From celebrity-branded units to waterproof options and vibrating models that use your skeleton as amplifiers, there’s no shortage of weird, wild and unique headphones crowding the consumer electronics market. Happily, audio accessory maker Far End Gear’s One Good Earbud, a single-sided earphone that frees the other half of your head to process everyday noises, eases decision-making by offering one less option to consider.
Capable of condensing stereo sound to a mono signal, the headset offers complete song mixes, letting you hear all sides of recorded tracks. This process alleviates the need to physically remove an earbud and lose half the mix, as with the world’s currently dominant (and obvious) low-tech solution. This may remove song intricacies such as precise instrument positioning and layered or ambient effects, robbing folk, alternative and indie rock ballads of signature touches. (Sorry, Train or Iron and Wine admirers.) But fans of pop and screamo, or sports and talk radio, may find these sacrifices less gut-wrenching.
Available in three styles (in-ear, wraparound and iPod-esque) for prices ranging from $15-27, options are overtly aimed at athletes and cyclists and meant for use while running, pedaling or working out at the gym. In allowing real-world noises such as blaring horns or irate bystanders to filter through, outdoors usage is clearly a selling point, with joggers and bikers likeliest to benefit from the gizmo’s setup.
A seemingly strange, albeit reasonably affordable upgrade on traditional headphone models, the One Good Earbuds line offers practical benefits yet demands that listeners take an inherent – and for some, inherently painful – leap of faith. Clearly, the company hopes that the ability to enjoy podcasts, simple singsong ditties or metal-tinged tracks without having to completely tune out reality is worth trading in higher fidelity.