Finding earbuds that don't break isn't easy.
Those of inexpensive plastic just don't offer the reliability my sophisticated smartphone deserves. After searching for some that might be longer lasting, I've chosen the following selection because they exceptionally hardwearing.
Take a look below a see which one was my favourite.
#1 Ultra-Durable GO Groove Audio OHM RNF
Pros: These Ultra-Durable earbuds are manufactured from military grade metal that's actually out there protecting the army and have one of the sturdiest casings I have come across so far. My set is in camouflage green that has a soft metallic sheen but other stylish colours include red, blue, silver, black and the tri-coloured rasta. Three sets of comfortable silicone ear gels are included as well as a lifetime guarantee.
The cord is four feet long and reinforced with Aramid fibres that provide additional strength without compromising on flexibility. The easy to reach single button control is simple to operate and is ideal for a hands free operation. Commands include pause and play, voice controlled orders to Siri, Cortana and Google Now and you can also make and answer calls while on the go.
The metal housings feature exclusive 9mm drivers that transmit a really high quality sound. With a 6mWRMS output, the lower mids on treble let you hear sharp guitar work while the RNF feature captures deep bass tones for an enhanced musical experience. As a generally competent output that combines both aspects, it is perfect for a varied mix of musical tastes.
Cons: Musical output is probably not so compatible for tracks that rely only on a deep booming bass. With a 3mm diameter, the cable is probably heavier than most of us are used to but it is apparently capable of holding up a ten pound weight. After a few hours of wear I did feel that I was beginning to get adjusted to it.
Verdict: An impressively tough design that has so far withstood the onslaught of daily wear and tear particularly when the protective layer of silicone came to the rescue and saved the housings from harm when I dropped them while out jogging. When not in use I keep the set in the solid zipped case that is provided. Although the cable is slightly weighty, the excellent all encompassing sound quality more than compensates.
#2 Beats Urbeats Earphones Matte Black
Pros: When you opt for a set of Beats earbuds you know you're buying into style. Mine are matte black with their distinctive red logo and thin red cord. Other colours include two shades of grey, red, white, gold, rose gold, pink and silver while the cords are also in black or white.
The light metal earbud housing seems to be sturdy for daily use although mine experienced a slight wobble on the left side. The set is comfortable to wear and comes with four adjustable pairs of gel ear pads. You might still need the optional extra of wing tips to provide further stability.
Beats Urbeats isn't short on features. I especially like the Remotetalk mic which blocks out background noise to make my voice clearer to whoever is on the other end. A control hub of three buttons is easier to use than I thought it might be and lets you switch effortlessly between functions.
Beats devices are famous for their boom box quality of sound often prompting a love'em or hate'em response. There's no technical data for the strength of the bass but take my word for it, it is BIG! Perfect for styles such as hip hop but not so good for regular stuff.
Cons: The casing of the earbuds is not watertight which is a disadvantage if you want to do a workout indoors or out or even if you just get caught in the rain. I also found only moderate activity caused my ear pads to dislodge. The bass can overpower regular rock or pop even with a volume control.
Verdict: The Beats Urbeats are great for maintaining a stylishly cool image. However, they are far less suitable for an active lifestyle than most. Sound quality is superb unless a constant deep bass isn't your style.
3 # Ranger Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Pros: The earbuds are constructed from a Kevlar interior and an exterior of nylon which is guaranteed to provide superior reinforcement over ten thousand uses. This means if you put them on and off ten times a day you should get one thousand days or the equivalent of three years of use. Two pairs of silicone gel pads are included plus a spare pair made of foam for those with larger ear cavities.
Ranger produces a good quality sound of mellow mid tones on the treble combined with a bass that booms out adequately enough to suit nearly all music genres. There's a conveniently placed wheel to control the volume, a facility I found useful as the sound can reach a really loud intensity.
Cons: The fabric covered cord has a decent strength but has a fair bit of weight and isn't as flexible as I thought it might be. Snagging caused the earbuds to fall out twice in the first half hour. The foam ear tips don't seem to be as effective as those made from silicone gel and lead to a poorer experience.
Verdict: Not the most comfortable or stable set of earbuds I've tried especially with the awkward 'shark fin' side pieces. The quality of music is impressive and I particularly liked the flexibility of the volume control.
4# Kingyou Noise Isolating Earbuds
Pros: A versatile set of earbuds that can match up with any MP4 player or smartphone. The Kingyou earbuds are presented in a light metal housing in a stylish grey and white although other colours are available. A solid case is included to protect them when not in use.
The nylon coated cord is 3'9" (1.2m) and stays tangle free as promised. Included are three sizes of silicone ear pieces that adjust well to effectively block out background noise. The set is actually one of the most comfortable I've tried and I can almost forget I'm wearing it.
The sound quality is fairly good with a decent range of mid tones in treble. One easy to reach button lets me choose a host of functions such as track selection and play or pause. The hands free mic is useful for answering calls.
Cons: Sensitivity is measured at 90dB which could be a shade too high if you're listening for hours, especially when there is no volume control. The bass is slightly heavy and I experienced an occasional uncoordinated type of echo as though the ear pieces were unbalanced. Too much physical activity seems to cause a brief loss of sound which is irritating when I'm out jogging.
Verdict: Wearability and comfort is impressive with this lightweight set. The control button is easy to operate and the sound quality is above average but it lacks a volume control which I feel it would benefit from.
5# YSKJ Earphones In Ear Headphones
Pros: These are made of a black plastic that appears to be relatively sturdy and are equipped with a multi function control that operates a built in mic which lets you answer and end calls while remaining hands free. You can also use a pause or play facility and choose the next or previous music tracks. A positive feature is the volume control which slides up and down for easy use.
The YSKJ earbuds come supplied with a handy storage pouch and three pairs of adjustable gel ear plugs to provide noise isolation. The lightweight cord is almost four feet in length and has a convenient plastic shirt clip to keep it out of the way when you are on the move. The set also comes with a manufacturer's two year warranty.
Cons: Musically, the output isn't the most impressive I have ever reviewed as the bass alternates between either overpowering a track or appearing to be muffled and low. I found the ear gels fell out easily on numerous occasions but I personally had difficulty positioning them. This obviously had an effect on what I was hearing so I don't expect other listeners would have such a poor experience.
Verdict: Although the set is conveniently lightweight it is not all that sturdy. On my set, the cord came loose after getting caught while I was cycling to work and the left earpiece broke away later that afternoon.
The Best Way To Choose Earbuds
The market is literally flooded with so many different brands and models that include a whole batch of features that it can often seem bewildering to know where to start, but below we have some of things you should consider when buying.
Why Do You Want Earbuds?
This might seem a little obvious, but you have to consider how you'll be using them. For myself, I like to dip in and out listening to my favourite tracks whenever possible, so convenience and portability when out walking or taking a break from working hard are important factors. Others like them primarily for vigorous workouts or on the daily commute.
Snug As A Bug
Of course, earbuds have a difficult task trying to fit into so many uniquely shaped ears. They have to provide a high level of comfort especially if they are being worn for a few hours at a time while at work or play. Better models will include a variety of different sized silicone gel style pads to ensure a good fit.
Do Earbuds Create A Great Musical Experience?
My own particular quest for unbreakable earbuds is motivated by an addiction to listening to music on my smartphone. What I should be looking for is a wide frequency range which is measured in hertz (Hz). A lower hertz reading produces a deeper sounding bass whereas a higher hertz number has an increased treble, but that's not the whole story.
What Do Drivers Actually Do?
A driver is a technical term for a component that creates a much richer tone simply by enhancing the bass, so to obtain a decent sound quality your earbuds need to have as many drivers as possible. By way of comparison, larger, traditional headphones that are worn over the head will have an average of four. Poorer quality earbuds will have only two while superior models can have as many as six.
Protecting Your Hearing
Like any other headphones, earbuds are sending noise directly into your ears. To ensure we've still got some hearing left after years of use, take note of the level of sensitivity which is measured in decibels to check the output is at least bearable. The dB/mW range for earbuds is apparently between 80 and 110, but to be on the safe side experts recommend not going beyond 85dB.
Shake, Rattle And Roll
An earbud in action is producing sound through a series of electrical vibrations. These not only increase the speed that the earbuds will wear out at, but also the amount of vibration the inner diaphragm endures. Officially known as impedance and measured in Ohms, this can translate to the wearer as an irritating hiss which interferes with the quality of sound, but opting for a higher Ohm rating should be enough to eradicate it.
Long Lasting Nominal Power Handling Rating
This is an indication of the predicted longevity of a set of earbuds and is the factor that drives most of us to despair. Finding a set that can operate at lower power levels is one way to hope they'll have a much longer life span. In addition, I always hope that the length of manufacturer's warranty is a good guide.
Noise Cancellation Versus Sound Isolation
Both of these features are aiming to block out background noise but do it in completely opposite ways. Noise cancellation headphones relie on the electronic power inside the actual ear piece to eradicate noise but can actually transmit a bit of a hiss in the process. Noise isolation works by simply creating an effective seal by using really good fitting ear pads without the danger of any extra interference.
All Weather Suitability
There are a number of reasons why you might want your earbuds to be water resistant. Wearing them while taking the dog for a daily walk in all weathers can involve exposing your earbuds to potentially harmful moisture intake. However, one of the most popular reasons for using a set of earbuds is to relieve the monotony of long hours in the gym where getting hot and sweaty can be as bad as standing out in the rain.
The Freedom Of Wireless Connectivity
The majority of earbuds operate by being physically connected to your smartphone by a cable. If you want greater freedom of movement, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth is the way forward. However, to get value for money from this more expensive option you'd have to be confident they were built to last.
An Infrared Alternative
Infrared is another method of creating a wireless connection but it does have practical disadvantages. I tried a set some time back and found they were great if I was stationery but moving out of range broke the connection. An irritating feature which restricts the flexibility it is supposed to provide.
I think my search for earbuds that don't break is finally over! The Ultra-Durable GO Groove Audio OHM RNF has to be the clear winner as the strength of the military metal casing has obviously shown a superior quality that other metal housings just can't improve upon. And the additional layer of silicone really helps to cushion any impacts that might occur during exercise or general wear and tear.
The soft silicone gel ear tips are pliable enough to fit into any ear ensuring that background noise is effectively eliminated. The Ultra-Durable contains unrivalled 9mm drivers to create one of the richest tones that make for a great listening experience. The solid construction also absorbs electrical vibrations to effectively eliminate irritating interference.
The Ultra-Durable combines the best qualities for an all round performance that creates a set of earbuds that are dependable, consistent and also look stylish. And with reliable, sturdy metal housings that are able to withstand the test of daily use, it seems I'll be enjoying them for some time to come.