I’ve always had trouble getting earbuds to stay in my ears. Maybe I have smaller-than-average ear canals, but for whatever reason, standard earbuds just don’t feel comfortable, and fall out really easily. And trying to listen to my iPod while running is incredibly frustrating. This is exactly the problem which led Seth Burgett to invent yurbuds. Well, okay, not exactly the same problem, because Burgett was training for an Iron Man triathlon, whereas I’m working my way back up to a half-marathon (and generally running about three miles at a time so far). But you get the point.
Yurtopia yurbuds are “earbud enhancers” which fit onto standard earbud headphones (including, importantly, Apple iPod earphones) or even many Bluetooth headsets. They are designed to both help the earbuds stay in place and to channel more of the sound into your ear, allowing you to turn the volume down and still get better sound quality. You can either buy a standard size, or send in a photo of your ear (with either a quarter or Apple earbuds for size reference) to get a custom-fit set. I received a set to try out, and I was pretty impressed with them.
They yurbuds are made of a soft rubber which is pretty comfortable. It takes a tad more effort putting them in than naked earbuds, but that’s also what keeps them in place. The shape also helps prevent sound leakage, which means more of the sound is going straight into your ear and not out toward the rest of the world. I found that I was able to turn my iPod’s volume down to about 25% (in an indoor environment) and still hear quite clearly, and the bass was much better than without the yurbuds. The only downside (as my wife pointed out) is that because the yurbuds also help block outside sounds, you need to be careful if you’re out running on city streets since you may not hear traffic quite as well.
Yurtopia has a range of about twelve different sizes, and if you choose the “custom fit” option they’ll send you the closest match based on a photo of your ear. Apparently there’s also an iPhone app which uses the built-in camera to send the image directly to Yurtopia. My ear is apparently a size 5, and my wife tried the size 6 for running. (For the 2-pack, which includes sizes 5 and 6, they recommend using the larger one for vigorous activity and the smaller one for regular use.)
The yurbuds run about $20 a pair, or $30 for the 2-pack. Yurtopia also sells its own earbuds (which look pretty much exactly like standard white Apple iPod earbuds), which can be included with your order if you don’t already have some. They also have a list of compatible Bluetooth devices: the 2-pack included several adapters for various types of headsets.
Overall, I think they’re a pretty cool product, especially if you want to use your audio devices in noisy settings (think airplanes). Depending on where you go for runs, however, you might want to wear just one so you can still keep an ear out for cars.
Wired: Better sound quality at lower volumes, stays in your ear, custom-fit option.
Tired: Depending on what you’re doing, might block too much outside sound; rubber tends to be a dust (and earwax) magnet.