Yurbuds Review: Earbuds for Serious Exercisers

Rating:

For the average person, keeping earbuds plugged into your head isn’t likely a problem. The standard in-ear variety tends to work well enough unless you snag the cord on something and accidentally yank them out of your ears.

But for runners or other serious exercise enthusiasts, who like to listen to music or podcasts, keeping buds from falling out or headphones from falling off can be a real pain. Having to frequently fiddle with something to keep the beats flowing can mess with the flow of your fitness routine.

Yurbuds has a reasonably priced solution that, in my experience at least, works quite well. Rather than rubber or foam buds that go into your ear canal, Yurbuds’ ear pieces have removable, flexible silicone covers that sit slightly outside your ear canal, but have a funnel-like extension that pushes the sound into your ears. This makes for some interesting sound characteristics, which I’ll get into later. But first, let’s talk about how Yurbuds stay in your ears so well.

Yurbuds inspire and pro and armband

 

TwistLock

Inspire Ironman

Both the Inspire Ironman and the Focus Pro use the same TwistLock feature to keep from falling out when you’re exercising (or just walking around your house). The silicone ear pieces have a grippy texture. You place them in the outer area of your ear canal and rotate the Yurbuds forward a few degrees, as demonstrated in this company video.

This results in a very snug fit that was surprisingly also comfortable for me, even after hours of use. I left them in for hours at a time while exercising, walking around running errands, and working around my apartment without any discomfort. They also never fell out. But then, while I do walk a lot, and I did some jogging to put the Yurbuds through their paces, I’m no sprinter or marathon runner.

The basic Inspire Ironman earbuds should work well enough for most users. But those who do strenuous exercise for long periods, say cross trainers or cardio enthusiasts, may want to op instead for the Focus Pros. In addition to the TwistLock feature, the Focus Pros have behind-the-ear anchors that deliver an extra level of always-in-your-ear-insurance.

Focus Pro Behind Ear

The Focus Pro’s ear anchors are made of comfortable soft rubber, so they don’t hurt your ears, like most of the behind-the-ear models I’ve used in the past. There’s also a bendable structure inside the ear pieces, so that after you’ve inserted the ear pieces using the TwistLock technique, you can bend the ear anchors to best fit the shape of your ear, as well as grip your ear from the back.

If anything, I would say the Focus Pros do almost too-good of a job of staying in your ears. It’s easy to remove them when you want to. But I’d venture to guess if the cord got snagged on something and yanked, it may break before the Focus Pros came out of your ears. As someone who’s snagged headphone cables on everything from bus seatbelts to exposed pieces of metal when walking down the street, to random things around the house, I would take care to make sure the Focus Pro’s cord were either closely clipped to my body, or worn under a layer of clothing.

Differences between models

Both models - Focus Pro and Inspire Pro

With the Yurbuds features out of the way, it’s worth addressing their other differences. The Inspire Ironman are the basic, sort of entry-level option. Both models have a nice angled plug, which I like much more than straight plugs—I once broke a $300 pair of headphones with a straight plug by forgetting it was sticking out of my back pants pocket (connected to my smartphone) and sitting down.

The Inspire Ironman, aside from lacking the behind-the-ear anchors, also does without in-line controls or a microphone. So if you want to take calls with your Yurbuds, you’ll want to go with the Focus Pro, which has a Y-shaped volume/pause control and mic. Keep in mind, though, that the controls are built for iPhones. When plugging in to my Galaxy Note 4 Android phone, the center play/pause button (also used to take calls) worked, but the volume controls did not.

The Focus Pros also come with a clip (again, important for making sure your cord doesn’t catch on anything), and two different-sized sets of ear covers. The earpiece covers that come pre-installed on both models worked for me, but if you have particularly small ears, I worry that the Yurbuds might not work well for you. That’s particularly worrisome if you opt for the lower-end Inspire Ironman model, which only comes with one set of earpiece covers. The company does offer a line of Yurbuds for women, which may offer smaller ear covers.

Sound

A set of earbuds that stays in your ears is all well and good, but if the sound is awful, many still won’t want to wear them. So how do the Yurbuds sound? The short answer: They sound different. If you’re used to earbuds that sit in your ear canals, the Yurbuds will take some getting used to. There’s not as much low-end, partially because the ear pieces sit on the outside rather than the inside of your ear. This also means, though, that they don’t block as much surrounding noise—which is a good thing if you’re exercising outside near dangerous things like vehicles.

What’s a little more surprising, though, is that both models did strange things with the sound in my testing. Parts of the music, like the driving guitar in A Perfect Circle’s “Pet,” was much more dominating on the Yurbuds than on my V-Moda earbuds, or even on an inexpensive set of Philips earbuds. Vocals frequently also sound louder in the mix, but it all seems to vary from track to track.

The uniqueness of the Yurbuds sound is present in both models I tested. But the Focus Pros sound noticeably better, just generally cleaner and clearer. The lower-end Inspire Ironman model sounds a bit muffled–not terrible for a pair of headphones in this price range, but not great, either.

All that being said, I wouldn’t call the sound the Yurbuds deliver bad. A better descriptor might be odd. I also found myself getting used to the difference after a few hours. And unless you often switch between different headphones, you may not notice the issue at all.

You can also adjust the EQ settings in your music app to compensate. But if you’re at all a stickler for good-sounding audio when you’re working out, at the very least, you’ll want to op for the Focus Pros. They sound noticeably better than the lower-end model—which isn’t surprising given they cost twice as much.

Yurbuds Ironman Athletic Armband

Yurbuds Armband

I also used the Yurbuds Ironman Athletic Armband with the company’s headphones. At $24.99, it’s not the cheapest armband, but it’s not exactly high-priced, either. It doesn’t have any standout features, though, compared to other armbands.

It’s made of comfortable (and seemingly durable) neoprene, and has a reflective covering to help make sure you’re visible when running at night near headlights. The armband fit my old Galaxy S4 smartphone just fine, but look elsewhere if you have a larger phone like the iPhone  6 Plus or a Samsung Galaxy Note. My Note 4 is too big to fit in the armband.

The most annoying thing about the armband is that the company placed two of their logos on the bottom transparent window. This obscures the menu buttons if you’re using an Android phone, and can otherwise block things you want to see. You can still use the phone through the window and behind the logos, and it’s doubtful you’ll be using the phone all that much while it’s strapped to your arm. But it’s still frustrating that the company chose to obscure part of your screen for what amounts to an ad for a product that, if you’re using it, you most likely already own.

Conclusion

Yurbuds Boxes Main

I was skeptical before unboxing the Yurbuds that the company’s earbuds could be both snug enough to stay securely in my ears, and comfortable enough to wear for long periods without irritating my ears. After spending a few weeks using them, however, I came away pleasantly surprised.

However, I’m not so impressed with the sound quality. The higher-end model sounds much better than the Inspire Ironman entry-level option. But both models deliver a sound that sounds like someone messed with the mix. Specific sounds in music, particularly vocals and some guitar, often sound louder than they do on any other set of headphones or speakers I could get my hands on.

If you just want something listenable that won’t fall out of your ears during your vigorous morning run, the Yurbuds sound “good enough” to please most casual listeners. If you are worried about sound quality, though, be sure to splurge on the higher-end Focus Pros.

In the end, with either model I tested, you’ll sacrifice some sound quality with Yurbuds versus what you’d get from a good similarly priced pair of earbuds. But the Yurbuds stay in your ears almost as if they were glued there—especially the over-the-ear model. If you exercise a lot and are sick of your earbuds falling out, they’re definitely worth taking a step down in sound.
When you aren’t exercising, you can always use a set of headphones or earbuds that sound better. But for that long run or intense cardio routine, the Yurbuds are definitely worth considering.

These products are perfect for:
Serious fitness enthusiasts and those who can’t keep earbuds in their ears.

Key things to be aware of:
Sound quality isn’t as good as what you’ll get from similarly priced standard earbuds, but the Focus Pros sound much better than the lower-end model. The silicone ear covers pick up dust and dirt, so you’ll want to rinse them regularly.

Star Rating: 3.5/5

For runners and other fitness enthusiasts who struggle to keep standard earbuds in, Yurbuds offer a comfortable, solid solution. Just know that sound quality suffers a bit versus similarly priced traditional earbuds or headphones.

 

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Yurbuds Inspire Ironman
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Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

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