The popularity of mp3 players has led to a number of advances in headphone technology, and earbuds have became the headphones of choice for most people. These tiny speakers are easy to fit into the ear, meaning far less bulk and clearer sound. Sport earbuds were then developed specifically for athletes who needed earbuds that would stay securely inside the ear during the rough movements associated with most sports. Sport earbuds mimic the style and function of normal earbuds, but they are specially designed to stay in the ear and to resist sweat and water damage.
Most sport earbuds feature a rubber earpiece that fits snugly into the ear canal so the earpiece will not work loose during exercise. The rubber earpiece serves a second function as well in most cases: it eliminates ambient noise around the listener to ensure clear and bright sound. Such earpieces are often known as noise-reduction earbuds, and just about all sport earbuds feature them. Many versions of sport earbuds feature replaceable rubber fittings in case one gets torn, and they come in different sizes to accommodate different sizes of ear canals. The durability of the rubber pieces often has a great impact on sound quality and stability within the ear.
The cables that connect the earbuds to the mp3 players are also made from higher quality and thicker wiring both for durability and for better sound quality. While just about all earbuds on the market feature plastic sheaths that protect the inner wire from damage, the sheath on sport earbuds is often a bit thicker to prevent damage during use. Volume controls are sometimes built in-line on the cable to allow the athlete to adjust volume without having to take the mp3 player out of his or her pocket, and some in-line units even feature buttons that can control other features on the mp3 player, such as skipping a track forward or backward.
Some sport earbuds do not rely only on the rubber fitting on the earpieces to hold the units in place. Certain designs use a plastic harness that wraps around the back of the head to enhance stability and prevent the earbuds from jostling out of place during use. These units tend to be bulkier, and some people complain that they are not as comfortable since the rubber harness can press against the back of the head, but they do offer additional security for people who struggle with earbuds falling out of place during activity.