As someone who has constantly struggled to keep earbud-style headphones in place, I found the concept behind the original Yurbuds to be quite fantastic. Thanks to its light weight and grippy rubber covers, it became my primary earphones for about a year, especially when traveling by air to all sorts of places.
As much as I liked the Yurbuds' unique rubber cover, however, the earphones themselves were just about as good (i.e. bad) as Apple’s stock white buds. For the uninitiated, the iPod earphones may look cool but they aren’t exactly high-performance. Equalizer settings helped soften some of the sound quality issues but it essentially sounded flat without much bass.
Things changed, however, with the release of Yurbuds’ new line of Ironman earphones. Designed for use by athletes, the new Yurbuds were much improved from the original and featured richer sound. Yurbuds then continued to expand the line even more, including variants such as the subject of this review, the new Ironman Inspire Pro.
Like the first Ironman earbud, the Inspire Pro is a marked improvement over the original Yurbuds from a couple or so years back. The most noticeable change is with its bass, which is stronger than the original. You can also turn up the volume until your ears bleed without noticing any significant distortion. At the same time, the Inspire Pro also makes some improvements over the second-generation Ironman. At the top of the list is the addition of a Y-shaped module that houses a mic for answering calls when using an iPhone. The module also has controls for folks using a compatible MP3 player like the iPod. To avoid choking your neck, placement of the module is a bit low though sound quality with the mic is still fairly good. Meanwhile, controls are mapped to essentially three buttons. The upper and lower buttons are used to control volume while the middle one is sort of a jack-of-all-trades button. Tapping it once plays or pauses a song. Tapping it twice skips one track forward while tapping it three times skips backward. The headphone jack has also been switched to a gun-shaped connector. This helps rectify an issue I had with the previous Ironman’s connector, which eventually got damaged at the joint due to my tendency to wrap the wires around my MP3 player when not in use. The biggest advantage for any Yurbuds earphone remains its fit and “stickability” and the Inspire Pro continues the tradition. It’s especially great for folks who like to listen to their tunes while exercising.
At the same time, these earbuds also have their share of issues. Although the Inspire Pros are a marked improvement over the original Yurbuds, for example, they still don’t sound as good as the Arctic Sound E361 or the V-Moda Remix Remote. Music has a muddy or muffled quality to it — especially when using basic settings or presets for your music player — though the issue can be mostly rectified by using a player with an equalizer. The grippy ear cover can also start loosening if you work up a major sweat, particularly during super long runs. Like its predecessors, the rubber ear covers continue to be dirt magnets. Over time, it also becomes easier for the rubber grips to detach if you like to keep your earbuds in your pockets.
Despite its flaws, the Yurbuds sounds good enough with the proper EQ settings that I’m willing to overlook them — largely because these are the only earbuds I’ve owned that actually stay in place for me. In addition to using it for exercise, its light weight also makes it great alternative to larger full headphones when traveling by plane. Give it a shot if you want earbuds with a secure and comfortable fit.
Final rating: 3.5 stars
For more portable gadgets for your listening pleasure, check out our Speakers & Headphones hub.