Things I Love: A $10 Pair of Ugly Panasonic Earbuds

This is the tale of my most recent headphone adventure. Like most of the highly-specific things I love, the positive outcome isn't one that would satisfy many, but made me so happy as a consumer I felt compelled to review it here.

One can easily waste a lot of time and money on headphones. Studio quality, brand status, hyper convenience or, in my case, something cheap that fits my awkward ears and big dome without giving me a headache, are just a few characteristics in a seemingly infinite sea of options.

If it rests at all on my head or ears, it gives me a headache, but I've had even less luck with basic earbuds. The few that do stick in my ears at all feel like they're setting my listeners on fire. I've had issues with my left ear my entire life, but I doubt the issues are related; these side effects affect both ears, and I spend too much time swimming in the self-pity pool when it comes to discomfort.

In recent years I've resorted to the cheapest; it's going to be uncomfortable regardless, so I'm won't waste more time, money or energy than necessary. The results are exactly what you'd expect. Pairs as low as one dollar literally shock the ears (very lightly and infrequently, but it's unpleasant just the same), while others ranging from $3-10 short out or fall apart within weeks.

Image result for earbuds meme
This Cyber Monday I found myself planning the rapid decline of my current 6-month old, four-dollar pair. I settled for a $6.40-pair of red-orange Panasonics, the cheapest color I could find in that model at 36 percent off the original $9.99 price. I begrudgingly accepted that they were earbuds; it's been awhile since I'd tried, and the reviews' nods to surprising comfort won me over. I could only pray their obnoxious, hideous color wouldn't spawn a change in dress code at work. 

I've come to care so little for this ritual that I promptly forgot about the headphones until they arrived, at which time I stuffed them in a drawer at work and forgot them again. Finally, two weeks later, my current pair died as expected, so I pulled the new Panasonic buds from the drawer (and winced at the color).

Once placed in my ears and filled with audio, I was treated to a serene sensation I can only describe as pure apathy. I could barely feel the buds in my ears, and the only thing I heard was the voice of comedian Brian Regan, unhindered by fuzz or static of any kind. It's like I wasn't wearing anything at all, and Regan was standing in my cubicle telling his jokes.

Image result for thats deep memeCertainly this is exaggerated and premature. The volume range and noise-cancellation would not impress outside my quiet office environment. Also, I've only used them for a week, and customer reviews call out a short life-span. Still, I can't help but praise the perfect size of the bud, the angle at which it fits into my ear, and their overall lack of intrusiveness despite my easily-intruded personality. I don't overuse or abuse them, so at $6.40 I expect them to last at least six months.

They don't truly merit an entire post written about them as I've done here, but I want to justify the idea by unceremoniously forcing in a deeper meaning. There is a big difference between the best something, and the perfect something, and I enjoy finding it.