I was walking up and down the aisles of the Digital Experience event at CES 2011 when I caught eye of the Yurbuds display. A company executive was talking with another press member, and as I was giving the product brochure a quick glance I overheard words like "sweatproof" and "stays in your ears". I had to test this for myself, as many earbud manufacturers make these claims but fail to deliver. After some talking with another company executive, I received my own sample pair for review. I've been testing the Yurbuds Ironman Series for over a month now, and so far so good.
Yurbuds was founded in 2008 to fill a market need for earphones that don't hurt or fall out during active use. Unlike most earbuds that come with different size tips, the folks over at Yurbuds decided to take a different approach. After analyzing numerous ear shapes from a digital database, the company produced a design that fits the shape, contours, and size of the average human ear. As you can see from the picture above, the final product appears to be a hybrid between traditional earbud tips and custom molds that fit snuggly within the ear.
It's clear that Yurbuds' target demographic is athletes, and especially runners. Music makes a workout much more fun to complete, but let's face it, those factory Apple iPod headphones are garbage. And honestly, entry level earbuds aren't much of an upgrade. However, with the Yurbuds Ironman Series, you get a very solid pair of earphones at a mid-level price. Yurbuds' main selling point is that their product won't slip out during active use, while remaining comfortable for athletes who have a long workout. I have tested the Ironman series during my workouts (running and weight training), and I am very impressed. True to their tagline, my Yurbuds haven't slipped out of my ears once, which is quite remarkable for a one-size-fits-all design. The earphones do a good job of staying sweat free as advertised, but silicone near the driver opening can get a little gunked up with earwax after some usage. I would recommend carefully using an alcohol pad to clean off the silicone ear cushion to keep your set fresh.
You can tell the Yurbuds Ironman series were definitely made for athletes with their stay-put and comfortable design, but most importantly, do they sound good? I have a few songs that I use to try any audio product out, so I put the Ironman series to the test. First off, I like to listen to "Radio Daze" by The Roots – this song features a wide range of frequencies, from consistent bass drum hits to cymbal shots, plus some piano mixed in. I thought the sound reproduction from the Ironman series for this song was pretty good. For hard-hitting bass, I like to use "I Don't Give a F#$%" from Lil' Jon. The quality of the low frequency bass hits was pretty good; I could hear the lowness of the bass hits fine, but the sound wasn't as full as from my 2.1 speaker set, and more importantly, other earphones I tested out at CES. To focus on treble frequencies, I like to use "Amazing" by Inna. Again, I was able to hear most of the treble frequencies, but the separation wasn't as good as my aforementioned 2.1 speaker set. Lastly, to wrap up I listened to "One More Time" by Daft Punk, another song with wide frequency ranges. Overall, I was able to hear solid bass and treble frequencies, but the performance dwindled a bit at the end of the frequency range.
I don't want to belie my overall favorable opinion of the Yurbuds Ironman series earphones. At an MSRP of $49.99, the Ironman series does indeed produce good quality sound targeted for both the athlete and casual listener demographic. Audiophiles will likely go for the true custom molded earbuds currently available for consumers, but for those of you like me – casual listeners who stay active – the Yurbuds Ironman series earphones are a solid buy.