The battle of the earbuds

The following is a run down of three different earbuds and my likes and dislikes about them. The entire article will only be useful to you if you believe in wearing earbuds while riding. If you are in the camp of “I never wear earbuds while riding” reading on might prove as a waste of your time. If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts on occasion like I do, you might find  my experience helpful.

Here are the three products with links to their respective websites

Apple in-ear headphones – average cost ~ $70

One good earbud – average cost ~ $30

ZAGGsmartbuds – average cost ~ $50

You will notice that all three have one thing in common: they are in-ear buds. For some reason my ears cannot accomodate the traditional earbuds you get with every phone purchase (like the ones in the header picture), they simple will not hold.

By the way, everyone in the world is putting out the “BEST of this and that”, and this little write up is not meant to establish the “BEST of” (clearly I am lacking a lot of other good brands to do that), it is simply geared to share the good and the ugly of every day use.

Apple in-ear-buds

Let’s start with Apple’s in-ear buds. This was my first purchase  several years back to replace the standard ear phones which came with the iPhone.

Pro: 3 different sizes of interchangeable ear buds, excellent quality volume controls, pause/stop music and call pickup, build-in microphone. High quality craftsmanship.

Con: pricy, cord easily tangles

Overall I really liked these and if I had not accidentally washed and dried them with my jersey, I likely would still use them. I guess the wash and rinse cycle was too much for the volume control switch. I am not faulting the product, clearly they are not designed to be tumbled in sudsy water for half an hour.

One good earbud

One Good Earbud – this was my second purchase about a year ago. I was really drawn to the fact that this company runs a stereo feed into the one earbud. I like the fact that my left ear is always tuned to the traffic coming up behind me, while still enjoying very good sound quality in my right ear.

Pro: 3 different sizes interchangeable earbuds, playback, stop/pause, call pickup, build-in microphone. The fact that only one ear is tuned to music/pod cast and the other one is tuned to traffic, while having very good sound quality makes this product stand out.

Con: controls do not feel as high quality as Apple’s, but in fairness the One good earbud is $40 less expensive. After about one year of wear (mostly in the car) the housing holding the earbud is separating from it. I am pretty sure crazy glue will fix that, but I did not expect it and I am a bit disappointed. Cord tangles easily.


ZAGGsmartbuds are my most recent earbuds. I got these little beauties as a bonus during one of the Christmas online promo’s when I purchased the ZAGGfolio for my iPad. In other words, the price WAS really right. What sets these earbuds aside is the unique tangle free cord design (more on that in just a bit) and a great sound quality.

Pro:3 different sizes of interchangeable ear buds,  quality volume control, pause/stop music and call pickup, build-in microphone. Tangle free cord with a specific slider alignement called ‘Hangin’ Tight’, which really proves perfect for cyclists. (no dropping your earbud into the chain rings).

Hangin' Tight slider design

Con: volume control could use a bit more resistance when adjusting. In the beginning I almost blew out my eardrums a couple of times before I got used to how easily the volume slider moves.


For me, the ZAGGsmartbuds are the one’s I like best. They deliver excellent sound, are secure and don’t tangle up. At the $50 price point they also are a very good value. ZAGG is very active on Twitter @ZAGGdaily and FB, and they often run specials where you can pick these up at a fraction of the normal price.

I’d like to know what you wear on your long rides and comments are welcome.

About GT in LA

Road cycling enthusiast
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