Last year I reviewed an interesting set of earbuds from Zipbuds, a company that promised “tangle free” listening through use of an innovative zipper system. They lived up to the promise. Zipbuds has a new product they sent for me to test, SLIDE earbuds featuring “Zipperless Zipper technology” that’s claimed to retain the tangle-free appeal of the originals while cutting down on weight and bulk.
The concept of the new SLIDE earbuds is similar to that of the set I tested last year. This is audio gear with the primary goal of being free of the annoying tangles that plague regular earbuds. The SLIDEs are also designed to be more durable, with flexible reinforcements at the usual stress points (the base of the earbuds and the 3.5mm headphone jack). The cables themselves use “military grade fibers” for increased durability.
The SLIDE part of the equation is earbud cables that interlock using a groove and slider mechanism. Inside it are aluminum rollers treated with Teflon lubricant. Think of it like a high tech Ziplock bag and you have the general idea. When you’re done listening, slide the frictionless connector up to join the individual cables connecting the earbuds. The cable used in the SLIDE is thicker than that found on standard headphones and earbuds, but the product does live up to the advertising of being lightweight and they are definitely less bulky than the originals. More importantly, they still do an excellent job of avoiding tangles. Jam the SLIDEs in a pocket or backpack and they come out as a length of cable instead of a twisted mess.
Zipbud uses ZBXi Ultimate Drivers, Fit4Comfort angled buds, oxygen-free copper wiring, and Dual-Tone performance ear tips (small, medium, and large tips are included) to produce audio described as “an insanely clean mix of clarity and bass with absolutely zero distortion at any volume.” I wouldn’t put these on a top ten list of audiophile quality earbuds, but the sound is good for the price and definitely superior to the earbuds most device manufacturers throw in. The clarity and lack of distortion are there, but I had to make use of an equalizer to get the bass up to levels I was happy with.
Like the Zipbuds from last year, the SLIDE includes a noise-filtering microphone and single-button remote. These extras are compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry devices.
Zipbuds covers the full cost of breakage due to manufacturing defects, but, in a nice touch for parents, the company also offers 50 percent off the replacement price if someone manages to abuse the headphones to the point that they break.
That doesn’t help with kids who lose their headphones altogether, but it’s worth knowing if you have someone in the house who’s especially tough on their gear.
Disclosure: Zipbuds provided a set of SLIDE ear buds for the purposes of this review.