Ever since I got my first Walkman in the late '80s for my eighth birthday, I've rarely been without music, which means I've rarely been without earphones. I've owned and tested almost every brand on the market, investing anywhere from $20 on a Skullcandy Ink'd to as much as $499 on the Shure SE535. Earphones have become so much a part of my appearance that people often mistake them for hearing aids, earrings or necklaces (when they're not in my ears). It's safe to say I am a connoisseur of earphones.
For me, a proper pair of earphones is as important as a comfortable pair of shoes. Above all, it needs to sound flawless and fit comfortably for hours of listening. However, one of the issues I've come across in recent years is the question of whether I should go with wireless earbuds or stick with wired earbuds. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The best way to choose which type of earbuds is best for you is to compare two in-ear headphones at comparative price points the Jaybird BlueBuds X and the Yamaha EPH-M200.
Jaybird BlueBuds X
||Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with Hands-Free 1.6, Headset 1.1, A2DP 1.2 and AVRCP 1.4.||Traditional wire cord with beta-titanium sound tubes and a 3.5 mm AUX input.|
|Frequency Response||20Hz to 20kHz||20Hz to 20kHz|
|Driver Size||10 mm||15 mm|
|Audio Quality||The biggest downside to the BlueBuds X is same disadvantage that all wireless earbuds share audio quality. Bluetooth isn't an ideal technology for transmitting complex data over the air. To stream your music wirelessly, Bluetooth uses the default SBC audio codec to compress the data of the song. Then, the wireless earbuds decompress the data using the same SBC audio codec. The process can result in distortions and leave behind artifacts in the audio that sounds like buzzes.||Since audio signals travel on wires, there is no compression and decompression process. I tested the Yamaha EPH-M200 on the same playlist as the Jaybird BlueBuds X, and the difference is clear. The audio is free from distortions and clipping even at higher levels. The 15 mm driver provides the full range of audio frequencies without losing balance or clarity.|
|Wearing Style||You can wear the BlueBuds in several different ways. The earbud fits in the ear canal for a secure seal. Ear fins fit into the concha of your ear for added support, and for maximum support, you can loop it over your ear and tighten it around the back of your head.||The earbuds are angled for an optimized fit in your ear canal, but that's all the support you get. They're comfortable enough for hours of listening and secure enough for walking around, but that's it.|
|Earbuds||Three earbuds (S, M, L) and three ear fins (S, M, L)||Five earbuds (SS, S, M, L, LL)|
|Battery Life||Eight hours for streaming music, though this can vary according to the volume. It also requires 2.5 hours for charging.||Infinite. The set doesn't have a battery. You never have to worry about plugging it in. It doesn't drain your phone's battery like using Bluetooth does, either.|
|Durability||Like all the best wireless earbuds, they're extremely durable. The components are sweatproof and impact resistant. The fact that they are the official training headphones of the USA Triathlon is a testament to their durability. They come with a lifetime warranty against sweat.||The wires are extremely thin, which means they're more prone to wearing out, particularly close to the input and the earbuds, where the most movement occurs. Ideally, the wires would have a thicker gauge, but the cord doesn't tangle. It's not sweatproof or impact resistant.|
|Call Quality||The set has a microphone and the necessary Bluetooth profiles to allow you to answer and end calls from the controls.||It has a microphone, and the controls allow you to answer calls from the cord.|
|Ideal For||The BlueBuds X are ideal for bringing music to your workouts, where you're less likely to notice the issues with the audio quality.||The Yamaha EPH-M200 is ideal for pleasure listening. The audio quality is superior to that of wireless earbuds, but these earbuds are not made for fueling your exercises with music.|
Choosing between a pair of wireless earbuds like the Jaybird BlueBuds X and a traditional pair of wired earphones like the Yamaha EPH-M200 has more to do with how you intend to use them most of the time. Wireless earbuds are ideal for active lifestyles because they favor secure fits and durable constructions. But if you're more concerned with high-fidelity audio while you're working at the office or studying at the library, you should stick with traditional wired earbuds.