Yes, this is a strangely titled posting. However, after trying no less than 5 pairs of bluetooth earbuds, I feel like it's worth sharing my experience.

What am I looking for?

I want a pair of bluetooth earbuds that:

  1. Stay in my ears.
  2. Are at least modestly comfortable.
  3. Have passable sound.
  4. Don't look awful.
  5. Are reasonably priced

Most of my day is spent sitting or standing at a desk typing. Aside from that, I may be walking at a reasonable pace around Ann Arbor or the surrounding area. The end. It is not a demanding use-case.

Given the hundreds and hundreds of bluetooth headphones on the market, this should be easy to solve. Not so. Why?

Most Bluetooth earbuds are designed for guys.

I'm sure men aren't the only ones getting annoyed by the tangling of headphone wires. However, speaking as a woman, most wireless earbuds suck. Why?

  • They are too big. Women have smaller ear openings or more properly referred as external auditory canals. Many, if not most, of the headphones on the market come with large inserts that don't fit into my ear. The result is an uncomfortable and awkward fit.
  • They fall out. TL;DR, because they are too big, they fall out.
  • They are ugly. I'd like something more than all black and I really do not want to wear bright yellow and red ear buds (more power to those who do though).

Have you tried Bose _________ or other fancy $200+ brand?

No, I have not. I cannot bring myself to pay $200+ for a pair of earbuds.

Go back to wired earbuds?

Usually after trying another disappointing pair of earbuds, I'd go back to my old white Apple earbuds. They work fine 50% of the time. Yet they frequently fall out and, if I make a sudden movement, get yanked out of my ears. This is especially true when walking.

What have I tried (most recently)?

  • Plantronics BackBeat Fit - The sound was ok but they sit in the outer ear as opposed to going into the canal. This results in sound leaking out. The little plastic bit holding them in was also uncomfortable. Returned.
  • TaoTronics Wireless Earphones - The sounds wasn't great on these earbuds and they stopped working after 2 days. Returned.
  • Jaybird X2 Sport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones - These were way too big for my ears. Returned.
  • Hussar Magicbuds - These were the best of the most recent bunch. The sound was good and it came with smaller inserts. The outer ear hugging clips ended up being too stiff and wrapped too far around my ear. Returned.

What am I using now?

For the moment, I am using JBL Reflect Minis. They get me 75% of the way there:

  • They come with inserts that fit.
  • They are very light weight.
  • They don't fall out.
  • They stay firmly in my ear.
  • They are generally comfortable.
  • They have decent sound. Base is a bit light but tones are true and clear.

What are the cons? The Reflect Minis seem to be made of a kind of "sweat proof" plastic that actually seems to make me sweat more. The result is that they stick to my skin and make my ears feel a bit strange after extended use. It hasn't been so bad that I've stopped using them.

The future?

Hopefully the designs keep improving. Until then I suspect I'll keep earbud hopping.