Not long ago, I got my hands on some sport focused earbuds from the team over at Yurbuds. Designed for athletes, by athletes. The idea behind the Yurbuds team is to give users headphones that won’t fall out under the most grueling conditions. Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed in the performance of the headphones, not being able to get a comfortable and stable fit. The sound quality wasn’t up to par either, but clearly the idea behind the brand is focused on the fit and comfort. I was hoping round two would bring some much needed improvements to the lineup, as I truly liked the focus from the Yurbuds team to provide active individuals with another choice in the under developed world of quality active headphones.
Well, recently Yurbuds contacted me to review their newest addition to the lineup, the Endure Pros. The new design adds an over the ear stabilization loop as well as a 3 button mic and remote to control your media. They sound like welcome improvements, but can they topple the Sennheiser MX 85′s from the active headphone throne? Let’s read on to find out…
The new Endure Pros ($60) keep the same format as the originals with the 4 ft. evenly split and rubbery Y cable leading up to the exclusive Yurbuds earbud funnel system. In fact, these add-ons are what brought Yurbuds to the market to begin with. The splitter houses the 3 button microphone that can be used with most smartphones and iDevices. Unfortunately, the volume buttons didn’t work with my HTC Titan (the middle button responsible for advancing tracks did), nor did any of the controls work with my Sansa Clip Zip. You can pick up the standard Endure’s and save $30 if you forego the 3 button mic control.
The earbuds are your standard iPod looking buds in a glossy black with a slick looking red triathlete logo on each bud, with an L or R to denote which ear they go in. The attached ear loops are made out of a flexible silicone with breathable cutouts to keep air flow I assume. The ear loops are intended to gain more stability in use, which I assume was a frequent issue with the originals as my wife and myself both experienced comfort and fit issues. They are not able to be shaped or formed to your ear though, and are a one size fits all situation which I will touch on later.
One major improvement that really shows Yurbuds have their ears open is the headphone jack. Taking my cue, Yurbuds switched their jack from a straight plug to an angled connector which really has improved the ruggedness of the earbuds. No longer is there a weak cable coming from your MP3 player, but rather a hardcore angled plug that should last most peoples lifetimes.
As with the original, the Yurbuds team has put out a nice quality product from a materials standpoint. The rubbery cable is very thick and durable, and combined with the headphone plug, shouldn’t give anyone issues from a reliability standpoint. you won’t find many headphones at this price point that are made this well, and it’s worth pointing out in this world of cheap knockoffs.
To my ears, the sound remains the same from the original Yurbuds. This isn’t a compliment as they don’t differentiate themselves from bundled headphones from MP3 players. It’s a shame considering the build quality is excellent. Lower frequencies don’t even get register, which is a combination of the poor drivers, and the un-sealed design of the earbuds (which allow external sound to be heard for passing cars, etc).
The mids and highs are a muddied mess. Vocals come across as distant and tinny without a sign of depth. Nothing is really detailed, and essentially just provide “sound” as oppose to music. Again, just expect stock earbud sound quality.
The sound quality of the Endure Pros will surely frustrate most of us, but the focus on the wear-ability, especially in athletic situations is what should give these the edge over competitors. The new over ear loop design should give some much needed stability over the originals right? But do they?
Not during my use. Heck, my wife tried to wear these on a long run day, and looped back around the house after the first couple miles to switch headphones they were that bad.
The pre-cut, unmoldable silicone ear loops designed to improve stability actually just become annoying accessories for the Endure Pros. The loops don’t fit snuggly around my ear, and instead leave plenty of real estate between the top of my ear and the loop. The ear loops also dangle and dance around the backs of my ears. This isn’t added stability. Instead, it made me want to rip these off my head the second I put them on.
Instead of using conformable loops that can be shaped to an individuals ear, Yurbuds should have mimicked my Sony MDR-EX600 (among others) earbuds that have a form-fitting silicone design that can be shaped to my ears and everyone elses for a somewhat customizable fit. It’s a simple feature that brings much needed stability to any headphone, let alone some athletic ones while keeping the weight down. Perhaps that can be adjusted for round 3?
While the ear loops drove me crazy, the 3 button mic was even worse. It’s a nice feature to have for some normal headphones, but when you’re running and training, a heavy object bouncing off your chest every time you move isn’t a comfortable experience. I tried to run the cable on the inside of my shirt (which essentially takes away the benefit of the control) and was left with a similar result that was merely minimized. An even worse experience was doing any plyometric move that involved quick movements back and forth and a lot of jumping. During these training sessions, I found the Endure Pros better left on the ground with my water bottle and gym bag, which is something I never had to do with the Sennheiser MX 85′s. Getting the standard Endures without the 3 button mic (and saving $30) clears up this issue.
These Endure Pros don’t improve upon the original in any real way. I appreciate the change to the angled headphone plug, as that move will definitely ensure some long lasting quality. But, that’s the only improvement I see. Unfortunately, the poor sound quality hasn’t improved whatsoever. The additional “Pro” version of the Endures (3 button mic) creates more problems than benefits. The ear loops don’t conform to anyone’s ears, so unless you have huge ears, you’re probably out of luck with them not bouncing around behind your lobes.
This is the second go round from the Yurbuds team and they managed to make their product more frustrating than the originals. I really would like to see them revamp their lineup with better sounding headphones, have form-fitting silicone ear loops, and ditch the fad of the 3 button mic (which is optional, but it’s counter-intuitive for athletic use, which these are aimed at), and continue to improve their fit and comfort for users. The quality of materials they use is a fantastic starting point, which is usually the most over-looked feature for active and competitively priced headphones. So here’s to round 3, which should be just the beginning for a CEO who’s a tri-athete.