Turtleneck earbud sleeve full review

Stop headphone/earphone cables and wires getting twisted or tangled in knots. We show you how, and suggest a simple gadget that will rid your world of tangled cords forever.

Unless you own a pair of Bluetooth headphones you’ll be aware of one of life’s most annoying mysteries – right up there with toast falling on its buttered side and the TV remote control going walks in your living room.

(And even wireless AirPod users might want to read on...)

Earphones, headphones (whatever you call the in-ear earbuds that come with iPhones and Androud smartphones, iPods etc) always manage to get themselves tangled up without any outside help. You can simply put them down on a table, and next time you sue them there they still are, in exactly the same place, but somehow as tangled as old fairy lights or a cup of noodles. Shove them in your coat pocket for an hour and they’re wrapped ins some form of Gordian knot.

Comedy legend Bill Murray once quipped: “How to tie the strongest knot ever: 1) Put some headphones in your pocket 2) Wait one minute”.

Earphone,headphone cable knot tangled

Why do earphone cables get tangled?

According to scientific research outlined in the paper "Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string" by Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith. The boffins performed experiments in which a string was tumbled inside a box and found that complex twisted knots often form within seconds.

Two key factors cause complex knots to “form within seconds”: “critical string length” and “agitation time”.

In other words, it's all a matter of the cable length and the time it spends tumbling around your pocket. Also, the Y shape of earphones significantly increases the chance of cable knotting.

How cables get tangled

If you want to know the maths, the graph here measures the probability of forming a knot versus string length. The line is a least-squares fit to a simple sigmoidal function N = N 0/(1 + (L/L 0)b), with N 0 = 0.55, L 0 = 3.4, and b = −2.9.  

Turtleneck earphone cable sleeve knots

Earphone cable tangling: the solution

Now a clever Norwegian invention threatens to kill off the Tangle Goblin, and keep your earphones tangle free.

The Turtleneck, designed and optimized for Apple earphones, is a washable, reflective sleeve that weighs less than 9 grams. The knitted sleeve can be pulled back to give you a comfortable length of cable when being worn, and then stretched when not in use, to stop that tangling.

Tiny printed silicon dots and a logo tab on the 75-denier polyester sleeve give you enough grip to pull the Turtleneck to the length most comfortable for you.

It’s really rather simple and clever, and should mean an end to tangled earphone cables.

Turtleneck sleeve earbud cable

Now you can put your earbuds down without having to untangle them when you next need them as you’re rushing out of the house.

Turtleneck is available in a range of imaginatively named colours: Noble Grey, Immortal Black, Shocking Yellow, Hot Pink, Gentle Blue, Royal Violet, Ecstatic Orange and Swanky Green colours.

It costs £21 direct from Turtleneck, but (at the time of writing) you’ll get 25 percent off if you share your purchase with your Facebook friends.

Turtleneck is also available from Amazon for £14.99.

Other ways to stop earphone cables getting tangled, twisted

Physicist Robert Matthews from Aston University suggests clipping the two earbuds together, then attaching them to the end near the audio jack, will solve the problem. Joining the ends together greatly reduces the probability of the string forming knots – which he calls the “Loop Conjecture”.

Without using clips you can stop earphone cables getting tangled into knots by gathering the three ends (two earbuds and the audio jack) and tying them in a loose knot close to the ends.

There's also a trick based on knitting's Butterflying technique, and using the fingers' devil-horn configuration. Keen knitters may find this method easy but it looks like a fiddly timewaster to me.

However, we like the Turtleneck's simpler and better looking solution, where you don't have to worry about clips of knots, and just shove the headphones in your pocket like you always do. And at under £15 these make great gifts for all your friends who use earphones too!

AirThread by Turtleneck: a cord to stop you losing wireless Apple AirPods

Yes, Turtleneck even makes a cord for wireless earphones – in particular Apple's iconic AirPods. They clearly think that, despite shelling out £159/$159 on a set of Bluetooth earbuds, some users will become so attached to them that they, well, want to become attached to them. They're too expensive to lose as a pair, and even a spare single AirPod costs £65.

Hence the AirThread, which links the AirPods with one of the three coloured cords (White, Black, and Gold) in a pack costing £23/$30/€26. You can leave the AirPods hanging round your neck rather than sticking them in your pocket or recklessly leaving on a nearby surface. Buy from Turtleneck.


Turtleneck earbud sleeve: Specs

  • Made of 75 Denier polyester Yarn
  • Dots allow for grip towards earphone wires
  • less than 9 grams

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