Designed for athletes looking for wireless sound that will survive tough workouts and wet conditions, the Yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition Wireless Earphones ($130) work with your smartphone, tablet, computer or music player via Bluetooth. Their price is near the middle of the pack, compared with models like the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 ($80) and the JayBird BlueBuds X ($170). However, the Yurbuds' sound and comfort aren't up to snuff.
The two earbuds on the Yurbuds Inspire are among the largest we've seen and are connected by a flat, fabric-covered cable. The cable itself is fairly sturdy, but we wonder about the overall construction. After our review was complete, we accidentally yanked the nondetachable cable right out of the left earbud (exposing the wires and rendering the headphones useless) with relative ease.
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Each earbud has a soft silicone ear tip that protrudes a short way into your ear canal, and they're designed to stay in your ears when you twist the bottoms of the earbuds forward, immediately after insertion. The right earbud has power, Bluetooth pairing and a track/call control button on it, as well as a pinhole mic and volume up/down buttons, while the left earbud has a microUSB power jack hidden under a soft plastic flap. A slider on the cable lets you tighten the slack around the back of your neck. Unlike some other Bluetooth earbuds, the Yurbuds Inspire don't use a dongle to hold any of the electronics.
The Yurbuds Inspire's combination of matte-black, gloss-black and matte-red accents is fashionable enough, but their sheer size makes them look ridiculous. Far more svelte models from Plantronics and JayBird also house the electronics within the earbuds without the need for a dongle.
The headphones are water- and sweat-resistant. In our tests, they survived a few dunkings in a glass of water. The package includes a zippered carrying pouch, extra ear tips, an extra cable slider and a charging cable, but no wall charger.
Comfort and Operation
You have to twist the earbuds a bit when you insert them, but once you find the right angle, the fit provided by the Yurbuds Inspire is very secure, even with some pretty extreme head movements as we jogged, shot hoops and headbanged to Metallica. However, they're so bulky that they're not very comfortable to wear. The Inspires don't cause pain, but given their size, you'll be very conscious you're wearing them, which can be distracting during workouts..
The Yurbuds Inspire don't block out any noise — in fact, they're designed to let noise in so you don't get run over by a car while jogging.
The on-earbud controls are easy enough to operate by feel, whether you're adjusting the volume or skipping tracks. However, the prominent placement of the track-skip button means you may accidentally jump a track ahead when twisting the earbuds to insert them.
The overall sound signature of the Inspire includes passable bass and decent midrange but muffled highs. Acoustic jazz like John Coltrane's "Blue Train" had very little presence in the bass and kick drum, while the sax almost sounded shrill. Cymbals didn't sound nearly as crisp as they should, and the piano was muddy and buried in the mix.
On bass-heavy tracks like Jay Z's "Holy Grail," we heard some low-end impact, allowing the deep bass throb after the chorus to peek through, but just barely. Jay Z's voice sounded reasonably full, and Justin Timberlake's sibilants weren't harsh, but all the vocals lacked clarity.
If you like to rock out, you're in luck. The kick drum on Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was strong enough to drive our workout, and the vocals were clearer than on other tunes we tested. The guitars sounded pretty good, though they lacked a bit of crispness, as did the cymbals.
Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" sounded muffled, missing the highs and lows the song requires and leaving you with nothing but midrange. In fact, the track sounded like it was recorded in a 2-foot-tall room. Vocals in the chorus had a fair amount of clarity, but the verses sounded mushy.
We made a few test calls with the Yurbuds Inspire to a friend who was using the built-in mic on her iPhone. Although the woman we spoke to said our voice sounded clear to her, she sounded like an underwater robot to us.
The Yurbuds Inspire are rated for about 6 hours of playback per charge, which is right between the BackBeat Go 2's 4.5 hours and the BlueBuds X's 8 hours. That covered about a week's worth of hour-long workouts for us, though your mileage will vary somewhat depending on volume and how much you use the onboard controls and the phone call features.
The Yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition Wireless Sport Earphones don't sound terrible for Bluetooth earbuds, but they don't sound anywhere near as good (especially in the bass department) as the JayBird BlueBuds X, which can be found online for very close to the same price (around $129). The Yurbuds Inspire do offer slightly better bass than the $80 BackBeat Go 2, but the Inspire's gargantuan looks and lackluster comfort may be dealbreakers for some users.