Wednesday 10 October 2012

stereo, out on the street you know (woh oh woh...)

I buy a lot of headphones.  Although I do own a couple of big, 'proper' headphones - including an amazing noise cancelling pair that are positively miraculous - most of my headphone collection are sets that I have acquired purely for running.

I've tried almost everything.  My ears seem to be the kind of shape where normal, 'Apple' style ear buds will just not stay in place when I go running.  Fine.  There are other types of headphone.  Can I find a pair that will sit comfortably and not fall out when I'm running?  Yes.  Can I find a comfortable pair that doesn't then die within about two months of use?  No.

Well.... that's not entirely true.  I've found Sennheiser PMX-60s to be both durable and fantastic sounding.  The problem is that they're a little bit on the bulky side, and I keep hankering for something a little bit more portable and tiny bit more discreet.  I quite liked some of the Sennheiser PMX-70 range, as they were quite a lot more streamlined, but as soon as Adidas got involved, the price seemed to go right up and my (possibly toxic) sweat seemed to kill them in a matter of weeks.  Rubbish.

Last week, I thought I might have found the answer.  The Sweatshop that hosts my Running Club was selling Yurbuds: headphones with a personalised fit and a guarantee that they wouldn't fall out.  At £30, I thought that was worth a go, had my ear measured -- a process that took all of about 10 seconds - and then walked off with a blue pair of size 6s.

After a couple of runs,  I was pretty happy with them: they have this "twist and lock" thing that seems to secure them in your ear whilst also barely feeling as though they are there.  They're amazingly comfortable, and nothing like those horrible ear-canal jobs that I really don't get on with at all.  The sound is pretty reasonable too.  It was all good.  Well, perhaps the right ear didn't feel as thought it fit 100% right, but it was acceptable.  Worth persevering with, anyway.

Then, this evening, I lost one of the buds.  I was doing a bit of marshalling for the club - my career is going down the toilet, but my talent is being recognised by my running club - and as we approached a junction we like to know as "suicide corner", I popped out my right headphone and encouraged people to head up a little way to the traffic island so we could all cross safely.  When I reached down to pick up my headphone some 50m later, the bud was gone.  How this happened, I have no idea.  The remaining bud is incredibly securely attached.  Very strange, and to be honest, quite disappointing too.

The packaging encourages you to email the company direct rather than talk to your retailer, so when I got home, that's exactly what I did.  Apparently they pride themselves on their customer service.  Well, they certainly replied quickly, by the time I'd had my shower, telling me that I could buy a replacement set for $10 plus $19 international shipping.  $29 for a £30 pair of headphones that I have used three times and bought less than a week ago?  That's your best offer?  Well, ok then, they said.  If you ship them back to the USA, we'll ship you a new pair.  Or you can make it the retailer's problem.

Hmm.  Colour me unimpressed.  They seem like really good headphones, but after owning them for 6 days and using them on a grand total of three runs, I have to tell you that I'm ultimately not that impressed, not with the customer service, anyway.  It's not entirely unreasonable to offer me an exchange, albeit at some inconvenience to me, but legendary customer care would be a little different, in my opinion.  Back to my old faithful PMX-60s, I guess.

Boring post, I guess.... but I've seen that Yurbuds have responded to another disappointed reviewer that I found when googling, so let's see, eh?

On the plus side, I really enjoyed marshalling tonight.  It's only a matter of time before I buy myself a clipboard, I fear.


  1. UPDATE: sweatshop have shown what real customer service is and have offered to swap them for me, even though it's not really their problem. I'm sure you'll be very relieved to know that.

  2. I have really small earholes that no headphones fit in for running apart from Sennheisers. Currently I'm on these -
    They're dead comfortable an never fall out. I use the smallest bud with them, the other buds are far too big!