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Old 02-15-13, 11:18 PM   #1
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What are the best earbuds for BLOCKING wind noise?

What are the best ear buds or pods to use for the purpose of blocking wind noise?

Though I almost never listen to music while I ride, I always have my buds in, so I can hear the ringer on my iPhone. I am on-call 24/7.

With or without earbuds in, I get the problem of wind-roar beginning at just about anything over 12mph or so, which even if it wasn't just plain annoying to listen to, I think contributes to mental and physical fatigue on an all-day ride, and can be almost painful on long, fast descents (I am such a delicate little flower ).

I've had good results blocking wind noise by wearing a balaklava or wide ski headband over my earbuds, but this is way too warm for most of my riding season. The type of bud that fits like an earplug seems to work OK sometimes, as long as they stay tight, but they usually sweat out, and I'm constantly having to shove them back in. The fact that I have smaller than normal ear canals is not helping here.

I noticed Yurbuds "Ironman" earbuds advertised for running/skiing/biking etc., so I bought some of those, and to my great disappointment, they made the wind roar MUCH WORSE than not having anything in my ears, and in fact much worse than any other cheap or expensive ear bud I've tried. (Side note: music-wise, they actually sound pretty good when stationery, but that's not what I bought them for).

Anybody have any recommendations for better wind-blocking ear buds, or a for a workaround I can use with my iPhone buds that doesn't involve swaddling my upper head with heat-trapping fabric?

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Old 02-15-13, 11:24 PM   #2
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I tried a bunch different ones, including the in ear kind. Nothing really worked except a piece of tape over the ear buds. Eventually, I just bought an arm band and wear it as close to my head as I can. Don't really need the earbuds at all
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Old 02-15-13, 11:46 PM   #3
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I tried a bunch different ones, including the in ear kind. Nothing really worked except a piece of tape over the ear buds
Heh. I once taped over my ears with a couple patches of duct tape cut to size, and that was almost as bad as the Yurbuds. In my case it seemed to have a sort of a drum-head effect, with the wind buffeting. I've done the armband, too. With the phone set on vibrate, I can get the call because I can feel it. But this doesn't help much with my main problem - blocking wind noise. Also, I have to strap the band on pretty tight, which can be sort of uncomfortable on the muscles over time (I am such a delicate little flower )
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Old 02-16-13, 12:56 AM   #4
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I don't really ride with earphones but have used these style on my road bike with good results. They are the in-ear kind using the foam tips to block the noise. Mine are expensive Westone UM2's but you can find this style earphone for a lot less money. Beware that it's easy to get the to volume hearing-damage levels to drown out the background noise so remember less is more with earphone volume.



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Old 02-16-13, 07:55 AM   #5
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Other than the in-ear, custom-cast, monitor earbuds, nothing is going to block wind noise as an earbud. Of course, successfully blocking wind noise with an in-ear earbud will also block all other noise arriving by air.

Provided you are not overly embarrassed by appearing nutty while you ride, consider a blocking shape attached to your helmet strap. There are commercial versions like slipstreamz (a plastic clip), but in my experience nothing disturbs and minimizes the noise like a soft shape on your helmet strap that maintains contact with your face. Orientation is very important to the performane of any device like this. It may be easier for me on the resumbent as my head is more or less already straight up where the wind somes in at right angles. If you ride head down you may have to reposition this kind of shape. The look-before-you-buy test is to lay your index finger on your cheek, behind your eye but in front of your ear while you are riding and see if the wind noise disappears for you or not.



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Old 02-16-13, 10:34 AM   #6
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It's worth noting that the Yurbuds you tried, while in-ear type, are not noise blocking type. In order to be noise canceling (mechanically), they need to block the canal, such as the type Dunbar posted. Whether foam or silicone, they need to fit snugly in the canal; most headsets come with multiple sizes of earpieces for this reason.

There are also active noise canceling headphones, i.e. that operate electronically to defeat ambient noise, but whether those would work on a bike, I don't know. I'd imagine that the sensing microphone would need to be positioned out of head-on wind, but I'm not sure. They may be worth playing with, but I think canal blocking earpieces would do the trick.

Wilbur has, I think, the best idea, which is to smooth airflow across the ear. The Slipstreamz "The Slip" ear covers are similar, but ready made and integrate with earbuds, so it's an easy solution. http://www.slipstreamz.com/content.asp?subID=8
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Old 02-16-13, 02:20 PM   #7
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Westone UM1 work very well for me. I tried a bunch of different earphones before finding those. The UM2s and others are higher-end versions, but I use them only for riding and the UM1 are more than sufficient fidelity wise for my purposes. The trick, of course, for best blocking of wind noise is finding tips that seal your ear canal well. I ordered some extra large foam tips which work the best for me. These are a bit larger than the largest in the assortment of tips that come with the UM1s when you buy them.

http://www.westone.com/store/index.p...-monitors.html

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Old 02-16-13, 04:06 PM   #8
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In a different twist to the OP's question, I actually use the same earpiece I use for my radio at work. Our department's Motorola radios are equipped with a 3.5mm jack so all radio traffic goes into my ear and not out of the external mic. And you don't have to go to a police supply store or the like, they are available all over ebay, amazon, etc... I buy them for about $10 a pop, and they last a long time.



The sound is just fine (not super duper like a pair of Westone's I assure you). I also like to have the other ear open to hear what's going on around me. The other great feature is that they are designed to stay in during activity and are really easily cleaned.
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Old 02-16-13, 06:33 PM   #9
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"Elvis-evoking Cat-Ears reduce wind noise while you cycle"
http://www.gizmag.com/cat-ears-cycli...lockers/25457/
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Old 02-16-13, 07:33 PM   #10
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Those foils - spoliers - blockers look like they might be the thing for me. I'm a total shameless dork already, so I don't have to worry if it clashes with my spandex (don't own any). Just the kind of thing that appeals to the caveman engineer in me, and I can DIY it from miscellaneous crap I have lying around the shop already and tweak 'til I get it right.

Thanks for the diagram, Wilbur. I'll probably make a set of those tonight if I can find some velcro about the place.

Also happy to hear from anyone else who has a plug-and-go solution.

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It's worth noting that the Yurbuds you tried, while in-ear type, are not noise blocking type.
I just can't believe these things are being marketed for people supposedly moving through the air at a brisk pace. They are completely and utterly wrong for that, in my experience. It's crazy how much louder they made the wind sound.

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Old 02-16-13, 07:49 PM   #11
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Skull candy ear buds work fine for me. Anything rubber tipped should do. Now if you're talking quality too, that's a whole different forum.
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Old 02-16-13, 08:22 PM   #12
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Sennheiser CX-300.

They work well, have minimal wind noise and sound great.
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Old 02-17-13, 09:30 AM   #13
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"Elvis-evoking Cat-Ears reduce wind noise while you cycle"
www.gizmag.com/cat-ears-cycling-wind-blockers/25457/
I would highly recommend trying this. Any headphones that block the wind noise are also going to block the sounds of traffic and that really isn't the brightest idea.
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Old 02-17-13, 10:25 AM   #14
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... block the sounds of traffic and that really isn't the brightest idea.
Tut tut tut. Let's not be judgmental. Just as riding a bike on the road has risks/rewards, blocking traffic sounds has pros and cons and it's up to the individual to weigh those and decide for themselves based on where and how they ride, the goals and objectives, risk tolerance, etc..
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Old 02-17-13, 11:05 AM   #15
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Tut tut tut. Let's not be judgmental. Just as riding a bike on the road has risks/rewards, blocking traffic sounds has pros and cons and it's up to the individual to weigh those and decide for themselves based on where and how they ride, the goals and objectives, risk tolerance, etc..
I stand by my statement. I said it wasn't the brightest idea; I didn't say "Don't do it". Just like riding in the pitch black without any lights isn't the brightest idea.

Both of these actions, for example, would affect somebody's legal options if they were in an accident (meaning both of these actions could cause the driver of a car to be ruled not fully at fault).
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Old 02-17-13, 11:19 AM   #16
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I stand by my statement. I said it wasn't the brightest idea; I didn't say "Don't do it". Just like riding in the pitch black without any lights isn't the brightest idea.

Both of these actions, for example, would affect somebody's legal options if they were in an accident (meaning both of these actions could cause the driver of a car to be ruled not fully at fault).
I stand by what I've always asserted which is that sharing the road is a visual task. If you make any kind of maneuver based on audible evidence without confirming it with sight, you are making a mistake. That being the case, hearing doesn't provide much help other than making the nervous feel more secure.
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Old 02-17-13, 01:52 PM   #17
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I would highly recommend trying this. Any headphones that block the wind noise are also going to block the sounds of traffic and that really isn't the brightest idea.
Actually I can hear traffic better when I use blocking headphones. I only wear one, and if I use open air headphones the wind noise is bad enough that I have to crank the volume to painful levels to hear, and that's so distracting that I don't hear traffic too well. With one blocking earphone in, I can listen at low, comforable volumes and I can hear traffic every bit as well as I can when not using earbuds at all.

FWIW I currently mostly listen to stuff via Bluetooth on my tablet, and use an LG HBS-700, which is apparently waterproof though I haven't tested it much yet.
http://www.amazon.com/LG-Electronics...p_ob_title_def
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Old 02-17-13, 01:52 PM   #18
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Both of these actions, for example, would affect somebody's legal options if they were in an accident (meaning both of these actions could cause the driver of a car to be ruled not fully at fault).
In my state at least, riding with one earphone in is explicitly allowed.
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Old 02-17-13, 04:00 PM   #19
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you could use tape over the ear?
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Old 02-17-13, 06:12 PM   #20
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In my state at least, riding with one earphone in is explicitly allowed.
In most states I know, 1 is allowed, 2 is not (both in car and on bicycle).

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I stand by what I've always asserted which is that sharing the road is a visual task. If you make any kind of maneuver based on audible evidence without confirming it with sight, you are making a mistake. That being the case, hearing doesn't provide much help other than making the nervous feel more secure.
I agree with your assertion that using sound clues without verifying them is a mistake. But that doesn't mean that auditory sounds are not useful, nor that its only use is making the nervous feel more secure. I ride with mirrors which I do try and regularly check. I use auditory clues as a reminder to check.

Particularly if riding in a crowded environment, it is very useful to be able to hear other bicyclists and pedestrians.

Edit: To the OP: I recommend trying something like the cat ears to get rid of the wind noise. If you are listening to music, I sometimes use a small powered speaker. When there's traffic, I can't hear the speaker, but that's by design. When I'm riding and there's nothing around, I can hear it just fine.

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Old 02-17-13, 09:52 PM   #21
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I disagree with anyone who doesn't think sound cues are helpful. They're EXTREMELY helpful.

This also doesn't mean you need laser-sharp hearing, but if I were to err in any direction, it would be on more hearing rather than less. It's already a dangerous enough place to be on the road, and adding wind noise, I always feel exposed when I'm on a downhill at 30+ and the wind blocks out most of the hearing of rear-approaching vehicles until they're right up on you.

On climbs, you better believe that if I hear either the revvs of an 18-wheeler, or the whine of a motorcycle being ridden super aggressively (by someone likely not having a lot of time to see a cyclist on the turns), I'll ride ride off the road sholder into the grass in prepration for them to make sure I don't get flattened in the process. I definitely would not put anything in my ears that reduces hearing and that includes headphones.
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Old 02-18-13, 11:51 AM   #22
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...if I hear either the revvs of an 18-wheeler, or the whine of a motorcycle being ridden super aggressively (by someone likely not having a lot of time to see a cyclist on the turns)...
So you can tell all that from the sound of the engine? Sorry , but that's entirely ridiculous IMO. There's really nothing I hear that changes how I ride...except perhaps a siren. I rely on my vision and situational awareness.
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Old 02-18-13, 12:27 PM   #23
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So you can tell all that from the sound of the engine? Sorry , but that's entirely ridiculous IMO. There's really nothing I hear that changes how I ride...except perhaps a siren. I rely on my vision and situational awareness.
Isn't hearing the roar of a diesel motor part of situational awareness? Certainly hearing screeching tires or a car horn is.

I'm assuming you are riding with mirrors, but unless you always remember to check them every N seconds, road noise behind you can be very useful (if nothing else, to remind you to check your mirrors now).

(If you aren't riding with mirrors, how do you know anybody is behind you at all if you aren't using sound?)

And for riding on MUPs, being able to hear the other bicyclists ("passing on your left") and pedestrians is quite useful. It's really annoying to have to communicate with a fellow bicycle rider on a MUP using an air-zound because they don't hear you.
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Old 02-18-13, 03:07 PM   #24
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but unless you always remember to check them every N seconds
that's the idea....360 visual awareness 100% of the time. Eyes scan constantly...peripheral and direct vision. This is a skill many have mastered. Many have not.
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Old 02-18-13, 03:46 PM   #25
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i have used some Aquapac ear buds on my jetski with good results at 30-40 mph all day.
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