l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
2017-05-30 02:34 pm
Entry tags:

The End of the Rabbit-Ears

Almost as long as I've been carrying an audio-player everywhere, I've been equipping myself with a pair of Sony MDR-J10 earbuds. I first bought those because they were some of the cheapest earbuds I could pick up at (soon-to-be the late) Radio Shack. But I've kept buying them because they're some of the most comfortable earbuds I've tried.

Most of the earbuds I've encountered have an earplug-like cylindrical or hemispherical design which places the speaker on a circular face covering the opening of the ear canal. The MDR-J10s, on the other hand, has a "half-moon" speaker design: The hemispherical earbud sits with its flat face perpendicular to the opening of the ear, and the speaker is on the half of that face that sits within the ear canal. While this is obviously worse in terms of sound isolation, I like earbuds that interfere less with my ability to hear ambient audio, in particular because this allows me to better pursue my favorite hobby: Not getting run over.

The over-ear clips are also great. They conveniently hook to a shirt collar or pocket when not in use, and I find the curved, flexible design more comfortable than alternate designs that feature elastics or hinged joints.

The only downside is the low durability. And given relative ease of breaking (or losing) even more-durable earbuds, I'd rather have a bunch of cheap earbuds than fewer more-durable ones.

The problem is, these were evidently never a commercial success. Sony no longer makes them or anything with that form-factor. The very length of time I was able to purchase these earbuds deadstock (still packed in tiny ziplocks, never made it to retail packaging) after they were no longer available at retail attests to that. But the last time I went to purchase more, my previous supplier was out, and I had to resort to buying a bunch from some eBay-er shipping from China. Eventually, I just won't be able to find these at a reasonable price.

So I guess I'm keeping an ear out for alternative headphone suggestions. If there's in fact a clone of that design I've missed, that's ideal, but I'm on the lookout for anything that's comfortable to wear basically all the time, has reasonable sound quality, and keeps exterior audio unobstructed enough that I can hear an oncoming bus.