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Is it Just Me, or Does Anyone Else Hate In-ear Headphones?

I’m not talking about the bud style earphones that come with an iPod or Zune. I’m talking about those you buy that would replace the bud style that actually go into your ear canal. Those earphone, headphone, whatever you wanna call them things that you plug into your head. I bought a pair, never having tried them before, hoping to get better sound that what the buds gave me. After getting past the initial weirdness of pushing them into my ears, which I can only equate to the weirdness someone who has never had contact lenses experiences the first time they try to put contact lenses in their eyes, I tested their sound. Overall the audio quality was fine, but the entire time I was being distracted by how odd it felt to have something stuck in my ears and also have virtually all external sounds blocked out. It was like a constant wet willie — only not wet.

After a few minutes my ear canals begin to ache so I removed the earphones from my head. Then I noticed that my ear wax was now on the earphones which, aside from being a little gross, made me wonder if I now would have to clean these things every time I took them out of my ears. So to sum up: awkward putting them in, weird feeling of having external sound blocked out like someone had their finger in my ears, and needs frequent cleaning. You can probably tell that I am no fan of this style of head/earphone. Oh, and for those of you that do like this style of head/earphone yes, I did try changing the size of the little cushions they give you for a more comfortable fit, but the result was always the same. Needless to say, I’ll be sticking with my reliable, non-intrusive, old bud style headphones for the foreseeable future.

23 thoughts on “Is it Just Me, or Does Anyone Else Hate In-ear Headphones?

  1. I TOTALLY agree! I can’t stand the way these things feel. The problem is, you can’t find a decent pair of buds in a store.

    1. I found this discussion string by asking Google “Why can’t I find earbud earphones?”. Surprising that this conversation was 7 years back! I can’t stand the in-ear type that the author writes about either, but now it is nearly impossible to find the earbud type headphones that don’t need to be stuffed inside the ear canal. I have been buying Skullcandy S3FXDM058 Headphones, Rasta on Amazon but the last pair I bought were clearly used which caused me to do some research. It appears Skullcandy hasn’t made the earbuds I like for years, but an Asian named company is selling them on Amazon for around $23-$29 plus $5 shipping. The earbuds work fine, but they were not new. I suspect this is another company selling fraudulent products on Amazon which seems to be frequent issue now. I wear out the headphones, or on occasion hook them on something and damage them. Each time it is a frustrating process to find the same ones again from a trustful source. It’s caused me to take note that while it’s always stated that we have endless choices of things these days, that’s not really true. It seems more like we have a couple versions of one thing that comes in variable cosmetic differences. Those in-ear canal buds are all any retailers seem to sell anymore though most people I talk to hate them. The biggest difference between all of them seems to be mostly color options. I know if I spend $100 or more, the sound will be better but I’m not risking that amount of money on something so easily lost or broken.

  2. Two things.. First; normal earphones fall out of my ear, even sitting down. I guess I’m one of many people who have this problem. There is absolutely no pair that stays in my ears.
    Second I run and bike and it’s pretty hard for anyone to keep normal earphones in your ears while you run; either you have to have the hanging ones or the in-ear ones.
    Anyway, as with anything, you get used to them

  3. On the contrary, i can never go back now, i have a set of Sony MDR-EX500LP, before that i had the ones that come with the Sony Walkman X. Both have excellent audio quality, are extremely comfortable to wear, and they’re much more practical than having a headset. Frankly, before i had these i was a huge advocate of headsets. I kept saying that earbuds didn’t give good enough quality, were uncomfortable and so on. But i have completely changed my mind. You should try the MDR set, they are amazing… i can never go back to those clunky headsets now

  4. Bose QC-15s…accept no substitute. $325 and worth every penny in a cubicle environment when you really need to concentrate. I can’t even keep those in ear/ear bud type of things in my ears.

    1. The Bose look nice but at $300 they’re a bit pricey and since they’re a full headset they don’t seem easily portable or suitable for workouts with an MP3 player like bud or in-ear phones do. I bet they sound great though. Thanks!

    2. Sure. and in the cubicle environment, because you’re using Over Ear, noise canceling headphones, you don’t hear your boss walking up behind you until he taps you on the shoulder and then its too late to duck his request that you fix the TPS reports at 4:55pm.

  5. Yeah I hate that too, It just feels so wrong to push them inside my freaking head. Bought some cheapies to see if I could get used to it, I doubt that’s gonna happen.

    1. I picked up a pair of Bose IE2 which I’ve found to be extremely comfortable, but a little pricey (although on the low end of Bose products). They rest in your ears no further than ear bud style headphones, with a silicone spacer than keeps them comfortably positioned. Highly recommended.

  6. I can’t stand them either. Though when I use them all sound is blocked out except for my breathing. No matter how softly I breath, I can hear and feel myself doing it with those in my head. It is the most annoying thing ever, especially when trying to tune everything out…

  7. I totally agree. Those in-ear canal stylee headphones just don’t suit my ears. Maybe my ear holes are too small, because even the smallest fitting won’t squeeze deep enough in my ear to sound right. If you don’t put them in properly then you lose the bottom end of the sound, i.e. the bass. So for me they’re a waste of time. Problem is it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find decent old style in-ear headphones, (the shallow ones).

  8. Thanks for sharing your post. I am looking for wireless bluetooth sports headphones and all I can find are in-ear head buds.

    Are there any decent wireless sports headphones that do not violate your ear-hole? Yes, I know of the ones that look like cups over your ears, but they don’t look like they would stay one for a light jog, let alone be able to handle sweat really well.

    I really which the default earphones that come with the iPhone/Blackberry were wireless.

    If you or your readers have any suggestions please post them.


  9. Agree. I used to swear by sony foam earbuds. But, after losing a pair here, a pair getting wet and rusty there, I had to trudge to the store to buy a new pair after 5 some odd years. What I noticed … you could no longer find foam ear buds. Everything was in-ear. So, I tired a pair. I hate them, b/c they felt like I was underwater the whole time, ear corked up, and the oils in my ear kept causing them to fall out. Regardless of tip I tried, I couldn’t get them to stay in place for longer than 5 minutes. I hated them. However, try finding a pair of foam earbuds now. It seems impossible. Sony doesn’t make their good, $20 foam ear buds anymore. And while you can find some at dollar stores they are horrible, horrible ear buds with horrible sound quality. What ticks me off the most… I bought a 100-pack of foam ear bud replacer covers (the foam part). I’m sitting on like 90 foam pads that I can’t do anything with! Argh! The only reasonable alternative I found, or rather, was given to me as a gift was a set of Bose ear buds. They stay in place, don’t drown out external noise, and don’t slather their way into your ear canal. My brother got them for me as a x-mas gift with an mp3 player. I figured they must be inexpensive, so wanted to buy a second pair. Those puppies range from $100-300! COUGH! I couldn’t believe he spent so much $ on those… and i’ve been letting the cat chew on them at my computer desk! ACK!

  10. Agree. Silicone tipped earphones are uncomfortable, itchy and a pain to insert properly also I walk a lot and like people have mentioned I hear all the sounds my body makes, the sound of my own footsteps, the sound of the wire moving about. It makes me mad that you can’t get hold of decent normal earphones just stock apple ones or ten quid ones.

  11. They honestly sound awful to me, from the ones I’ve tried anyway. The high frequencies barely exist, and at the same time it’s like wearing earplugs, so when I’m saying something the sound of my voice bounces around in my head more and becomes louder than my music, and everything is muffled. On top of this, they make my ears hurt after extended use.

  12. I agree pushing that wobbly silicone up there really hurts. They should be harder!

    Just forget those $10 Sony alt non-in-ear phones have no dynamic range.

    Hey… Any mobile free Spotify users here? This works if you want to listen without shuffle mode only:

  13. Dear All,

    I also agree with the post, I hate such earphones in that you touch the wire anywhere and you feel its rubbing sound in your ear,

    i will be grateful if anyone suggest me earphones like Iphone 4 has at its time.

  14. A little late on this post but – bose soundsport for me have the best fit that are not in-ear. They are extremely comfortable,

  15. I totally agree. I even told myself I had to be more open and really try to get used to earbuds. I have tried all types; regular, foam etc. whatever I tried it was a pain. They are painfully to wear and thy are falling out every couple of minutes.

    I am listening to music when I am running.

    After a month of pain I went back to old fashion on-ear headphones. Maybe not ideal for running, but a whole lot better than the alternatives.

    My conclusion is that there are a certain percentage of the population who cannot or should not use earbuds

  16. I really hate in-ear earphones. It felt really intrusive and gross. I tried the new apple earphones and air buds, they’re the worst because they always fall out whenever I move my head. I always use my trusty Senheiser MX375. The diameter is a little bit big but it fits comfortably in my ear.

  17. I have very sensitive ear canals too; In-ear headphones are so very painful and over and on the ear headphones make me feel claustrophobic. But I now own a pair of Bose QC20i earphones which I bought for their compactness and impressive ANC but not before I found out that Bose’s StayHear tips are a dream; they’ve got some noise isolation but they sit right at the entrance of the canal, pleasantly sealing it and I honestly often forget they’re even there with ANC on. Beware of the poor longevity of all of Bose’s headphones, though.

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