Monday, April 09, 2007

Headphone Suckage

I have the worst luck with headphones. I actually like the feel of the iPod earbuds, but they constantly break off, and I'm not going to pay $50 for shitty ass crap I have to replace every other month.


So I finally went and bought a $10 pair at Best Buy, only to discover I apparently have either very tiny or very misshapen inner ears, because they KILLED me. I couldn't wear them more than 15 minutes without having to take them out. (I developed a strategy of wearing one in one ear, then switching ears every 15 minutes. This is how I spend my workday.)


So I enlisted advice from the dcist staff, one of whom told me these headphones were great and came with different size earbuds you put on. Perfect! I ordered them off Amazon and got them right quick, but, no. First, THERE'S NO BASS. WTF. On the reviews for this pair it says "Oh, the last version sucked so bad, there was no bass, but they've fixed the problem with these!" I can only imagine that these people were so used to even WORSE bass-less headphones, that these sound great by comparison, but holy crap, talk about tin-ny. I'm starting to forget why I actually liked any of this music. Secondly, I kind of feel like I'm getting the bends if I wear them too long. Well, I've never had the bends, so that might be inaccurate, but it's certainly in the range of "inner ear infection," because these things shove SO FAR UP your ear canal you wonder if your brain is going to start leaking out. Let's put it this way, I was NOT the kid who went to the ER for sticking things up her facial orifices. So I have to overcome this sense of the total willies to put them in far enough, but if you don't, they just fall out while you're walking. Grrr.


Also, WTF is with the two different cord lengths? Is this some kind of space-age headphone technology I'm not familiar with?? (And that little thing in the middle does not slide - they're stuck that length.) I don't get it! All that happens is that the short side gets caught on the jacket button by my neck every two steps and yanks out of my ear - as if it weren't already dangling precariously out anyway! Gaaah, why must you terrorize me, headphones?!

Some other dcist-ers have advised me to get these headphones. I really don't want to spend over a hundred bucks on headphones, but I use them so much it's starting to sound worth it. Unless they don't fit my ears! Stupid ill shaped ears and shoving-things-up-my-ear-canal-fear! I'm going to have to go old school soon and just get a giant pair of these. But I think you guys know full well the kind of music I listen to doesn't justify that kind of rockage. If anyone else has headphone advice, please let me know.


At 11:59 PM, April 09, 2007, Blogger divine angst said...

The different lengths are so you can put the cord behind your neck. So you put your iPod in your left pocket, run the headphones cord up to your left ear and plug the short end into that ear, then wrap the long end around the back of your neck and plug into the other ear. They're actually less likely to get yanked out if you have them around your neck since you don't get the place where the cord comes together caught on stuff in front of you.

At 12:49 AM, April 10, 2007, Anonymous Matt F said...

I really don't want to spend over a hundred bucks on headphones, but I use them so much it's starting to sound worth it.

It really is worth it. Good headphones make a world of difference. Also, Amazon has them for over half off, so it's not that bad, really.

At 12:59 PM, April 10, 2007, Blogger Kelly said...

I have small ears too and I got these a little while ago and I'm enjoying them: Plus, they have a skull on them so you can be all trendy too.

I think the bass is good. Better than any other headphones I've had, but since they're so cheap, maybe they're not up to your bass requirements.

A couple of caveats, though. 1) They do go into your ears and come with 3 different sizes. But since my ears are small, I've had a really hard time finding earbuds that didn't kill my ears, so I determined I would just have to get the ones that went in.

2) The medium size cover fits my ear like a glove and blocks out exterior noises VERY well. I don't know how in your own world you want to be, but if I don't have the sound down pretty low, people have to shout or wave their hands in front of my face to get my attention.

At 2:26 PM, April 10, 2007, Blogger Heather said...

ah, i knew the internets would shed some light on life's mysteries for me. i wore them behind my neck today, but that seems an idea made specifically for someone who doesn't have two and a half feet of hair back there; however, it was slightly better. (though i noticed quite a few people on my way to work today who had them hanging down front, so i guess i'm not the only one who was confused!)

matt and kelly, thanks for the help, i'll have to look into both of those...

At 8:34 PM, April 10, 2007, Anonymous tom said...

I've owned all three of the headphones in question. You already know how I feel about the etymotics (they're totally worth it). But the Fontopias shouldn't be as bad as it sounds like they are. Are you sure you've got a tight enough seal? My memory's a little fuzzy, but I believe that the Sonys operate the same way as the Etymotics: the seal ought to be so tight that it seems doubtful that even water could get in. And they should be shoved WAY up your ear. If you don't do this you won't get any bass: the airtight seal basically turns your ear canal into the speakerbox that provides resonance. Without that resonant cavity they really can't make any appreciable bass. With it, I actually found them bassier than I liked (I was use to the Etymotics, though, which were in for warranty service at the time).

So I donno, try a bigger earphone tip and see if it works better. The mismatched cord is a big pain in the ass, though, and they do break pretty easily.

At 3:10 AM, April 11, 2007, Blogger Barzelay said...

I was having tons of problems with ear buds until I found some Koss in-ear headphones that were Radioshack branded. I've been using them for a year and a half, and have loved them. Since writing that post, I've purchased an iPod, despite swearing never to do so, pretty much thanks to the great performance of my headphones. I use them on the daily, and they've held up very well. They were $20.

At 5:47 AM, April 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought the cheapest headphones I could find on Amazon.

They've worked really well.

Also got free coke headphones through the coke rewards site.

At 8:37 AM, April 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ipod headphones are the worst designed headphones around. seriously. i love apple but their headphones are awful. the last pair i had actually shocked me in the ears. like, electric shocks to the inside of my ear. im glad im not the only one who has bad headphone karma.

At 9:39 AM, April 11, 2007, Blogger Hey Pretty said...

I totally feel your pain. I find that ipod earbuds don't like to stay in my ear. I think they may be too big or too small (since I'm a girl and small, I'm going with "too big") and the other day mine started to make weird crackling noises. They sounded like they were about to explode in my ears.

At 11:01 AM, April 11, 2007, Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

Hey! I sent an email to your old account, but I don't know if you're still there. E/M me and let me know if you're still living at the same place so I can drop off your software. Thanks :)

At 11:26 AM, April 11, 2007, Blogger Heather said...

ninja - just emailed you.

tom - i can't believe the answer was to shove them FARTHER up my ears, but you were right. my timidness at poking into my brain kept me from hearing the bass. now i just have to get over the feeling that i'm descending rapidly in a commercial jetliner.

hey pretty - that used to happen to me with the ipod earbuds, too. i always wondered if it was because i was wearing something woolly.

it's funny that now i've been talking about this with everyone, people are coming out of the woodwork telling me they have the same problem with earbud sizes. were we all keeping quiet, afraid people would make fun of our freak ears before? also, i've decided i really hate the uneven length cords, i just yank them out every time i swing my left arm, so i keep the ipod in my right pocket, draping the wire across my chest, and totally defeating the purpose of the whole thing.

At 1:24 PM, April 11, 2007, Anonymous TravelGirlDC said...

They are expensive but I LOVE my Shure headphones. In ear styles always drove me nuts until my now ex-BF bought these for me while we were in Singapore. Love em, love em, love em.


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