AirPods making ears drain, bone conduction headphones and matching an amplifier to Ohm speakers (Week 36, 2023)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 36, 2023

Q. Do you know if people are having trouble with Apple AirPods making their ears drain excessively? I found that whenever I used AirPods my ears would end up completely full of fluid. My wired earbuds do not bother me. I gave my AirPods away and swear I will never purchase or use them again.

-K.W., Farmington, MN

A. I did some research after receiving your question and others have reported the same issue. It is impossible to know how your body is reacting to the AirPods without a medical examination, but the most common explanation is that your ears are reacting to the material in the tips of the AirPods or the body of the earbuds themselves. A few users reported that switching to foam eartips eliminated the problem. Unfortunately, since you no longer have the AirPods it is impossible to do this experiment yourself. You did not say what brand wired earbuds you own, but the fact that they are wired would not affect how your ears react to them.

If this starts happening with your wired earbuds you should consider bone conduction headphones. They are a good choice for those with sensitive ears, those who cannot achieve a good fit with in-ear earbuds or anyone who needs to leave the ear canal open for comfort or to stay aware of their surroundings at home or outdoors. The sound quality gap between in-ear and bone conduction earphones has closed with each generation and you can now enjoy a very satisfying musical performance with them. I recently had such an experience myself. Mojawa has turned to Grammy-winning audio producers to fine-tune the sound of the Run Plus, their best model yet. I had a chance to listen to the Run Plus recently and was quite impressed as they show notable improvements in every aspect. They are light, very comfortable and the sound quality has been improved significantly. When listening I did not feel as much vibration on my head as with other bone conduction headphones I have tried, and you hear a lot of the music outside of your head rather than inside of it. That’s a very desirable trait for bone conduction headphones. The soft-touch controls feature a simple slide action to control volume and you can store 32 GB of MP3 music internally, which makes them perfect for those who like to run without their phone. The Mojawa Run Plus Bone Conduction Headphones are currently $119 on Amazon and rate a top recommendation.

If you want to experiment with foam tips I recommend Comply tips, which have memory foam that really works. They are available for over 2,000 devices and sell for as low as $13.

Q. Do Ohm tower speakers match well with the Technics SA-C600 component receiver? I have Ohm Walsh 2000 speakers purchased years ago after reading your review of them. The speakers are currently driven by a large Onkyo stereo receiver.

-B.B., California

A. Though both products are top-notch, I would not recommend this particular pairing. Ohm Walsh speakers perform their best with more power than the SA-C600 can provide, and digital room correction tends to make Ohms sound worse, not better. The Walsh driver has a unique dispersion pattern that the room correction system does not take into account when applying the correction algorithm, which leads to a degradation of sound. You can use the SA-C600 without the room correction, but it’s a great feature and I suggest pairing it with speakers that can take advantage of it. There was reader interest in all-in-one components and I will have more about them in upcoming columns.