To All the 'Shitty' Earbuds I’ve Loved Before

By Emily Lipstein on at

I’m a simple woman. When I’m riding the bus, walking down the street, or working in the office, I just want to pop in my earbuds, turn on some good music (buy Honey on iTunes) and ignore everything around me.

Luckily, this experience only costs eight British pounds (plus P&P) thanks to the best pair of earbuds eight British pounds can buy: these Panasonic RPHJE120BS Ergofit Earphones - Silver.

Screenshot: Amazon

My cheapo pair of £8 earbuds does everything that I want earbuds to do. For instance, I’m sitting here, writing this article, and have the volume on this Jay Som album turned up to approximately this much:

And because of this, I cannot hear anything going on in the office around me. They’re perfect! Recently, I was carrying a large duffel bag on the train and struggling with it while listening to St. Vincent’s Masseducation on approximately that volume, and some man turned to me and said something. What did he say? God only knows, because these earbuds are that effective at drowning out the men who attempt to speak to me in public.

If you’re my mum reading this, I absolutely promise I don’t do this alone, late at night, while walking the approximately 20 minutes to my flat from where the bars I go to with my friends in my neighbourhood. I swear!

Look, I know very well that these are cheapo, “poor quality” earbuds—especially for someone who works at a tech website. For a long time, I was considering asking for a pair of Bose over-ear wireless headphones as a gift for my university graduation. But I’d gotten my cartilage pierced somewhat recently and my short, curly hair would have been smushed unflatteringly by them, so it was a no-go, and it never happened.

“I could buy ten pairs of them and it could cost the same as Apple [AirPods], they’d still be more comfortable, and I wouldn’t look like a dick.”

I could get something like AirPods and avoid the occasional annoyance of being tangled up with a cord while juggling coffee and a tote bag while strap-hanging on the subway. But avoiding that is definitely not worth the £160 it’d cost to get a pair of AirPods.

Before I get sent to the guillotine by the tech horde, consider these caveats: I never liked the freebie earbuds that Apple includes with their products—they just don’t feel comfortable in my ears. And since I have an iPhone 6, I’m still blessed with a headphone jack and don’t have to deal with a dongle. I also don’t frequently lose things, so it’s not like I’m paying £8 every month for a new cheap pair when I could instead have an expensive pair to incentivise me to keep track of my crap.

Here are the the receipts (literally):

Screenshot: Emily Lipstein

In those 3.5 years, I haven’t bought another pair of earbuds. I lost the first pair I’d bought. The second pair went kaput in one ear after TWO YEARS of near-constant usage. And let’s be honest: if you’re going to be that uppity about your headphones where you have to be on the cutting edge of music-listening technology, wouldn’t you replace your £200 pair in that period of time?

In comparison, Gizmodo’s Hudson Hongo purchased four pairs of these bad boys in the span of 17 months.

Screenshot: Hudson Hongo

Here’s what he has to say about the earbuds: “they truly are great earbuds. they do the fucken thing.”

I asked my university housemate Violet, who was the person who turned me onto these earbuds, about how many of them she’s bought over the years (once a year or so). She experienced similar problems to me: Occasionally, the sound in one of the buds would stop working.

Even considering replacement costs, she texted me, “I could buy ten pairs of them and it could cost the same as Apple [AirPods], they’d still be more comfortable, and I wouldn’t look like a dick. Also they come in purple.”

Why would I shell out for a pair of earbuds or headphones that’ll be many times more expensive than the pair I know and love, for an “increase” in sound quality that’s basically negligible to me?

If you’re still waiting to get to the end of this blog to comment about how much of an idiot I am for liking such crappy earbuds, let me tell you something: I am no idiot—I identify as a dumb bitch, thank you very much! Let me enjoy my cheap earbuds, their great ergonomics, and their totally fine sound quality in peace.

The world keeps getting shittier, but my “shitty” earbuds are forever.