Earphone Sound Off [Review]

I seem to attract headphones. Over the past couple months, I’ve accumulated no fewer than three pairs to review, and these are in addition to the ones I already tried out for the RUNiverse (by the way, if anyone wants a pair of Denon Exercise Freak wireless headphones, I happen to know someone who can hook you up for free). It’s funny, because I don’t actually listen to music while I’m running all that often. But when I do, I am super picky about how my headphones fit.

Given that I had three pairs of earbuds to review, I figured it would make the most sense to round them up and compare them in a single post. The suspects: the Sol Republic Relays, the KOSS Fitclips, and the KOSS Fitbuds. The verdicts? Read on to find out.

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

First up to the stand: the Relays. The design of these is different from what I’ve previously seen with earbuds–the round, disc-like surface of the earbud creates a low profile and would make it easy to wear these under a winter hat, ear warmer, or helmet (although I don’t recommend wearing headphones while on a bike or doing any other activity that requires a helmet). They come with a clip you can use to keep the wires from bouncing all over the place while you’re running, and a three-button remote that allows you to control your music device and acts as a microphone. Included with the earbuds is a small carrying pouch, and four pairs of earpieces so that you can customize your fit. They’re available in a variety of colors, and retail for $79.99 on Amazon.

I liked these a lot. They stayed in place, and as someone who hates headphone wires bouncing around all over the place, I really appreciated the clip. The sound quality was good (I’ll be honest–with running headphones, I’m much more concerned about the fit and feel than the sound quality since I keep my music at a low enough volume that I can hear what’s going on around me. Safety first, after all), and the remote made it easy to control my iPod while on the go.

I did have one complaint, though (and it’s sort of a strange one)–I’m not sure if it was the disc design on the earpieces, but when I head the earbuds in and the wires did move around or I touched them or something, the sound this made in my ears was loud. It was as though the earbuds had created a hollow space that amplified the sound. I don’t know how the mechanics of this work, but after a while it started getting on my nerves. In spite of that, I’d recommend these. I think the company clearly put thought into the design and came up with a great product, and the remote and clip are nice touches. If you’re on the market for something with those features, these are a good choice.

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

Next up: the Fitclips. I don’t usually like the over-ear design on headphones. I find that the clips never really fit my ears, cause the earbuds to fall out, or just bother me the entire time I’m wearing them. For those reasons, I didn’t think I’d like the Fitclips all that much. But I was pleasantly surprised…or at least I was the first time I wore them.

This line of Koss headphones (which includes the Fitclips and the Fitbuds) was designed specifically for women and was therefore meant to accommodate smaller ears and ear canals. They’re soft and flexible, and come in several colors. Like the Relays, they also come with removable ear pieces so that you can get the best possible fit. Retailing around $30, they’re a nice affordable option.

Like I said, the first time I tried these out, I liked them a lot. The clips fit over my ears just fine, and I went for a run without worrying about them at all. I didn’t feel like they were falling out, and I found that I didn’t even think all that much about them. I liked the texture and feel of them, and the sound quality was good. But the next time I went to put them on, I had to keep fiddling with them. I just couldn’t get them to feel right. It was taking me so much time just to get them to stay on my ears that I ended up picking out a different pair of earbuds to wear. At some point I’ll go back to them and try to get them to work out the way they did the first time. These were my least favorite of the three pairs I tried.


Image via Amazon

Finally, the Fitbuds. These are small and lightweight, with the same features as the Fitclips. You don’t get a very good sense of how small they are in the picture–they take up much less space than a typical pair of earbuds, and are barely noticeable when you have them in. They’re soft, and I liked the fact that the covering on the wires didn’t get stiff the way it does with some brands. The flexibility of the wires helped to reduce the amount that they bounced around, which is always a plus.

These were far and away my favorites of the three pairs I reviewed. You just put them in your ears and go, and you don’t think about them again until you’re ready to take them out. To me, that’s what a good pair of running headphones should be–lightweight, low profile, and unobtrusive. I’d say they’re definitely worth the money, and would recommend them to any woman looking for a good, straightforward pair of earbuds to use while working out.

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Emilie Littlehales

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for the review. I have owned a few Koss brand ear buds and like them but have not tried the ones you reviewed. I have never tried wireless headphones and am not even sure how they work but I would love to learn more and try out a pair.

  • As long as I am here I thought I would express my total satisfaction with the Bluebuds X. I bought my wife the white pair (set) for her birthday and we are both enjoying the freedom and minimalist setup of the Nano 7th gen with it’s built-in bluetooth transmitter.