More sport, less earbud

STILL TALKING - Enrico Miguel T. Subido - The Philippine Star

The debate about listening to music while running goes on. Supporters of the practice will say that the right songs can benefit runners by helping them get into the zone and maintaining a pace. Detractors, on the other hand, will point out that it is a distraction that can make one less alert of his or her surroundings, and ultimately burn them out faster.

I think listening to music while running is great. It does have a downside in that one’s spatial hearing is somewhat compromised — but this is easily remedied by turning the volume down a few notches. And all that stuff about it being great for pacing and getting a good rhythm is probably true, but it’s not the reason I enjoy listening to music while running.

I find now that running is one of the times when I’m really able to listen to songs. In the car, there’s so much to process and be mindful of out on the road that I can’t let myself get absorbed into new tunes. While writing or reading, I need complete silence – so that effectively takes music out of the picture. Jogging gives me the “solo-quiet” and privacy needed to be truly immersed in music. It’s a time when I can really pinpoint what I feel makes a band or a DJ good.

That sounds a bit too sensitive, actually; like an artsy-fartsy, “I’m deep, I like to run and be alone and listen to music because I’m deep” kind of answer. The “appreciating music” part couldn’t be more true, though. But, in the hopes of balancing the scales, it should be noted that as a beginner runner I need music in my ears so that I don’t hear myself huffing, puffing, and wheezing through an arduous two kilometers of subdivision road.

There are three things I notice with earphones: sound, comfort, and durability. They have to sound good, they have to feel good, and they have to be able to take a beating. I recently became the owner of a set of Yurbuds Ironman Inspire earbuds and following my scoring system, they pass two out of the three parameters.

First of all, these Yurbuds feel great. The silicone cups around the buds fit perfectly and give a soft and snug fit. A Patented Ear-Lock technology ensures this, and will really prevent them from falling out. All the bouncing around won’t dislodge these things. The Yurbuds system also comes with another set of cups just in case the other one doesn’t fit your ears. And the company has a great gimmick – if your Yurbuds don’t fit the way they should, send in a picture of your ear with a penny next to it and they send you a custom fit set.

Secondly, the Yurbuds are built tough. They’re made to withstand an active outdoor lifestyle. The cables are attached very firmly to the buds and to the hands-free control and the build quality on these is very high. These Yurbuds also get 5 stars for sweat and water resistance. With the silicone caps on, sweat will never reach the drivers of these cans. So durability gets a big check. As the tagline of the product says: “Developed by athletes, for athletes.”

So how about the sound? They’re “just okay” is the real answer. While these Yurbuds produce crisp and very clear highs, it’s easy to see how the set is not sonically balanced. The mids sound all over the place, and tend to become too strong in MP3s that have a lower bitrate. The discrepancy is less obvious when listening to a CD, but it still remains that the mids are a bit messy. What can’t be denied is a noticeable lack in the low frequency department. There is barely any bass, no oomph, no matter what format you are listening to.

The tagline of these Yurbuds is “Made by Athletes, for Athletes.” Maybe athletes should just stick to just being athletes, then? Definitely not. They got the comfort and durability part right, but should get some real help from sound and acoustics experts. Their product will improve leaps and bounds if they do so. Still, it’s a pretty okay set.

And maybe, for all-too-serious runners, there isn’t time to think about highs, mids, bass, frequency response, impedance, sensitivity, and nominal power handling capacity. They’re just headphones, after all. Then again, maybe it’s time they should. They might improve their running times; or find more enjoyment in music, discovering a rhythm in hearing a beat the way it’s supposed to be heard.

For information, visit www.yurbuds.com.

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Email me at [email protected]  or follow me on Twitter @_stilltalking










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