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In my last review I told you about a recent find by way of earphones to suit my unusual ears. I thought it might be a good idea to tell you about how I got to this point so that you know about the trials and tribulations I had with other products.
As I mentioned, I've got funny ears. Not funny because they stick out or are very big although they are a bit lopsided I'll admit. No, they're funny because the shape of the bit around the hole in your head doesn't have much of a recess. The consequence is that ordinary earbud type earphones won't stay in. The slightest movement and they simply fall out. This is most inconvenient.
I've tried all sorts of solutions. I've used the ordinary supra-aural type (Koss), with the headband that joins the two earpieces together over your head. They work but to be honest they're not exactly portable. They are also uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. They make your ears all sweaty. They are very good for noise isolation though and the bass notes do come through well.
I have also tried the other type of headband headphones where the earpieces are covered with a foam pad (Sennheiser) and sit against your ears rather around them. These also work very well but aren't as good at noise isolation nor are they as good at delivering the bass. Once again, they can hardly be slipped into your pocket and so really aren't suitable for portable music.
The next type I tried are the over-ear design, specifically the Panasonic RP-HS11. These have a large earpiece connected to an arm that hooks over the ear. These are fine for portability but because the earpiece is not held firmly against the ear the bass is severely lacking. They are also quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods if you are, as I am, a wearer of glasses. The arms of the earpieces and the arms of the glasses get in each other's way and make your ears quite sore.
I thought I had found the answer to my problem in a set of moulded soft rubber earpieces that were clearly designed to snap over ordinary earbud type earpieces. I spotted them as part of a mobile phone headset that was in a knock-down price basket at a motorway services. I bought them but when I got them home I discovered that all that was provided was for the right ear! Presumably the headset could only be worn one way round!
I have also tried the type that fit into the ear canal like a plug. The ones I first bought were Sennheiser CX300 inter-aural earphones. I figured that if the normal earbud design wouldn't stay in place then the type that fits into the ear canal might do so. The Sennheisers had received good reviews. I found a pair on Amazon that were at a good price. Sadly they must have been defective as the sound they produced wasn't good being muddy and distorted. The seller gave me my money back without question but I felt it unreasonable to review them here as I didn't think that they were representative.
However, the inter-aural design seemed to work reasonably well although the Sennheisers weren't ideal. What I needed was the sound quality of a good pair of earbuds with the inter-aural design that would fit my odd ears. What I came across was a pair of inter-aural cups that clip onto normal earbud design earpieces, supposedly to give you the best of both worlds. I thought it would be worth giving them a try.
The Griffin EarJams (for such are they called) are advertised as being intended for the earpieces supplied for the ubiquitous Apple iPod. What's the difference? Well, the iPod earpieces are slightly larger than normal earbuds. They are 17mm in diameter rather than the more usual 16mm. However, the EarJams will fit any earbuds of 17mm diameter, iPod or not. They fit my earphones that came with my recently reviewed SumVision MP3 player.
The EarJams are simple white plastic shells that are a press fit onto the earphones. The centre of the shell is a hollow stalk that fits into the ear. The cushion that covers the stalk is a rubber skirt that is supposed to hold the earpiece into the ear. It's not solid foam; the space between the outer skirt and the part that fits over the stalk is open. The rubber skirt can be easily removed to be washed.
In my opinion the fact that it isn't solid does actually reduce the ability of the whole thing to fit firmly into the ear. Three different sizes of skirts are provided for different sized ear canals. I found that I needed the largest ones to fit my ears. However, even then the whole unit wouldn't stay securely in place. I feel that the rubber cushion design hasn't been well thought out although it may work for some people. It certainly doesn't for me.
I bought the EarJams on Amazon where I found a supplier who could provide them at £4.95 a pair so I hadn't wasted a lot in the experiment. I have also found them advertised elsewhere on the Internet at prices around this. Postage varies according to vendor.
My overall view is that the EarJams are, for me, definitely better than the standard earbuds but in them I have not found the perfect solution to my need. For those who have less problematic ears and want to consider an inter-aural design, the EarJams are a good and very well priced solution, assuming that you already have a pair of earbud earpieces of the right size. Clearly the iPod earbuds are; the EarJams are designed specifically for them.
As it happens I found another solution to the problem of getting earphones to fit me that that is intended to be used solely with a pair of earbuds. In my never ending search I have tried this but I decided to try it with the Griffin EarJams, using it to replace the provided cushions. I will write about this one separately.
Watch this space.
Griffin's EarJams let you keep on using your iPod's earbuds while giving you the quality that comes from in-ear style headphones. You won't believe how good your earbuds can sound until you try EarJams.