Keep This Critical Detail In Mind When Shopping For Earphones

Keep This Critical Detail In Mind When Shopping For Earphones
Image: Amazon

If, like me, you research every gadget purchase to the Nth degree, it can be super depressing when said product arrives and it’s perfect… except for one, tiny thing. Usually that thing escaped detection because it only rears it head once you actually use your new shiny. In my case, it was a set of SoundMagic E10 earphones to replace my busted EarPods. The problem? They vibrate.

“But Logan”, I hear you say. “Those earphones are a pair of tiny speakers… they’re supposed to vibrate.” And I hear you. I really do. What I didn’t count on was cable vibrating.

Inevitably, as you move, parts of your body and clothing will brush the wiring, sending small, yet deafening oscillations up the stiff plastic and onto your vulnerable, tympanic membrane.

Here’s a photo I prepared earlier.

Keep This Critical Detail In Mind When Shopping For EarphonesImage: Supplied

The white cables are from my dying set of EarPods. The patterned, black numbers up top are connected to the SoundMagic E10s. It’s hard to show in a still image, but while the EarPod cables are soft and flexible, the E10 ones are stiff. They do not curve sharply, instead wrapping around in gracefully, elongated loops.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Like Faramir, it only takes a second of gentle caressing to feel the quality of the E10s. But that extra hardness acts to amplify the vibrations when the cables are bumped.

I immediately noticed the difference as I walked to the supermarket a few days ago, Ed Kavalee’s TEAM Effort playing in my ears. It sounded like a team of miniature gnomes was using my eardrums as giant bongos.

Suffice to say, it was not a pleasant sensation.

So how in the world do you test for this? It’s not exactly the sort of thing noted in the specifications tab of an online product page. Your best bet is to dive deep into forums, looking for first-hand experiences. Or you could analyse photos of prospective ‘buds, doing you best to determine the flexibility and composition of the cables.

In my case, I decided to go with what I knew. So, I’ve ordered another pair of EarPods. The E10s are great — I’ll still use them when I’m not in motion — but there’s no way I’m going on another stroll and returning home with an earache.


  • Don’t know about you but this sounds like an bad ad for E10 ear buds.
    Why didn’t you consider blue tooth cordless ear phones/buds/etc if you find the interference picked up by the cord to be a problem?

  • I’ve never had a pair of earphones (from cheap to very expensive) that didn’t suffer from what I call “cable creak”, or be otherwise great apart from the cable.
    So I went truly wireless. There’s a couple of trade-offs (the need to charge and the odd connectivity blip) but to have a pair of earbuds with no cable-creak is bliss.

  • You’ve got a dodge pair, mine don’t do that but I notice your connecter is slightly different to mine so they may have made a running change to the specs along the line.

  • Totally agree with this article. I have a pair of sennheiser earbuds and the cable is quite flexible – more flexible than the stock Apple headphones – but transmit noise from any cable movement to the earbud. It really sucks, cause the headphones sound great otherwise.

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