Earbuds come in prices that are all over the place from cheap to not-so-cheap, but that shouldn’t be the reason to wear them. Someone sitting sedately at home doesn’t need a pair or ‘buds that laugh at getting wet, but if you’re going to use them as part of an exercise regiment or while doing weight training or running, then there’s a fair amount of necessary qualities that the earbuds must have. So for the active person that we all should strive to be, using the $ 59.95ATH-Sport3 Red In-ear headphones will seem a sensible, if not obvious thing to do (the “red” stands for their color which is, well yes it’s red).
These earbuds have an interesting design in which each of the drivers (those pieces going into the ears) is a bit angled as they aim for the ear canal. The tips, of which there are 3 sizes to accommodate small, medium and large ears, are of a design that doesn’t impede ambient noises. That can be a big deal when worn outside — especially amidst crowded urban streets. You pick the tip that works best (i.e., trying each of the sizes on till your ear shows you which stays put when you hit the “go” button). Obviously the 10mm drivers have to push air in order to create sound, so rely on the silicone construction to work in tandem with the drivers and a speciality design to allow for the air flow to travel to the ears.
Now to deal with how the audio travels from the music device (phone, MP3 player, etc.) to the earbuds. There’s no Bluetooth and contrary to all the wireless-lovers, that’s fine by me. BT may seem reliable, but it comes at the price of the headset needing batteries and tech for added weight, not to mention making it easier to be damaged. And if you’ve ever walked by a microwave when it kicked in, you’ll know that Bluetooth isn’t stable. Plus the quality of the audio can vary even with the new technologies that have been put in place. So why do so many fight off the wired approach? It’s because the cable running from ear to player can too easily get tangled or torn. And when you’re involved in sports or activities like running or weight training, you don’t want that. Why isn’t it a problem here? Because the ATH-Sport3’s cable is designed to be tangle free and durable. Audio Technica also says that they’ve improved on the sound coming through the cable, but if so, that’s just icing the wired cake.
Another thing is liquid resistance, as in the ATH-Sport3’s handling sweat and rain and pretty much any kind of “wetness” you might encounter while wearing them. The IPX5 rating takes care of that — plus it means you can wash the earbuds off under water to remove gunk without trashing them. The cables also have a memory-foam capability: this means they hold their shape after having been used. That means they fit on easily and stay on, but what it really means is that you don’t have to mess around with the wires getting all up in your face every time you put the xxxx on.
The final thing to consider is how they sound — actually that’s pretty much all that should be considered, with the protective and durability qualities being the supporting cast, not the main attraction. The ATH-Sport3 sounds good, is what I can say — the clarity of vocals and the mid and upper ranges come through clear. Listen to an audiobook or play the Rolling Stones, whatever — it sounds good but more importantly it doesn’t sound “off” or “odd” and so is a distraction. Bass, which is always an issue with earbuds is surprisingly good. It won’t break any winner’s tape for amazing quality, but adds into the audio mix in a natural and realistic way to enhance the overall sound.