Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REVIEW: yurbuds Signature Series headphones

Earlier this year, after months of training and struggling with headphones that wouldn't stay in my ears, I bought a pair of yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro while traveling in the US. yurbuds claims that their headphones are guaranteed to Never Fall Out, and after 5 months of training with these I can only say that they live up to their guarantee and even more.

Now with yurbuds launching in Sweden (they are available at Runners' Store), I've gotten a second pair--this time the Signature Series model.

Below is an in-depth review, but if you don't have the energy to read the whole thing, here's my EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

If you like listening to music while you run, you will not find a better pair of headphones than yurbuds. Full stop.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
yurbuds come in a sturdy cardboard box with a magnet closure cover that reveals a small window which partially reveals the contents--the earphones themselves, two sizes of ear adapters, a sport clip and a neoprene case to keep everything in when you are not out training. Everything is kept secure inside the box by a lightweight foam insert, and you get the impression very early on that this is a quality product.


COMFORT
The two sets of yurbuds ear adapters are designed to let you customize the fit to your own ear. For me, the smaller (default) adapter works great, but the instructions also point out that if you can't get a good fit, you can send yurbuds a picture of your ear and they'll send you an additional size. For a truly personalized fit, you can also go into one of yurbuds authorized shops (like Runners' Store) and they will measure and fit your ear.

Overall, the comfort of the headphones is very good. I've tried lots of earbuds before, including in-ear canal designs, basic iPod designs, and more, and these are one of the best. You insert them in an unusual way--rather than just pressing them in place, you put them in your ear with the wires running back and horizontal, and then twist them 90 degrees. yurbuds calls this their "TwistLock" technology, and it really does work in terms of holding the earphones in place and providing a very comfortable fit.

SAFETY
You don't normally talk about safety when reviewing headphones, but actually in this case there are two design features that yurbuds has considered. The first is related to awareness: while these are in-ear headphones, they are specifically designed NOT to be noise-isolating. This means that you can hear enough ambient noise from the surroundings to be aware of cars, cyclists and others that you are sharing the road or path with. The second is related to visibility: the designers at yurbuds figured that if you're going to have this cord running from your phone or MP3 player to your ears, why not make it reflective to improve nighttime visibility? This is a simple but brilliant idea, and the reflective coating on the cord really lights up.

SOUND QUALITY
I compared the sound quality of the yurbuds Signature Series to three other headphones: the standard iPhone earphones, a Shure E2C noise-isolating earphones (which are my go-to earphones while traveling) and a pair of Sony MDR-V150 headphones.

Overall, I would rate the yurbuds as significantly better than both the Apple and Sony products, but not quite as good as the Shure in-ear design, which is expected since the Shure product is both noise-isolating and significantly more expensive (nearly double the price). The sound from the yurbuds is clean and you can clearly hear the distinction between different musical instruments. There is no distortion of low (bass) sounds and the highs are crisp but not harsh.

PHONE COMPATIBILITY
yurbuds include a mic and call control switch on the cord. They are compatible with iPhones, Android phones and Blackberrys. Then again, whose talking on the phone while they are running?

PRICE/VALUE
At approximately 499 SEK, the yurbuds Signature Series are competitive with brands like Sennheiser, Urban Ears and Apple. Not the cheapest available, but certainly worth it for what you get.

CONCLUSIONS
The yurbuds Signature Series combine great sound quality, brilliant design features for runners and other athletes, a comfortable form-factor and best-of-all: they don't fall out of your ears. I can only repeat the statement in the early part of this review: If you like listening to music while you run, you will not find a better pair of headphones than yurbuds. Full stop.

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