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Which Is The Best In-Ear Headphone For Bass & Loudness????

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by SBanga, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. SBanga

    SBanga
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  2. Wannabe-THX

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    I use the Sennheiser MX-500. No complaints.

    Fish
     
  3. spl23

    spl23
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    Sony MDR-EX70, or its replacement, the EX71. The best sound I've heard in an in-ear phone at anywhere near that price. Because they are canal phones that are inserted into the ear canal, and which seal to it, the bass extension is vastly superior to that produced by any small 'phone that sits on top of the ear. The seal also produces good isolation from outside noise, which helps with the volume.

    If you want an expensive version of the same thing, Shure and Etymotic also produce seriously expensive canal phones, but the Sonys are much cheaper and offer 90% of the performance.

    I bought mine 4 years ago, and haven't even bothered looking at anything else since.
     
  4. apul

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    Ive got the sony EX71. Very nice, but the noise caused by the wire rubbing on your clothes etc can be abit loud sometimes. This hasnt been a probalem for me though.
     
  5. extremelydodgy

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    The Shure E5c. Separate low frequency driver, extremely efficient. It also does high quality sound too, which is kind of a bonus.
     
  6. TommoK

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    Got a pair of Shures and don't really get on with them as well as I'd hoped.

    I just find them rather uncomfortable - rubber tips especially and foam tips need to be softer and less scratchy.

    They sound very good indeed on some tracks and you can generally hear every single instrument but occasionally on some more bass driven tracks, the sound is a bit too 'deep' and the vocals get pushed to the back. The noise reduction is extremely impressive though and you can listen to them on the train/outside and can hardly hear any external noise at all.

    I've also got some Sennheiser MX500 which are always very highly rated but I'm not a big fan of these. The bass is very disappointing on them and I find the sound to be a bit too tinny although I have been told recently that they have a very slow burn in for the bass end.

    Having spent nearly £100 quid on earphones, I'm now often using the ones supplied with my NW-HD3 as these seem to be more comfortable than my others :(
     
  7. SBanga

    SBanga
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    I used to own a pair of Sony Sony MDR-EX70 and they were officially the worst pair of headphones I've yet tested. However, I think mine were a rouge pair. They sounded quality but they had absolutely no volume and wouldn't go loud enough for me. I'm looking at some Shure E3cs as they can be found relatively cheap (compared to their RRP) on ebay. But I've heard these headphones are lacking in bass, if able to go loud. To be honest, the best in-ear headphones I've heard so far are the Sony MDR-ED31s. Also, anybody heard the upgraded ipod 'phones u can get for £25??
     
  8. mjn

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    Got a pair of MX550, that took around 10 hours before they sounded any good...however, still can't get them to stay in my ears (too big). Probs have to change them.
     
  9. TommoK

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    Did you find the bass improved significantly after 10 hours? Maybe I should give them another go.

    I also find they fall out easily - they are so light.
     
  10. johnnycab

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    Shure E2c or E3c.
     
  11. doctorjuggles

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    Err, no.
    I've owned the EX71, there's not even a comparison. Do you really think Shure could sell the E5 for that price and only give you '10% more performance'?

    With all due respect, spl23, I'd very much doubt if you've ever heard a pair of E5s, but if you actually have, then you can't have got the seal right. That goes the same for E3s and E2s vs the Sony EX71. I've owned all of these products and while it's easy to argue the relative merits of Shure vs Etymotics, there really is no way the Sony's touch these two brands.

    To the OP, you need to give us a price range. If you're looking at budget phones (£15-£20) you should consider Koss 'The Plug'. Add the EX71s in there, they're okay. I personally think they're too bloated at the bottom end with quite severe sibilance, but for their price you could do worse. Another option would be the Sharp MD33, but as far as I'm aware, they need to be imported from a place like Audiocubes. They'll still be reasonably priced even with that factored in.

    A step up from that takes you into Shure E2 and Ety ER6 range, you're looking at £55-£60 for the E2 and about £20 or so extra for the Etys. I personally think that the Shure E2s represent excellent value for money, their sound is leaps and bounds ahead of more commercially available stuff, but still reasonably priced, all things considered. I'm not really one who's qualified to talk about Etys having not heard them myself, but you'll find that most people favour the Etys for slightly more revealing top end, and others favour Shure if they like their sound a little fatter in the bass dept. One isn't better than the other, you just have to find your own preference, it probably the best way to look at it.

    Higher than that takes you into Shure E3 (£110), Etymotic ER4-P/S (£180) and then Shure E4 which is going to be released in a month or so. Expect that price to be around £180-£200.

    The best I've heard are the E5s, which I own. I'm more of a bass person than a details/treble person, and so I've stuck with Shure. They're fantastic and I don't regret a penny I've spent on them, but it's all down to your priorities, really. It's a lot of money to spend on some earphones, so you have to really be sure about a purchase like that. You're looking at anything from £350-£500, depending on which bandit is trying to fleece you of your hard-earned, but there are some deals around.

    Above that and you're entering custom made In Ear Monitor territory. That's mainly dominated by Sensaphonics, Ultimate Ears and Westone, but you're looking at about $800-$1000 (you normally have to ship them in from the US, although Sensa now have a rep here in the UK.)

    Lots to think about. I've only included canalphones in these recommendations, earbuds tend not to have such a varying price range, but there are some good onces out there if you're looking for a recommendation.
     
  12. SBanga

    SBanga
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    Doctorjuggles, I am willing to spend up to a maximum of £100 hence the mention of E3cs, which are available heavily discounted on Ebay. However, I will not be spending so much if these don't drop heavily in the bass department as I have heard in some reviews, so I need some kind of verification from someone in the know.
    Have you heard the E3cs in respect to earbuds from the Sony collection because to be honest, these are the best offering I've heard so far. I'm after good bass definition and depth; I already know they're highly sensitive so quite loud.
    Thanks for your input :thumbsup:
     
  13. doctorjuggles

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    I've owned the E3s and had the EX71s, MDR-ED21s and E888s all at the same time. I've since sold the E3s, but I rememeber their sound well. I always recommend the Shure E2s, because I'd hate for people to go out and spend a lot of money on my recommendation and then be disappointed, and the E2s truly represent good value, in my opinion.
    But having said that, if you took away my E5s and said "there's a pair of E2s and a pair of E3s, take your pick." I'd go for the E3 every time. Which is to say that I prefer the E3 to the E2, but I'm not entirely convinced that they're worth £100 to the E2s £50 or so.

    Having said all that, I notice that you've mentioned bass definition and depth, which is further than most people get when asking about this. By asking this, you obviously realise that bass isn't about what loudest or makes the most noise. The general opinion most people have on bass is generated by hearing a lot of commercial products that are overblown in the bass department. Basically, it's easy to impress them with lots of BOOMS and tisses, without much thought for the accuracy of the sound.
    The E3s excel in the bass department in that their bass is very, very tight. There's oodles of definition, it's clear and it's very quick. However, it doesn't have a weighty impact behind it. Depending on whether or not you can relate to this, you'll have an idea of what I mean by now.
    If you're battling, this observation might help. When I first bought them I was going to a lot of clubs. The End, fabric, The Cross, a whole bunch of them. All had excellent soundsystems. I remember going there and listening to tracks, and then when I bought them and played them at home, they sounded good, but the bass just never sounded the same. It always sounded slower, more laboured, as if the sound was actually travelling through the air slower. Weird description, but it's the only way I can describe it in writing. When I first put the E3s on, for the first time, I heard that speedy, accurate bass outside of a club.
    Corny explanation, but it might help explain my point. Bass isn't always about the loudest, biggest noise. Some people may like that, and that's alright. But any company making top grade speakers or earphones is trying to make their bass quick, tight and punchy. The E3s achieve this well.

    Keep in mind, though, that nothing will ever sound as good as speakers, because speakers have the ability to drive bass into your body, you can feel bass as well as hear it. No earphones can do this, and so sometimes people's expecations are unrealistic with bass on earphones. I know people aren't silly enough to expect earphones to create bass they can feel, but sometimes without that feeling, people can't appreciate the bass as much. So be realistic about what you want from them.

    Remember also that you might be perfectly happy with just a pair of EX71s. I can't say what your ears like, everyone is different. I'm only picking up on things you've mentioned and trying to use that info for you. At the end of the day, it's your money, but most importantly, your ears. Unfortunately, in-ear phones are unhygenic, and you can't audition them/return them generally. So it's a minefield.

    My personal feeling is that, with the £80 (with P&P) you pay on ebay for E3s and the £60 for E2s, I'd go for the E3. But the E2 has a reputation for having slightly better bass, mainly because it's more 'traditional' bass (less punchy, but more boomy and slightly more 'in your face' than the E3.)
    If you read my description and thought 'yes, I know what you mean about the tight, punchy sound of the bass' then go with the E3. If you read it and thought 'nah, sounds like they don't have enough impact behind them, I need something a little more fattened on the bass end' then the E2 is probably you boy. Either way, you'll be getting some great headphones.

    One caveat to this all, you really, really need to get the seal right on these things. Countless newbies have fiddled for ages and ages, sometimes they've given up and gone back a few months later and then got it right. But all of them, once they get it right, all of them can hear the difference. It takes a while to get the knack of it, so don't get annoyed if you feel like they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing.

    Good luck, and let us know what you decide to go with. :smashin:
     
  14. engaged

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    Adding to what doctorjuggles has said about the Shure E2c's:

    I just bought a pair from eBay for £45 including delivery. They arrived, from the US, in four days and there was no duty to pay - all as the seller, wind130, guaranteed.

    I did my research across and came to the conslusion that they offered the best in performance:price. Am very pleased with them, and I can't believe how much of the background noise they cut - has to be better for your ears as you can subsequently reduce the volume.

    (Just looked; the same seller is offering the E3c's for £65, plus £10 delivery.)
     
  15. doctorjuggles

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    This is a very good point, engaged. I forgot to mention it myself, but as you say, it's much better for your ears. Loudness of the earphones isn't as important anymore, because you don't need them to be. Much better for your ears than earphones that leak sound, because you turn them up too high and damage your ears.
     
  16. SBanga

    SBanga
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    Hmmmmm. I'm slightly hesitant but I'm going to have to make a decision. I do want the extra clarity of the E3cs but need some impact too because I'll be listening to a lot of hip hop through them.
    I suppose I'll just have to trust Shure's judgement as they wouldn't leave a $180 pair of headphones lacking in punch. Plus the ebay price of £65 plus p&p is very tempting.
    I should get a quality sound with these headphones, even when used with my future ipod shuffle which is supposed to be pure audiophile material.
    We'll see!! Thanx guys, you've been very helpful.

    EDIT: Just read that these headphones are all dependant on getting a good seal in the ear for bass response. Likely reason why some find their bass lacking in punch. I'll try my best to make them fit tightly!!!!!
     
  17. johnnycab

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    Sunil,

    First off - I would not consider an iPod shuffle 'pure audiophile material' !!!

    Secondly, doctorjuggles has just about covered any advice, you can receive on the subject - the man knows! Just go and get any one, out of the Shure range, and you will not regret it.

    I have own a lot of phones - but at present it is the E2c's in the gym and Grado SR60 cans at home for me! I would love to own a pair of E5c or something from the UE range, but the expenditure will not be justified.

    Last but not least, here is a little addition to doctorjuggles advice: use the 'foamies' as opposed to the silcone buds - they take a bit of getting used to but they will sound great. There is also a 'breaking-in' /burning-in period.

    I have had numerous Sony's die on me, in the past. However, recently my pair of E2c' after a punishing few months started cutting out. I sent them back to Shure, and they sent me a brand new pair - sealed & boxed. I challenge anyone at Fony to provide me with a customer service like that, despite the thousands of pounds worth of investment in their products!

    over and out.
     
  18. Tony8377

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    I currently own a pair of the Shure E3C which I have always been impressed with, good treble and tight bass (definately my preference as I detest booming overpowering bass). Unfortunately these have stopped working after just eleven months so I have just purchased a pair of the Shure e5c's from www.discountheadphones.com in the states. These were only $385 (GBP210 via paypal) which although expensive is nothing compared to the GBP499 you can pay from somewhere like everythingipod. I only ordered them yesterday afternoon but they were shipped express delivery via UPS and are already sitting at their Derby depot so hopefully these sould arrive tomorrow.

    As an aside and apologies if I'm hijacking this thread but has anyone had any problems with their shures or know about how their two year warranty works given that I bought them off of ebay? My problem is that the left earphone has gone very quiet and you have to turn it up very loud to hear it. Have I blown the earphone? Not sure how I've managed this as I don't play music loud - my only thought is that when I used them with the Archos there's a clipping when you power it on and off so much so that it hurts your ears and I have to try and remember to unplug the headphones before switching the unit on or off.
     
  19. SBanga

    SBanga
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    Johnnycab, maybe not quite as good as I put it lol but you should read this article
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1777890,00.asp
    Plus I've read similar reviews in at least three or four other sources. It is a lot better than most people think... if completely devoid of features and overpriced. But it's what I need in a player, excellent sound quality.
     
  20. johnnycab

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    Tony - With regards to your E3c problem - Pl. send me a PM.
     
  21. mjn

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    Bass, mid-range and treble all improved!

    But yes, they keep falling out.
     
  22. lyserman

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    Having spent a fair wedge of cash on a set of Shure E5cs, I have to agree with Doctorjuggles. The difference is astounding, a revelation in fact. All the instruments come at you from a different position and all my familiar music sounds fresh, like I have not heard it before. I cannot recommend them enough. Any earphone in the Shure range sound good, so I would say, go for them.
    I have tried and not liked a fair few different makes including Sennheisser (well recommended but I thought awful) and thought Sony in-ear buds good until Shure caressed my eardrums. You get what you pay for in the end and it all comes down to how much you value your listening experience.
    Hope you find your sonic nirvana. :)
     
  23. shirleywhite

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    Just found this thread - wanted to say thanks re Doctorjuggles comments/advice - and also add a couple of quick thoughts from me. I "graduated" from stock earbuds to Ex71's. An improvement certainly - but rather "thudding" in the bass dept!! After about a year - despite "babying" - the left channel just stopped working ( rather concerned re earlier post re probs with Shures ? Arent they built "like tanks!? ) I bought another pair - but shortly after found threads saying ex71's suffered from this. Wanted to upgrade - shortlisted the E3's and Eti 6i's. Went for Eti's ( but pretty much a 50/50 choice for me) As earlier posts said - first time used I thought "where's the bass"?? Took about 2 weeks to get used to putting in correctly -good seal etc. Now it's " dont know they are in" and incredible sound!!! Really clean,clear etc superb "definition" ( hope that's the right term (?) and plenty of bass too. Am very very pleased - definitely worth the price ( £99 on Totenham ct rd ) As mentioned above - a good seal means no need for earsplitting volume levels !! Would certainly recommend the 6i's ( but fairly sure (SORRY! ) that the Shures would be just as good.

    As earlier posters say though - very much an individual thing of course.
     
  24. spl23

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    It's a fair cop! I'll admit to not having listened to the Shures or the Etys - the sound on the Sony's (I have the EX70 rather than the newer EX71) is already so much better than that of any other small earphone I've heard that I didn't bother looking further.

    I keep looking at the Ety's and wondering if I should try them, but I just find it difficult to justify that amount of money, and can't help but feel that the law of diminishing returns must set in fairly early on headphones. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong though!
     
  25. doctorjuggles

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    Fair enough. As long as you acknowledge that there's the possibility that these are better, then at least you're open minded about it.

    As you say, the law of diminishing returns does kick in, but there's an argument against that on two counts.
    Firstly, if you want to talk diminishing returns, it's easy to say that the law has already kicked in with you. Let's say, for arguments sake, that you had an iPod, and you're replacing the freebie buds that came with it, right? So you've spent, roughly, £25-£30 on them, where the iPod buds added, perhaps, £5 to the cost of your iPod. Is the Sony 500% better than the apple stock buds? Hard to say isn't it? Either way, the law of diminishing returns applies, but it only kicks in once you decide that it's no longer worth it.
    For me, spending £300 on a sofa is too much, for my missus spending £3,000 is too little. She gets more pleasure out of it than I do, so my diminished returns threshold is lower. It's a bad example, but you see my point.

    That aside, one has to look at the average consumer. £50 for earphones is a lot, £300 normally gets me laughed out of the room. Nobody I know understands why I do what I do. But you have to judge these things on the average, and on that basis, my personal feeling is that the Shure E2 represents the point at which the law really starts kicking in. I feel that the E2 is great value, and once you go over that, the average buyer will really start to question if the extra performance is worth the extra cost.
    Question is... are you the average buyer?
    I'd say most people on a board like this aren't. That's another question though. ;)

    Heh, thanks for the support mate!
    I'm a little more circumspect when recommending the E5s though. While I share your enthusiasm about these babies 100%, I'm a little cautious of being overzealous on message boards about telling everyone to rush out and buy them. For one thing, great sound like this is worth it for me, but how do I know if it's worth it for you, for anyone but me? Do you love music as much as I do? Do you like gadgets as much as me? Do you like sound? Do you love listening for tone changes, different shades of bass, different snares and new sounds everytime you hear the same song? I can't answer these questions for everyone. Some people may love all of this stuff as much, some more. It's probably worth it to them, but can they afford it? Will their terror at spending so much affect their view on what it should produce? Their expectations may be too high. There are far, far too many variables to consider, so I always recommend the E5s, but I make sure everyone realises that it depends on what the product would mean to you.

    Aside from that, though, there's always a little part of me that thinks "okay fine, your earphones are capable of producing £300 sound. But do you have £300 eardurms?"
    By that I mean it's all very well having spectacular kit, but I don't know how well other people can hear it. When you get right down to it, the fact that you don't know how other people hear even means that you don't really ever know how well you can hear. And even if you can hear a massive audio spectrum, it still doesn't mean it'll be worth it to you.


    It's a tough world, this audiophile lark. :D
     
  26. Tony8377

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    I have to agree with the posts on the E5's. I got mine on Friday and spent most of the weekend listening to these around the house. Having used the E3's for a quite a while I wasn't expecting a huge improvement but the difference was phenomenal. Vocals and the soundstage were just so much better. These easily justify their £500 price tag in my book, think what sort of HiFi you 'can't' buy for that amount of money.

    Comfort wise they are not as good as the E3's as I never noticed wearing them even at the start. I find that the triple flanges don't work properly on the E5's as it means the earphones stick out of your ears too much. Also the wires are far too rigid and tend to produce too much feedback when knocked. They also take longer to fit and don't fit in your ears as well as the E3's as the bulkier structure makes it harder to insert the phones into the ear canal. All we need now is the E3's styling and the E5's sound.

    Overall though I'm still very glad my E3's broke ;)
     
  27. doctorjuggles

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    I had these problems too.
    1) Don't be afraid to cut the tri-flanges. Take 1mm at a time off of them until they fit comfortably. Not to say whatever you're using now isn't great, but the general opinion is that the tri-flanges deliver the best sound. I won't use anything else now. Don't worry about ruining them, you can get a set of 3 pairs for £15 off ebay. I got it right first time on mine, so I really think you should give it a go.

    2) I also had a problem with the cable initially, but the memory function of the cable actually helps me now. I can put them in in the dark now, because the memory cable allows me to have a great idea of which way, roughly, I'm putting them in. It's part of the insertion process for me now.

    3) Time take to insert them becomes less and less. I can put mine in now with one hand in a second. But you're right as rain, they take some getting used to. Took me about 2 weeks just to get them to a stage where I didn't feel like I was scraping the skin off my ears.

    4) Will all of these points made, you're still right, the E3s are far more comfy. Definitely. But I wouldn't trade them. Slight comfort changes don't make up for the massive sound difference. :D
     
  28. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    My turn to join in :)

    I started with the e2c nice headphones.. but I could never get a perfect fit.. the plastic tips were too uncomfortable. The foamies were usable but even on the small size they could eaily pop out and I had varying success with getting a good seal. Now when they worked they were very nice and the high sensitiverty removes any volume issues from the source (currently a Sony vaio pocket). After much deliberation and taking on the attitude (if I don't try it I never will know :) ) I upgraded to the e5's again like others through discountheadphones ebay seller. Super service.. massive saving on the uk cost.. though the exchange rate helped a bit!

    I love these headphones.. and as they are the current top of the range I should have nothing to tempt me away from them. I found immediately that they fit alot better than the e2c's and the smaller size of the phone fits into the shape of my ear perfectly. The soft silicon buds are a dream over the harder clear buds and the foamies, they create a good seal.. are very comfortable and happily block out the noise of my train commute.

    Worth (for me ) every penny.. I have not got the knack of fitting them in the dark one handed.. but a definite sonic bliss :)

    As far as I know discount headphones are a authorised dealer for Shure anyhow.. and I think Shure are very good with regards to warranty issues...

    Matt
     
  29. doctorjuggles

    doctorjuggles
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