When most in-ear headphone consumers go out looking for their favorite pair to buy, they tend to focus solely on the specs, sound quality, and style. Although these features are important, most people forget one of the most critical things in the cable. The cable needs to meet two criteria. It has to be strong enough to resist breakage (especially near the connector), and it has to overcome the effects of microphonics. Most wire in-ear headphones can’t avoid.
Microphonics or microphony can be defined as the conveyance of mechanical vibrations via an electrical element. Simply put, for music listeners, microphonics are the irritating rustling noises you hear when an earbud cable rubs on a surface. For in-ear headphone users, microphonics degrade sound quality and listening experience.
How do you Fix Microphonics?
What manufacturers have done to overcome this problem is to place a small clip on the earbud cord, so that you can attach the clip to your clothes and prevent the cable from rubbing against other objects.
For example, the Nuforce NE7M utilizes this technique to avoid microphonics messing up the user experience; though in practice it can be irritating to attach the clip whenever you need to wear your earphones. Fortunately, the Nuforce NE7M comes with a sturdy rubber cable, which highlights my next point.
Another approach is making the cable flat or twisted, which only reduces the noise from cable movement but prevents cable knotting or tangling.
Ensure that the cable is made from insulated rubber. Forget that cheap nylon garbage and go for insulated rubber cords. Though they will not eliminate all the microphonics effect, a substantial quantity will be removed. Some manufacturers decide to place rubberized netting around their in-ear headphone cables, but rarely works as the microphonics is still present. My advice is to go for a rubber cable, the thicker the better. However, remember that a cable that is too thick will pull downwards and force the in-ear headphones out of your ear. Try to find a balance.
One alternative technique you can use to minimize the effect of microphonics is placing the in-ear headphones appropriately. The majority of users position the cord facing downwards to the ground. However, you should wear the earbud with the cord facing upwards, around the ear, then leading to the ground together with a clip.
It is important to try out the technique for a while to see if it’s comfortable for you, as every ear is unique. Use this style of wearing in cases where the microphonics is too much. Watch out for the cable whenever buying a new pair of in-ear headphones. Ensure it’s strong and rubberized. If it comes with a clip, then that’s awesome but don’t over-rely on it.
Even if you use Bluetooth in-ear headphones, microphonics still exists at some level. Since the short cable to connect 2 earbuds–you see most Bluetooth Earbuds have this cable to be able to create stereo sound.
Now it is possible to make totally wireless earbuds without a short cord attached to them, no more microphonics.