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Amazon Echo Buds (amazon.com)
152 points by Zaheer 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 194 comments

Does anyone here actually use voice control commands in public (at a coffee shop, on the sidewalk) like the ads for this are suggesting? If so, does it feel awkward?

Expecting people to speak their commands in public just seems intrusive and I don't understand companies trying to pretend it's a norm to sell their products. I really don't want to know what song the person next to me is listening to. That's the point of headphones.

People with visual disabilities often already have better tools to interact with their phones with privacy, and nobody minds people using voice for people with physical disabilities either (and these tools exist already too).

Related: it's about to be even more weird for everyone in the world named "Alexa".

Not exactly a public setting -- but in the lab, I use raise-to-activate Siri on Apple Watch for setting timers and doing basic arithmetic (e.g. "what's 3% of 42 ml?"). It's been really helpful, since I have to have gloves on at all times.

With others around or alone? I feel like talking to an inanimate object is weird when others are around (sometimes even alone).

To be fair, with everyone using bluetooth earphones, I got used to people "talking to themselves" now. A decade+ ago I worked in a retail store and thought it was weird, but now I just assume they're using bluetooth

Both. The watch doesn't require a normal speaking level voice, so it's less awkward than speaking to Siri on my phone. It still feels a little weird, but people in the lab are used to it at this point.

The most awkward time is when the raise-to-activate doesn't work for whatever reason and I have to say the same thing again.

This only shows that you have a high tolerance for awkwardness. We also need to interview your colleagues to see if they consider you a weirdo.

Only with these two pieces of info we can decide whether it's feasible to use voice assistants in a lab setting.

Ha, that's fair. I actually think I have a very low tolerance for awkwardness.

I think people quickly grasp the reason why I'm doing it -- we all wear gloves, so the benefits are obvious to my fellow labmates.

this is the sort of thing I can see voice control being good for, and I feel pretty awkward when using it around people.

They've been around for nearly two decades now, but I am consistently caught off guard by people talking into well-concealed Bluetooth earpieces. Those are awkward enough.

About 19 years ago some guy at my school was by himself. He started talking as I walked by, and I naturally thought he was talking to me, so I stopped and asked, "Sorry, what was that?" He just stared away from me with an annoyed look on his face while he kept talking. At first I thought he had a disability, but when it became obvious he was on a phone call, that's when I first realized that wireless in-ear things like that were starting to exist.

It's still a little strange when people just randomly start talking when I'm the only other person around.

Reminds me of a commentary I read about a dozen years ago, whee the author has a similar experience to you, and starts craning around to see what new headsets people are wearing, until one day he realized that he actually was again seeing a crazy person talking to themselves. Full circle.

With a friend, I then designed a silly “Kinesic Interface” wearable UI concept for ID Magazine that tried to solve this issue by using gestures that made some sense to both humans and the computer, i.e. take a photo by winking at the person, or change the volume by sticking your finger in your ear and turning as if you're cleaning your ear out to hear better.

> Does anyone here actually use voice control commands in public (at a coffee shop, on the sidewalk) like the ads for this are suggesting? If so, does it feel awkward?

Most people I know actually use them in the car frequently, but in public rarely.

>Does anyone here actually use voice control commands in public (at a coffee shop, on the sidewalk) like the ads for this are suggesting? If so, does it feel awkward?

Do people make phone calls in public and talk through BT? It's not really that different. Instead of saying "Yeah, how about next Friday" or similar, you say "Alexa, skip this song" and such.

And when you're walking, and e.g. ask for GPS directions or something your BT earbuds, it's even more normal...

In final analysis, unless you shout or something, nobody gives a duck...

I'm asking because I can't imagine doing it. I hold my phone to my ear if I have to take a call in public.

And I described a scenario that would be annoying to me at least (random coffee shop person saying their song name out loud to play it instead of just using their phone screen). Maybe its just a matter of different cultures though . I'm from the southern US, so it's normal to talk to strangers and people judge others for manners.

I’ve also found that the microphone is pretty good so I can use a lower volume than I would in a conversation, which leads me to believe that most folks aren’t even aware that I’m speaking.

Yeah, the South moves more slowly than the rest of the US in adoption of things like that. I say that as a person from north Georgia. Manners do matter more for sure!

>random coffee shop person saying their song name out loud to play it instead of just using their phone screen

Well, if you do it once (to set an album or playlist or single song to play), nobody cares. If you talk to cue every song to be played, sure you'll annoy someone.

It's worse with an assistant. Most of the time I expect it to fail, aside from trivial things like setting a timer. In which case I'll have to say things again, louder, and will look like an idiot. I'd much prefer textual interface for such things when using them in public, especially if it's able to keep the context better.

Every fucking time I'm jogging...

"Hey Siri next song."

"Okay, calling Sam."

Happened three times before I stopped using voice commands altogether unless, ironically, my hands are free to correct it quickly.

That's the biggest reason for me not to use Siri in public, most times it never activates, when it does, often can't understand my request. Taking out phone and just a few taps is much better UX.

I do occasionally, but it is awkward and attracts odd looks and/or eyerolls. What I really want is subvocalized commands via implant like in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, but I don't see that happening for at least a decade with the current state of voice recognition tech.

I'd use them in any place that wouldn't feel weird to have a phone call. In practice, this generally doesn't include the middle of a coffee shop due to the noise, or for that matter even a particularly busy sidewalk.

But a less busy area while walking the neighborhood? Sure

Though, for that matter, I wish it was seen as rude to use your phone in many more places than people apparently feel comfortable doing it.

Have you ever been to a movie theater in Viet Nam ( I can't speak for the rest of SEA )? It's incredibly common for people to talk to each other in a full theater and use their phones (at high brightnesses). I suspect it's because not much care is given to being able to hear the dialogue in the movie since everyone is reading the subtitles anyways. Complete culture shock compared to the US.

I completely agree with you.

> Does anyone here actually use voice control commands in public...

I often wonder about this too. I intentionally avoid any voice commands in public as I find them distracting - even awkward as you mention. Talking to a computer as a means of input to me still feels strange, although I understand the many uses (cooking instructions with messy hands for example). I would feel really awkward asking Alexa to perform a task while waiting in a line at the bank though. I recently purchased a Google Home mainly for music in the kitchen while cooking and I still find it difficult to talk to it.

On a side note, with the growing popularity of the Alexa devices, I wonder if we are going to start seeing the "Alexa, <do something>" commands affecting other devices to the point of ruining these devices all together. Imagine sitting in a coffee shop making a command and several other people have these devices (in close proximity). I know TV shows/commercials/radios have already set off these devices in the past.

A few years ago when the Apple Watch was still new, a guy in my team bought the watch. I always thought he was talking to me when he brew his press coffee in the kitchen and I was standing near refilling my water bottle. He would say "Siri, remind me in 4 minutes" and I looked over asking "pardon me?", 100% of the time.

That’s funny. Setting timers for making coffee is actually the ONLY time I ever use Alexa or Siri. In fact, I have my one and only Echo Dot placed by my coffee setup in the kitchen.

I use Siri to do a few things[1], but I've never done it when there were people around that I'm aware of. I'd feel awkward.

[1]start workouts, set timers, shuffle music

i don't even use them at home. i don't know why, but it's still really awkward -- specially when you need to repeat yourself because the device didn't understand you.

you can only say "alexa" or "hey google" so many times until you feel dumb.

I used to talk to myself a lot when I was a kid. I didn't make sounds, I just mouthed stuff. And I got a ton of shit for it.

I can't even bring myself to use the voice control on my Apple TV even when I know I am completely alone. It is just way to awkward.

Around 2005, I was taking a documentary film class. The only student film I remember from that class was basically footage of college kids on Bluetooth headphones juxtaposed with mentally ill homeless people talking to themselves. It was strikingly awkward

On the sidewalk in a relatively open space would be one thing, but in a coffee shop or on pubic transport I'd consider it an impolite/inconsiderate action and generally bad manners.

Just today I was walking down the street when a young man (16-20 years old) biked by while shouting, "hey Siri* call mike".

(*Siri capitalized by autocorrect.)

> Does anyone here actually use voice control commands in public (at a coffee shop, on the sidewalk) like the ads for this are suggesting? If so, does it feel awkward?

I use Siri — with the AirPods or Apple Watch — in the coffee shop I am usually at all the time. I live in Brazil, but have everything set to English, so maybe that is what helps me not feel awkward.

Yes, it is no weirder than talking on a Bluetooth headset in public. Some people will never do it because it can be awkward but others will. In 10 years it will be an accepted norm or it will completely die out. I suspect it will become an accepted norm.

I find it convenient when it works. I'd do it more often if it could pick up my voice more clearly amongst the noise.

Yes, every time I'm running and want to change the music I'm listening to, which is at least once a run.

I'm going to name my future daughter "Alexa" as a lifelong prank. And if I have a son, I'll name him "Ok, Google" :P

Jokes aside, I have been using voice commands more frequently in public and I've noticed most people are able to differentiate the tone you speak to AI vs. the tones you use to speak to people (irl or on the phone). Though, I still do accidentally troll bystanders once in a while.

this would make more sense if more people had real offices with doors that could close. unfortunately for Amazon, most offices are open plan, and yeah it would be awkward making these requests in public unless you're in your car... but we have Apple CarPlay and Android Car for that.

I actually do. I was self conscious at first but grew to be comfortable with it.

Very likely going to buy these - I currently use Siri for hands free while I’m outside but these seem much more well integrated with the apps I use.

It's only awkward until apple does it.

There isn't any actual reason this should be awkward other than your personal bias telling you you're doing something that is not normal - yet.

Wait a minute -- this actually seems too good to be true.

It offers "Bose Active Noise Reduction Technology" in wireless earbuds, when even Bose doesn't offer noise cancellation in wireless earbuds -- or anybody else as far as I can tell.

(AirPods, Bose SoundSport, Jabra Elite -- none do noise cancellation. Bose offers the larger QuietControl 30 buds [1], but the tech is still in a bulky "headband" connected by short wires.)

So... is "noise reduction" different from, or weaker than, the "noise cancelling" which Bose products already provide?

Or is Amazon actually somehow producing/licensing a product better than anything Bose itself sells, and for only half the price?

Something isn't adding up here... but I want it to be true, because I've been wanting a pair of genuine wireless noise-cancelling earbuds for so long now!

[1] https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/headphones/earphones/qui...

>It offers "Bose Active Noise Reduction Technology" in wireless earbuds, when even Bose doesn't offer noise cancellation in wireless earbuds -- or anybody else as far as I can tell.

Sony already does:


And has these (which just had an extra connector cable, but are otherwise minimal):


And Bose has announced theirs:


Bose announced they will be shipping wireless noice cancelling earbuds. Next year though.


The Sony WF-1000XM3 sounds like what you're looking for.

I have a set, and they are amazing for noise cancelling. Can highly recommend.

Oh thanks I missed that -- looks like they came out two months ago, awesome!

Amazon managed to somehow introduce more regular innovation cycles.

Siri was launched Feb/2010, Alexa (Echo) Nov/2014. 4 yrs advantage. Today Alexa is much better ecosystem.

Amazon Hardware looks promising..

Siri will likely always be a weak point for Apple. By trying to charge almost as much for its earbuds as Apple though, I don’t see Amazon having tremendous success. Brand, device interoperability, battery life matter much more IMO than voice activated AI.

Not an apples to apples comparison, Amazon needs to be a horizontal play. Apple intentionally chooses not to.

The Sony 1000xm3 already have noise cancelling in them. They are expensive at $230, but also way ahead of the pack in both sound quality.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 (Over the ear headphones) are about $279 and the Sony WF-1000XM3 (Ear buds) are $229.

The phrase they used to describe here is interesting. "Noise Reduction" rather than "Noise cancellation". IMHO they are different. I am sure it must be better than other earphones but it sounds different than Noise cancellation.

Seems to be almost noise cancelling. The Verge did a hands-on[1] on the feature and was able to cancel out the noise in the room filled with people.

[1] Starts at 20 seconds in @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDN2RRaY1po&t=20

> Bose offers the larger QuietControl 30 buds, but the tech is still in a bulky "headband" connected by short wires.

I have the Bose QC30, and I'm a fan of the (neck)band, since it gives the earbuds somewhere to hang if I'm walking around and need to be aware of my surroundings, or need to interact with someone.

i used to have a pair of jaybirds x3s -- they have the band between the headphones -- and i moved to the galaxy buds.

after getting used to the galaxy buds, i 100% prefer them. mostly because i sweat a lot when i exercise, and the band of the x3s would "glue" themselves to my neck and would make it really awkward to move my head.

> mostly because i sweat a lot when i exercise, and the band of the x3s would "glue" themselves to my neck and would make it really awkward to move my head.

Ah, I can't use my QC30 for exercise, since it keeps slipping to one side. It's great for coding/commuting though!

well the bose ones are probably just normal headphones without all the built in amazon botnet tracking bonuses to offset the cost

Galaxy Buds do.

I have been teetering on the edge of full blown luddism ever since the first iPhone came out. Then social media took over . I have never used social media, and only just recently used a smartphone. Even though I hate the form it has taken on in this particular decade, I'm still open to the possibility that smartphones and social media could one day be ethical and healthy ways to communicate with other people.

That being said, the colonization of the human body is a step too far for me. I will use a smartphone, I might even use Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat one day if they ever embraced more human-centered ethical design. But I will never, ever, ever allow a company to intervene between my physical senses and the physical world. That's the line I personally choose to draw, hopefully many others will draw it with me.

> But I will never, ever, ever allow a company to intervene between my physical senses and the physical world

So no headphones in general? what about vision-correcting glasses? I'm very confused by this line you're drawing.

As someone who feels similarly, I'd say the difference is a tool under the control of the user, as opposed to "outsourcing" to a mix of closed-source software, opaque algorithms, and quasi-feudal corporations.

Eyeglasses, headphones, "dumb" hearing aids, all a-ok. Replacing vision or audio by a mysterious cloud product are over the line.

I'd argue that even smartphones and social networks distort the fabric of our perception, operating on dopamine feedback loops, sense-making, norms, and interpersonal relationships. These things are all deeply entangled anyway (if one goes full Luddite, but all one's friends have not, one is still captured heavily by tech in practice).

For those of who care, we have to draw whatever bright lines we can, no matter how arbitrary; for me, it's simply about having a clear line for what is private, and what is public (including anything living on cloud/FAANG, I treat as de-facto public). I want to have an intentionality with what I send over the wire, as opposed to sharing everything with the world as path-of-least-resistance.

I admire your pedantry, but there's a clear distinction between these things and what dawg- referred too. One is a product with a behaviour that is clearly understood, and not proprietary (for the most part). More importantly, it's behaviour is not under the control of anyone else.

I can see why you might think this line is a little restrictive and arbitrary. Collectively we've already gotten used to running so much software that we have little to no oversight over, so this seems like such a small thing.

Maybe one day we'll have software-controlled corrective lenses, and then they can take over-the-air updates to subtly enlarge and sharpen certain logos...

Headphones are dumb, single-purpose objects. The long term vision of airpods are that they are part of users' everyday interface with the world - with someone else in the middle harvesting data. Ditto with glasses.

Nitpicking. The argument is clear.

> I have never used social media

You're posting on an on-line forum.

Which is not a social medium (except in the sense that you can communicate with other people there).

Social adds the graph, etc. We don't have a "social graph", or friends and followers on HN (except implicitly).

We had online forums for a full decade (more if you count Usenet/BBS/mailing lists) before we had "social media".

Usenet/bbs/mailing lists are social media. Just one kind. Social media has been around for a while, it just got really big 10 years or so ago with the microblogging platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

HN is social media. Maybe niche, but still part of the wad.

We have personas and profiles and comment on stories. Pretty social.

Some people draw a distinction between simple comment threads and things like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Really? People post articles/pictures/links, people comment on it and discuss, you can show your like/dislike on the article with a single click. Am I describing Facebook or HN?

Only on one of them:

- Your "friends" are known and tracked

- The content you view is determined by your browsing history, ad tracking and that of your "friends"

- The composition of the audience that's voting is poorly informed and susceptible to non-critical thinking (YMMV)

On both of them:

- Stories are posted to maximize your outrage/other emotional response

- Content of stories rarely matches the titles

Social interaction and even a like button is not the problem. What the like button does is the problem.

But one is tracking your every move to show you ads. Online forums, Usenet, IRC, etc existed long before anyone used the term "social media".

They were and they are the original social media.

I've found more acquaintances and friends (and even more) on various online forums and chats than on what people call "social networks" those days.

"Social" is about interpersonal communications. Ads and tracking are - arguably - irrelevant implementation details, not some inherent property of "social networking". User engagement is (and good communities always have it), but artificially trying to boost with ethically questionable profiling technologies and various dark patterns isn't.

You have no idea whether this website is doing that too.

Similarities don't mean anything. It's the differences that count to distinguish things.

Else, "European, male, dark eyes, had a small black moustache below his nose, was admired by millions in his prime, had artistic aspirations, had distinctive bodily and facial mannerisms" -- am I describing Charlie Chaplin or someone more ominous?

> Similarities don't mean anything

...beyond the similarities themselves, that is.

> It's the differences that count to distinguish things

By definition. But then again, if I'm comparing the impact of two dictators, it's probably not helpful to point out that they had different hair colors.

I think what you're really saying is that in a particular context, some properties are relevant, and others aren't. There's no point in pointing out that irrelevant properties are shared, but equally there's no point in pointing out irrelevant properties that are different.

In other words, people just have to be clear about what they're talking about.

I guess HN and similar platforms could fit into the social media box, broadly. Taken extremely literally, they are mediated social environments. But I would absolutely make a distinction between sites like HN and "real deal" social media.

Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter measure success by things like user engagement and time spent on the platform - and their design principles are optimized to max out those measurements. That's how they create more value for advertisers and make billions of dollars.

This site is a social experiment in creating civil online discussion. Facebook and co. are a social experiment in hacking human behavior to create compulsive users who consume advertising with (measurable, trackable, hackable) enthusiasm.

I don't think HN would get much buzz for an IPO. :)

What does an IPO have to do with whether a platform is social?

From your analysis, it almost sounds like HN is more social than the behavior-hacking money machines. The big companies might own the most commonly used social media, but that hardly means their model is the only one.

This is absurd. You and others nitpicking this person to death and creating false equivalencies while ignoring the content of their argument.

I too will not welcome our amoral surveillance overlords onto or into my body. I hope that is a clear enough statement for people to understand.

>it almost sounds like HN is more social than the behavior-hacking money machines

Excellent point! You have gotten to the core of the issue. Mediated social interaction is not more social. It's just a way to harvest data. Mere "connection", in the language of FB who aims to "connect the world", doesn't equal better and more fulfilling communication.

The "I don't do social media" people who are all over Hacker News and other forums are like the "I Don't Watch TV" people who watch Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube on their iPhones all evening.

I think OP's point was that they don't do online forums where misinformation is placed in front of your face because you appear to be friends with so-and-so or they've pegged you as belonging to a certain demographic. I also think on some level you knew that but went ahead and made some auxiliary point about the meaning of the term "social media" for HN brownie points.

“I don’t drink beer. I only drink lagers and ales.”

I'm simply stating a fact, not an opinion. Wasn't trying to spark a debate.

That’s convenient lol.

Social media is all about following people or “brands”, etc. HN and other message boards are about topics.

I don’t think usenet was social media

You may be missing out. I am overall so much happier since I got more active on Instagram. This stuff keeps my friends near me and emulates the accidental bumping into each other you get on a college campus. Like someone posts about the last Incubus concert they went to and you say "That's awesome! Can't believe I missed it" and they'll be like "We're going next Wednesday! Want to come?"

Ah yes. The 'ole never ending FOMO appeal of social media.

You aren't missing out on what you don't know about. You are enjoying life without it.

Oh I know but I like enjoying life with them even more! :)

I like it when my friends aren't trying to make me spend money on stupid shit every time I interact with them.

Not that I fully agree with the OP, but your reading is about as uncharitable as one could be. If you posted that you wished you were at X it's a resasonable assumption that you don't think it's "stupid shit".

Instagram is mass hypnosis induced through infinite scrolling, a suggestive state allowing bidders to speak to our worst fears and insecurities while offering false hope for redemption through consumer spending. Instagram is a cancer on our culture and must be eliminated.

Instagram shows me puppy pics and untempting ads for tacky clothes. It sounds like you've had a bad experience with it but you should be cautious about generalizing it in such a grand, sweeping fashion.

Why? Instagram and Facebook are two heads of the same fucked up hydra that (allegedly) wrecked our electoral process, performed psychological experiments on people without consent, repeatedly violated peoples' privacy and elected to continually pay fines rather than clean up their malicious behavior. Mark Zuckerberg should be in jail, not the CEO's chair, and his company should be completely dismantled.

Instagram actually tells you when you've seen all your followed feeds for the day.

Hyperbole, much? It's a photo sharing site with ads. The rest is capitalism. If you want to fix that you're going to need to go a lot broader than Instagram.

Ah, I think we might have different ways of spending our time.

Is there an advantage of keeping the port micro-usb? I am very surprised that in 2019 Amazon is still making devices that don't have usb-c. It's become a huge selling point for me personally.

It could be a matter of size, but it's since the charging port isn't on the earbuds itself it might not matter.

usb-c connectors are (8.4mm x 2.6mm) whereas micro-a is (6.85mm x 1.8mm) and micro-b is (6.85mm x 1.8mm)

It might just be a matter of simplicity, since USB-C seems to have a larger surface area for the spec, but I don't really know if that's the case.

Probably cost. Micro is still cheaper than USB C in almost all cases.

If I were a retailer I'd love to know what my potential customers are talking about in their day-to-day so I can give them a great deal on exactly that.

This comment needs to be higher.

Some topics here talk about paranoia about government spying before and after the Snowden revelations. Some talk about privacy issues and there are people decrying companies for emphasizing ad revenue and ignoring privacy.

And yet after all that some people seem motivated to virtually sprint into an ecosystem where a company that doesn't care about you as anything more than a revenue stream is trying to sell you an always-on microphone.

People absolutely have to part of the in-group. Television advertisements work.

I know several people with listening devices in their home. Each time it's been demonstrated to me, you know what they do? They ask it to tell me the weather.

That said, the headphones do make sense. Seems everyone is trying to avoid any sense of being around other humans as often as possible. Better to isolate yourself from the outside world when you're forced to go about whatever rat-race life you live than be forced to interact with society.

It's like somebody dared amazon to put a mic into every new item they sell.

The TV remote has a mic. The outlet has a mic. The earbuds have mic(s).

and so on.

I mean, I get it, they want me to talk to Alexa, so it can figure out how to sell me more junk.

But seriously, I do not understand the desire to be listened to 24/7. I do not want a live mic in my home, nor in my pocket when I run, nor anywhere else it's not necessary.

It actually seems really useful when running. “What’s my pace per mile?” “How far have I gone?” “Reply to my spouse and say yes I’ll get the milk.”

It’s hard to get my phone out while running. Not impossible but an annoyance. This removes an annoyance so that’s a nice option.

Looks like this is basically a Bose product with Amazon branding so it should be pretty good.

That being said, as an owner of both the Bose QC35 and the Apple Airpods, I'm curious to see how this fits a use case. The over-ear Bose headphones have just enough comfort for its noise-canceling that I can use it for work and flights, and the Airpods I use for workouts - and intentionally don't want it to block out too much noise so when I'm running/biking I can be situationally aware. Am curious what upsides and downsides of these two niches it'll hit.

> Airpods I use for workouts

I just bought airpods yesterday, and tried running with them for the first time today. I couldn't run more than 30 seconds without them falling out of my ear. (Kind of disappointing after spending $200)

I also have a Bose over the ear headphone. Too clunky for running.

These Amazon buds actually look like they could be better than Airpods for running. Looks like they have the "suction cup" type of design, which usually do a much better job staying in the ear when moving around.

I'm in between you and the other person that replied to you. I can wear Airpods running no problem, but no way if anything like a helmet strap is touching them (knocks them out). I'd never get a motorcycle helmet on without knocking them out.

With that said, try some Powerbeats Pros. They're the Beats version of Airpods, and frankly, I like them better. At $250, they're pricey as hell, but they sound better and they stay in better. With ear hooks and a collection of different sized buds, it eliminates trying to make a "one size fits most". If you don't have "Airpods ears", the Powerbeats are probably quicker to insert once you know the "trick" to getting them in. I always to have to fiddle with Airpods a bit to get them to sit right. Powerbeats: stick 'em in with that little twist of the wrist, sorted. And the Powerbeats have physical volume buttons, the lack of such being my one annoyance with Airpods.

Thanks for the recommendation!

That's interesting. Seems like your ear canal might have an atypical shape. I use my airpods all the time for running, mountain biking, motorcycling. I am still too scared to use them snowboarding because there's no way that I'm going to find them on the off chance that the do fall out into the snow.

The problem is that "atypical shape" is really common. All airpods need is some sort of ear-anchor / earclick thing.

I find that if I buy the old foam covers, they fit in my ear a little better and I can still close the case over them. It gets in the way of some of the sensor operation though.

The amazon buds look like they will fit more ears.

If you keep the airpods, you might try one of the many silicone "skins" you can slip over them. They don't fit into the case with these things on, but they do stay in more securely (and sound better).

Thanks, I didn’t know that existed. That may work.

Shame about the AirPods. I love mine and can wear them running, but if they don’t fit your ears that’s sort of it since they don’t make different sizes or anything. You have 15 days to return them no questions asked.

For running, I like the AfterShokz Titanium; it's using bone conduction so you don't lose any situational awareness.

you might try putting some silicone wraps on your airpods so they fit more snugly, eg: https://images.mobilefun.co.uk/graphics/productgalleries/633...

>I just bought airpods yesterday, and tried running with them for the first time today. I couldn't run more than 30 seconds without them falling out of my ear.

Depends on the ear (and maybe sweat levels)? Mine have never dropped that way.

I have a different understanding of Bose products, and do not consider them to be "good" in any sense, except marketing and resulting "snob value". For example, I haven't seen Bose publish any measurement data for their products, which is important for comparisons.

A funny quote: "No highs, no lows, must be Bose." And here is a link for further reading: http://web.archive.org/web/20130121081646/http://www.intelle...

That's a "hi-fi perspective". People buying Bose products don't care as they are not hi-fi snobs.

They just want good enough sound, and Bose give that. But what they excel is noise cancelling -- and it's irrelevant if they don't "publish any measurement data" as tons of outlets measure them, and have repeatedly crowned them kinds in the area (with the exception of the latest Sony MX1000M3).

That's the problem -- good enough sound can actually be had with headphones that cost a lot less. What they want is "snob value", admit it. ;-)

Can you provide a link to the measurement done by "tons of outlets"? Thank you!

Here's an example, from a well known one, which also describes their methodology, and has Bose come at the top:


Wirecutrer review tells me nothing about the actual headphone frequency response -- all the graphs are NC and not FR (freq response). [Or did I miss it?]

It appears they were mainly interested in testing noise cancellation and not sound quality. If that is the case, then my gun range ear muffs beat Bose hands down!

>Wirecutrer review tells me nothing about the actual headphone frequency response -- all the graphs are NC and not FR (freq response). [Or did I miss it?]

No, but did you miss where I wrote: "But what they excel is noise cancelling -- and it's irrelevant if they don't "publish any measurement data" as tons of outlets measure them, and have repeatedly crowned them kinds in the area (with the exception of the latest Sony MX1000M3)."

Again, can you provide data measured by "tons of outlets", SQ, not NC. As I said my $10 earmuffs beat Bose at NC. :-D

>Again, can you provide data measured by "tons of outlets", SQ, not NC.

As I already said from the start, people who buy the Bose don't really car for the lower SQ, their main benefit is the best-of-class NC. What I wrote is that many outlets reviewed them and agree of the best-of-class NC.

>As I said my $10 earmuffs beat Bose at NC. :-D

They don't make calls or play music at the same time, so that's a moot point.

Can you recommend a good bluetooth over the ear headphones w/ great noise cancellation and a pretty decent microphone for calls, USB-C, and at least 20 hours of battery life (I do 14hr flights often enough, so some buffer to use them before the flight and during the layover before recharging them for the next flight)? Those are my reasons for going with the NCH 700.

I used to think spending $350 on QC 35 II's was stupid, but after using a friend's pair on multiple flights and on walks outside I decided to get the $400 NCH 700. It costs more than the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S I use in the US, or Pocophone F1 that I use elsewhere, but they're so worth it (I use them 10hrs+ per day, so after a single month the price is quickly approaching $1/hour.)

I would never buy a Bose speaker, I know that the audio quality is nothing special. But I've found among Bluetooth headphones there is nothing that feels as comfortable and works as well as the QC35.

Shrug, not every product is for everybody. I love the crap out of my QC30's, they're magical

QC35's are bulky. If I'm taking the loud noisy subway and not bringing a backpack, something that provides the noise-cancelling of the QC35's together with the form factor of the Airpods (stick 'em in my pocket) would be heaven.

Sony 1000xm3 earpuds

Aside from the active noise cancelling tech that bose uses, their products aren't synonymous with pretty good. From a technical standpoint the driver units in their headphones are crap. Even random chinese headphones at a fifth of the price can produce better sound than Bose products.

The old refrain: "No highs, no lows, must be Bose!"

Buy Other Sound Equipment?

Not sure why you've been downvoted here, you are completely correct. Bose's noise canceling is good, but everything else they build is really quite poor acoustically. This isn't really even up for much debate as it's pretty easy to demonstrate the awful frequency response of the vast majority of their products. They are a bit of a poster child for marketing over technical merit, the MongoDB of speakers really.

I want to, but the online requirement for seemingly basic commands like “next track” renders the feature useless when I need it the most: the London Tube. I often have no hands free when travelling in peak hour and connectivity at stations is patchy at best.

Looking forward to TfL finally rolling out cell coverage from 2020 though. Long time coming.

Amazon needs a different look for their own products' pages. Something about an item with zero reviews, the same style of photos as the off-brands they sell, and a wall of plain text phrases like "immersive sound" makes them seem really cheap.

seriously, my immediate impression was that they're visually indistinguishable from $30 rebadged aliexpress crap

These seem interesting. The biggest downside I see is that you have to use the Alexa app, which is hands-down the worst iOS app I have the displeasure of interacting with regularly.

[..] including the ability to mute the mics with the Alexa app.

I think one reason some may protest is these just aren't hacker-friendly to most IMO. They're consumption devices, and aren't tweakable enough, a la:

- Homebrew

- Custom firmware

- API's / SDK's

- Custom services / frameworks to orchestrate in-out-around vendors ecosystem (IFTTT?)

Not really enough to get at the gears of it. Is Alexa, by itself, the kind of ecosystem a startups would want to devote to? I imagine to make a really good Alexa product, it tends to be very specialized, and it's risky to be stuck with just one market.

Not to say Amazon's future isn't looking prosperous, but they control the APIs, the commission/royalty fees, etc. Whose to say 10 years from now, they wake up and say, you know, Alexa isn't financially viable anymore, your hardware has no site to connect to, and Alexa just shows the red loop/line of doom?

[1] https://developer.amazon.com/docs/alexa-voice-service/api-ov... I guess there's this.

> Whose to say 10 years from now, they wake up and say, you know, Alexa isn't financially viable anymore, your hardware has no site to connect to...

Oh, you mean, whose to say that they won't pull a "Google", and kill off one of their products/services? ;-) (BTW, i fully agree with you!)

The number of people that keep headphones for 10 years don't matter to retailers.

I only need one bud, how about $65 for the left ear bud?

I think you might have been joking. But, seriously, can you buy a pair and split them with a friend? Or do you have to pair both ear buds to the same device?

Not really joking. I would mostly use them to listen to podcasts while running. I like to keep one ear open to the world and don't need immersive audio to listen to speech. Old school Bluetooth earpieces work fine for this and are cheaper anyway.

I immediately thought of Chris Rock's character from I'm gonna git you sucka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgHcYxKjwVE

Be careful, these are the first step to being turned into a Cyberman.


Is that an improvement over an Amazon Basics toilet plunger that wants to exterminate you? http://tardis.soup.io/post/393507531/1-The-Dalek-Plunger-Use...

Now with Alexa in full force I really wish Amazon would try their hand at a phone again. Phones are just so blah lately. We need someone to shake it up.

I really wish Amazon would just stop trying to take over every single industry on Earth and act like responsible adults in capitalist society (ie not in support of monopolies).

Every time something new and exciting comes out from these guys (AMZN, GOOG, MSFT, etc.), it's like HN (as a whole) forgets about all privacy, etc.

So, Echo spies. We know that. And now we're (the at least 117 upvotes so far) OK with putting Echo directly into our ears? And barely anyone in the comments section seems to care either... what is going on in here?

There's some confirmation bias - there were more than a few comments on Facebook's purchase of CTRL-labs about privacy, Cloudflare's announcement of WARP going GA had more than a few.

I'll take a wild guess and say you have a ton of employees from those companies as top posters on HN.

At first glance, the design looks super similar to the Zolo Liberty earbuds, which I love. https://zoloaudio.com/pages/liberty_series

The design is quite decent compared to the Apple Airpods which I love how they function but can't stand the dangly part. I have big ears so also like that the Echo buds offer different sizes.

Got: This item requires special handling and cannot be shipped to your selected location. using a street address (not PO Box). Wonder what's up with that.

I had the same warning. My address is in a big city. Normal street address - no PO or even an apt.

>>Bose Active Noise Reduction Technology Interesting that Bose would license this out. Seems like Amazon would be a major threat to them.

It's just a white-label version. No IP licensing is necessary, or indeed at all likely; there'd just be a contract for the branding, and a post-final assembly step in which the branding is applied.

This doesn't make them a threat, it makes them a customer. Clearly these are, more or less, Bose earbuds with Alexa built into them.

Am I the only one here seeing an uncanny resemblance to the Bragi Dash? (RIP)

I am not sure about these. I think I would rather be plugged into my phone where I can do things like ask to make a phone call or ask for directions, plus everything Alexa can do too. Unless these can pair with your phone for that purpose?

Yes. In fact, I think it has to be connected to some other device with the Alexa app.

>Hands-free with Alexa – Echo Buds work with the Alexa app to stream music, play Audible audiobooks, make calls, or get directions—just ask.

They also work with the existing phone voice controls.

Great design to optimize for gliomas. Probably not a problem for people in their 20's but I wouldn't recommend these for anyone past 40.

Can you elaborate?

While not "positively proven" sticking something that generates radio frequencies for long periods of time so close to your head can have potential negative effects, especially in those that are more prone to getting cancer. Oddly, the two groups I would say are most affected are the elderly, with poor DNA repair and poor immune response, and young people who are still actively growing (think under 21). At least with the iphone airpods, the damn thing still has a antennae that is positioned away from your head, but the use of bluetooth is supposedly several times more radiation over just normal cell phone use. These radiation levels, as far as I have read have not been studied for 10-40 years of constant exposure. I love my smart device and technology, but I generally try to turn my device wireless (and bluetooth) off when not using it. The convenience is not really worth getting cancer over.


"A recent large study by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) exposed large groups of lab rats and mice to RF energy over their entire bodies for about 9 hours a day, starting before birth and continuing for up to 2 years (which is the equivalent of about 70 years for humans, according to NTP scientists). The study found an increased risk of tumors called malignant schwannomas of the heart in male rats exposed to RF radiation, as well as possible increased risks of certain types of tumors in the brain and adrenal glands. But some aspects of this study make it hard to know just how well these results might be applied to cell phone use in people. For example, there was no clear increased risk among female rats or among male or female mice in the study. The doses of RF radiation in the study were also generally higher than those used in cell phones (ranging from 1.5 W/kg to 6 W/kg in rats, and 2.5 W/kg to 10 W/kg in mice), the animals’ entire bodies were exposed, and the amount of time they were exposed was longer than most people typically spend on the phone each day. The male rats in the study exposed to RF waves also lived longer, on average, than the rats who were not exposed, for unclear reasons. Because of this, the NTP has noted that the study results cannot be directly applied to humans. Still, the results add to the evidence that cell phone signals might potentially impact human health."


"The 13-country INTERPHONE study, the largest case-control study done to date, looked at cell phone use among more than 5,000 people who developed brain tumors (gliomas or meningiomas) and a similar group of people without tumors. Overall, the study found no link between brain tumor risk and the frequency of calls, longer call time, or cell phone use for 10 or more years. There was a suggestion of a possible increased risk of glioma, and a smaller suggestion of an increased risk of meningioma, in the 10% of people who used their cell phones the most. But this finding was hard to interpret because some people in the study reported implausibly high cell phone use, as well as other issues. The researchers noted that the shortcomings of the study prevented them from drawing any firm conclusions, and that more research was needed."

Aren't bluetooth headsets mostly receivers, not transmitters though?

I thought so too but my research and experience seem to indicate that one ear bud transmits to the other. Would love to see something definitive on this topic about airpods or other brands.

Also, the proximity of the smart phone transmitters to the body isn't doing you any favors. The fact that so many kids use smart phones and hold them so close to their heads when not yet fully developed is certainly a cause for concern.

Not sure if true, but I've read Apple has disclaimers about this for health.

frequency, impedance, sensitivity? aac or aptx HD codecs? Where are the tech specs?

Are bluetooth ear buds really worth the cancer risks?

Bose is second only to Beats for sounding terrible yet somehow having a good brand image. What gives?

We're on a slippery slope.

These buds have microphones, obviously.

I do not want my voice captured by random folks on the street without my consent and sent to Alexa.

How will opt-in looks like for such systems?

Yes, these buds have microphones like almost every other pair of earbuds and headphones (not to mention the phone they're connected to!). If you don't want people to hear you, it's probably best not to talk. Airpods even have a feature that uses the mic to boost ambient sounds, specifically so you can better hear people.

The same way it does for the ubiquitous smartphones that capture your voice now: there isn't any.

My echo dot is visible in the kitchen from the couch in the living room.

You would be surprised how often I see the Alexa device lighting up because it thinks some dialogue on TV has triggered its “Alexa... “ behavior. The number of false positives is not small. At least once per day.

Fortunately, I don’t think the device asks “sorry, I didn’t catch that” anymore since they added quiet mode.

I still get Alexa butting into conversations with the "sorry" thing. The typical response in my household is "no one asked you Alexa". And then to get a little creeped out that it hears everything.

So do Airpods. Some of Bose's headphones have had integration with Alexa etc for some time. I've noticed I've trigger Siri accidentally several times (imagine saying, "... but hey, seriously ..." in a conversation).

Do you realize that smartphones also have mics and they have been around for more than a decade? Sorry buddy, but your voice has already been captured by random folks on the street without your consent for years.

People have already been doing that for years with siri and google assistant.

Same as for google glasses. Shame the person wearing them and refuse to hang out with them. All the glassholes seemed to get it pretty quickly.

Hmm, are we supposed to also shame everybody with a mainstream smartphone ("Hey Siri" / "OK Google"), home hub, etc?

That's a LOT of shaming, when here I thought we were already shaming people quite sufficiently/too much... :-/

Honestly, never quite got the hate on Google Glass - they merely made it obvious and convenient, what so much accepted technology already does anyway :-/

Aaaaaaaand... ironically and conveniently....


Echo Frames... apparently, not enough shaming;)

Do you really thing "shaming people" is an appropriate, mature response?

In my opinion a lot of societal problems that we have exist because we don't shame people for bad decisions any more. 100 years ago the idiot in the village knew they were the idiot. Sure their life sucked. But now all of the idiots of all villages form their own little filter bubble and convince each other that they are the smart ones and that the rest of the world got it all wrong. Sounds like an improvement until you realize that this is the mechanism behind anti-vaxx, flat-earth, obama-birther, climate-change-denial and so on. Or in other words a lot of modern stupidit y that actually kills people.

So yes, I think clearly saying "I think you are stupid for wearing google glasses and I will not have a beer with you as long as you do" is a mature response. At that point they have to decide if they want to have google glasses or friends.

> "I think you are stupid for wearing google glasses and I will not have a beer with you as long as you do" is a mature response

Disagree. If I had a friend who seriously called me stupid, I'd think they're an asshole, not mature. I'd say "I don't feel comfortable around that device, would you mind putting it away while we have a beer?" is mature.

Making something about someone else, or trying to control others' actions, is not mature. Communicating your needs and concerns is where it's at.

But now all of the idiots of all villages form their own little filter bubble and convince each other that they are the smart ones and that the rest of the world got it all wrong.

Amen. Thankfully, hackernews are the smart people.

It's definitely not a mature response; I don't feel the righteous fury about these kinds of things that I did 20 years ago.

As to whether it's appropriate... social opprobrium can often be a less worse way to deal with a problem than ignoring it or going to the law.

And it could be positive; when someone dislikes how a person is behaving, they tend to form a caricature of that person. By confronting them, they're forced to deal with a real person who will defend their behavior, and it tends to replace that caricature with a more nuanced view.

Shaming works, has worked for hundreds of thousands of years.

Yeah, that’s totally why google glass failed, not because the product and the UX were subpar.

Google glass kinda seems like the inventions in this sketch, where it's clear that it could have a purpose one day and it's designed well, but right now, it just seems mostly foolish.


Exactly, google glass was ugly and boring. That's why Google spinoff Niantic pivoted to gamify AR with Pokemon GO in order to take a different strategy. The idea was to get people comfortable with it using the cultural capital of Pokemon; then comes the next version of Google Glass.

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