In defense of wired earbuds

I listened to a lot of music growing up, but in recent years the only situation where I spend any significant amount of time listening to tunes is when I travel on airplanes.  Minimal weight and convenience are far more important to me in this setting than sound quality, so I’ve always gone with small in-ear headphones in favor of the massive earmuff style that go over your head and undoubtedly provide technically superior audio.  With my light packing style, that type of headphone has no place in my backpack.

Given that I only use my headphones sporadically, my favorite brand of earbuds are the standard wired Apple earpods that have been included with every iPhone since the original in 2007.  They’re light, durable (I’ve never worn a pair out), good enough for my purposes, and do not require a separate power source.

Yes, having wired headphones is so 2015, but after researching Airpods and other equivalent wireless headphones, I’ve decided to stick with the old style wired earbuds for now.  The biggest reason?  Wired earpods are not a disposable product; as long as you take care of them, they’ll last a long time.

In contrast, the $160 Airpods are intentionally designed to last around 2 years before they die.  The way they are assembled, replacing the lithium battery is impossible.  This is a great business model if you’re attempting to siphon money off your customers, but it seems very wasteful.

The other major beef I have with wireless headphones is that they are yet another set of gadgets that need to be charged regularly.  Over the years, I am very proud to have whittled down my travel chargers to only 2:  one for my phone and one for my camera battery.  Carrying around a bag full of electronic devices and their respective chargers (and adapters if you’re going international) is a pain in the ass that I have experienced firsthand many times in my past heavy travel days, and I wish to avoid going back to that if at all possible.

I guess if you listen to audio every single day, having Airpods are worth the $80 annual price, but for this light traveler who uses headphones maybe a dozen times per year, it’s not yet worth the cost.  I’ll stick to my wired buds for the time being.


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