Help me buy wireless earbuds
December 30, 2016 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I listen to podcasts and radio while commuting by bike in traffic, and walking my dog in an urban environment. I use the earbuds that came with my phone, with only one ear in and the other free. I have HAD IT with the wires! Please help me identify a wireless solution.

I can no longer cope with the wires from my headphones getting caught on everything, knotted in my bag, pulled out when I take off my scarf, etc. I've decided to treat myself to some wireless earbuds.

However, since it is important for me for safety reasons to be able to hear my surroundings and sound quality is not that important since I'm only listening to voice, I don't want sealed earbuds. I can't find a pair of unsealed earbuds that look like I can use them comfortably with only one ear (i.e. they look like if I pop one earbud out its weight will pull out the other earbud, or else they have a connecting band that looks like it would be annoying against your head under a hat if one bud wasn't in your ear. Is what I want actually a bluetooth headset? Can you help me choose one that would be good for listening rather than talking? I never talk on the phone. A bluetooth headset with no pointy microphone bit would be perfect!! Do these exist?
posted by bimbam to Technology (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Apple AirPods could be a good solution.
posted by noneuclidean at 9:58 AM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

how about something like this - separate for each ear so you can just use one, but over-the-ear so you can place the one you're using sort of loosely in there.
posted by brainmouse at 10:03 AM on December 30, 2016

I walk, bike, and take public transit, so situational awareness is very much A Thing for me. I'm quite pleased with my Trekz Titanium headphones, and the company were very good about letting me switch from the regular to mini size to get the best fit.
posted by evoque at 10:05 AM on December 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wirecutter reviews from last week:
posted by terrapin at 10:27 AM on December 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Reviews of sound quality and efficacy vary wildly but my wife is also happy with her bone conduction Bluetooth set.
posted by ftm at 11:22 AM on December 30, 2016

In case folks don't click through, I want to point out that evoque's link goes to a pair of headphones that use bone conduction, so they don't block your hearing in the same way that normal headphones or earbuds would. An earlier AskMe has some comments that discuss bone conduction headphones for cyclists.
posted by redsparkler at 11:33 AM on December 30, 2016

I have been using the trekz titanium for a couple of months for running and have been quite happy with them. Around the house they are handy for being "reachable" when someone calls out for me from another part of the house.
posted by nothing.especially.clever at 12:07 PM on December 30, 2016

This is only kind of a half-answer, but these earbuds I fell in love with come with "sport tips" which are the ridged ones you see in the picture. I've only used them briefly, but they seem to let more than enough sound in while still staying secure in your ears. Thing is, I can't seem to find anywhere to buy them independently.

If you wanted to try them out, shoot me a me-mail and I'd be happy to mail you the tips. I have a second set that have never been used.

Side note: Those earbuds are a steal @ $20. I've had them for over a year and they are great for mid range buds. Only complaint is cord is a hair too short sometimes. But that can also be a feature. I've actually owned two pairs, first set I sadly lost.
posted by mayonnaises at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2016

Another recommendation for Trekz Titanium. I use them for running, and I can hear everything around me with no problems.
posted by siskin at 1:31 PM on December 30, 2016

Another strong recommendation for Trekz Titanium. I use them while driving, and have no trouble hearing emergency vehicles, traffic sounds and passengers in the car. The big button mutes/pauses immediately when needed.

I used to use a pair of AKG K240s for home listening, but after they failed (design flaw) I'm listening on the Trekz most of the time, or my old Sony 7506 headphones when the Trekz are charging. The convenience of being able to hear ambient sounds far outweighs the slightly lower sound quality compared to the Sony.

The only negative is that the band extends about half an inch behind my head, so it can be difficult to lean back and listen with them. But those listening cases are usually better served by more traditional headphones (in my case, the Sonys).
posted by b1tr0t at 1:44 PM on December 30, 2016

I commute on a bike in Boston and use the same one-ear setup. I hated every Bluetooth headphone I tried until I got this Anker set which is pretty great. They never fall out even when I've only got one in. The connecting strap doesn't interfere with my helmet. The control scheme is basic and not designed by crazy feature-creeping maniac engineers.
posted by range at 5:37 PM on December 30, 2016

(I should add that it's possible they are too sound-isolating for your needs, but I haven't noticed much of a difference between them and, say, standard iPhone headphones.)
posted by range at 5:39 PM on December 30, 2016

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