While we are the first to rail against folks who wear headphones or earbuds and blithely continue with a workout, bike, or run, inconsiderately unaware of surroundings or others (often to the dismay of those of us either diving out of the way or finding ourselves unable to negotiate around the person), we do believe there is a time and a place for music while training.
To be acceptable, music must not be so loud as to obscure the sounds around a user, the delivery mechanism must be easy to take on and off, and they must allow ambient sound to filter in – sounds like folks telling you to move over and let them pass, the roar of an oncoming vehicle ripping up the road behind you, or a training partner asking you for some water, for example. Most systems we have tested just don't provide the combination of safety, wearing comfort and sound quality. The JogPhones, from the German-based company Artwizz, however, are a solid step in the right direction.
JogPhones are high-quality, digital sound, stereo earphones that utilize spring-loaded, curved and flexible ear hooks to secure each earpad to the ear. The pads are removable for rinsing should they become soaked with sweat, although no replacements were included (which could be a problem when they fall apart from repeated sweat soakings). The system comes with five crocodile-type cable clips, a standard 30-inch cable, and a 17-inch extension cable. The intent of the two-cable system is so that you can select just the right amount of cable and not have a lot of extra flapping around – solid thinking, frankly. For one of our testers (a short-waisted male), the 30-inch worked just fine when securing an iPod Nano stowed in an Otter iPod Nano Case (click here to read a March 2006 SNEWS® review of that case -- www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/04460.html) to the belt of a waist pack or onto running shorts or tights. Our other tester, a longer-waisted woman, found she liked the flexibility of adding the 17-inch extension, both outdoors and especially on indoor equipment to give a little slack to make sure she didn’t pull away from the iPod.
While the system does come with five alligator cable-clips, designed to help secure the earphone wires to a shirt and prevent the cable from swinging around, we found them to be pretty worthless. In short order, one of our testers lost two of the clips, simply because they do not secure very well to the cable itself and then pull off a shirt when it moves or stretches. He found it was far better to simply run the cable inside his shirt, down his back, and tucked out directly into the Nano (or other mp3 player). Our other tester decided not to bother with the clips so she wouldn’t have to figure out the clipping and unclipping when adjustments were needed.
During testing, the earpads were extremely comfortable to wear (even for one user who really prefers not to wear headphones), and the sound quality was outstanding. Best of all, it was relatively easy to hear ambient noise all around, even with the sound turned up moderately. One of our testers did find that she had a bit of difficulty taking the pads on and off the ear but, with practice, did master the finger dexterity required to pull the curved ear hook away from the pad, thread the hook behind the ear, and then let go. The beauty of the system is that you don’t feel a pinch when they are on, nor do you feel isolated from the world since they fit on top of the ears and not inside the ear.
If there is any downside to the pads, it is that when running into a headwind, the pads do channel the wind and create a mild roaring sound, which could be irritating to some users. Nevertheless, these are now our headphones of choice – just dump the clips.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $38
For more information: www.artwizz.com