The Complete Guide to Earphones, Part 4: Our Picks, and Yours | iLounge Article

Article

The Complete Guide to Earphones, Part 4: Our Picks, and Yours

Author's pic

By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Articles Categories: Tutorials

In the earlier parts of our Complete Guide to Earphones, we looked at the many types of earphones (Part 1), general pointers and advice on picking a good pair (Part 2), and more advanced, detailed information on what serious listeners look for (Part 3). Most of the preceding information was presented objectively so that you could make your own choice about what’s best for your needs; this Part 4 shares our editors’ personal preferences.

image
Shure’s E2c (center) is a favorite of many iLounge editors; Shure’s newer SE series is smaller.

We asked our editors three questions: what are your favorite pairs of earphones - not headphones? Why? And if you had to choose just one, which would it be? Our answers are below, and most interesting in that different users with different listening preferences have gravitated to many similar earphones. Of the group, only one editor noted a preference for full-sized headphones, and no one recommended clip-on earphones, lanyard earphones, convertibles, wireless, or hybrid earbud-canalphones. Feel free to add your picks to the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Jesse Hollington, Contributing Editor, Canada: “As regular readers of our forums will probably know by now, I’m not a particularly critical listener when it comes to earphones. However, I’ve been very happy with my Shure E2cs, and find that they provide the best balance for me between a reasonable price and a quality that I can clearly discern over anything lower end. I’m also not one to prefer music that is heavy on bass, with my listening tastes leaning more toward traditional/fusion jazz and classical music, for which heavy bass ruins the experience. The E2c earphones provide a nice, clean and balanced sound, and for my ears, anything higher-end only provides better sound isolation but not enough of a noticeable improvement in sound quality to justify the extra expense.”

Larry AngellL.C. Angell, Senior Editor, United States: “Since I do at least 95% of my iPod listening in the car, I don’t really have a need for fancy, $1K custom-fit canalphones. In fact, I was happy with the stock Apple earphones for a long while on those rare occasions when my iPod left my Honda. I did eventually get a pair of the popular Etymotic ER-6i earphones, which I’ve been using for over two years now. They definitely sound better than most I’ve tried, but they still give me too much ear fatigue during extended use. Maybe I’ve got sensitive ears, or maybe they’re just evil. I haven’t yet decided.”

image
Etymotic’s ER-6i is another excellent option at the sub-$150 price range.

Jerrod H., Contributing Editor, United States: “Since purchasing my iPod, I’ve almost exclusively used in-ear isolating canalphones. The experience that this style of earphone creates is simply awesome - ambient noise is completely eliminated, allowing you to hear subtle, intricate details of your music you never before knew existed. It’s unpolluted music, seemingly injected right into your head.

Which canalphones are my favorite? I can offer a bit of anecdotal advice. If there’s one thing I’ve found about earphones, it’s that the more you spend, the more subtle the improvements become. My original upgrade from the standard iPod earphones to Shure’s E2c in-ear monitors (~$70) was perhaps the best iPod-related purchase I’ve ever made. The improvement in sound was so superb, I listened to my whole library again and literally rediscovered my music. Some years later, I upgraded to Shure’s ~$300 E4c model, and while they were more comfortable, better looking, and had a noticeably more crisp, accurate sound, the improvement-to-dollar ratio was not nearly as fantastically satisfying as with the relatively inexpensive E2cs.”

Christina Easton, Contributing Editor, United States: “I never had any appreciation for earphone quality before I started to work for iLounge. It’s amazing how much of a difference the right pair of earphones can make. Though the Apple Earphones are fine with me (they’re not bad at all, fit nicely in my ears, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them), the JAYS d-JAYS are my favorites right now, though they could tweak them to make them more comfortable. v-moda Vibes are great in comfort, but too bass heavy.

The best earphones I’ve ever used are the Shure E500s. I don’t own a pair, but having used them, I wish I had a pair. The sound is just phenomenal at all different levels - bass; the vocals aren’t washed out; it just sounds like music was meant to be listened to. There are songs I’ve listened to where I haven’t even noticed some of the background instruments or vocals in the past, hearing them makes me have new appreciation for those songs. I have very small ears - I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a girl - but I can tell you that they’re more comfortable than most earphones. I know it’s an expensive pair, but if you really have a deep appreciation for music and can afford them, it makes sense to buy them.”

image
JAYS’ lightweight, detailed d-JAYS have been winning fans around the iLounge offices.

Dennis Lloyd, Publisher, United States: “I’m not as big an earphone junkie as some. If I’m at home, I usually wear full headphones to listen to music. I do own several pairs of earphones, including the Ultimate Ears UE-10, UE-7, UE-5, Etymotic ER-6i, and V-Moda Vibes. For on-the-go listening, I would have to choose the UE-10 for total comfort and the Vibes for bass reproduction. Recently, I tend to wear the Vibes more than anything. I was once a DJ and I tend to like more bass in my earphones, something the Vibe is very good at. The included iPod earphones are totally uncomfortable.”


image
Though silicone tip issues help make it too bassy for some editors, Vibe from v-moda is a winner for others.

Bob Levens, Contributing Editor, United Kingdom: “This is an easy one. Without doubt the Shure E500 (now Shure E530). Before the E500s came along, I was more than happy with the sound and comfort of the Shure E2c, which has just the right amount of ‘warmth’ for me, without being over bassy. That would be my sub-$100 recommendation of choice. They isolate well, are comfortable over extended listening (with foam tips) and don’t scream ‘I have an iPod, rob me!’ if worn out and about.

I had long hunted for a pair of replacement phones to satisfy my exacting requirements - I tried every pair of phones on the floor at Macworld Expo in 2006. Some were too bright, others had too much bass. The Shure E500 had just been announced, and soon after plugging into my iPod I knew that these were the phones. They sounded great! The price of $500 was going to be a hard pill to swallow but with a favorable exchange rate by the time they hit the shelves (and a milestone birthday looming), I didn’t have any regrets. Since getting them, I have fitted custom ear-molds (Westone’s UM56) which I am pleased with, and these have reduced the need for replacing Shure’s foam tips, otherwise my preferred type. With the E500s I think I have reached my zenith in a search for the best phone and they will hopefully see me a happy listener for some time to come.”

image
Shure’s pricey E500/SE530 remains an object of lust for iLounge editors who haven’t yet bought them.

Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, United States: “I haven’t used every single earphone out there, but I’ve tried a lot - probably a couple of hundred at last count, around half of them reviewed on iLounge. Even after getting a pair of $900 custom-fit Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pros, I found myself using Etymotic’s ER-4Ps most of the time, because I preferred the lower weight, less ear-filling feel of the Etys, and really loved the accurate detail they offered. The UE-10 Pros had a small edge on bass, but not enough to offset their much larger size. When Shure’s E500s came out, I knew I’d found a winner - much-superior bass that was detailed rather than boomy, in a package that didn’t fatigue my ears. After trying them at CES, I dragged as many of iLounge’s editors as possible over to test them out at Macworld Expo, and they were unanimously embraced. The E500s are currently my favorite earphones - I even bought a pair of replacements after my first pair were lost on a Japanese train - and price aside, my current feeling is that the only improvements Shure could make to them are small ones.

The one surprise I’d point out to readers is that I continue to enjoy using lower-end pairs of earphones despite having access to the cream of the crop technology. Slight styling issues aside, v-moda’s Vibes would have been my ideal pair of earphones on comfort, looks, and pricing if they weren’t so crazy in the bass department. And because I work for iLounge, I still enjoy wearing Apple’s iPod Earphones sometimes, just to let people know that the iPod nation remains strong. The look of what you’re wearing in your ears does matter, and I think it’s going to be even more important for future earphones.”

Need more information on earphones? We’ve reviewed over 100 different models in our massive Accessories section, with tons of pictures and links to their manufacturers. Don’t want to sift through the pile? Check out our 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide, available as a free download here, which highlights our most recent collection of top picks. Or continue on to Part 5 of the Complete Guide to Earphones.

What are your favorite earphones? Share your views in the Comments section below!

« The Complete Guide to Earphones, Part 5: Cheat Sheets

The Complete Guide to Earphones, Part 3 »

Related Stories

Comments

1

My current favourite earphones are the Sennheiser CX300.

I wanted an earphone that would block out the noise but I didn’t want to invest hundreds in a pair of headphones. I wanted something practical that wouldn’t be fiddly or look ridiculous.

I started with the Sony EX71s after much recommendation iLounge readers. However, from the first listen, I found the highs to be incredibly sibilant and piercing. Sometimes even painful to listen to. I loved the sound isolation, however, so I persisted.

I’ve owned large Sennheiser headphones before and loved them. So when I saw the CX300s in a store, I bought them on an impulse purchase (they were only $70 AUD) and haven’t looked back!

I find the sound to be clearer, less muddy and without the sibilance of the EX71s while still keeping the same isolation. Also, they and the cables are lighter and made of a smoother rubber than the EX71 so they don’t pull or get caught on my clothing.

I love them and I’m surprised that iLounge hasn’t reviewed them yet!  I think they’re a great compromise if you dont want to spend as much on the expensive Shures and Etys.

Posted by camson in Melbourne, Australia on March 13, 2007 at 6:35 PM (PDT)

2

Admittedly, I won these earphones, so I got them free. But, I must say that xtrememac’s FS1’s are so much better than my Sony EX71s that if I lost them, I would BUY a new pair without thinking twice.
Keep in mind that you must use the foam. It makes all the difference in the world.
Foam offers the most isolation and most comfort. I can now use my iPod while mowing the yard with the volume very much in the ‘safe’ range. The way I look at it, my hearing is worth a lot more than $150.
Bill H.

Posted by Bill Henderson on March 13, 2007 at 8:17 PM (PDT)

3

Of my in-ears (which there aren’t really many), these are my current preferences:

Favorite from a music reproduction standpoint, dragging an amp around: Ety’s ER-4s. Still the champ in my book in expressing detail, though they do have occasional issues with mid-bass on down, even with a perfect seal. They also tend to be more fatiguing for me than other canals. And of course, there’s the requisite amp that’s absolutely necessary because of their rated impedance.

Favorite from a music reproduction standpoint, amp-free: Shure E500PTH. Hard, no…extremely hard to go wrong with these from an SQ standpoint, but I admit that I often hesitate in taking these out with me because of their relative high cost. I’m not very polite with my treatment of headphones whenever I’m out and about, and with both the Shures and Etys, the wire connections don’t inspire as much confidence given my usual ham-fisted habits as my overall and most-used pair do when outside the house. Also, Jeremy Horwitz’s own experience with losing his first pair is exactly the sort of thing I’m more than capable of doing myself, without any conscious effort whatsoever.

Favorite overall (mostly because of how they handle microphonics, but also because of their stout construction): UE Super.Fi 5 Pros (clear wires). Not the best of this trio for recreating detail, but SQ-wise still very acceptable throughout the frequency range and once used, lesser in-ears like the Sennheiser CX-300 I used to cherish for their relative low cost become virtually unlistenable. Took a while to get used to looping the cables over my ears (look like some dopey wannabee Secret Service agent, only in stereo), but the relative freedom from microphonics was worth putting up with the acclimation period. Under $200, this set is my all-around champ, and they don’t feel like they can be easily ripped apart and damaged like other designs often emote.

I have several in-ear sets purchased under for $100 that I used to use a lot. But aside from the Altec Lansing (Etymotic) iM716 I got for the somewhat bargain price of $80 on Amazon about a year ago, most I can no longer tolerate sonically once I tasted the sweet wine of more expensive designs. As for over-ear designs…well, that’s an entirely different matter altogether. For another post, perhaps.

Posted by flatline response on March 14, 2007 at 1:30 AM (PDT)

4

I must agree with flatline response - I knew this would happen one day! wink  The UE Super Fi 5 Pros are a great set as they are a good compromise between sound quality and price, for me anyway.  As many other readers have noted, my only problem with them so far is that I can hear the artifacing now from crappy compression - which obviously is my own fault. I will have to start saving for the Shure E500’s though - everybody’s got to have a dream!

Posted by lostkiwi on March 14, 2007 at 2:49 AM (PDT)

5

flatline,
I also have a pair of Etymotic ER6 which I do use occasionally - I keep them in the car for those times decide to carry the ‘car iPod’ around.
I have more concerns about the cabling on the ER6 than I do with the E500s. The ER6 sit so deep into my ear canal that sometimes the only way to get them out is to tug the cable. Also the silicon ‘sleeve’ around the driver housing has developed a split in it (possibly from me trying to extract the unit with my fingernails.
Thankfully the UM56 moulds on my E500s incorporate a ‘tug stem’ so removing them is easy and doesn’t involve applying any force to the E500 cables.

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on March 14, 2007 at 7:46 AM (PDT)

6

Amazon has the Ety ER-6is for US $68, reduced from $149. Crazy

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on March 15, 2007 at 8:05 PM (PDT)

7

I am one of the people who can’t stand the stock iPod headphones. I made the mistake of searching for an “affordable” replacement pair first. Considering the amount of money I’ve spent trying to find the “perfect pair” I should have just started with an expensive pair. First I bought some cheap Sennheiser ear buds (can’t even remember what they were). They were worthless. Honestly sounded no better than the iPod buds and they were just as uncomfortable. I also tried a pair of Philips headphones that I returned that same day since they sounded TERRIBLE! Next were the Sony ex71’s and I have to admit they’re a really acceptable pair. I mean, they’re not awesome, but for the price they’re not that bad. I now have a set of etymotic ER6i’s and I love them. Very comfortable and great sound (this is coming from someone who hasn’t tried the e500/530’s.

The other day I was lucky enough to speak with the founder of Headroom (http://www.headphone.com, and the Mecca of headphone lovers) and he basically convinced me that my next phones will be the e500/530’s. He’s a great guy by the way, if you get the chance to chat with him, DO.

Posted by urbanslaughter on March 16, 2007 at 11:46 AM (PDT)

8

Oh, and Nuke666, the guy at Headroom explained to me that the reason they don’t carry etymotics anymore is because of ety’s distribution model. Basically, Amazon can sell etymotics cheaper than other distributers can buy them from etymotic itself.

Posted by urbanslaughter on March 16, 2007 at 11:50 AM (PDT)

9

Oh God. Is This Really Important? Oh yes, it is. Headphones are an important part of every iPod owner’s life. I prefer my ER6i’s over every pair of canalphones I’ve purchased.  Far behind the Etys are my MDR-EX71’S, which are cool when not home (I just can’t go away from home with the ER6is, since I’m 15 and don’t have a job, I had to wash a lot of cars to get the money and buy them)

Posted by The guy from Puerto Rico on March 17, 2007 at 10:39 AM (PDT)

10

I have a major problem with the pack in eabuds, they are too big to fit my ears and keep falling out! They sound quite good but i find them painfull if worn for more than 15mins. I quickly replaced these with a set of Creative Labs EP630 and found a HUGE improvement, very comfortable, great balanced sound which was not boomy and thus very user friendly for my 45mins trip to work. Everyone i have lent these too has agreed that these are a significant step up from the pack in ear buds, considering that very reasonable price. My earbud of choice has to be the Westone UM2s i have been fortunate enough to have owned for the last two months. These are an incredible price increase over the Creatives but the sound is absolutely fantastic - out of this world! They deliver everything accurately, bass, mids, treble with an ever so slight warmth that makes listening a pleasure, and extended listening (3hrs, late one night, the first day i tried them!) a very, very memorable experience. Some earphones may sound super accurate for a short listen but this could become very tiring over a long period, my days of experimenting with hifi separates has taught me that! The UM2s are very light, very comfortable (cord over the ear) and used with the supplied tips or used with the Shure triple flange tips, as i do. Minus points are that they don’t come packed with a great deal of goodies (case, tips, etc) and therefore don’t have the showroom appeal of the more popular makes like Shure and Ultimate Ears.

Posted by mikeerac on March 18, 2007 at 3:58 PM (PDT)

11

My favorites are the Etymotic ER-4p modded with the Shure e500 rubber tips (not the three flange, but rather the rubber bubble-looking one).  The seal is better and it is far more comfortable with the Shure tips rather than the standard three flange tips.

Posted by Ton the Mon on March 19, 2007 at 8:20 AM (PDT)

12

Following the recommendations in part 4 of the iLounge guide to earphones, I have just replaced the Apple earphones with the Shure E2c’s, which are comfortable and fit very well (they don’t drop out like the Apple earpohones do).  The sound is great - playing my motley collection of music, podcasts, audio books and radio shows is a whole new listening experience.  Definitely money well spent, and thanks to iLounge - I hadn’t really appreciated the difference between one pair of earphones and another until I read this guide. 

Venuskitten

Posted by venuskitten on March 19, 2007 at 11:43 AM (PDT)

13

Shure E2c. I commute a lot and these do a heck of a job isolating noise. I used JVC HA-FX55 before getting these, and they were decent for the price I paid ($25 CAD). Minimal noise isolation, but at this point I was in-ears were they way to go for me. I got my Shure E2c several months later for $70 CAD at a grand opening sale. My only gripe is the expensive ear wax guard. However, my ears are pretty clean, so no real problems. The newer models came with soft flex sleeves, which are incredibly comfortable. Before they only came with [hard] flex sleeves, so a lot of reviews are outdated. The perfect seal is important, otherwise, these are a waste of money. I got a set of Bose TriPort recently for $105 CAD. I still continue to use Shure E2c though. I am most likely going to sell my TriPort because as great as the sound might be, I need noise isolation. I’ll give it another go tomorrow. Shure E2c will remain one of my best purchases ever. No more hearing loud obnxious teenagers, crying babies, screeching train tracks, etc.

Posted by N e s s on March 19, 2007 at 8:24 PM (PDT)

14

Another vote for Shure’s E2c’s. I recommend the foam sleeves for added sound isoation.  They may seem a bit intrusive at first but when you get that perfect fit you’ll know it was worth it. Using anything else will just feel like you’re slumming it.

I’m sure I’ll move up the earphone chain at some point (when I get more $$$), but until then the E2c’s will be my earphone of choice. 

I should probably add that I’ve had to send back two sets since I bought them due to one earphone dying.  Shure sent me back two brand new sets no questions asked.  Their warranty is tops!

Also, I use the sony EX51’s at the gym mainly because I don’t want total sound isolation in that environment and they’re generally cheaper so I don’t have to worry about sweat and what not.  I find the Sony’s a little bass heavy but that really isn’t a negative when you’re pumping iron and trying not to make eye contact with anyone around you.

Excellent write-up ilounge!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the different styles of earphones.  I didn’t even know there was so much variety.

Posted by wmurch3 on March 20, 2007 at 12:20 AM (PDT)

15

I use the Dose Triport IE earbuds and the Quiet Comfort 3. In spite of some other users, I dont have any problems with the standard silicone fits of the Triport. The sound of both earphones is very satisfying.

Posted by mkummer on March 24, 2007 at 1:56 AM (PDT)

16

i’m very happy with my Etymotic ER-6i, the combination with a portable headphones amplifier, and a good dock cable to the amplifier it’s great¡¡¡

Posted by gonzalo on April 12, 2007 at 7:43 AM (PDT)

17

My first foray into higher end earphones was the Apple In-Ear headphones about 2 years ago.  Compared to the standard iPod pack-ins, I was totally blown away by the improved sound quality of them.  Nice bass, great isolation.  My only problem was that I couldn’t keep the things in my ears, and about 3 months ago, they were starting to fall apart from the rigors of my daily commute.

I had some free money from my income tax refund, and based on reviews here and other places, I decided on a pair of Etymotic ER-4P’s.  I’ve had them for a month, and the difference is truly mind-blowing.  Having had In-Ear headphones for about 2 years, I thought I was ready for the difference in sound quality, but I was just not prepared for the sheer amount of DETAIL that these headphones reveal.  Bottom end took a little getting used to…  It truly depends on the material you’re listening to, but I rarely, if ever have to change the EQ on my iPod in order to detect the low end.

Two caveats with these particular headphones:  First, you have to be prepared to go through a break-in period with them.  by break-in, I’m not talking about the drivers; the drivers sounded great right out of the box, but as far as fit was concerned, I’m using the foamies with them, and it’s taken about a month for them to finally get to the point where they’re comfortable enough that I can keep them plugged in for more than an hour.

The other issue that I have is that with earphones of this calibre your source material will make ALL the difference in your listening experience.  My Digital audio preference is MP3 @ 256 Kbps, which I believe is a respectable bitrate, but I’ve heard some CD’s that were released a couple of years ago, and the distortion on the high end is too distracting (Susan Tedeschi’s Hope & Desire comes to mind), a pity, considering the fine quality of the music.

Otherwise, these are a FABULOUS set of earphones.  If you can afford them, by all means, do yourself a favour and pick them up.  You won’t regret it.

Posted by pokeylicious in Coquitlam BC, CANADA on May 19, 2007 at 7:12 PM (PDT)

18

absolutely without doubt shure se530 all the way ive tried the ue triple fi 10 and they simply miss out on the best due to average design,colour is nice blue at time of release but the 5 pro design dont go down well with my head,earphones should just look more personal,the shures also sound abit more musical and clean

Posted by jinx20001 on July 10, 2007 at 12:49 AM (PDT)

19

I have gone through many sets of earphones, but my favorite all around canalphone is the Audio Technica ATH-CK7. Not much is said about Audio Technicas but this is considered a top audio brand around the world, they just haven’t gained popularity here as much.

The CK7 aren’t the most neutral/accurate earphones around compared to the high priced triple driver IEM’s. I also own the Sony EX90, Panasonic HJE70, Etymotic ER4S, Etymotic ER6i, EX70/71 and I still prefer the CK7 which gives a reasonably neutral sound, good balance between highs and lows, good punch in the bass without sounding exaggerated (this is an important point because I find the sound signature to be similar to my home system which has an in-room frequency response flat all the way down to 21Hz). It has decent detailed sound with clear sparkly treble. All in all, enjoyable without being too colored. Lastly, it looks nice and feels like a it’s built like a brick.

At home I listen to my AKG K701 through a headphone amp, but on the go, I grab my CK7’s. They are cheap enough that I’m not afraid to lose them (I did lose my first pair), but they work well with most types of music

Posted by rt on October 5, 2007 at 8:08 AM (PDT)

20

Just a quick note about USING these many fine phones: California & probably most other states specifically forbid driving with ears “blocked.” (Apparently, piloting a couple of tons of steel around while not being fully aware of your environment is frowned upon.)

So, alas, I pull my Ety 4P’s while I’m driving.

Posted by WaltFrench on December 28, 2007 at 1:43 PM (PDT)

21

I actually really like the Apple earbuds, they fit perfectly, easy in and easy out, plus I can still hear the outside world when necessary (doorbell ringing, dryer buzzing).

That said, I moved up to the white ER-6i’s based on recommendations from this website, and the difference is amazing. They sound great and I love the improved sound. They just take a couple minutes to carefully insert or remove, but the trouble is worth it.

I also needed a “junk pair” that I wouldnt care if they got lost or damaged, so on impulse I bought Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds Ink’d for $12. With such a stupid name I was expecting a very pedestrian sound, but they sound full and rich, and they are more easy to insert than the ER-6i’s. For the money, they are my favorite so far, cheap but good.

Posted by Lamb Saag on February 23, 2008 at 7:43 AM (PDT)

22

My first post on here… But I felt the need.

I got my first ipod in college ~ 4-5 years ago.  About 3 hours later, I determined that Apple’s OEM earphones were garbage.  I was introduced to in-ear buds with the Koss Plug that can be had for under $20 and blows the stock apple earphones away.  They’re bass heavy for their price, and they were great for hip hop, but for everything else, I had to look further. 

The fontopias came next.  Slightly pricier at $50 - and much cleaner of a sound then the Koss.  I liked the fit, I liked the sound, but after a few months of every day abuse, the cables fell apart on me.

My birthday came around and a friend got me the Shure e2c - I was in love.  I abused the heck out of these for the past few years, and they withstood everything I threw at them.  Last week I yanked on the chord to get them out from under a pile of clothes/papers (etc.) and pulled the buds apart from the wire.  I suppose I had it coming but I was in a rush and such is life… Just to be clear, this was not a defect, I really yanked them hard and the damage was entirely my fault.

I whined for a few minutes, then began reading online reviews to see what I should get next.  I was strongly considering the SE310’s from Shure, but it seems like the only online unanimous reviews were pointing at the Shure SE530.  Now I’m sitting here thinking, am I really going to spend $500+ on earphones?  I mean sure, I’m an adult now, and I have the money, but $500?!@!

Long story short = under $300 shipped on eBay - overnighted them, and today is my official first day with them.

I’m in utter shock at how truly incredible these things are.  Why I wasted so much time kicking the idea back and fourth was simply counterproductive.  They’re bright with their highs, the bass is defined and detailed, and the mids are perfectly balanced.  I’m a little dissapointed I didn’t buy the PTH feature, cause I never want to remove them from my ears.  Much like a previous person who posted above, I’m re-descovering my music with notes and details I’ve never heard in music I listen to daily!  I didn’t realize that it was possible to hear the different depths of bass outside of a live concert.  From having them for the past 12 hours or so, I am confident I am never going to be able to listen music any other way.  Additionally, I was not an audiophile by any means, but now I completely understand what people mean when they MP3’s suck.  I feel like these earphones deserve better quality mediums running through them. 

Yes, they’re expensive, but the moment you put them on, the money becomes a distant memory and you understand why they’re regarded as highly as they are.  For something I use on a daily basis (sitting in a cubical all day and commuting to/from work), they will pay for themselves in the tranquility they afford me.  I’ve spent $300 on shoes I hardly wear, why shouldn’t I spend it on something I will actually use daily?

My only complaint is their chord, with the length attachments they’ve provided, it’s either too long or too short.  This will merit a trip to Radio Shack to get me the right length cable.

Posted by Steve Ferdman on August 22, 2008 at 6:47 AM (PDT)

23

Those people complaining about the fit of the UEs should try changing the phones round, so the left phone is in the right ear and vice-versa. For me this gives a much, much better fit. If the mirrored ctero image bothers you simply switch the cables round.

Posted by james on August 29, 2008 at 4:55 AM (PDT)

24

IMHO…

Canalbuds are best for on the go, and open-air headphones are best for the office. The former are the “sweet spot” of sound quality, isolation, comfort, and ease of insertion/removal. The latter deliver good sound that drowns out office drone but still lets you hear the phone ring or fire alarm go off (trust me on this).

Regarding canalbuds, Sony MDR-EX81 win in the < $50 category. They are very, very comfortable, they isolate well, and they deliver a fun, reasonably balanced sound. Between $50 - $150, Sennheiser’s CX400 (split cord) and CX500 (one-piece cord) are my favorites: punchy bass and clear treble with neutral mids, so they work well for both music and videos (movies, TV shows); and they are 1% short of the Sony’s for comfort and isolation.

For headphones, my only experience are the Sennheiser PX100 and PMX100. They have identical sound, but the former goes over the head, and the latter behind the neck. To my ears, these are the CX400s of headphones and an amazing value.

My biggest disappointments have been some of iLounge’s favorites. The Etymotic Er-6i’s have negative bass (they actually REMOVE bass form music), and all the comfort and ease of fitment of Khan’s earworms from Star Trek II. V-Moda’s Vibes are high on build quality, aesthetics, and comfort… and worthless for sound quality and isolation. The “enhanced” bass is nothing but mud, and TV and movies have the “James Earl Jones” effect, like a cheap boombox with the single bass/treble knob turned all the way to “bass.” And iLounge way over-rated Maximo’s products - even at Amazon’s prices, they are 100% disappointment in terms of sound quality.

PS: iLounge, why do we see precious few of Sennheiser’s products in your reviews?

Posted by Herr Doktor on October 30, 2008 at 7:46 AM (PDT)

25

Lol…i bought a skullcandy inkdbuds.

Posted by BeckMall on May 15, 2009 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

26

Grado and nothing but smile

SR-80 and upwards…

Posted by Gopal Venkat on September 20, 2009 at 3:42 AM (PDT)

27

I’ve worked in retail in new zealand for 10yrs and i’ve seen so many different earphones come in, due to the relatively good staff price, i’ve owned more earphones than i can recall.

Starting with the stock earbuds that came with my sony tape walkmans. since then i’ve moved up from there. they were pretty good for stocks. alot better than the ipod stock earphones, but like the ipod stock earphones they don’t tend to sit in my ears unless i sit still. so i went for full size headphones. that’s great when you sitting on buses and commuting but when you walking around and not always want to have the headphones on, they sat around my neck which after a while caused sore necks.

Then the best thing happened, these inear headphones with silicon and foam tips came out. my pryers were answered. now i can wear my earphones with comfort and they don’t strain my neck. the sound quality was bloody decent considering i paid $70NZD on staff which normally retail for $130NZD. those were the sennheisser CX300. yup my first set of decent earphones. Tremendously good bass and midrange and treble. Gave those to my inlaw cos she’s such a lovely lady.

since then i’ve owned a few models of sony’s studio monitoring inear headphones. Infact right now i am in the library immersing myself in a world of my own with my Sony MDREX300SLB attached to my 8GB ipod touch that i purchased the other day. This set(i bought for $100NZD)i have to say is far better than my CX300. For one i don’t have to turn the volume up anywhere near as high. It’s also go much better balance of low mids and highs. I used the ROCK setting for these earphones.

I’ve also experimented with UE metrofi 150 and 200, skullcandys, phillips, panasonic and Shure.

Philips tend to concentrate alot on bass, panasonic more on the midrange same as the metrofi by UE. skullcandy? i’ve replaced 6 sets in one year. i’ve had enough of it. the bloody left earpiece always crap out just like the ipod’s factory set. However the more expensive version with the silicon tips seems alot better in sound quality.

In NZ the market size is very small so the availablilty is similar small. Shures are way out of many’s price range. Sony seems to dominate the audio accessories here.

my fingers getting tired from doing my assignment and typing this out so i’m gonna stop.

Posted by touchytouch84 on July 22, 2010 at 7:29 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Shop for Accessories: Cases, speakers, chargers, etc.