In an era dominated by True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds, it may seem like wired earphones are on the brink of extinction. However, a recent TikTok video by one Lukas Arnold passionately defending his choice of wired headphones as the cross they choose to die on, got me thinking long and hard about this subject matter.
This sentiment was further echoed in this The Verge’s Short by the oh-so-talented Becca Farsace on the disappointing microphone quality of even the most expensive TWS earbuds in the market today, which pales in comparison to their wired counterparts.
Convince me im wrong, i will wait♬ original sound – Lukas Arnold
And this really got me thinking, were wired earphones really all that bad? Did they deserve to meet their untimely death? And is there a place for these accessories in 2023? With that, I shelved my trusty Oraimo Freepods 4 and ordered the Oraimo Trumpets 3, just to reminisce on the days long gone.
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It has been a few weeks now and I have a lot to say. First, Lukas makes for some really good points in his video and I agree with most of his sentiments, but there is more to this whole story. In my week of deja vu to the days I couldn’t leave the house without the neatly looped coils of earphone wire in my pocket, I relived some of the horrors and benefits of these wired earphones and with the fresh memory of my Freepods 4, here’s what really stuck out for me.
The Superior Sound Quality of Wired Earphones
Yes, one of the most compelling arguments in favor of wired earphones is their superior sound quality. Unlike their wireless counterparts, wired earphones transmit audio signals through a physical connection, resulting in a more stable and reliable audio experience.
The absence of potential signal dropouts ensures a consistent and immersive sound, making wired earphones the preferred choice for discerning audiophiles and music enthusiasts. The direct connection between the earphones and the device allows for a stronger audio signal, delivering a richer and more detailed sound that truly enhances the listening experience.
However, my Freepods 4 do have ANC and having used the Freepods 3 before them, the sound quality on the Freepods 4 were head and shoulders above many earphones I have used in the past. The Trumpets were great! Really good sound quality and with a few tweaks on the Poweramp Equalizer app, was able to deliver thumping bass just how I like it.
I am not too sure this argument holds water as modern TWS earphones have gotten really good. I still think TWS have it on this one.
The Microphone Advantage of Wired Earphones
Furthermore, the microphone quality of wired earphones often surpasses that of TWS earbuds, and this, I experienced first hand. The Verge’s comparison video shed light on the disappointing performance of even the most expensive TWS earbuds in terms of microphone clarity and consistency.
Wired earbuds, on the other hand, consistently deliver superior microphone quality, making them ideal for important calls, voice recordings, or virtual meetings where clear communication is paramount. Whether it’s for professional purposes or casual conversations, the reliability and clarity of wired earphone microphones cannot be understated.
Of course, I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to myself using these but I did fiddle with the recorded app. Also, I had far fewer instances where I had to unplug the earphones so I can have a conversation with someone on the phone. I often had to disconnect Bluetooth and use my phone’s mouthpiece with the Freepods 4 because the person on the other end just couldn’t hear me with the Freepods on.
This was a welcome relief as I hadn’t noticed just how much I was missing out during those long phone calls that can be had while you do your things in the background, with both hands.
Freedom from Battery Life Constraints
Another advantage of wired earphones is their freedom from the battery life constraints that plague TWS earbuds. With TWS earbuds, users must constantly monitor and recharge their devices, adding another item to the gadgets requiring regular charging.
In contrast, wired earphones draw power directly from the device they are connected to, eliminating the need for additional charging and ensuring uninterrupted listening or communication. This convenience is particularly valuable for individuals who rely on their earphones throughout the day, as they can simply plug in and enjoy their audio without worrying about battery life.
I had one such moment when taking and 8-hour bus ride to the countryside recently. My Oraimo Riff often died on me after a little over an hour of continuous use. The Freepods 4 lasted around 4 hours before needing to be juiced. Guess how long I had to charge the wired Oraimo Trumpet 3s.
To be fair though, TWS have gotten better over the year, and today a 15-munite charge of the buds in the case should bring you back to 100% on most modern wireless buds. But there’s just something about not having to worry about that altogether.
Affordability and Value for Money
Cost is another factor that favors wired earphones. While TWS earbuds offer convenience and wireless freedom, they often come with a hefty price tag. For instance, the Freepods 4 today go for KES 4500/USD 31.
In contrast, wired earphones are generally more affordable, making them accessible to a wider range of consumers. In my case, the Trumpets 3, which come with a free carrying case, the same replaceable tips, and a really durable cable, ran me only KES 800/USD 6. This affordability, coupled with their superior microphone quality, makes wired earphones an attractive option for those seeking value for their money.
Users can enjoy high-quality audio and reliable microphones without breaking the bank, making wired earphones a practical and cost-effective choice.
Reduced Risk of Misplacement
One too many times, I have found myself passed out on the couch, watching some YouTube video with the Freepods in my ears. The ensuing hassle of trying to hunt for a single lost earbud is something I did not miss in the few weeks I switched over to the wired earphones.
Wired earphones are less prone to being misplaced or lost. The physical connection between the earphones and the device ensures that they remain securely attached, reducing the risk of misplacement.
In contrast, the small and wireless nature of TWS earbuds makes them easier to misplace or lose, potentially leading to additional expenses for replacements. Wired earphones provide peace of mind, knowing that they are always securely connected and readily available whenever needed.
There still are drawbacks
Yes, the infamous tangled earphone spaghetti mess. One of the drawbacks of using wired earphones is the tangling of the wires, which can cause frustration, damage, and inconvenience to the users. The wires can get tangled in pockets, bags, drawers or other places, making it difficult to untangle them and use the earphones quickly.
In contrast, TWS (True Wireless Stereo) buds users do not have to deal with these issues, as they are wireless and do not have any wires to tangle.
The fact that many modern flagship smartphones omit the headphone jack means that mid-range and eventually, even entry-level phones will ditch this port. This means that the days of these trusty sound conduits are numbered.
In fact, it is getting harder and harder to get a good quality, modern part of earphones as many OEMs have outrightly ditched it altogether.
While TWS earbuds have undoubtedly revolutionized personal audio with their sleek designs and wireless convenience, it is important not to overlook the enduring advantages of wired earphones.
Their sound quality, microphone performance, reliability, affordability, and reduced risk of loss make them a compelling choice for many users. As we navigate the era of TWS earbuds, it is crucial to recognize the enduring value of wired earphones and appreciate the unique benefits they offer.
Let us not forget the cross that some individuals are willing to bear for the nostalgia, sound, and microphone quality that wired earphones provide.
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