Best List: Sphear in-ear monitors by Focal
When I think earbuds, I don’t think comfort. They’re light and let you take naps while in, but there’s really only so long I can handle keeping them in my ears.
That’s why this new set of “in-ear monitors,” called Sphear is so exciting — I’ve had them in to watch Netflix on an iPad, gone for a long training run, and just wore them around the house while working and making dinner for my kids.
Every time I put them in, they impress me with their balanced tone and high-quality sound. Most of all, though, I forget I’m wearing them. They’re that comfortable.
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The design here is key, with a bulbous outer casing that does two things: it lets the earbud drivers be a little bigger than typical buds, and it shifts the weight of the whole unit to the outer ear rather than your ear canal. The Sphears come with both silicone and memory foam tips (I prefer the silicone) to help both cushion your ear and also block out some external sound, which really lets you get a good sound. The cabling on these Sphear in-ear monitors is thick enough to resist tearing or crimping, but not so heavy that the earbuds don’t roll up nicely to slide into a pocket.
The bass isn’t too heavy, and the trebles aren’t swallowed, nor do they get too shrill. The mid-tones are pretty solid, too, which helps with hearing details in mixes that tend to get drowned out by heavy bass and shrill trebles in less-capable headphones.
There’s an in-line mic and remote control button that lets you take calls or pause/play/skip tracks, but that’s almost de rigueur for any cheap pair of headphones these days. They do come with a handy little zippered hard-case that lets you strap in a couple of extra tips, too, just in case. So that’s nice.
The comfort of these things just can’t be overstated. I wore them for hours at a time pretty much every day during my testing and I would literally forget sometimes that they were in my ears. When I took them out, there was none of the pain associated with deforming my ear canals, like when I wear EarPods or less ergonomic earbuds.
Ultimately, the sound quality and actual comfort of the Sphear in-ear monitors has me using them to the exclusion of all the other earbuds I have in the house. They run $179 from Focal, but you can find them for $30 less on Amazon.