Some months ago ago, for the third straight time, I broke my iPod headphones. This is not necessarily because of the quality of the headphones because I use them when I jog and I usually get my hand caught in them once or twice per run and give them a nice yank. In addition to the physical damage I do to my headphones, there is also the trauma I cause them to self inflict: music played far too loud. I always seem to turn my music louder. When I ride the subway, I make it loud enough to drown the chatter around me. When I get to the street, I make it louder to drown the noise of the jackhammers. When I go jogging, I make it even louder to silence the noises of the honking and yelling. Despite the desire to retain at least four senses when I reach the age of 30, I never seem to turn the volume down. I always acclimate to the louder volume and never feel the need to turn it down. It is only when I get home, remove the headphones from my ears, and try to talk in a normal voice, that I notice the problem - everyone keeps telling me to stop yelling. While I might like to think the reason is that people like to criticize me to detract from my perfection, I suppose the less delusional reason might be that my headphones and earsplitting music are making me go deaf - and I'm not even 25!
Recommend this product?
With a thought to the future of my ears, I went in search of some headphones with a noise limiting capability. While there are a number of models out there, and a range in price from about $25 to some in excess of $200, the Ultimate Ears Loud Enough headphones were priced in the middle of the range and some reviewers suggested they might have decent sound quality for the price. With those two facts, I went and got myself a pair.
The sole purpose of these headphones is to limit the input into the ears. As you might expect, these headphones do a great job in that department. While I am not sure of the exact limiting point, I believe the loudest that the music can play is about the same level as that of a telephone call. While it is not enough to drown all the noise of the subway or the city as I jog, it is also not enough to make me go deaf. As to whether they are loud enough, I might suggest that one imagines the same analogous level as before - these ear buds are, at loudest, similar to walking down the city streets while on the phone. While not everything word and not can be heard precisely, one can get the general gist of what is happening.
At this low volume, sound quality doesn't really shine through no matter how good or bad it is. It was only in a quiet environment that I could really evaluate the music to which I was listening. In that circumstance I found that the quality was admirable considering the price of the headphones. While they are nowhere near Bose quality, they are also nowhere near the price tag of a Bose set. When on the street and using these to jog, because of the aforementioned lack of volume and clarity, I had trouble evaluating the phones, but what I could hear was more than adequate in quality. These headphones are not for the audiophile, but rather someone who wishes to maintain the possibility of a future as an audiophile.
Of course the styling of these phones is utmost importance as they are geared more toward the group of people likely to be overdoing the volume: teenagers. To appease all, these phones come in a variety of colors, all of which can be found on a tropical tree. There is blueberry blue (my choice), mint green, and plum purple. Perhaps in an effort to move away from the pack, these headphones are not offered in white and would never be mistaken for the native technology of the Apple Corporation. The cord is black and plenty long enough for all uses, including walking, studying, and most importantly to me - jogging.
The fit of the buds is also made to be attractive to a wide audience. They come with inserts to adjust the size the part that must be pressed into the ear canal. The smallest insert seems to be to be small enough for children in the 8-12 range and the largest size was actually a little too large for me. Once placed in the ears, the headphones stayed in while I was running and even when the sweat was pouring down from somewhere near the top of my head. They remain comfortable for the entirety of my 45 jogs and I rarely find myself fighting with them to get them into a better position.
These headphones are not meant to be an acoustic sanctuary. They are simply a way to listen to music while making sure you aren't destroying your hearing. To that end, they work commendably. These phones do not have sound quality or visual appeal of others in this price category like the iPod and others, but then one must remember to factor in the price of a set of hearing aids into those other models.