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Earbud Blues

apple-iphone-headset-0608I hate ear buds. I can’t find the ones that work best for me. It’s become my search for the Holy Grail. It’s difficult to find a pair that lasts. It only took six months for me to go through the replacement warranty on my iPhone. During the first year Apple will give you two free replacement ear buds. The first two had the controls go bad. Although, I could hear clearly but I could no longer answer the phone or control the volume without taking the phone out of my pocket to perform the actions manually.

I’m a music lover but I don’t use my ear buds to listen to music. Because of my low vision, I use my ear buds to navigate my environment, listen to podcasts and schedule my life on my iPhone. I’m not interested in fine-tuning my listening experience. Hearing the purity of the base notes and the clarity of the high notes is something I do at home with a good pair of headsets.

I need to answer the phone. I need to talk to Siri and listen to voiceovers. I need to raise and lower the volume to compensate for noisy environments. I need to launch apps and then control them once they’re running… In short, I want to control my world with my voice and to hear the feedback through my ear buds.

Is that too much to ask?

After burning through my Apple ear buds warranty, I decided to go a bit upscale.

If I had to pay for the Apple ear buds, at $30 a pop, that was my baseline for what I would spend. Therefore, if I could get a pair of ear buds that lasted at least a year, $100 was not an unreasonable amount to spend.

I got lucky, at least financially, when I snagged a pair beats audio ear buds at half price. The warranty was one better than Apple’s. If anything went wrong within the year, I could get three free replacements. The first pair shorted out after six weeks. It switched, at random, from stereo to Mono or only sending sound to one ear. The replacement pair lasted three months. Then the in-line control stopped working. I couldn’t answer the phone, adjust the volume or start Siri. The second replacement pair lasted a couple of days and did absolutely nothing. No sound, no controls-nothing. The friendly representative at the AT&T store said it worked fine on his phone so maybe there was something wrong with my phone. earphones-urbeats-metal-red-collection-O

Now a trip to the nearest Apple Store. I waited two hours, only to be told that my extended warranty ended the day before. But the Tech God smiled on me that day. The store manager concluded that since I had complained about headset issues several times prior to the expiration of my warranty, he would replace the phone. However, the ear buds still didn’t work.

The God of Whimsy took over for a bit. The subway ride from the Apple Store in Manhattan to the AT&T store in Brooklyn normally takes 10 minutes. Because of weekend subway construction, the Manhattan to Brooklyn portion of the line I was using was closed. It was a five block walk across town to the nearest operating trains. For those who have never been to New York, the cross-town blocks are twice as long as normal city blocks. Of course, the station was jammed with more people than a normal weekday rush hour. Four trains went by before I could squeeze myself into one.

Nearly two hours later, I’m back at the AT&T store trying to replace my ear buds. Once again, it took the intervention of a manager. He finally plugged in the ear buds into his phone and no sound came out. I got my replacement. The polar vortex caused the demise of that final set of ear buds. I got soaked through after being caught outside, pelted by sleet propelled by 50 mph winds. Even though the ear buds were protected by several layers of clothing they still got too damn to function. Oddly enough, my iPhone never even hiccupped. Perhaps they were just tired of seeing me at the AT&T store, but no questions were asked when I went to get my final replacement pair of ear buds.

There is more to this saga, which I’ll tell at a later date. Conveying this much of the story, so far, has given me a headache.

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