Monday, June 22, 2020

A convert to earbuds

Behold my new Bluetooth earbuds!

Ear Buds: Anker Soundcore

These are Soundcore Spirit x2 earbuds, made by Anker.

I've never been a fan of earbuds...until now. My preference for personal music listening has always been "over-the-ear" headphones, and I have several pairs of them, including a nifty Bluetooth pair that dispenses with the cord. I'm actually a fairly late adapter to the whole Bluetooth thing, for reasons that I honestly couldn't describe for you beyond the simple aesthetic: I tend to like a cord. But once you start to get used to cordlessness,'s awfully hard to go back.

Earbuds have never worked terribly well for me, especially in their first iterations. I found that they never stayed in my ear canal very well, and I'd have to jam and twist them in there so they were actually uncomfortable if not outright painful. Inevitably they would twist and vibrate their way out until they fell out of my ear entirely, which somehow always managed to happen during the climactic passage of whatever it was I was listening to at the time. Hence my "over-the-ear" headphones, and I've gone through a bunch of these over the years.

But now I have taken the plunge on a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, and after using them for a few weeks, I can report that my verdict is in. I will never give these up. I love them.

Ear buds now seem to come in neat little carrying cases, and these are no different:

Ear Buds: Anker Soundcore

Now, as someone who only preferred corded headphones until now, I'd never given it much thought, but it turns out the case is a crucial part of the whole cordless ear buds thing. The case is how the buds get charged, and more, the case is the main power source for the buds! The buds carry impressive battery power on their own, but when you pop them back in the case, the case itself recharges the buds. So when you plug in the case for charging, you're really charging the case itself. Those three little LEDs at the front of the case? Those indicate the battery power.

The LEDs on the buds themselves indicate things like pairing status and the like. I haven't dug too deeply into this, but the buds automatically power down when they're put in the case (and they snap into their respective recesses with a satisfying magnetic click), so when you open the case, everything lights up again so you can see that the buds are pairing to one another. (And let's be honest: every piece of cool tech nowadays needs to have some kind of nifty glowing-LED component, no? If you buy a gadget with no glowy LEDs, you pretty much wasted your money, didn't you!)

Ear Buds: Anker Soundcore

Ear Buds: Anker Soundcore

One thing I've noticed is that the one-size-fits-all approach seems to have finally gone away. Ear buds now come with a selection of pads and collars one can switch out, depending on the level of comfort and sound. I played with these buds for a few days and then decided that while I was impressed, maybe I actually did need to trade the pads for a different size. After a little experimenting, I figured out what size works best for me.

In the past, ear buds have become uncomfortable or downright painful for me to use after about half an hour. These ones? I can actually forget they're in my ears (much to the occasional chagrin of The Wife, because the other nifty thing about ear buds these days is that often you can't tell someone is wearing any). 

The other thing that makes these perfect for me is the ear hook. These don't just rely on being stuffed into the ear canal to hold them in place, which I greatly appreciate. I actually prefer ear hooks like this in my earphones, and now my ear buds.

Ear Buds: Anker Soundcore

They're very lightweight; that center part where all the electronics are barely weighs anything at all, and like I've noted, the buds are actually easy to forget. Each bud also has a pair of buttons that control things like volume and allow you to navigate forward or back through tracks of whatever it is you're listening to. There is also functionality to answer phone calls through your phone, but I haven't used that feature at all, so I can't report on it. Likewise the fact that you can click a button three times to activate your phone's voice assistant thing (Siri, Google, or I suppose Bixby on a Samsung Galaxy phone). I don't use voice assistant things, so I have no opinion on that score.

I do have an opinion of the sound in general, which is fantastic. The bass is nice and heavy, without overwhelming. I don't feel much need to tweak the sound settings, which is good because there are only two default equalizer settings. Anker does have an app that supports a lot of its products and provides abilities to fine-tune them, but unfortunately these buds are not supported by their app. Maybe this will change, but if it doesn't, I am hardly disappointed in my purchase. I do wonder how long these will last, having never owned wireless ear buds before. I am not exactly hard on my electronics, though; I try to make things last until either natural failure or eventual obsolescence. Either way, I hope to be listening to music and podcasts on these buds for a long time to come!