noise?
January 29, 2013 2:17 PM   Subscribe

So I love my Etymotic hf2 headphones. The sound is crisp, lush, and only just a little light in the bass. The problem is cord noise. Is there another brand or model of in-ear phones that doesn't have this problem?

Every time I move my head or my body and cords brush against anything, I hear a rustling sound as the sound from the cord is conducted into the body of the 'phones and thence into my ears. It's particularly bad when I have the volume down low and am using the 'phones as both earplugs to kill sound and earphones to listen to music. It's all rustle-rustle-rustle anytime I move.

I had some Sony in-ear 'phones like ten years ago and I don't remember them having this problem or at least to such a severe degree. It's really bad when I'm wearing a hat or a hood as one tends to do in the winter.

To be specific, I want sealed in-ear 'phones with great sound and a minimum level of cord noise. Apple iPod remote compatibility is a distinct second, but I'll take it if it's available as an upgrade.
posted by seanmpuckett to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're not doing it already, it might help to loop the cord over the top of your ear
posted by exogenous at 2:20 PM on January 29, 2013

I had those earphones, and solved the problem by using a small piece of tape right where the cord comes out of the earpiece to redirect it back up, over the front of my ear, and down the back. The ear absorbed all of the handling noise. If you look at most of the nicer headphones and in ear monitors, the cables drape over the ears specifically for this purpose.
posted by markblasco at 2:24 PM on January 29, 2013

The (rather expensive) Shure SE535 is an example of a headphone designed to be worn this way. It does help with the microphonic cabling problems that the Etymotics have (I used to have some the ER4p before I broke them by running over them in a chair), but also it's much less uncomfortable if you accidentally catch the cable on something so that it tugs. For instance, standing up when the cable is under something heavy.

In conclusion: Routing in-ear headphone cables around your ears is awesome.
posted by aubilenon at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you using the lapel clip to clip the cable to your clothes? I found that my ER6is were unusable unless I did this. If I clipped it to my collar, there was no cable noise at all.
posted by scruss at 3:02 PM on January 29, 2013

The Sony XBAs and the new Ultimate Ears 900s both have really nice, quiet cables (unlike the older UEs, which always have a lot of cable-noise problems for me, even when worn over the ear). The UE 900s are crazy expensive, but they're the best in-ear headphones I've ever heard. The XBA-3s sound very nice, but in my opinion the models below that in the range (XBA-1 or -2) kinda suck.
posted by RogerB at 3:15 PM on January 29, 2013

Microphonics drives me crazy too. I just got the Klipsch S4 because I read that the S4s don't have a lot of it (unlike my previous earphones, which were UEs). It's pretty good, I think; definitely a lot less cable noise, though there is still some. I hear that earphones with fabric covered cords have less cable noise.
posted by odin53 at 4:25 PM on January 29, 2013

Okay! I've looped the cords over my ears and the microphonics is much reduced for shirt rubbing noise so this is a really great $0 solution. Thank you very much for that.

However it doesn't help with hats or hoods and now I have a big red microphone/iPod controller hanging down by my ear so ... it's not a permanent solution and I will seek out new 'phones based on recommendations.

posted by seanmpuckett at 5:22 PM on January 29, 2013

Nothing else will beat the Etymotics for audio quality. It's cord-wrap for me. :)
posted by kalapierson at 5:55 PM on January 29, 2013

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