In Your Ears, Bud.

As long as I can remember, I’ve cruised through life with radio or music in my ears whenever the time and opportunity allowed it. As a child, I was in the forefront of the “transistor” era, where advances in electronics technology made miniaturization possible. I went from having a radio with a handle on it tucked into the newspaper bag I carried on my delivery route, to a pocket-sized device with a tiny speaker and (usually) a single, wired earpiece. We didn’t call them “buds” back then.

The single earpiece gave way to the stereo earpieces, and that technology has pretty well persisted to today. Equipment, on the other hand, has continued to evolve. The cassette tape made carrying prerecorded music around with you a reality. The compact disc (CD) was a boon to record-scratchers everywhere, but its playback mechanism (a laser light on a movable arm over a spinning platter) made it susceptible to jostling, so it didn’t work well for runners and exercise enthusiasts.

Computer technology brought to life sound files, such as mp3, wav, ogg, FLAC, and so on. This birthed the mp3 player industry. I owned a variety of music players, including the nifty, but confusing Digisette Duo, an mp3 player shaped like to cassette that could be played through tape machines as well as via the now-ubiquitous earphones.

Apple shook up the music industry when it introduced its iPod in 2001. I didn’t buy an original, but when Apple shipped the “2nd generation,” I became one of the converts.

Miniaturization continued, and Apple gave us the iPod Shuffle (in numerous incarnations), the Nano, the Touch, and so on. I particularly liked the Shuffle, even the one that received media brickbats.

Earpiece technology also improved, but not as radically, and not as fast. Only recently has wireless Bluetooth made to earphones, eliminating the need to plug the sound “emitters” into the sound producer. Apple own Airpods are now everywhere, recognizable by the “handles” that jut from the wearer’s ears.

Perhaps I’m out of step. Or perhaps I’m just not “woke” enough to enjoy the current state of the art. By this, I mean that I haven’t yet found a pair of Bluetooth ear buds that suit me. For the record, I have thoroughly enjoyed my wired earphones. The Bose QC (QuietComfort) 20 noise-cancelling earphones have been a boon for air travel.

The YurBuds Ironman earbuds have lived up to their guarantee: they do not fall out, even during the most strenuous exercise

However, I have yet to find a pair of Bluetooth earbuds I like. I bought a pair of crowdfunded “air by crazybaby” in-ear, totally wireless earbuds. Oh, did I want to love these buds! They fit perfectly, and the absence of even a connecting wire was so nice–they fit well, and were all but invisible. The only problem was, they didn’t work. Battery life was pathetic, and the right earbud would simply die a few minutes after heading out the door.

I threw them into the trash last night

I have a pair of Jaybird X3 wireless earbuds, but their quirky design makes them uncomfortable to wear.

Finally, I broke down and purchased a pair of Apple Airpods 2. These are perhaps the best I’ve had so far, but they aren’t perfect. The left Airpod always seems ready to slip out of my ear, even though it doesn’t. They are the easiest to pair with any device, and the sound is good, although not exceptional.

I’m getting closer to getting a pair of Bluetooth earbuds I like, but now the player device is becoming an issue. My iPod Nano just died, and Apple no longer makes a compact mp3 player. It seems the only small, portable clip-on players are cheap products from no-name companies in China that break the moment you remove them from the box.. I shipped such a device back to Amazon yesterday after only 15 minutes of trying to get it to recognize any of my Bluetooth earbuds. Sigh.

The quest goes on.

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