Nathan Edwards Aug 13, 2008


At A Glance

Ryan Hall

Provides acceptable audio quality while allowing ambient noise in.

Kids in the Hall

Poor low-end sounds; not a replacement for noise-cancelling headphones.

Every once in a while, we actually step away from our computers to get some exercise—and do our best to avoid the cavalcade of cars, bikes, and pedestrians that share the roads with us when we go for a run. Until recently, we had eschewed wearing headphones when we pounded the pavement, but AirDrives earbuds have us rethinking this position. By fitting around your outer ear and lying just in front of your ear canal, rather than inside it, AirDrives allow you to hear the music on your MP3 player but still be aware of environmental sounds, so you’re less likely to be clipped by a car you didn’t hear coming. And although they aren’t inserted within the ear, the AirDrives remain snug, even after a long run, and remain in place much better than designs that lack an over-the-ear loop.

AirDrives won’t provide you with the most impressive audio experience, however; low tones, in particular, get lost in the mix. And if environmental noise is particularly loud, you’ll be tempted to turn the volume up to the max, further worsening sound quality. However, another benefit of the outside-the-ear design is that even if you turn your MP3 player up to 11, the AirDrives are much less likely to harm your hearing than in-ear buds.

These buds aren’t the ideal choice for situations in which you want a noise-cancelling experience, on an airplane for example. And even at the gym, you’ll likely want a headphone that blocks out the techno emanating from the spin class next to you. But when you want to listen to music yet still be aware of your surroundings—on the slopes, on the road, in the office—AirDrives are your best option.


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