I recently decided to upgrade the earphones I use on my iPod. I’d been using an inexpensive pair of JVC earphones after the Apple-supplied ones went on the fritz and they have been serviceable, but I’ve never liked the fit that much and as a consequence I play music at a higher volume due to a lot of the audio bleeding out of the earphones. Fearing a Pete Townsend-like future where I had to crank everything to 11 just to get good volume and making myself deaf in the process, I reckoned that sound-isolating earphones might be the answer.
After some research, I opted for the Shure SE110 earphones. They are described thusly on the product website: “Featuring Balanced MicroSpeakers, these sound isolating earphones deliver optimized audio for a rich, lifelike listening experience. Assorted sleeves and a modular cable provide unmatched comfort and customization.” Sounds good! (ho ho)
My first moment of doubt comes when I observe that the earphone “nozzle” is angled, suggesting that it is meant to be inserted in a specific manner. That strikes me as a bit fiddly for something I just want to slap on. Then I see an illustration of “recommended use” and gape at this composite man wearing the earphones in a way I never have, the cables draped behind the ears. This is the preferred way, Shure says, to keep the cable secure and provide better isolation.
Okay, I am amenable to changing my ways, so I give it a shot. I don’t know if I have defective ears or simply lack coordination but I cannot keep the cable draped over my ear. It keeps sliding off and around and instead of getting a better fit or isolation, I look like I’m having an epileptic fit trying to keep the damn thing hooked over my ear. And I don’t exactly have petite ears, you know?
Since the user guide grudgingly acknowledges that the earphones can be worn the way normal humans prefer, I try that and can at least get them into my ears. Next I discover the cable is way too short. It would work if I duct-taped the iPod to one of my cheeks (the ones on my face, perv) or maybe held it in front of my nose while listening. Shure has covered this, though, and includes an extension cord that extends the length of the cable. All right, I am almost ready to listen to music!
My final step is to find the best fit with the supplied sound-isolating sleeves. There are two varieties, pliable plastic and foam and each comes in three sizes. The phones have the medium foam sleeves on and I try them but the fit is non-optimal, so I switch to the larger plastic sleeves. Initially the fit seems good so I leave them on and come the weekend, I go to take the bus downtown and whilst waiting, don my new supersonic, form-fitting earphones. And I can’t keep the damn things in my ears. The right one in particular seems to pop out at the slightest movement. They might stay in if my jaw was wired shut. The iPod teases me briefly with excellent sound-isolated music and I note that I can indeed keep the volume much lower. But alas, this is not meant to be. I trudge back home and grab the JVCs, vowing to spend more time with the sleeves later.
Maybe it’s like getting a new pair of shoes. It takes a bit to wear them in, to get comfortable. Maybe I have goofy ears. I’ll try the smaller sleeves or the foam or scotch tape or something. I’m not taking them back, though. I bought them at the Apple store downtown and that place was downright creepy. I’m not stepping foot in there again if I can help it.