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REVIEW: Griffin TuneBuds Earphones

After taking care of getting a protective case for the iPod, one of the most common upgrades that people consider is getting a new set of headphones. The classic white earbuds that come with the Apple iPod are decent, I suppose, but if you really want to get the most of your portable music experience, you should really consider getting a set of aftermarket headphones.

Some people say that you really need to invest in DJ-style cans to get the full aural experience, but those aren’t quite as portable as some people would like. That’s why some folks, myself included, prefer the sound quality and portability offered by earphones. These in-ear headphones typically offer a good level of noise isolation while offering reasonably “true” sound.

If you have the extra money to spend, you could certainly invest in something like the V-Moda Vibe Modaphones or the high-end FutureSonics Atrio M8 Premium Earphones, but those cost more than many average iPod owners are willing to spend. On the lower end of the spectrum are the Griffin TuneBuds Earphones.

No, you should expect the same ultra premium sound quality that you get with the more expensive alternatives, but the TuneBuds could be a viable option for those of us with smaller budgets.

Opening up the package, I was glad to see that even at this more affordable price point, the Griffin TuneBuds still offered three pairs of washable silicone inserts. This way, regardless of the size of your ear canal, there’s a good chance that you’ll still get a secure fit and maximum comfort. In addition to the silicone inserts and the TuneBuds themselves, Griffin has also included a zippered carrying case. This carrying case provides a good place to store the TuneBuds, as well as the replacement silicone inserts.

With this carrying case, you won’t have to worry about getting your cables all tangled up with your other electronics and you don’t have to worry about the ear tips getting overly dirty (aside from your ear wax, of course). This is quite the complete package. If you’d prefer to have a set that will work as a handsfree headset for your iPhone, Griffin also has the TuneBuds Mobile, which include an inline ControlMic as well. They come at a $10 premium over the $30 TuneBuds.

While there is is no active noise cancellation on the TuneBuds, the form-fitting TuneBuds do a good job of reasonably isolating you from the outside world. This is good for when you just want to disappear into the world of Kanye West or Coldplay. You may want to turn down the volume while in public though, if only for safety’s sake.

Sound quality, while not exceptional, was a definite improvement over the earbuds that comes standard with the iPod nano. It will depend largely on your choice of make and model, but this will probably be true with most other MP3 players as well. I tried a wide variety of content, including basic podcasts, Christmas classics (Bing Crosby FTW!), bass-thumping hip hop, and ear-splitting hard rock. The TuneBuds were pretty good for all of these. Since the TuneBuds use the standard 3.5mm connector, they’ll work with just about any audio device too.

Will the Griffin TuneBuds be able to take market share away from the ultra-premium earphone market? Probably not, but when you’ve got about $30 to spend on a set of upgraded earphones, the TuneBuds make for a very good value proposition. Sound quality is good, build quality is good, and the zippered pouch is a great bonus.

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  • Chris

    My gray case that came with the headphones broke. The zipper pull handle broke first but I continued to use it then the rest of the metal zipper piece just broke in half. If I sent it back to you could I have another one or do you sell just a replacement case? My email is cristoffher@aol.com or my #2145778228