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Comfortable earphones or headphones

For years I've struggled with cheap or free earphones. I'm now considering spending some (gasp!) money to get a better pair. My old ones did the job, but were uncomfortable to the point of intolerable. They hurt and would often fall out.

After reading some of the earphones and headphones posts here and reviews elsewhere, the style and price of the wired Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones look like a possible choice. My price limit is $100.

I'm especially concerned about the white part of the design hurting. I'd much appreciate some advice about that from anyone who uses a similar style of earphone.

Posted by
1348 posts

I’ve tried the noise canceling version of the Bose recently. The white in ear part was fairly pliable so I didn’t feel they were uncomfortable for me. I used the standard medium sized ones for a cross country flight and did not experience any discomfort. I ended up returning them because the battery/electronic box was always in an inconvenient place.

My local paper has a weekly column on electronics. This is what he suggested last year.

I will probably pick up a pair to try. It comes with SML sized inserts. And it appears the price has dropped to $50.

Posted by
924 posts

My daughter had those Bose soundsport ones for a number of years. She said they were incredibly comfortable, and I’m sure she wore them longer each day than you or I would. They broke eventually from overuse, and now she has the wireless ones, which she also likes for comfort. They cost more though.

Posted by
358 posts

I end up beating up my ear buds with all my travel, and usually replace them every 12-18 months

For those who are price sensitive but, looking for something decent, hard to beat Apple's EarPods.

Bose and Beat's by Dre (I know Apple company now) have a quality assortment and a higher price-point.

Posted by
164 posts

I own the Bose SoundSport and use them for traveling to Europe--on the plane and when taking tours where each person has an individual headset. My ears would hurt after about 5 minutes with regular earbuds. With these I can last a lot longer--about a couple of hours. I still find that my ears hurt a little after this amount of time, but not nearly as bad as with regular earbuds. I also find that I can pull them out of my ear a little more and still have them stay in (if that makes sense) and this reduces the discomfort. I was just like you--I didn't know if I really wanted to spend the money for earbuds, but I'm glad I did. My only consideration was comfort--I was not shopping for sound quality, but the Bose sound fine to me.

Posted by
4668 posts

Having gone through a number of earphones which I use for hours in the gym I will recommend staying away from anything where the price looks too good to be true. There are a lot of Chinese made earphones, particularly wireless bluetooth ones, that sell for good prices on Amazon however they're often poor quality and break within a few months of use.

I wouldn't advocate paying less than $50 for them nor would I recommend buying a brand that you've never heard of.

I've had good success with Bose, Sennheisser and JBL.

Posted by
127 posts


I have the JBL women's inspire series earbuds, and they're great. They come with a little turquoise earbud cover called an enhancer. It is made of soft, silicone like material. It makes the earbuds so comfortable. I wear them when I run and they stay in place perfectly. (The little cover keeps them from slipping out when I get sweaty.) I also use them for long plane rides. The only downside is that you have to take care that the little turquoise covers don't fall off when you are storing the earbuds. Mine came with a little zip pouch that I use. You can also buy replacement covers. I think I paid $30 for my earbuds, and they've lasted several years. You should be able to find them at REI, or other big box retailers. Mine are not wireless, but I believe they also make wireless models.

Posted by
3685 posts

Wow! I never expected to get so much good advice or so many good suggestions. I really appreciate the responses, everyone.

Posted by
3685 posts

There were enough positive responses about the Bose earphones I linked in the OP, that I went ahead and got them through Amazon. I've been testing them this morning and so far so good. Comfort was my #1 concern and they are comfortable. Thanks again for all the input. I can hardly wait to use them on the plane.

Posted by
3304 posts

I use headphones for walking, gym workouts and travel. The Bose are too big for me. Ear buds are painful so I avoid them. Uncomfortable earphones are a waste of money as I'll never use them. My happy medium are earphones that wrap around the ear and are lightweight.

This is a timely thread for me. I just re-ordered these Panasonic earphones They are inexpensive and give me 3 year's usage.

Posted by
9 posts

Question, does Rick use earbuds or over the ear noise cancelling? Has anyone tried the sleep/noise cancelling masks?!

Posted by
37 posts

Glad OP is enjoying the Bose earphones. I've always liked Bose too, but since I got pretty small ears, they sometimes hurt (especially that white thing referred to by OP that was a possible concern). So I tried some other options and actually found that headphones are more comfortable for me. Of course, when travelling, it can be a bulky. I've thought about that and since I'm a gamer too, I weighed the pros and cons (with a helping guide in choosing, of course) and went ahead for the headphones. So yeah, I'm one of those weird guys with huge headphones on the plane or while walking down the street. Don't judge us please. Haha.

Posted by
846 posts

I do not use in-ear style any more for medical reasons. Doc said over the ear or on ear styles only, nothing that penetrates the external ear parts. Picked the Beats studio3 active noise canceling over the ear models because Costco. Wore them for a couple hours flying in a 40 seat commuter jet, awesome sound deadening experience.