Typically constructed with extra hard plastic, earbuds fit inside of the ear to project audio from electronic devices such as iPods and MP3 players. Often called earphones, the ultra-small speakers sometimes possess a curved section that fits snugly around the outside of the ear to ensure stability.
Some manufacturers design earbuds that attach to a thin wire that runs several inches to connect with a thicker wire that users plug into a standard audio jack.
While the earbud exterior comprises extra hard plastic, the portion of the earbud that fits within the ear possesses soft foam that cushions the earbud against audio vibrations and user movements. The foam also enhances the comfort level of users that might be sensitive to outer ear contact.
The Benefits of Earbuds
For years, earbuds lagged far behind the level of audio quality provided by headphones. Advanced microtechnology has brought earbuds on par with headphones for presenting pristine audio and limited feedback. With audio quality similar between earbuds and headphones, what unique benefits do earbuds provide users?
You can take earbuds anywhere from riding the mass transit train to working out at the fitness center. Professionals wear earbuds for listening to online seminars and athletes use earbuds during training sessions. You can bring earbuds along to the hairstylist and break out the tiny electronic listening devices at the shopping mall.
Wired headphones limit mobility, so most people choose wireless headphones. However, wireless headphones create storage problems, as the listening device typically requires a box or plastic to ensure protection against moisture and impact damage.
Earbuds simply slip into a coat or shirt pocket and require no additional storage measures. The listening devices easily fit inside of a backpack compartment, along with your cell phone.
Yes, earbuds have developed into a comfortable listening device that allows users to listen to the audio for an hour on end. Soft foam that envelopes the tiny speakers feels smooth against the sensitive outer ear.
Instead of headphones slipping away from the ear and causing irritation, earbuds remain secure to provide the ultimate in listening comfort. Lightweight earbuds also place less pressure on the ear and never cause the headphone-induced problem of cauliflower ear.
What Defines the Top 3 Most Comfortable Earbuds?
Comfort represents one of the most subjective criteria for purchasing earbuds. What feels comfortable to one consumer may make another person completely uncomfortable. For example, consumers must select among foam, custom molded, and specialized comfort tips. The type of tip selected depends on the sensitivity of the outer ear to both tip contact and audio vibration.
Consumers have several comfort factors to consider for purchasing earbuds:
Size plays a huge role in ensuring earbud comfort. Earbuds that you have to push into the lobe create too much pressure against the sensitive outer ear. Good luck trying to endure earbuds that are too big for your ear. Conversely, earbuds that do not remain in place tend to hit up against the side of the outer ear, which can cause painful bruising or even rashes.
Consumers want earbuds that fit snugly and remain stable throughout the listening experience.
Silicon and hard plastics typically comprise the outer shell of earbuds, that is, until manufacturers developed foam that cushions that pressure placed on the outer ear. Foam earbuds compensate for differences in the sizes of earbud pieces and the opening sizes of outer ears. Expansion and contraction of foam make the adjustments required for earbuds to remain securely attached in the outer ear.
Technology has transformed the earbud from a heavy listening device into a lightweight device that users barely feel attached to the outer ear. Excessive weight eventually pulls down on the ear, which causes dull pain to acute headaches. Manufacturers design and construct the most comfortable earbuds with a lightweight polymer that weighs as little as a few grams.
Loud, but Not Painfully Loud
Earbuds have gained traction in the headphone market because of how the device projects most of the sound directly into the ear. Unlike headphones that sit around the edge of the outer ear, earbuds project audio directly into the sensitive inner ear, which delicate sensory organs receive to create hearing.
The top three most comfortable earbuds deliver pristine audio, without damaging the sensory organs. Anyone that has experienced inner ear pain understands the need for earbuds that remain well below the hearing danger zones.
Three Earbuds Rank at the Top of the Most Comfortable List
Only a few hours of standard earbuds in your ear leave the outer ear sore enough to pull out the tiny listening devices. Advance earbud technology used to construct the three most comfortable earbuds has eliminated all of the discomforts. Better yet, you do not have to take out a loan to afford supreme earbud comfort from the following three earbuds.
Bose set the standard for earbud comfort, which is why the company places two earbud models on this list. The Bose IE2 receives critical acclaim for delivering resonating bass lines, without bursting your eardrum. As with most other Bose earbud models, the IE2 does not insert into the outer ear, but instead, the earbud seals around the outer edge of the ear.
The unique design prevents outer ear pain caused by hours of inserted earbud use. Durable materials not only ensure long-lasting pleasure, but the materials also feel smooth against the out ear. The snug fit makes the IE2 perfect for strenuous workouts, such as long-distance cycling and powerlifting.
In fact, the Bose IE2 earbud has emerged as the recommend listening device for athletes that place comfort above all other buying criteria.
Proprietary StayHear tips augment earbud stability to prevent skin chafing. Bose’s own StayHear silicone tips nestle within the bowl of the ear, while naturally molding to the upper ridge of the ear. The IE2 comes with three tip sizes to match the comfort needs of most buyers.
StayHear tips also include an adjustable feature that covers most of the size gray areas that fall among small, medium, and large ear users. Many earbud reviews praise the IE2 for providing the level of stability lacking in many around-the-ear headphones.
UPDATE: Bose has recently upgraded the IE2 to the SoundTrue earbuds. They are virtually unchanged, except they’ve fixed some lingering material quality and reliability issues. You can find them here for less than $100.
JLab GO Bluetooth Wireless
With five hours of playback time, the JLab GO Bluetooth Wireless earbud attracts consumers that want to store large amounts of music for immediate retrieval.
Yet, the GO Bluetooth Wireless earbud earns its spot on the top three most comfortable earbud lists by addressing a comfort issue seldom discussed by both consumers and industry experts. The JLab GO Bluetooth Wireless earbud offers seven tip sizes, which ensures virtually everyone that inserts the earbud into the outer ear enjoys supreme comfort.
Without the need for wires, users have more room to move about. JLab designed the GO Bluetooth Wireless Earbud with exercise in mind, as fitness-minded consumers love the earbuds for walking on treadmills and performing aerobically inspired dances.
The wrap-around design ensures a snug fit and the breathable materials remove the discomfort caused by accumulated perspiration. For cost-conscious users, you can find these headphones for just $46 per pair.
Bose QuietComfort 20i
Bose’s second earbud on the list of most comfortable earbuds includes the industry’s best noise cancellation feature. Critics effusively praise how the QuietComfort 20i earbud from Bose never reaches an audio volume limit that damages the sensitive inner ear.
The earbuds lie against the inside of the outer ear and require little if any pushing to secure the listening devices. Bose designs and manufactures the QuietComfort 20i earbud for iPods, iPads, and iPhones.
Soft StayHear+ tips feel smooth against the outer ear. You never have to force the earbuds into your ear and the mushroom-shaped design spreads the earbud contact evenly to provide optimal comfort. The QuietComfort 20i has received recognition as one of the most stable earbuds on the market.
Bose recommends earbuds for busy professionals that constantly are on the go. You can find the QuietComfort headphones at this listing for about $249.