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07-28-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,042
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 21817
Reply to: 21817
Those little headphones…
As the life nowadays runs in a very different schedule then it was years back I recently discovered a new invention of mankind – those little headphones that can be connected to phone. God, they turn out make the commune in work in public transportation so much more fun. Two years ago I discovered that right next to my house there is something so call bus stop and that bus run from my home to downtown (where most of my clients are). I did not use it for at least 20 years and now I like quite a lot. 
In the bus and in subway I am listening mostly podcast and sometime music. Let not to go to discussion about the quality of the source - it is what it is – crap. Still, to a great degree the quality of experience greatly moderated by those miniature ear buds, comfort of wearing it, quality of mic when I use phone and the actual sound they produce. 
Over the time I used all possible ear buds from $2.99 to $150. I need to admit that none of them were what I liked but still the difference in experience was huge. I heard that there are very expensive over $1000 earbuds and they high-end audio people play to them but I have zero interest in them. The reason is that I have two beloved and mean Cats that literally convert own existance into search the distraction of headphones. I tray do not even bring them home but one way or another the Cats get them and as a result an average life expectancy of mini headphones in our house is 3-7 days. 
So, naturally I am looking a great sounding phone that sit in ear very comfortable and that cost no more than $15, preferably under $10, the phone that I can buy 5-6 a month.
The Cat

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-29-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Posts 161
Joined on 07-17-2008

Post #: 2
Post ID: 21819
Reply to: 21817
Cheap and decent commuter earbuds
Ha! Maybe I can help. I lived in Tokyo for a few years and tried to find the "perfect" commuting earbuds. Tokyo's "Best Buy" type electronics stores are huge and typically stock 100s of different models. There are also two large headphone specialty stores. So it was the best place in the world for some sampling. In Boston I think the little store in the Harvard Square Garage and the little store that fixed your Yamaha B2 stock a few (half-dozen) earbuds, but you need to check before traveling.

I also commuted in those very noisy and very poorly maintained buses in Boston (the "new" ones). And my commute in Tokyo included walking on busy streets, subways and (less noisy) buses.

First off, I would like to think that the technological development of earbuds and headphones is still in its infancy; that means sound reproduction is not all that great yet. I am a bit reluctant to recommend any products but you asked so I outline two options I consider enjoyable, well-engineered and cheap:

I was looking for a decent balance among: 0) sound "quality" and 1) sound insulation of outside noise and 2) a bass bump that helps compensate for outside transportation noise and 3) decent durability and 4) low "microphonics" so the cables are not irritatingly noisy when you walk or just move around the desk.

==> My best $20 commuting earbud is the sennheiser cx-150. You can still find it online for sale in the US for around $20-30. The CX-213 looks identical but published "specs" may be slightly different (I suspect they may be just relabeled and priced up a few dollars). The CX1.00 looks to be the replacement and both physical design and characteristics have changed a bit. The cx-150 has virtually no irritating "microphonics." After 6 years of abuse, my cx-150 are still working perfectly; however the 1/8" jack became unglued from the rubber housing so is a bit sloppy when removing from the phone jack and will die someday. I tried hot glue but that failed quickly. I also lost the original rubber tips and replaced them with foamy "comply" tips; see below. OEM replacement rubber tips are available for about $25 (!)

==> My favorite commuting earbud is the JVC HA-FX850. The bass bump can sometimes drive you bonkers at home but I am 100% sure the JVC team was commuting in Tokyo during the tuning phase. It is about $250 at Amazon. I don't know if it is available in brick-and-mortar stores in the US. Cable has some irritating microphonics and is pretty short, but the included alligator clip connected to my shirt collar eliminate all microphonics for me. This is the one piece of audio equipment I really enjoy using. But your cat may also enjoy eating at the exotic wood frame, soft rubber cable, and leather storage box. Very robust industrial engineering and cable is easy to replace. Don't be distracted by similar JVC models.

FYI -a couple of commuter comments with respect to "outside sound isolation" and "microphonics" (irritating noise cables seem to make when you are walking or just move at desk). I guess some types of "cable materials" are noisy and some types of "gaskets" are noisy; the trick is getting a good combination of the two.

I think earbuds can have a few basic types of "gaskets" that connect to your ears:

a) hard plastic is good for walking or jogging as it doesn't seem to communicate irritating cable sound. It provides lousy "outside sound isolation" and can be irritating in windy conditions. The sound can be quite airy but also lack bass. Typical for those free white i-phone headphones but also used in some high-quality earbuds.

b) Thick foamy tips like the "Comply" brand. They do a good job of "outside sound isolation" but provide a big bass bump and kill airyness (however you define that). Can be quite microphonic. If your bus is really noisy, this might be a good idea.

c) Soft rubber gaskets are a compromise between the hard plastic and thick foamy and generally best solution combining commuter & audio goals for me.

The Sennhiesers provide a few sizes of the c) soft rubber gaskets. The JVC comes with both b) thick foamy compy-type tips and a few sizes of the c) soft rubber gaskets.

Also, there are some of those heavy-metal ear monitors (some are custom made for your ears) which can provide poor to excellent noise isolation. They often have several drivers and what we can call primitive crossovers. Never heard one that sounded right, but maybe they work better with a custom ear mold.

Finally, there is also a case for using noise-reduction headphones, but they are big and sound quality is generally a second priority. The noise-reduction earbuds are worthless as the noise reduction technology works better at low frequencies that earbuds just don't excel at. On-ear noise reduction headphones rest on your ears and those hurt after time. Over-ear noise reduction headphones are the most effective and most comfortable in my experience. Like or hate Bose, the new Bose noise cancellation phones have the best noise-cancellation algorithm by a wide margin. The previous generation is very close and a lot cheaper. But for very noisy environments, the Bose provides a very good combination of noise cancellation, sound quality, comfort and price. For quiet environments, look elsewhere.
07-30-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,042
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 21820
Reply to: 21819
I need to go cheaper as I need to buy a lot of them.
scooter, thanks you. That was very nice of you.  Last two my Cats eat 3 paid of headphones and I just do not feel it worthy for me to get anything fancier then a few dollars for commuting purpose. After trying some of the buds (thankfully my Cats let me to do it fast) I stay nowadays with AmazonBasics Sport buds. They do have OK sound but they are $18, which I feel a bit too expensive if I need to buy them frequently. Those little monsters are incredibly capable. No then do not chew the headphone but they chew the cables. I have a large collection of headphones with cut wires. I did try to fix a few but if it was $7-$8 then I would not even bother myself. I do think that there are plenty of OK sounding buds on $20 but I can personally testify that there is a lot of very badly sounding phones in $5 range. I do not think that it has to be the case. I do not listen the only Savage Lovecast and I do listen some music sometimes. The Amazon headphone are OK but I wish they were chipper.

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-19-2022 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,517
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 4
Post ID: 26913
Reply to: 21820
Delayed Response
I've had lots of down time for a while now, and I just saw the old IEM (in-ear monitor/earbud) post while mining the site. I already posted that I got a Crane CC2E radio, mostly to listen to nighttime re-broadcasts of the local symphony orchestra. I bought Panasonic ErgoFit IEMs for something like $12, including "free shipping". The radio has very useful tone controls, and the cheap earbuds have not-too-annoying sound. With any earbuds, the fit is VERY important to sound profile, and bad cables can ruin everything if they are microphonic and/or they are antennae. These IEMs come with small, medium, and large rubber "gaskets" for the part that goes in one's ear. I use the smallest gasket. I got the later version of the ErgoFits, with "deeper LF output". My expectations were not high, and they have been exceeded.

Best regards,
Paul S
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