One of the more difficult types of headphones to find on the market are ones for training and gym use. There are high end buds for analyzing music, and full size bass heavy cans for pumping out thundering levels of low end to leave your body shaking. But finding a good quality set of headphones to sound great, stay in place, and be durable for some light running or intense workout sessions is a chore. There simply aren’t many to choose from on the market. Enter the Yurbuds Ironman series earbuds. While I and most people here stay far away from “marketing” claims and endorsements, these had me intrigued. There wasn’t a big name behind them, and the focus was on the fit and comfort for grueling training sessions.
Can they keep up with a grueling training schedule, or do they fall flat like most others?
- Yurbuds Ironman Specs
- Magnet Type-Neodymium Iron Boron magnet
- Frequency Response-20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity-110db/mW sensitivity
- Impedance-32 ohms
- Cord Length-46.8″
When you look at the retail packaging for the Yurbuds, you start to think that these guys might be serious. There is nothing overly flashy or showy with the cardboard box packaging, but you are greeted with someone wearing the Ironman’s that looks like it’s from a Nike commercial. The male on the front cover has “FOCUS” written on his face with war paint while a woman on the back has the same look going with “INSPIRE” across her face. It definitely causes someone to take notice and either chuckle or have their interest piqued. Rounding out the inspiration style packaging, Yurbuds aren’t shy telling you who developed the sport buds…a marathoner and triathlete.
In the box we are supplied with a couple of accessories that don’t really add any value to the headphones. Continuing with the inspiration themeyou get not one, but two playing cards of the cover models! Oh joy. On the back of one of the cards, it states “Don’t wait for inspiration to come find you. Become it.” At this point their marketing team is starting to go a little too far. Also included though is a soft and thin carrying pouch that can fit most players as well as the headphones and of course your new trading cards.
Now part of the marketing behind these earbuds are the tips. According to their marketing team, these tips have a “patented ear-lock technology” that is designed to never fall out. They use a funnel type medical grade silicone tip to channel the sound from the buds straight through to the ear canal. The design is similar to the Bose in ear models, but the difference being the silicone material that helps secure these buds in place during workouts and exercises. They even claim the “sound funnel” improves the sound quality, and it’s clinically proven. Yeah, they wrote that on their site. But you have 2 different sizes to choose from to provide the best fit.
The buds themselves look similar to some white earbuds you find in teenagers attached to their iPods. A little more gussied up for sure with a longer stout, and the Ironman logo on each side, but the same design. The cable seems pretty durable with a solid amount of thickness and a good rubberish material that doesn’t stick. They would definitely not be affected by sweat and moisture and should hold up great after much use. However, they use the standard Y cable splitter which splits about halfway up my torso. I’m a bigger guy at 6’3″, so it seems a little unnecessary to have the cables split that low as there was simply too much flopping around during training. I wore them on the inside of my shirt (usual position when training) and they were still all over the place. I would have liked to have seen a “slider” on these like the Panasonic HJE900′s have. If they had this, it would certainly improve the comfort when wearing these. Another design flaw on these phones is the headphone jack. Yurbuds decided to use a straight inline jack as opposed to a 90 degree jack. Any manufacturer making athletic headphones simply needs to take advantage of a 90 degree jack. Whether using a Clip+ or an iPod Nano, the 90 degree plug will protect better than a straight plug. My Clip+ has a side mounted headphone plug, and using the Yurbuds with them exposes them to more harm, wear and tear.
In training use though, I never got comfortable with these headphones. I have been using the Sennheiser mx 75 sport headphones for years, and have been extremely happy with them. The neon green is definitely going to put people off, but they never budged when you put them on. The Yurbuds never seemed to get comfortable with me. The Sennheisers provide a nice seal during use, and these don’t even come close to that. These feel like they just sit in your ears and they’ll fall out, they just don’t. I kept checking during use to see if they were sliding out, but they were fine. They didn’t fall out when I used them during runs, lifts and plyometrics, but when my wife took them on a 10 mile run, they fell out from the wind.
Now these are Yurbuds’ first attempt at producing their own headphones. They are new to the industry and have received a lot of praise for their ability to stay in place. You can find these at Best Buy, so they have definitely been able to get their foot in the door. Thats a great thing for them, but hopefully they keep their “focus” on improving the sound quality of their buds.
While the fit is sometimes subjective, and I will admit that they weren’t as comfortable for me to use, they did what they said and didn’t fall out. But, another area that you have to shine in this industry is sound quality. There really is no clear sound signature from these headphones. When paired with my Clip+ (EQ flat), there is no life or enjoyment from the music. They simply spit the music out. They by no means sound awful, but they miss the mark. For starters, there is no low end coming through these drivers. Boosting the equalizer produces minimal depth and no punch at all. Perhaps this issue stems from no real seal in the ear canal, but the Bose (love em or hate em) in ears provide adequate bass using a similar design. This to me is a big let down because a lot of the life in music comes from being able to accurately reproduce the bass for feel. This life also helps power through workouts. Throwing the Sennheiser’s back in, or the Panny’s and you can be blown away by the bass coming from these. Those 2 phones aren’t meant for bassheads either.
Things improve when you venture up the sound spectrum though. The mids are present no matter what type of music you listen to. Listening to Outkast’s “Snythesizer,” you are greeted with clean tunes throughout the range. However, when listening to Shinedown’s “Heroes,” you start to hear the limits to the mid range quality. The guitars start to muddy up during some of the faster parts of the track, and the Yurbuds just can’t handle it.
The treble on these can sound a little muddy and not very enjoyable when listening with no EQ. Luckily I can tweek this on my Clip+. Boosting the treble a little bit and creating a more natural V sound signature brings the highs out much better. The vocals clear up pretty nicely, and while not sounding as clear and bright as the Panny’s, they still certainly give plenty of detail and clarity. Again, these get better as you move up the frequency.
So overall, the sound is rather disappointing. It gets better if you like to tweak the EQ to your liking. The mids are pleasant in hip hop and most guitar friendly tracks, but simply get outgunned when push comes to shove. The higher frequencies sound smooth and much better than what the rest of their sound displays though. In the end you have some headphones that don’t bring any extra life to your workout. And for me, that’s a no go.
I really wanted to like these Ironman headphones that Yurbuds put out. Even though it’s marketing, I had high hopes that a triathlete could put together some comfortable workout friendly headhphones and maybe sound pretty decent too. But there are simply too many trade offs from what these need to be. The comfort is never really there. The design is average in some areas and falls short in others. And the sound quality is better than stock iBuds, but not too much better. Sure, you get some earbuds that stay in place better, better clarity in the higher frequencies, but that’s about it.
Hopefully Yurbuds stays focused on their mission to create the best performance headphones on the market. It was a brave first step, but one that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. But their foot’s in the door, so maybe we can see some improvements in round 2. Until then, I just cannot recommend them.