In order for a player to get the ear buds in TF2, they must trade with another player via the TF2 trading system that works through Steam. There are also Internet trading sites and forums that are popular for trading rare items like the ear buds.
Players who used the Team Fortress 2 Mac client from June 10, 2010 to June 14, 2010 were awarded ear buds. The offer was later extended to August 16, 2010. These ear buds look like the popularized ear buds that accompany many Apple products. While no sound comes out of these ear buds, they do have musical notes that float out of them. In February 2012, the restrictions to the ear buds were removed so that they can also be used with other items.
Because of this short time line that the item was available and the relatively small user base that had access to this item, the earbuds are considered a very rare item. They are often used as currency in the TF2 community. Some players often pay real money to purchase this item, while some trade the earbuds for keys that open Mann Co. Supply Crates. These crates contain other valuable items for use in the game.