I was on here years and then stopped because I didn't have any Apple devices. I've gotten an iPhone XR. I am looking for headphones, and good holy gods, let the troubles begin!
Right now I'm running Sennheiser HD25 Light headphones into a 3.5 to lightning adapter. That works fine, except for two major issues.
1. If I have music going at a decent level, they don't really let me hear a lot of what's going on around me.
2. They have no controls, not surprising since they weren't made for a phone, until recently they were hooked to a Victor Stream. So if I'm working out, walking either around the house or on a treadmill, and I want to skip a track or something, I have to stop and pull the phone out of my pocket or the armband it's in and use two hands to do whatever on the phone.
No problem, I think to myself, I've heard there are headphones with transparency that let's you hear what's going on around you. So I ordered a set of Tribit Flybuds Pro C3 or whatever they're called. The app was hardly accessible, the personalized thing where it tested your hearing didn't work at all, and the modes switched between one that sounded pretty decent and one that sounded like it was all midrange and treble, neither of which had any transparency. They fell out of my ears just sitting and messing with them, so I returned them, I'm not necessarily a huge fan of earbuds anyway.
I've looked at other earbuds anyway, because that seems to be what's mostly out there. I can get Anchor ones with transparency, but they're not really rated for sports. I'm not doing crazy sports, but I am using them to work out and I sweat, so they're gonna have to do something. I can get sports ones, but they'll just block my ears anyway, and I already have decent headphones if I'm not worried about potentially hearing my surroundings, though I would get controls.
I've looked at the Sony Link Buds, and the Link Buds S. Apparently the originals don't sound that great, no bass to speak of to hear reviewers tell it, and the S which are noise reducing and have a transparency feature apparently have weird controls that don't let you do certain things, e.g. change volume from the earbuds.
I've seriously considered audio glasses, except the Bose Temppo seem to be the best, but they are A. expensive, and B. apparently bleed sound, which makes sense since they use directed speakers. Hearing music and having your ears totally unblocked was kind of cool though. But I'm not sure I need people haring my music or speech synth yammering away or whatever. So I'm told bone conduction headphones aren't that great in terms of sound quality either.
So after all of that, if you're still here, let me see if I can sum up what I'm looking for, which I wouldn't have thought would be too terribly hard to find, but I am apparently wrong.
1. Phone controls, by which I mean volume, track forward and back, stuff like that. I'm actually not using the phone as a phone, it has no cell service, but since anything that has controls seems to let you deal with calls, that's no problem.
2. Something that sounds decent.
3. Something that let's me hear my surroundings, if necessary.
4. Preferably something that doesn't cost the damn moon, Bose Quiet Comfort seems to be highly recommended, but they cost $330. The phone, used, is only costing me $125. I guess if I'm considering audio glasses at all I'm willing to pay more for audio than the phone costs, but $330 for earbuds is insane.
5. If we're going with headphones rather than earbuds, probably what I'd prefer, I'm looking for on-ear headphones, i.e. the smaller ones that sit against your ears, not the big clamshell things that entirely surround your ear. I thought we might have gotten lucky with the Anchor space something or other, but from what my wife can see, they actually surround the ear.
I've read every headphone review posted here, and none of them, excluding the Sony Link Buds, see above, really seems to capture what I'm after, or even discusses the ability to hear your surroundings, most of the time. I'm willing to pay a bit for decent sound, but I'd like to keep it around 100-200 if possible, rather than 300 plus. So if anybody's got any recommendations, I'd really appreciate it. Pro tip, if your recommendation contains the words beats or skull, no. I want serious headphones, not corporate marketing gibberish.
I’m delighted with AirPods Pro 2
The AirPods Pro 2 do everything you are looking for and can apparently be found as low as $200. The transparency is excellent and sound quality again excellent for buds. They are definitely the best wireless buds I’ve ever heard and not far from the best buds in general although the old etymotics that were available 15 years ago were pretty unbeatable. Honestly they’re just great headphones and I would have no hesitation to buy them. They can be returned if they’re not for you but honestly they are such good all rounders I’d be pretty confident you’ll get on with them. They have forward and backward track, play pause and volume up and down, toggle transparency/noise cancelling and Siri for anything else. They are an enormous upgrade on the pro 2’s which I never liked the sound signature of although they were incredibly convenient. $200 is a lot for what they are but thats just the nature of the wireless headphone market which is unfortunate but at least they aren’t as expensive as the Boses which I’ve also heard and prefer the AirPod pro 2’s. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
Couple of ideas.
AirPods Pro or Beats would be fine for Earbuds. You could try Aftershoks, for open ear, but honestly, even though they are more expensive, the Bose glasses have a much better sound and unless you're going to be in a public area, I wouldn't worry about the bleed through.
I also agree that the Airpod Pros (second gen or not) are an excellent choice for you, although if you want the volume controls you need to go with the second generation. The sound quality is great and it seems to check all your boxes with the exception of not being over-ear. There is also no latency when it comes to using them with VoiceOver which can't be said for many other bluetooth headphones.
Just adding to the AirPods…
Just adding to the AirPods Pro suggestion, Comply do memory foam tips that will help hold the AirPods in place for exercise.
This does feel a very apple centric answer though. I did have a look around but it would appear that on ear headphones are not as popular as they once were. I guess it's either full emersion with over ear or highly portable with buds. I do like the senhizer sound, though the new momentum 4s are listed as over ear. Possibly you can ask for some help identifying just quite how over ear they are.
As it goes, I use AirPods Pro 2 for exercise however I tend to use a stationary bike. I'm pretty sure they'd stay put in more eccentric motions, but something to think about. I do also use a little Tribute Storm micro speaker for my bike which works well clipped to the handlebars. It's my cheap version of a peloton. Might be worth considering.
You didn't mention these, why?
I guess I already know the answer, but the obvious choice is Apple Airpods pro. Yes they are expensive, but if even Z reviews likes them, then that is good enough.
Why did I buy them? Because Z recommended them and I hate wires.
Good luck with your search.
Why I didn't mention Air Pods.
I didn't mention air pods because they're earbuds, which I'm trying to avoid. That's because even the wired version with those wing thingies I owned quite a while back would regularly fall out of my ears. So did the Flybuds. They'd probably be OK for walking, but if I'm doing treadmill or something, I don't know that I'd trust them, and I don't know that I'd trust them for going outside either.
Plus it sounds like I'd potentially have to spend for accessories to make them fit better beyond the $200 plus to get them in the first place. Back to audio glasses, public is pretty easy to achieve, e.g. if I'm visiting family. I'm actually worried more about voice bleed, say I'm reading a book with speech or an audio book and people are talking, I don't need to crank it up and have the kids hear cursing or whatever.
Then there is the aspect of public in general too. If I take them to a doctor's office or whatever, how much are they bleeding? Obviously it depends on how much I turn them up, but it's pretty easy for sound, particularly higher frequencies, to carry a lot farther then you might suspect. There I'd be less concerned with people hearing than annoying them. If you just have this weird background noise going on, I can see how that could get super annoying really quick.
Anchor do a slightly cheaper pair of audio glasses, but I haven't managed to find a review yet. I'll take a serious look at the Air Pods, since you're all recommending them. I do wonder if there's any better way of potentially keeping them from falling out than just wedging them into my earballs. To be fair, I have that concern with any earbuds, not just Apple's.
Different headphones for different occasions.
I mentioned the glasses since I thought you wanted exercise headphones? If you're on a treadmill, you can have them loud and unless someone is standing right next to you, I don't think bleed through will be a problem. AirPods are good multi-use, but I glasses are best suited for exercise, or mobility and needing to hear GPS. I find the AirPods do better in my ears then the Beats ones do.
Here you go, first in the…
Here you go, first in the list sounds perfect:
Re: different headphones for different occasions.
I do want them for working out yes, but I also want them as general purpose headphones. I'm not spending $200 plus on something just for working out. If I'm spending that kind of money, those are the headphones I'm using, period. Sometimes I walk around our living room, sometimes I do treadmill. If I'm walking around, I want to be able to hear stuff, so if my wife gets up and is walking around or whatever, I can help not get in her way, instead of it being all on her. That's what prompted me to look for new thingies, because like I said the wired ones I have are good, but if you've got anything at a decent volume on them, you're not hearing much of the outside.
So sure, I want something that will stand up to workouts. But I also want that thing to just work if I'm hanging out somewhere. I mean, if I wanted separate headphones, I could probably get something way cheaper, Anchor has sports earbuds for like $35, but they don't do transparency or anything, so I could just save the money and use the wired headphones I already have. But I thought since they're not solving some issues I have, I may as well look for something that just works to go with the phone.
Because the current headphones still suffer from lack of controls. So I mean, for the glasses, I just worry about how much bleed is going on, not only in terms of potential privacy, e.g. if I have to enter my pass code, but also in terms of just annoying people around me, or distracting them, that kind of thing. They're a neat idea, I just wonder how well they'd actually work in practice.
Regarding your point about having to get accessories to keep Airpods in your ear, I hear you on that frustration; having to spend more money just to keep them in really stinks. That being said, you can get a pretty low-price set of accessories that may help, such as a strap that goes around your kneck and connects to the bottom of each bud, making it so that if they were to fall they'd just dangle around your kneck. Additionally there are loops that you can get that will loop over your ear and hold them in place. I've seen both of these accessories in one pack before. If you do go down the Airpod route, let me know if you want to look into these and I can try to get a link for you.
Also, keep in mind that the wired Earpods have a much different shape and fit than the Airpod Pros. The regular Airpods (not pros) have the same shape as the wired earpods, but the pros have the soft tip and a different fit so may fit better. Perhaps it's worth seeing if you can try them out at an Apple store? I personally find they fit and stay much better than the wired Earpods/regular Airpods.
Your recommendations have prevailed!
Well, I figured I'd mention, since I had some pretty strong opinions, I just ordered the Air Pods Pro second generation. In theory they'll be here today, although the keyboard I picked up, the Logitech K380 (another forum recommendation) was supposed to show up yesterday and showed up today, so we'll see. I do see accessory kits with straps and ear hooks and all, and they're fairly cheap, so I decided since everybody really seems to like the Air Pods, I'd give them a shot. I didn't order the accessories yet because I figure they'll be fine to test in the house. That way if I end up returning them I won't have a random batch of unnecessary accessories lying around.
Thanks everybody for the discussion and recommendations. I really appreciate it, however it ends up turning out! Hopefully these will work and I can stop looking at headphone features and contradictory reviews and good holy gods somebody make it stop, LOL!
I had another suggestion.
I just remembered the Sony WF 1000 x M4’s I’ve heard and have a stunning sound, pretty good transparency and everything else you are looking for. They are over the ear and have incredible noise cancelling too. They also have a newer version than I’ve heard the WF 1000 X M5’s which apparently improve on transparency although they are a lot more expensive and also don’t fold which the m4’s do. They really are great headphones although I see you’ve already ordered the AirPods Pro. I think you’ll be delighted with them but still thought I’d leave the Sony’s here in case you weren’t. They are in a different class with sound quality and noise cancelling but the transparency isn’t as natural as the AirPods Pro. The other obvious option which have incredible transparency is AirPods Max but there’s a few problems with them as you may know. Firstly they’ve been out for years so due an update relatively soon, they are really heavy so may not be great for workouts and of course the price. It’s insane for what they are and they don’t even come with a proper case just a silly bra thing. I’m happy for you you tried the AirPods Pro. They really are something special IMHO. Oh and great choice on the K380. It’s a great little keyboard. If you need any advice or help with it, just ask.
A thought about waiting for firmware update.
Just popped into my memory that you may want to pair them with your phone then leave them on charge for a while, maybe an hour or so to let them download the latest update. There were quite a few issues with connectivity which were only resolved recently via a firmware update.
Airpods impressions and questions, here we go!
First, the questions.
1. Apple's site says the firmware will update while charging "and in bluetooth range". What has to be in bluetooth range? Does the case have to be in range of the phone? Does it need to be open, so the phone sees the airpods are connected?
2. Which mode is which? If I hold, I get two rising tones, or a lower tone. Which mode is which?
3. Exactly what in the hell is transparency supposed to do? My impression was that it was like monitoring on a handheld recording device, i.e. if I plug headphones into my Zoom recorder, I hear whatever it's getting from the room. What I hear in one mode on the airpods is my voice every once in a while sounding like it has a tiny bit of delay or such. Some sort of processing is going on, but I'll be damned if I know what it is.
Other than that? I don't see the point. I certainly wouldn't trust whatever it's not doing walking around outside, that's for damn sure. What is it supposed to be giving me? Because I was just walking around for a half hour in my house listening to some eighties metal, because if we're gonna test let's test, and I noticed absolutely no difference whatsoever between the modes vs. my ability to hear my surroundings.
OK, on to impressions, which were much better. They fit well. They didn't seem to move around a lot. They do indeed sound amazing. All the controls, though slightly less responsive than I was expecting, do what they're supposed to. Great access in terms of status and such, if I open the case but leave them in, I get reports of charge per earbud and case charge as well. We ran the personalized ear scan, I didn't do the fit test ye,t that is something I have to set up. otherwise I think it's pretty much at defaults. Anything I should be changing?
In terms of earbuds, yeah, I think they'd work for me. However, seeing as how transparency doesn't seem to be doing a whole hell of a lot, and maybe that's just what transparency is and I'm expecting the wrong thing, are they $250 of earbuds that work for me? I don't know, which is why I'm asking questions, because I could very well be missing something.
I'm surprised they don't have voice control, although I apparently need to set up "hey Siri", I thought I told it to turn that on during setup but I guess not, because it doesn't work at all. But on the whole, I feel like I could get way cheaper earbuds that would also work for me. They have really good sound and really good accessibility. I just don't know if those things are worth that much money to me at this point, but we'll see.
First, excellent choice for testing your AirPods. Now, to your questions. Firmware updates when they are charging. It just does it in the background when it wants too. Next, for customization purposes, go to Settings with your AirPods connected. Go to Bluetooth, find the AirPods, and swipe down to more info. Double tap and you can customize each AirPod.. Transparency mode let's you hear your surroundings but the volume level of the music will be a factor. You can make additional adjustments to that under Hearing.
When using it, make sure you use the correct side of the ear thing that goes in the AirPod. I have no issues with them fallingout. Have fun using them.
Transparency and noise canceling on airpods
When you hold the the stem on the airpod and hear a lower tone that sounds lower and sounds like a thunk sound, that's noise canceling. Transparency has a higher pitched tone and sounds more like a ding, and is slitely longer in duration than the noise canceling tone.
the best way to know if…
the best way to know if transparency is on is to try it without music playing, you should be able to hear 95 % of what is around you. If you want to use this transparency whilst listening to music, you'll have to reduce the sound of the music until you can hear your surroundings, this is common with all such ear buds or headphones. It would be cool if there were a way of apple projecting the sound so that the transparency aspect comes to the fore, but the issue is, you can only hear so much and music over the top of anything is going to drown out the world.
I test transparency with a finger click, if it's clear, it's on. Worth checking you have the right sized ear pieces too, they are in the bottom of the box, there is a fit test. When wearing them, with noise cancelling on, it should feel a little like you're under water. When you turn on transparency, it opens up. Just to mention, there is a third mode which is neither transparency or noise cancelling on, that is just a passive mode though, they should come, when doing a long hold on either stem, to switch between noise cancelling and transparency.
Transparency is as you imagine. Very much like you’re not wearing AirPods at all but not quite. Essentially it passes outside sound to the inside speaker. You’ll struggle to tell the difference while you’re listening to music but turn the music off and you’ll hear the difference very obviously. With transparency on you can just leave the AirPods in and get on with your day. No need to take the AirPods out of your ear. Noise cancelling is the opposite of transparency, It plays an inverse sign wave of the sound on the outside which cancels out the waves before they reach your ear drum. Try it in a car or on a train or plane. It’s quite incredible. Like the engine and road noise just got switched off. On a moving train it can be a little odd. Almost complete silence yet your body is moving. Really nice though because you can turn the volume down and still hear voiceover or your music as clearly. It also reduces fatigue from noisy environments. Transparency lets you hear most of whats outside, transparency shuts most of it out. As for updating, it just happens when the case is closed and they are plugged in and charging. You can put them in your ear and look in settings for which firmware they have but they should be up to date after an hour or so.
My gripy headphone reviews.
Airpods: Sound great, easily lost, every accessory to prevent said loss seems to involve fiddling around with removing them to charge them in the case and usually blocks the controls. no, they're getting sent back.
Shokz OpenRun Pro: Some review said you didn't have to compromise anymore between bone conduction and earbud sound quality. I don't know hat kind of garbage earbuds these people are using for themselves, but while they're pretty good for speech, they're pretty midrange heavy and suck for music. If you dig the sound of old transistor radios, you'll love them I guess. Nope, getting returned.
Anchor Soundcore Frames audioglasses: Really comfortable. Less midrangy than the Shokz, but not that much, so still not super great for music. Bleed is crazy though, which makes sense, they're just speakers near your head, but I was hoping it wouldn't be as bad. I love the idea, but I'm not sure I can recommend them, given the way sound carries from them. They too are getting returned.
So I'm back to the wired headphones I was using with the lightning adapter, until I see if I find anything else that makes some sort of sense to try. Excuse any typos, my hands are recovering from surgery.
May I ask, how are you…
May I ask, how are you losing your AirPods Pro? I find that, as long as I keep them in the case, they're fine, plus it has a tone on the case to help locate them or, were you talking more about them falling out during movement?
I, too, have been frustrated with things like the Aftershokz line of products. I think, for the price, you really do not get good audio, and most of their products use proprietary charging cables which I find very annoying, as if we do not have enough things to keep track of already. I have also tried some air conduction headphones which I like a lot better, in general. One pair I have tried is the Cleer Arc, a pair which gets good comfort ratings from me and decent sound. The cons for this pair are that I do not like the controls as, in general, I am not a pair of touch controls on anything other than full-sized over-ear headphones. Also, bass is somewhat lacking in this pair. However, it has its own charger that comes built into the case which I like.
However, the pair I would recommend above that is a relatively new pair of air conduction headphones called the OneOdio Openrock Pro. Right now it sells for $109 and is only available on their website or from AliExpress. Still, though, the comfort for me is excellent. They sort of slip on behind your ears like the Cleer Arc, and then you twist them around so that the body of each earbud sits right over your ear canal. Of this kind of earbud, whether it be bone or air conduction, it has the best bass of any I have heard. Also, you can play the mfairly loud without having to worry about soundbleed. There are also button controls on each earbud that let you adjust volume, skip tracks back and forth, and activate your voice assistant. I'm leaving a link here in case anyone cares.