On the hunt for a set of workout-ready earphones, I came across an unlikely candidate. The Wicked Little Buds, made by Empire Brands Inc. of Lindon, Utah, are touted as “noise-isolating earbuds that provide an edgy look and great sound.”
With blue metal earpieces, a fiber-like cord, and rubbery tips, the Wicked Little Buds have a sleek but stand-out design. They cost about $30 and fit tight and comfortable in each ear, almost unnoticeable once in place.
I have been wearing the Wicked Little Buds (www.empirebrandsinc.com) for running and listening to tunes. Though they are not intended as athletic-specific earphones, the buds have worked well for me.
The Wicked Little Buds come with small, medium and large earpiece tips. You swap them out for fit. The soft, flexible ends stay in place as I run. They are so lightweight that they hardly move.
The cord, which is almost four feet long, has a rough cloth- or fiber-like coating. This texture on the cord prevents tangling. The extra length is nice when my iPod is stashed in a backpack.
Audio quality is good enough for an exercise scenario. The audio range and general sound was above average for tiny, bud-style earphones.
One caveat: The noise-canceling feature does indeed block off ambient sound. Be careful at road crossings or on bike trails where shouts, horns, or other important audio cues might not be heard.
—Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.