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DanB7290

Original Poster:

5,297 posts

76 months

[news] 
Thursday 27th September 2012 quote quote all
I've been trying different types of earphones for about a year, and am struggling to get the right ones. First, I must say that by no means am I an audiophile, however I can tell the difference between good and bad sound quality. I may slowly be becoming an audiophile though, as I'm starting to appreciate how good or bad different headphones and speakers are.

Secondly, I don't have huge wads of cash to spend, and I know generally you get what you pay for, so in short I need earphones which give the best possible sound quality for under £100, but I'd be willing to increase that slightly if there is something truly great out there for a little over £100. Ideally, they'll have the iPhone mic/remote, but it's not a deal breaker. I prefer the in ear bud type headphones as opposed to a large studio type, over ear pair, as I already have some for when I'm working on the laptop at my desk, or in the university library.

Now, I'll go through what I've already had. Obviously, I've used the standard Apple earphones I got with my 4S, and they were terrible, as is widely acknowledged. Not sure if the new earpod ones are any better, but I may be intrigued if enough people say they're good.

Next, after being very impressed when my dad got a Bose system in his Audi, I went looking for some Bose earphones. I got them on eBay as a right steal, from a woman who, and I quote from the description "bought them as a gift for son, but the ungrateful s*** doesn't want them". These were brand new, in unopened packaging, the price on Amazon for these is around £90-120, I got them for £30. I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. Sound quality was much better than almost anything I'd bought before. However, after just 6 months, they packed in, the left earphone has a loose wire and doesn't work any more. I do have the tools to repair them, but not sure if I have the patience, my soldering iron skills aren't up to much.

After this, I bought some Marshall Minors, as I couldn't find another set of Bose earphones for my budget, and being a classic rock fan, I thought Marshall would mean good sound quality. They were OK, sound quality was reasonable but not fantastic; with more bass heavy songs, it sounded like the headphones were underwater, somewhat "wobbly" sound quality if you will. Plus the build quality was appalling, they fell apart after 6 months, and because of the unique way they fit into the ears (a T shaped rubber bit at the top which fits into the contours of the ear), although very secure was quite painful at the gym.

My latest pair are some V-Moda Vibe Duos (yes, the name makes them sound like a sex toy). I bought these based on various websites giving great reviews (cnet, engadget etc), and initially they were great, being headphones you insert into the ear canal, they cancel out unwanted ambient noise very well, and gave a decent sound quality, but now I've given them a chance to "burn in", my opinion is changing. Even from the start, they were very bass heavy, and usually setting the iPhone EQ to bass reduction or treble boost would fix this. But after the burn in phase, they're bass heavy no matter what I do, and the highs sound strained and unnatural.

Here's where the problem lies, what do I get now? Like I said, I can't break the bank too much, £100 is the ballpark top figure, I may go up a bit if the headphones are worth it. Doing some research on the internet, I've come across the quote "anyone who knows anything about sound quality will never buy a Bose product" numerous times. Personally, the Bose products I've experienced have been great, that said I haven't seen too many of their products, mostly their in ear headphones, and car systems. Only thing I had against the Bose IEs I had before was that they broke after 6 months, I liked the sound quality they produced. Also the RRP of Bose products is generally more than I'm willing to spend. I've heard good things about the Klipsch S4s, including a few reviews saying the sound quality rivals much more expensive products, which is pushing me towards them. But seeing as I have a problem with making headphones last, I may need to plump the extra cash for the S5i, which is marketed as a 'rugged' model, but is the sound quality any good? They are under £50, so I wouldn't be expecting the last word in quality, but it needs to be reasonable. Personally I would go for another set of Bose ones if the price was right, but more often than not, it isn't.

As a last thought, I have looked at stuff slightly over the £100 figure I suggested. On the Apple website, they have the Harman Kardon range, and something called Acoustically Enhanced In Ear Headphones. They're around £130, which I'd be willing to stretch to if they are worth it. There are also Bang & Olufsen Earset 3i and Bowers & Wilkins C5 headphones around this higher price point as well, and like I said, if any of them are worth it, I'd be willing to spend the extra on them.

Sorry for the essay, but any PHers care to impart some advice?

dibbers006

6,413 posts

104 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Anything Seinheiser. I've got some £30 in ear jobbies and they are excellent (not just excellent 'for the mkney').

Sometimes I wear them out and about purely for blocking out background noise.

I found them more balanced than Bose.

Edited by dibbers006 on Friday 28th September 06:44

jogon

1,525 posts

44 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Ive had the C5s for a couple of months now and relatively pleased with them and used to have the B&Os, pre iphone control, from a few years ago before that.

Sound quality and noise isolation is alot a better on the C5s it produces a more 'concert' like sound, so they claim, and it certainly is different to any others I have tried. Only negative is the cable, as when you walk around and the cable bounces of your clothes, you can hear it through the earphones when the volume is low or off.


VEA

3,625 posts

87 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I have a pair of these, and for the price I have been unable to find anything better.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/JVC-HAFX1X-Xtreme-Xplosive...

DanB7290

Original Poster:

5,297 posts

76 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Thanks for the recommendations chaps, I did have some Sennheiser in ears for around the same price when I was at school/college, they had the active noise cancellation where you had to put a AAA battery in there, was quite impressed until, you guessed it, 6 months later, the left earphone stopped working. Also the active noise cancelling didn't really impress me, it just felt like turning it on made everything louder and distorted it a bit, although back in those days I tended to ignore all the warnings about loud music.

So the B&W C5s are very good then? I do like the B&W range of speakers, and if I had the money and space I'd have a Zeppelin on my desk right now. The thing about hearing the cable bounce won't be too much of an issue, I tend to tuck the cable on the inside of my t shirt to keep everything tidy.

And those JVCs, I did look at them as a budget replacement. What put me off was the number of reviews saying they were similar to the Beats headphones, which I've always thought were too focussed on bass and nothing else, but for that price I guess they are a bargain, and I'd not have to worry about using them at the gym. I'd be quite concerned using something as expensive as the B&Ws when exercising.
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bodhi

2,898 posts

115 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I have had excellent results over the years with Sony earphones, sound excellent and seem fairly indestructable as well. I got a pair of the below for SWMBO to use with her iPod after the Apple ones broke, and she loves them. Really clear and punchy sound, very comfortable in the ear as well. Cheaper than the Bose/Sennhesisers etc, and sound just as good to my ears.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-MDREX77LPB-Premium-In...


Finlandia

5,298 posts

117 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Meelectronics have some very cheap and good IEMs, then you could check out the offerings of Phonak Audéo and Shure.

Stu R

20,819 posts

101 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Shure SE215's are excellent and will leave you plenty of change from your £100. Capable of a lovely sound, comply foam tips are essential though.

I've recently had a listen to some of the Shure 425s and they're seriously wonderful - I use the 535s day in day out and I've got to be honest, the 425s deliver 95% of the experience you get with the much more expensive 535s. You can find them for £150ish if you shop around, so if your budget stretches, definitely Shure SE425s. Otherwise give the 215s a go, they're what I started out with before moving on to the 535 and I still recommend them.

bholleran

361 posts

99 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I have the bose ones and i love them, can you not send the broken ones back uder warantee?

Du1point8

16,486 posts

78 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
what about earphones for those people with smaller ears?

I had some ultimate ear headphones:

http://www.play.com/Electronics/Electronics/4-/978...

however the cable became brittle and the ear phones kept popping out of my ears.

Need some others as Im getting bored of wearing the bulky head phones.

Funk

15,269 posts

95 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
dibbers006 said:
Anything Seinheiser. I've got some £30 in ear jobbies and they are excellent (not just excellent 'for the mkney').

Sometimes I wear them out and about purely for blocking out background noise.

I found them more balanced than Bose.

Edited by dibbers006 on Friday 28th September 06:44
I'll agree with this.

I AM an audiophile and VERY picky about sound quality and what I listen to (my digital music collection is FLAC, I convert to high-quality OGG for the phone). Buying earphones has always been hit-and-miss due to the fact you can't try before you buy for obvious reasons.

I spent £120 on a pair of beautiful (and beautifully-engineered) B&O A8s but the sound quality is on a par with the freebie in-box HTC ones that came with my phone. Massively disappointed and a huge waste of money. I spent some time reading Finlandia's guide HERE and some personal advice from him too which led me to these, the Sennheiser CX-300 II:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-II-Precision-Is...



They're the baby brother to the CX-400s he reviewed and they sounded (forgive the pun) like they'd deliver the sort of sound I was after. £30 on Amazon and they were bought.

They sound incredible, knocking the B&Os into last decade for clarity, punch and bass weight. They also isolate nicely and stay snugly in my ears (which many others I've tried over the years have failed to do).

I really cannot recommend these highly enough. Knowing how good they are, I'd buy them again even if Sennheiser quadrupled the price. They're that good.

luke111s

847 posts

74 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
+1 I also have the Sennheiser CX-300 II from Amazon and agree that they are very good.

DanB7290

Original Poster:

5,297 posts

76 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
Looks like Sennheiser may have won it. I did look at the B&O model, are they really that bad? I always got the impression B&O only made ultra high quality stuff, or are they a bit like Bose, all mouth and no trousers?
The CX300s are very reasonably priced, may grab a pair when payday arrives. But looking at Amazon, the CX400s you mentioned appear to be almost the same, just with the active noise cancellation switch?

As I use IEMs for the gym as well, I've been looking at sports models. What sort of sound quality can I expect from these Sennheisers?
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-CX-680i-Noise-I...

If I can find a good set of IEMs designed for sport, then maybe they'll be my only pair, but if not, I should have the funds for a good IEM for 99% of things, and a reasonably good set of sport IEMs.

And regarding sending the Bose set back under warranty; although bought in an unopened box brand new, I don't know how long ago the seller had bought them, so that could have proved a bit difficult, and besides, I'd binned all the packaging etc. I may get in touch with Bose and see if they can do anything, failing that I might even break out the soldering iron so I have a decent backup pair, maybe even use them as a gym set.

Funk

15,269 posts

95 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
The B&O really are that bad imo. Beautifully made, but the sound quality is woeful compared to the Sennheisers. If the CX-300 are anything to go by, the CX-400 should be good as well. It doesn't look like they are noise-cancelling, that's just an inline volume control.

Be careful between the phrase 'noise isolating' and 'noise cancelling'. The former means they form a seal in your ear canal, blocking out external noise (and the CX-300 II do this very well by the way). The latter means they have active noise-cancelling, using a mic to 'hear' the noise and playing an inverted soundwave that 'cancels out' the background noise. It only tends to work well with constant noise. I have a pair of Philips Noise Cancelling earphones from a trip years ago and they did a great job of blocking the constant roar of the jet engines on the plane.

If you buy the CX-300s, you'll have room in your budget for a pair of 'sports' earphones too (although as mentioned, the CX-300s stay in my ears really well, unlike many others I've owned over the years).

MagicalTrevor

5,388 posts

115 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
I bought some Phonak 022 in ear headphones and I'm very impressed with them

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003VO0ZF2/ref=asc_df_B...

You can change the filters in them t produce a different sound depending on what you like and they come with different sized tips.

rigga

4,629 posts

87 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
VEA said:
I have a pair of these, and for the price I have been unable to find anything better.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/JVC-HAFX1X-Xtreme-Xplosive...
Yup I have these also and for the money they are brilliant,first set of earphones I can't have on full volume when used listening to music on my phone...... previous set were some seinheiser cx300 and these are much better sound, lasting longer and far better value ,seinheiser just packed up on one side and wouldn't get another set.

a7x88

71 posts

34 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
Another +1 for the Seinnheiser's. bought mine a couple of yers back off of amazon for £30 and haven't looked back - excellent headphones and an excellent price!

DanB7290

Original Poster:

5,297 posts

76 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
It's decided then, come Friday, a set of Sennheisers will be on order. Only thing is, which set? The CX300 or CX400? There isn't much price difference between them, which ones would be better?
I'll be seeing how I get on with them to start with, later on I may get some sport IEMs, probably one of the Sennheiser/Adidas collaborations, but do I go for a "normal" IEM style or the neckband? Tend to do a lot of running and cycling at the gym, which is pushing me towards the neck band model, however I have started doing the weights, and reading reviews, the neck band model can be a PITA while doing weights.

Frik

12,507 posts

129 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
Stu R said:
Shure SE215's are excellent and will leave you plenty of change from your £100. Capable of a lovely sound, comply foam tips are essential though.
This. A quality product and fantastic sound.

Funk

15,269 posts

95 months

[news] 
Saturday 29th September 2012 quote quote all
DanB7290 said:
It's decided then, come Friday, a set of Sennheisers will be on order. Only thing is, which set? The CX300 or CX400? There isn't much price difference between them, which ones would be better?
I'll be seeing how I get on with them to start with, later on I may get some sport IEMs, probably one of the Sennheiser/Adidas collaborations, but do I go for a "normal" IEM style or the neckband? Tend to do a lot of running and cycling at the gym, which is pushing me towards the neck band model, however I have started doing the weights, and reading reviews, the neck band model can be a PITA while doing weights.
As per my post, the only real difference seems to be the inline volume control. I reckon you'll be happy with either pair to be honest.
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