This is the year I finally quit using wireless earbuds. We tried too long to make things work, but I’ve decided it’s time to meet the music, even though I’m the only one who can hear it. Earplugs and I just are not meant to be.
I do not want to go so far as to diagnose myself with any phobia of placing small objects in your ears, but something about stuffing buds so close to my brain is no longer with me. And I’m not sure it ever did.
As my bank account can attest, I tried not to take advantage of finding best wireless earplugs for me. Jaybird X3, Powerbeats 2, Powerbeats Pro, first generation AirPods and last AirPods Pro are some of the models I have flirted with. Despite the variation, each purchase went into the same old story.
First, the design would lure me in like a moth to a flame. I especially liked the look of Powerbeats Pro, and thought they would look stylish, bows around my ears. I̵
These tests went one of two routes: I would either withdraw with devastating discomfort after having the buds for more than a few hours, or they would fall out of my ears before they reached the threshold. When it comes to the truly wireless models, we will share on more chaotic terms. Washing machines, street drains and crowded LIRR train cars are just some of the places where my former earplugs met their deaths.
Real headphones or bust
Besides being easy to lose or misplace, most wireless earbuds failed to impress me when it comes to sound performance. I found myself cheating with boxes and rejecting knobs for random desk drawers and bags. I have used the excellent Sony WH-1000XM4 and the luxurious AirPods Max recently, and it’s almost unfair to compare both with some in-ear models.
Not only are headphones over the ear that are significantly more comfortable and less likely to fall off, they are actually able to create an all-encompassing listening experience and block ambient sounds. With concerts paused, great headphones as close as I have come to getting hold of live music.
The AirPods Pro comes closest to keeping up with real headphones, but I’m turned off by the call quality and can never seem to keep them charged.
I would not feel so entangled in my volatile earplugs if not all consumer technology companies had launched a couple or three in the last 12 months that I at least wanted to try. And that’s before you consider best fake AirPodsor AirPods appearance, if desired. I do my best to keep an open mind about products, but for the love of God, let there be less wireless earbuds in 2021.
I admit that wireless earbuds probably beat ear-splitting headphones when it comes to exercise. But again, why do we need so many options?
Yes, I know it’s absurd to want wireless earplugs to disappear from Endgame style. I recognize that they are practical for some people, but I am not some people. My wallet and I have been tempted and mocked as if wireless earbuds are the bad boyfriend I have gone back to far too many times.
If you want to help block wireless earbuds, check out our guide to the best headphones. There you will find many discreet, over-ear options worth your time and money.