I’ve written before about the durability of Etymotic headphones.
On 5 August 2011, before leaving on my trip to New Orleans and Washington D.C., I bought a pair of Etymotic mc3 earbuds, with a built-in microphone for use with my iPhone.
A few weeks ago, they failed in the ordinary way. At the connection points between the wire and the audio-in jack, the constant bending of the cable led to structural failure. The sound became distorted and intermittent. With other pairs, I have had the same thing happen at the junction point between one of the wires and one of the individual earbuds.
I sent them back to Etymotic with a copy of my Amazon receipt and a short note explaining the problem and today I received a brand new pair of mc3s in the mail. I think every pair of headphones I have ever purchased from Etymotic has been replaced free of charge (starting back in Oxford in 2005 or ’06).
My expectation when I buy Etymotic earbuds is that they will last for one year of heavy daily use. Then I will get them replaced once under warranty. Then, after about a year, the replacement earbuds will fail and I will buy a new pair.
I don’t know if their more expensive models are more durable. I may try a pair next time, to see whether the sound is better and whether the construction better withstands the abuses of life.
None of this should be taken as evidence that I am unsatisfied with Etymotic products. They are pretty great. The sound is good and they block off outside noise very effectively. It’s pretty amazing to have a product that fits in such a tiny space and which can turn anywhere into quite a good listening environment.
[Update: 19 December 2014] My latest pair of Etymotic earbuds failed today – one of the wires inside seems to have broken right near where it connects to my music player. Now, there is only sound in one ear. I will naturally need to replace them, and will probably go with another pair of Etys.