Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Headphones While Running

I just can't get enough of this discussion (actually, I can).

Back in November, the AirDrives people were kind enough to send me a set of these newfangled headphones to review. I'm sure they're convinced that was money out the window, but I can assure them it wasn't!

I've been wearing those for about three months now (when I test, I really really test)


and there are good things and bad things about them.

According to the press release,
...have been selected as the officially-recommended earphones for 2008 Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and the Emerald Across the Bay 12K in San Francisco. As you probably know, the USATF does not allow the use of headphones at its official races, and many other marathons are following suit.

...AirDrives earphones are audiologist approved for all-day listening based on the House Ear Institute and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards for sound pressure levels detected at the inner ear.

Their main selling point is that they do not block out noise. In fact, the earbuds sit just in front of your ears, so allow you to hear music or books or podcasts, along with ambient noise.

I can attest that this is precisely what they do. I can hear nature all around me, cars, bikes, other runners coming up behind (right before they pass me, sigh), while wearing these. If you can't hear what's going on around you while wearing these, you're going deaf.

Another selling point is that they are flexible, and are marketed as having "grips that adjust for precise fit and retention." In other words, they bend, so theoretically should give you the exact fit you need.

In actuality, I find myself endlessly adjusting them. Maybe I have weird ears (I do NOT!). Or maybe it's because I wear glasses. I don't know. It is a pain though. You'd think you'd mold them once to fit your ears and well, they'd stay fit. It's not like my ears change daily. But I find myself endlessly fiddling with them and they occasionally fall off.

The earpieces look like giant hooks, and well, they act like giant hooks too. Which means they're constantly getting tied up with the cord, getting stuck on stuff in your pocket or purse. (I know, I know, I'm so high maintenance!) They do come with a cute little carrying case, like anyone on earth is going to actually detach these after every use and carefully pack them away.

Despite these complaints, I'm sticking with these things because a) I really don't want to lose my hearing (there are enough things other things that I'm losing...er, what were we talking about again?) and 2) I forget what 2 was.

These puppies work. Thumbs up AirDrives!

Here's the stats:
• Frequency Range:
20-20,000 Hz

• Sensitivity:
95 dB at source
80 dB SPL at inner ear

• Impedance:
16 Ohm

• Maximum Power Input:

• Cable Length:
1.2m 4ft

• Jack:
3.5mm gold plated
stereo, 70 degree

• Speakers:
Neodymium rare earth magnets

• Acoustic Housing:

$99.95 (US) at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Read more reviews:
CNET: AirDrives Interactive Earphones

CompleteRunning.com: Product Review: AirDrive Headphones

Plus, a little widget:

Now, let the headphone v. no headphone debate resume!


LBTEPA said...

I am entranced by the name Hammacher Schlemmer.

21stCenturyMom said...

Those sound great (get it!!??) I'd like them so I could hear cyclists who are not kind enough to call out on the trail as they buzz me.

Jade Lady said...

Interesting. I wish that races would allow them - I'd consider buying them if they offered wireless!

Today, I use headphones called iMuffs. They're kind of big, but they're wireless - no cord to the iPod. The wireless advantage outweights the bigness (and really, they're not that big!). I do try to keep the volume low, to allow me to hear stuff going on around me.

Laura said...

Those are pretty cool! A bit pricy for me but I'd still consider them. Though wireless sounds pretty awesome too... I hadn't even heard of wireless headphones before!

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peter said...

On my last long run on the weekend in the sunshine, I heard a car alarm honking annoyingly in the distance, a lacrosse coach exhort his players on the attack on a playing field past the trees, and a tennis player thump the ball and the ball skid on the other side of the net on a hardtop court past a fence with a cloth barrier. I heard birds, dogs, music in the distance, a metal bat hit a softball, cars passing on the nearby roadway, bicycles approaching (no, I never heard an audible signal on that one), a couple arguing, another couple talking in harmony, a child ring a tricycle bell. I really enjoyed the pleasant thoughts and memories associated with each of those lingering experiences as I ran along. And then when I got home, I put Led Zepplin on the CD player.

Rainmaker said...

Interesting. I got in phases - a few months with music, a few months without. Currently in the without phase. But I'll have to check in back with you and see how you like them in a few months when I change phases again.


Vickie said...

You almost sold me until I saw the $99 (almost $100) price tag. I lose this kind of stuff often enough that I might as well throw $100 down the toilet instead of buying another pair. The pair I use--and have not managed to lose for the longest time--is a set I found on the ground in the parking lot last year. Free is good. And right now, the only time I use them is on the gym treadmills--to block out the droning of the news everyone else is so hung up on.

Neese said...

the look great, I may check them out I haven't yet found a decent pair.

i love the hammlacher schmlameralkrer store, btw! ( i gave up trying to spell it)

Runner Susan said...

Wow, that is a lot for a pair of headphones. I'd like to see wireless too!

Just12Finish said...

I don't get how their main selling point is that it allows sound in!? Aren't the good ones supposed to keep sound out?

I've been coveting the noise cancellation headphones every time I board a plane, but I'm too cheap (still) for the $275 big ones for it.

David said...

I bet you don't charge $4,300 a night hawking these things.

IHateToast said...

i lost my comment. did i really?

IHateToast said...

aw man, i did.

okay, i just said that i tape my ear buds to my ears. they hang a bit because the tape pulls them away, but they don't fall out. i hear everything unless i'm JAMMIN' (oh yeah, so the right word) to "wait wait don't tell me". nothing says "cool" like rockin' to carl kasell.

CUJimmy said...

I tried allot of different styles before opting for a pair of Soundwise S6. The reason I like these is they have a detachable hanger that hugs your ears. The hanger also seems to prevent cable friction noise reaching your ears. I used to have a pair of sennheiser cx300 and this was really annoying.They are made by a UK company called Soundwise who apparently make for skullcandy and v-Moda brands.They are also waterproof and I am sweaty.

The one point which is either a major plus point or a major problem is they completely block out background noise. I like this but can understand this could be a problem in some places.

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