AIRbudz prototype earbuds let the ambient noise in
The 3D-printed alternative earbud attachments are available for preorder for $10 at Kickstarter until Saturday.
I don't run without music. I just get too bored. But a few beats into songs by, say, The Knife, and my feet are pounding the pavement hard. I'm also perpetually safety-conscious, though, which means I tend to avoid Portland's beautiful but busy waterfront loop in favor of quiet streets with low traffic.
So I have long hoped for the perfect sports headphones that are durable, comfortable, and let the ambient noise in. Enter AIRbudz, the alternative earbud attachments that Utah-based entrepreneur (and jogger) Tammy Erdel is raising funds for on Kickstarter.
AIRbudz deal with external sound blockage by incorporating air channels into their 3D-printed buds that quite simply let ambient sound stream in. The ambient noise is obviously still competing with whatever sounds are pumping through the headphones, but that sound doesn't appear to be in any way altered or compromised.
Unfortunately, when the folks at AIRbudz sent over three pairs (small, medium, and large), I quickly discovered that I could not use the tips on my cheap Apple earbuds because the AIRbudz only work by replacing removable tips. Good thing the team works with Swedish manufacturer Coloud and was able to overnight a $25 set of headphones with removable tips.
Now, with AIRbudz on the tips of the Colouds, which are plugged into my desktop, I am listening to a soccer podcast while gazing at the face of my 2-week-old daughter, who is sleeping soundly in my lap. Which is when I discover a reason to let ambient noise in beyond jogging, skateboarding, cycling, etc.: I can still hear my newborn breathing.
It seems too good to be true, so I switch out the AIRbudz for the Coloud tips, and sure enough, my daughter's breathing is no longer audible. (The Colouds are not totally noise-canceling, however; I can still hear the swoosh of the dishwasher in the background.) Like any new parent who prefers to be able to hear her sleeping child breathe, I quickly switch back to the AIRbudz.
With only hours left of their Kickstarter campaign, the folks at AIRbudz are at the time of this writing -- and thanks to more than 700 backers -- just a few hundred dollars shy of their $22,000 goal. As someone who likes to jog to music, and may soon want to do so with a stroller, I'm in $10 for a pair.