In-ear headphones or earbuds are commonly sighted among those using portable audio devices or smartphones. The increasing popularity of these devices has caused the in-ear headphone category to increase not only in terms of selection, but also in terms of quality. Prices range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. Depending on your level of physical activity or sound quality requirements, there is an in-ear model that meets your personal standards.
Many in-ear headphones offer multiple fittings to allow for the variance in size in shape of different ear canals. Look for earbuds that use silicone instead of foam for these attachments. Silicone is waterproof, easier to clean after a session at the gym and won't flake apart over time. In addition to holding the headphones in your ears, silicone tips do a better job of sealing in sound than units without any such measures.
High-end options are available from a few manufacturers that allow you to craft a set of custom earbuds, based on your actual ear canal shape. Using a mold, an audiologists injects material into your ear canal. These impressions are then sent to the headphone manufacturer, creating a set of earbuds that won't fall out while providing excellent sound quality and isolation. These units come at a premium, but are ideal if the best fit is high on your list of requirements.
Many models of in-ear headphones come equipped with an inline attachment, featuring volume and transport controls and a mic. These are useful for taking and receiving calls while listening through a smartphone. Volume adjustment allows you to get the right amount of sound without having to fish out your phone. Transport controls also allow switching tracks, along with forward and back controls all within reach. If you place your smartphone in a protective case while engaging in physical activity, these controls prove useful.
Built for Action
Many in-ear headphones fit perfectly well during your train commute or sitting by the pool. The challenge comes when engaging in physical activity. Some earbuds are designed with this specific issue in mind, incorporating ear or collar clips to keep your headphones where they should be. Still others use a band, fitting over your head or around the back of your neck. This subcategory of headphones has its own range of sound and build quality that you will have to evaluate separately.
Bluetooth wireless headphones are great for cutting the cord entirely between your smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device. Operating on rechargeable batteries, these units often incorporate their own volume and track controls. Wireless solutions like these are great in semi-active environments where catching a cord and pulling out an earbud is a common occurrence. Make sure the Bluetooth set specifies a degree of moisture resistance, given the internal electronics involved. Look for a model with good reception and light weight. Find out where the battery compartment -- the heaviest component -- is located.
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