What with the likes of Shure and Ultimate Ears seemingly dominating the earbud market with their sound-isolating models, we don't see a lot of sport style earbuds here at the CNET review desk. That is, there's not a huge selection of quality clip-on 'buds that rest outside the ear, and these models can be just the ticket for active users who don't like sticking things into their ears. This is why we were pleased to hear about AirDrives Interactive Earphones a while back--and even happier to finally get a review sample in the office. These $99 earphones offer reasonable sound quality and a fairly stylish and secure design.
Small-eared folks be warned: You will have difficulty achieving a proper fit with the AirDrives, despite their semiadjustable rubber clips. On the plus side, there is a kids' version, which is smaller, cheaper ($69), and should fit fine. However, this model doesn't use the same magnesium acoustic housing as the standard version, so the audio quality won't be quite as good. If you have more of a regular-size ear, the AirDrives are quite comfortable, and the bendy clip should allow you to achieve a secure fit for your ear shape.
As far as style is concerned, both the standard and kids' sets are inoffensive; the standard is black with a silver earbud, and the kids' model comes in white. Either should complement your audio gadget just fine. The cable is a little on the thin side, so that raises some concern for durability and tangling. We like the inclusion of an inline remote, though. Cable length is also adequate at 4 feet for the standard and 3.5 feet for the kids' model. The included soft pouch is no Shure clamshell case, but at least it provides some minimal protection for the headphones.
As AirDrives itself asserts, the placement of the earbud outside the ear allows for a more open sound experience, akin to open-back headphones of the full-size variety. However, unlike their larger kin, the AirDrives offer virtually nothing in the way of bass. That said, clarity and detail were good and the mids came across well, and music sounded good overall. Still, since these 'phones don't offer any passive noise blocking, we had to turn up the volume on our test player quite a bit to get to the levels we wanted--and once that was done, there was some sound leakage. If you don't mind disturbing your neighbor on the bus, though, this might not be an issue.