Wired Audio Sounds Winning

In my recent post where I asked are AirPods worth their cost, I was only comparing them to cheaper “true wireless” alternatives. But there still exists an even more affordable option: wired earphones. Yes, physically connecting your ears to a device with dangling cords. And apparently, it’s a trend amidst Gen Z.

Are wires really that bad? Fair question.

Is being tethered to your phone or laptop a problem that needs to be solved? Okay, sure, unraveling a tangled mess of cords or accidentally yanking earbuds out by their tails is inconvenient and can be frustrating. But is that bad enough to warrant the high cost of wireless headphones?

Wired ear pieces are practical and affordable and simple. In fact, though AirPods can seamlessly switch between Apple devices, wired headphones can basically do the same thing. Just unplug from one gadget and plug into the other device — it’s not hard.

Well, except iPhones lack a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, Apple makes a dongle for that. Also, you can’t connect wired buds to the Apple Watch, so Bluetooth buds are required. You could just use the Lightning EarPods for iPhone then switch them to the Mac…wait, Macs don’t have Lightning ports, just old-school round headphone jacks. Oops. Maybe there’s another dongle for that too. So much for the simple Apple ecosystem, eh?

Overall though, wired earbuds are simple:

  • Just plug’em in
  • No pairing required
  • No charging needed
  • No special case needed
  • You can’t lose one bud
  • They just work

Like this quote says, wired headphones reflect simplicity:

“Wired earphones make a different kind of statement. A person wearing wired headphones is disassociating themselves from modern trends altogether. They want to be plugged into simpler times.” — Elena Cavender

Besides simplicity, reliability, and affordability, wired headphones also have another distinct advantage over their rich wireless relatives: quality, as in Lossless Audio. Well, this was the case until recently, but it’s still mostly true today. Bluetooth couldn’t stream uncompressed audio; now it can but with caveats. And Apple’s own just-released expensive AirPods Pro 2 still can’t stream Lossless Audio.

Apple does include a good 3.5mm headphone jack. Though the iPhone ditched it and the new 10th-gen iPad dropped it, my M1 MacBook Air has one. I had to use it recently with my JBL speaker for audio playback; I couldn’t get the speaker to connect via Bluetooth after fussing with settings — grrrr, ugh. So I plugged in my speaker with a standard 3.5mm cord and it just worked. Wired audio for the win!

Have you gone wireless, or do you still enjoy classic wired earphones?