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Earphone Review: Battle of sub $80 in-ears earphones plus others!

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Old 01-12-2005, 02:18 AM   #1
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Wink Earphone Review: Battle of sub $80 in-ears earphones plus others!

Credits:
RePlaY: For his idea and suggestion. And members support.
Cypher02: For applying some glue to this thread.
Me: For all the text and photos!
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Introduction:
Ok. So here we go. This is a review (photos included) on some of the popular budget in-ears available in Singapore. So who are the contenders? They are: Sony MDR-EX71SL | Panasonic RP-HJE50 | Philips SHE9500 | Cresyn LMX-E630RL | Creative EP630 | Apple In-Ears. The Sony MDR-EX51 will not be included because it is very similar to the EX71 with different cord design. The MDR-EX81 doesn’t seem popular and I do not own one anyway. Audio Technica’s ATH-CK5 wasn’t in the review as well because I wasn’t able to borrow a pair. I've also included the new ATH-CK7, ER6i, UM1 and traditional earbuds in the review. All earphones reviewed here are able to match all players out in the market. All are fairly easy to drive and require no amplifier.

The review will be structured according to the order above and includes design/cord, sound quality, built quality, comfort and ear tips. And lastly, a conclusion and personal preference. They will be graded according from 1-5 stars with 5 being the best and 1 the worst. Of cause, 5 stars does not mean it is the best earphone in the market, 5 stars=best in its price range. Since most people will be using them for portables, this review is conducted using a iPod Shuffle and a Sony D-E705 Discman without any amplifier. Songs are in at least 192kbps MP3 format. CDs: Metallica-Black, Coldplay-X&Y Robbie Williams-Intensive Care, Madonna-Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Design and Seal: <------First time users, please read the entire paragraph!
These earphones work by blocking some noise with a seal. It is a little different from the high-end, more expensive IEM like Etymotic Research/Shure/Westone. The rubber tips seals on the outside of your ear canal instead of jamming it in all the way like the high-end ones. Its advantage is better comfort and convenience. Disadvantage is that it blocks less noise than what a true IEM will. It is essential that a good seal is achieved before they will sound good and work to its best. How to get a good seal? Select a suitable size tip and insert it into your ears until you hear some ambient noise being blocked out. All six earphones reviewed feature similar size sound nozzle, so the ear tips are inter-changeable. Each manufacturer has different ear tip design and quality although they look similar. Isolation levels are about the same. It depends on the individual achieving a good seal using a suitable size tip. The first 4 earphones reviewed are neck-chain designs and the last 2 are 'Y' cord.

Summarized version:
1-5 stars with 5 being the best and 1 the worst.

Sony MDR-EX71SL | Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
Design/cord: 4 stars
Sound Quality: 2 stars
Built Quality: 1.5 stars
Comfort/Ear Tips: 5 stars

Panasonic RP-HJE50 | Overall Rating: 4 stars
Design/cord: 4 stars
Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
Built Quality: 3.5 stars
Comfort/Ear Tips: 3.5 stars

Philips SHE9500 | Overall Rating: 3 stars
Design/cord: 4 stars
Sound Quality: 2.5 stars
Built Quality: 2 stars
Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars

Creative EP630 | Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
Design/cord: 4 stars
Sound Quality: 4 stars
Built Quality: 3 stars
Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars

Apple In-Ears | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
Design/cord: 3.5 stars
Sound Quality: 3 stars
Built Quality: 4 stars
Comfort/Ear Tips: 3 stars

Read on for the full review!
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Other reviews contributed by members and my updates:_____________________________________________________________________________________

FAQ:

If you're having problems with:All you need to know about Cresyn and please direct all questions to this thread
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WTB CDs: Broken Arrow OST. Anyone?

Last edited by afbug1; 01-05-2006 at 12:12 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:19 AM   #2
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Wink Sony MDR-EX71SL, Panasonic RP-HJE50 and Philips SHE9500

Sony MDR-EX71SL | Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
MSRP: $80. Can be had for cheaper at Sony V3, SLS.
Package includes: EX71 earphone with a 1m extension, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes, a plastic cylinder case and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Still around. Bought them back in 2003 to replace my aging EX70.



Design/cord: 4 stars
The EX71 was released sometime back in 2003. Its competitors have since caught up and came up with different designs and sound improvement. Despite all this, it remains as one of the most popular earphones partly due to its design and Sony’s brand name and marketing prowess.

The EX71 is a neck-chain design with a 0.5m long cord and a 1m extension cord. The short 0.5m cord is specifically design for Sony’s MD Walkman and CD Walkman remote control. The length of the cord of the left ear piece and right ear piece are just nice for most people. When not using a remote, the 1m extension is quite essential and the length will add up to 1.5m, which is a bit too long and the added weight of the connecting plugs don’t help it stay plugged in your ears at all. But the added advantage of such a design is that the 0.5m makes it much more convenient when using an arm strap or neck strap for your small little MP3 player. From the joint/split, the left cord is 10cm long and the right is 49cm long, excluding the earpiece. The ‘L’ shape plug has the lowest profile. It juts out only 0.9cm from the player.

Sony used to and still sells their MDR-E888 earphones in ‘SP’ and ‘LP’ versions. SP=Short Play/Plug=0.4m cord and LP=Long Play/Plug=1.2m cord. I prefer to have such a choice as a single 1.2m long cord is much more convenient and lighter than a 0.5m + 1m cord ‘SL’ combo.

Sound Quality: 2 stars
This is where the EX71 is a let down. Its midrange is almost non-existent. It just sounds weird. Vocals are grainy and recessed. It have tremendous amount of bass. In fact, it’s too much till it overwhelms the midrange. It sounds bloomy and flabby. Its treble is a bit scratchy. It sounds bloomy and flabby at times. Its frequency graph will look like ‘V’ shaped. Not worth describing its sound in my humble opinion!

Built Quality: 1.5 stars
I’ve seen pictures of the EX71’s cord corrode after a few months of usage. There are many complains regarding it. The cord has a rubbery feel to it and it melts over time. The earpiece itself is quite well constructed. But it could be also due to the popularity if this model, thus more people using it. I have not got a problem with the cord with my retired EX71 or EX70.

Comfort/Ear Tips: 5 stars
The earphone has a rubbery feel and is flexible. This is what makes the EX71 comfortable. The driver parts are made of plastic and have a metal cap with 3 little holes. The earphones itself are quite light but when used with the extension, the added weight might cause the left earpiece to fall out. Sony’s ear tips are the best of the lot. The texture and density of the rubber is just right for comfort. Not too hard, not too soft, and it sounds great with the other earphones in this review. It is firm yet soft and easy enough to get a good seal and feel comfortable at the same time. So do not throw away your old EX71 ear tips when its cord gives way!

Isolation levels: 5
This is highly personal as it depends on one’s ability to achieve a good seal with a correct size tip. The EX71 isolates most for me and I will use it as a bench mark.

Suitable for:
Nothing actually. More for the fashion conscious and brand freaks. It just looks and feels nicer than the rest in this review.
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Panasonic RP-HJE50 | Overall Rating: 4 stars
MSRP: $59. Can be had for less if you know where to look or get lucky. Normally SLS cheaper.
Package includes: HJE50 earphone with a 1m extension, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Still around: Bought them to replace the EX71 early this year.



Design/cord: 4 stars
HJE50’s design is similar to EX71’s. A 0.5m cord plus a 1m long extension, meant to cater for use with Panasonic’s portable player’s remote. Like the EX71, the shorter 0.5m cord terminates into a straight shape gold plated plug. The 1m extension terminates into a ‘L’ shape gold plated plug. From the joint/split, the left cord is 18cm long and the right is 61cm long, excluding the earpiece. The right cord, at 61cm long is simply too long for most users and are a hassle to manage them. The earpieces are made of hard plastic instead of rubber and plastic combo as compared to a EX71. The ‘L’ shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out only 1.4cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
On a frequency graph, this is perhaps one of the flattest sounding of the lot. Bass is considerably less than the EX71 but still sounds tight and groovy. It is more than enough for most users. Its bass extends slightly deeper than the rest with the exception of the EP630 and Apple In-Ears. The HJE50 strength is its midrange. While it is not silky smooth, it still gives the listener some decent midrange. Vocals can sound be a bit rough at times. The treble is where I disliked. It sounds a bit harsh. The upper highs are emphasized too much for my liking. If the treble isn’t harsh and scratchy, it will be at least a 4 stars rating. It is one of the clearer earphones reviewed. Clarity is only surpassed by the LMX-E630. It will sound flat after listening to an EP-630.

Built Quality: 3.5 stars
Panasonic have one of the best built quality in this group. The main cords looks and feels sturdy but, the cords that feed to the earpieces are a little thin. Especially the long and thin right cord. It looks like it will get caught by something and snap any time, hence the 3.5 stars.

Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars
Panasonic has one of the hardest ear tips. It is still fairly comfortable though, it is the hard plastic shell of the earpiece that is uncomfortable, especially while lying down on your side. The earpiece is made of hard plastic entirely.

Isolation levels: 5
As good as a Sony EX71. The harder tips sure work well.

Suitable for:
A versatile earphone, I think it suits all types of mainstream music. This is one of the best in this line up. My only gripe is the harsh treble. The long right cord is a bit of a hassle to manage and the hard plastic shell might be uncomfortable to some.
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Philips SHE9500 | Overall Rating: 3 stars
MSRP: $49. Philips booth at Sitex 05 selling it for $35.
Package includes: SHE9500 earphone with a 0.6m extension, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes, a plastic cylinder case and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Borrowed from a friend in exchange for one of my beloved earphones.



Design/cord: 4 stars
Also similar to the EX71 and HJE50, the SHE9500 features a longer 0.6m cord plus a shorter 0.6m long extension. The total length is 1.2m, which is just nice for most users. Just like the EX71 and HJE50, the SHE9500’s 0.6m cord terminates into a straight shape gold plated plug. The 0.6m extension terminates into an ‘L’ shape gold plated plug. From the joint/split, the left cord is 12cm long and the right is 50cm long, excluding the earpiece.The ‘L’ shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out only 1.5cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 2.5 stars
The Philips has a disappointing sound. Muffled, grainy, dark are the words to describe its sound. It is more difficult than the rest to drive as well. It has less but tighter and more controlled bass and prominent midrange than the EX71. But its bass can still sound much uncontrolled at times. It can get real flabby especially with the Discman’s bass boost, it sounds like some fat ass farting. Its lower treble sounds muffled and recessed while the higher treble is a bit emphasized. I felt so miserable listening to it.

Built Quality: 2 stars
A poor attempt at trying to look like a Sony EX71 but failed miserably. It just looks and feels cheap! It has the similar thin rubbery cords. The earpiece design is also similar to the EX71’s. Its stem is made of harder rubber than EX71’s. Philips even includes a similar plastic case that lacks a cable winder to protect and hold the earpieces together. The black soft pouch is a nice little touch though.

Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars
It is supplied with harder ear tips than the rest. Not as comfortable as an EX71 or EP630 but still very bearable. It is the sound it produces that is unbearable!

Isolation levels: 3
Ambient noise doesn’t seem to stay out. Somehow, noise manages to leak in although I did have a good seal. My guess is the bass intake hole at the top of the earpiece that leaks noise in.

Suitable for:
Gym, jogging, sleeping, maybe while ****ting. Suitable for bright sounding players.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:39 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:19 AM   #3
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Wink Cresyn LMX-E630, Creative EP630 and Apple In-Ears

Creative EP630 | Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
MSRP: $69. Can be had for cheaper during Creative fairs.
Package includes: EP630 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes.
Status: Still using them. Got them for $50 from a member here. Cannot resist the price!



Design/cord: 4 stars
Creative’s EP630 is a single 1.2m long ‘Y’ cord earphone with a straight shape gold plated plug. Traditional style, no frills design. The earpiece is just a roundish little piece with a little stem attached. The earphone and stem is small and short enough to be worn upside down with the cables looping over your ears like how you will wear a Westone or Shure. The cable design is; twin wire jointed/glued together to form one instead of a single cylindrical type you see on all the In-Ears above. They look uglier to me and can get quite twisty. The straight shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out about 1.9cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 4 stars
For first impressions, the EP-630 is the most impressive of the lot because of the strong bass that will immediately capture your attention. It has very strong tight bass, as good, or even better than the EX71. Clear midrange and treble but not as good as the HJE50 or LMX-E630. One can say that it’s a bit heavy on the low end, similar to EX71 but a lot clearer and more prominent midrange. Strongest bass in this line up. After listening a bit, its midrange is a bit recessed, perhaps overwhelmed by its bass. Treble rolled off. The EP-630 is an aggressive earphone. It can sound 'very in your head' to some. For rock/techno music, it can pound your head to bits! The earphones feel like its vibrating and moving air.

Built Quality: 3 stars
Cheapo looking cable. It is thin and looks fragile. This is Creative’s legendary lousy built quality. Cut cost, cut corners. The sound nozzle is covered by a metal mash instead of paper like most of the earphones reviewed. Small, fine ear wax can get into the driver and clog it up. The drivers are housed in a roundish plastic shell with a little rubbery stem attached. The EP630 is the smallest earphone in this line up.

Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars
Very soft and poor quality ear tips but very comfortable. Comfort levels will be as good as the Sony's only if the ear tips are of better quality. They don’t have the classy finish of a Sony ear tip.

Isolation levels: 5
It isolates as well as the EX71 and HJE50. I think the design of the earpiece and stem helps.

Suitable for:
Dance, rock and metal songs and players that have a weak bass output. If you like bass, this is the one to go for. An additional plus point is its single 1.2m cord length and will suit 'Y' cord lovers.
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Apple In-Ears | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars - Click for more photos
MSRP: $68. Never seen it going for less than $68 before.
Package includes: In-Ear earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a hard case with cable spool and spare ear tip storage.
Status: My brother owns it, got it as a gift.



Design/cord: 3.5 stars
Looks ugly, yes, an Apple product looks ugly. Especially when worn, it looks like two antennas sticking out of your ears. It is a ‘Y’ cord design with a plastic slider to adjust the length of the split. The 1.1m long cord terminates into a straight shape nickel plated plug. The only consolation is the cleverly designed hard plastic case that came with it. It can store the extra two pairs of ear tips and have a cable spool. The straight shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out about 2.3cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 3 stars
The In-Ear’s bass is an improvement over the EX71 and SHE9500’s. It has deep, tight clean sounding bass although not as much as a EP630. Its midrange is a hugh let down. Sounds similar to a SHE9500 but more prominent and pronounced, still recessed though. It doesn’t reach the levels of what the HJE50, LMX-E630 and EP630 can offer. Its frequency graph will look similar to a EX71’s. Treble is not too bad. Not recessed, have the correct amount of highs. Perhaps a little roll off at the extreme end.

Built Quality: 4 stars
The In-Ears are quite well built. The cords look and feel sturdy. The drivers are housed in hard plastic shell with a metal ring near the nozzle. Like the EP630 and SHE9500, its sound nozzle is covered by a metal mash instead of paper.

Comfort/Ear Tips: 3 stars
They are supplied with some weird looking ear tips. And they don’t work. It is a constant struggle to get it to stay in your ears. But once inserted, it is quite bearable.

Isolation levels: 4
This is a weird earphone. Not easy to achieve a good seal due to its tip design. Once a seal is achieved, isolation levels are quite good.

Suitable for:
Apple fan boys and iPod users who insist on ‘Y’ cord and white. Non iPod users will be dumb to pay $68 for this.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:40 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:20 AM   #4
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Wink Audio Technica ATH-CK7, first Impressions and some other bonus stuff!

Audio Technica ATH-CK7 titanium | Overall Rating: 5 stars - More photos
MSRP: $160. Pre-ordered at $144 from Bluetin.
Package includes: ATH-CK7 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a not so nice pouch!
Status: Replaces my ER6i which I had sold.



Design/cord: 4.5 stars
The CK7 is a single 1.2m long ‘Y’ cord earphone with a ‘L’ shape gold plated plug. The cord is sheathed in high elastic elastomer, it eliminates cord entwining according to Audio Technica and has an adjustable plastic tube slider to adjust the length of the split. It is designed to be worn with the cords over the ear, down your back, just like professional musicians’ monitors. This is to reduce micro phonics and coupled with light weight cords, it actually works very well. The plus point is; it can be worn the traditional way; ‘Y’ cord in front. The earpieces are made of forged titanium; looks and feels classy but is a tad heavy. At this price range, it’s going head to head against the HJE70 and the entry level IEMs and all are supplied with nice and classy cases except the CK7. AT got to do better in this aspect; a nicer case/pouch will suit its premium class status.

Sound Quality: 5 stars
The SQ is very impressive. I am glad I’ve sold my ER6i and took the plunge into uncharted waters for this. It is more balanced than most IEMs. Bass levels are a little lesser than HJE50’s and slightly more than Cresyn’s. Not quite as deep as ER6i's but more bass. Doesn't sound as tight as ER6i's (A little less) but it is not flabby either. I will not say that the CK7 have strong bass but it will satisfy most people. They seem to have bass stored somewhere in reserve. They don’t respond as well as other earphones when the bass boost on the discman is switched on. Can tell the difference but the jump is not as great as other earphones. Why in reserve then? Because when the song demands strong bass, (eg rap/hip-hop) it delivers.

Midrange slightly recessed compared to E888/Cresyn, not much but noticeable. This makes it a colder sounding earphone; more like a ER6i. The CK7 have a very clean and crisp sound but it is not as sterile as the ER6i. Clarity is probably as good as a ER6i and its details are as prominent. Instrument separation is very good as well. The good thing about the CK7 is that its bass, midrange and treble compliments each other quite well.

Out if the box, its treble is enhanced at the extreme ends, which make them sounded harsh. After about 5 hours of playing time, the extreme treble settles down. Not as bad as the first hour. It’s no longer enhanced, toned down to a pleasant sparkling level with no sibilance. It has some treble extension; I heard more treble and details in the upper end than the ER6i.



Built Quality: 4 stars
The ATH-CK7’s built quality is very impressive. The forged titanium earpieces are solidly built, yes, solid is the word! They sure look and feel sturdy. Seeing is not believing! You got to touch and feel it to know its class. You can use it as a miniature hammer if you want! The cord; sheathed in high elastic elastomer might wear out in time due to often use of the plastic slider. Only time will tell if any of its components degrades. The rubbery cords have quite a lot of grip, thus making use of the slider quite difficult. To make it easier, I’ll carefully snip off part of the slider, making them shorter and have less surface area for the cords to grip it. The CK7 is MADE IN JAPAN!

Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars
Without CK5’s loop support, it is easier and more comfortable to wear. But it is a bit heavy compared to other in-ears. Once worn with the cords over the ear and behind the back, you will hardly feel that its there. With the cord in front, you can feel the weight of the cord due to its short stem but it is not an issue as the cord is light enough. The ear tips are a disaster! Its rubber has a lot of grip. It will be an excellent ear wax remover! Ultimate gross out when you remove them. The rubber tips will lose its stickiness after a few times of use. The soft ear tips and the smallish design of the CK7 make it very comfortable to wear, even to sleep.

HJE50's tips are of the same design and size. Difference is it is harder/stiffer. I prefer a HJE50 tip to CK7's originals. You can fit other brands like Sony's to the CK7 (Sound nozzle is the same size) but Sony's design is slightly different and they don't sound as good as a CK7/HJE50 tip on the CK7.

Isolation levels: 5
Compared to a EX71, the isolation offered is as good. The soft rubber tips worked very well but unfortunately, it is a bit soft and might tear easily.

Suitable for:
Suitable for people who want an upgrade from their budget in-ears but without the hassle, discomfort and isolation (Which can be too much) of a true IEM. The CK7 will go head to head against the HJE70 and the entry level IEMs and it will give them a run for their money. I like the sound and comfort so much that I listened to it for 6 hours and then feel asleep with it. Total 14 hours in my ears at one go. My iPod was dead. The cord and ear tips will lose some of its grip after a few uses.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

First impressions:

Panasonic RP-HJE70:
MSRP: $199 at most stores. W cube selling cheaper. Yahoo auctions at $178.
Package includes: HJE70 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a nice classy metal case with cord storage.
Status: Demo only. No money for one!

I demo the HJE70 for 10min at Sitex last weekend. It sounds a bit weird to me. Very rich sound, like rich creamy coffee. Good quality and quantity bass but its midrange is a bit recess and have treble roll off....a bit funny because HJE50's treble is a bit harsh to me. Built quality is very good but I find the extension cord not right! Its cord is thinner than HJE50's and the plug have a colour mismatch? Maybe it’s a demo set. I like the bass and fact that the 2 earpiece can be joined together. Because its a neck chain design, you can hang it on your neck and join the earpieces together, creating a necklace. Something which Sony/Philips tried to do with the provided plastic holder.

Audio Technica ATH-CK5:
MSRP: $49.90 at most stores. Saw it going for $98 for 3 pairs (Red, black and white) at Challenger Funan, if you're a member, its $88!
Package includes: ATH-CK5 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Demo only. Did not interest me at all.

Briefly heard my friend’s CK5. Don’t look or sound interesting to me, so I only listen to it for few minutes. So cannot really give an accurate review about it. Bass levels are a little too low for my liking. Sounds as flat as a pancake. Its cord design concept is the same as HJE50/EX71’s. 0.5m plus 1m extension. That is about it!

Bonus stuff:
So here comes the big question. How does the Cresyn LMX-E630 stack up to a Etymotic ER6isolator? The LMX-E630 has better treble extension. Yes, ER6i’s treble loses! Its treble roll off did not help. Clarity is ER6i’s forte and not surprisingly, the LMX-E630 loses out. But its clarity is dangerously approaching Er6i levels. About 80% of the ER6i, ok maybe I am generous, but I am impressed. What about the bass? Cresyn has more bass but the ER6i has better bass extension. It goes deeper. The Cresyn loses out big time on isolation. It only offers about 20% of what an ER6i can give you. What is an ER6isolator if it offers inferior isolation?

Bonus Pic: My old MDR-EX70
So you think white coloured earphones are cool heh? This is how it will look 6 years later! If you're wondering how long it takes to change colour, it should start to turn yellowish in a year or so depending on usage. If you use daily, it will turn greyish/blackish first before morphing into the dirty yellow you've seen on my 6 year old EX70.




Summary:
That is about it. Hope it can provide a clearer view of these earphones that are available in Singapore. But remember, these are my opinions and my tastes. It might differ from some. One man's meat is another's poison. What sounds good to me might not please you. I personally prefer the CK7/LMX-E630 for its sound quality, for comfort, nothing beats a EX71, the CK7 comes very close though!

In the future, for new models, I will add it in if I manage to get hold of one.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:40 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:20 AM   #5
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Lightbulb Earphone Review: The traditional earbuds! MX500/400CS & MX550

Introduction:
Traditional earbuds have taken a backseat these days due to the popularity and the influx of budget in-ears into the market. They are often viewed as inferior because of the lesser bass output but this is not always the case. These earbuds often gives one of the best prices to performance value of any earphone. The models reviewed are: Sennheiser MX500/400 | Sennheiser MX550 | Sony MDR-E888 | AKG K14P. I’ve added the pipephone for old time’s sake and a promise to friend. Reminds me of school days! All earphones reviewed here are able to match all players out in the market. All are fairly easy to drive and require no amplifier.

The review will be structured according to the order above and includes design/cord, sound quality, built quality and comfort. And lastly, a conclusion and personal preference. They will be graded according from 1-5 stars with 5 being the best and 1 the worst. Of cause, 5 stars does not mean it is the best earphone in the market, 5 stars=best in its price range. Since most people will be using them for portables, this review is conducted using a iPod Shuffle and a Sony D-E705 Discman without any amplifier. Songs are in at least 192kbps MP3 format. CDs: Metallica-Black, Coldplay-X&Y Robbie Williams-Intensive Care, Madonna-Confessions on a Dance Floor. Foamies are used on all earphones except the pipephone to grade them. They trim some treble and enhance bass.

Pros and Cons:
The advantages of these earphones are that they sit outside your ear instead of going into it, making them comfortable to some and great for listening in a quieter environment. These pros are a double edged sword actually as they are also its cons. They do not isolate at all and the size of the earpiece might not suit all ears, making them unusable and uncomfortable. One complain is their lack of bass. This is probably due to the influx of bass heavy In-Ears. Use them on a Sony player or any player that can EQ or enhance its bass, these earphones certainly do not sound bass light.

Summarized version:
1-5 stars with 5 being the best and 1 the worst.

Sennheiser MX500/400 | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
Design/cord: 3.5 stars
Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
Built Quality: 4 stars
Comfort: 4 stars

Sennheiser MX550 | Overall Rating: 3 stars
Design/cord: 3.5 stars
Sound Quality: 3 stars
Built Quality: 3 stars
Comfort: 5 stars

Sony MDR-E888 | Overall Rating: 5 stars
Design/cord: 5 stars
Sound Quality: 5 stars
Built Quality: 4 stars
Comfort: 3.5 stars

AKG K14P | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
Design/cord: 4 stars
Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
Built Quality: 5 stars
Comfort: 3 stars

Read on for the full review!
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sennheiser MX500/400CS | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars - Click for more photos
MSRP: $32 and $24. Prices are pretty much the same everywhere I guess.
Package includes: MX series earphone, 1 pair of foamies and a traditional hard case with cable spool.
Status: Bought the MX500 sometime back. Received the MX400CS as a free gift when I got my HD485.



Design/cord: 4 stars
MX500 is a 1m ‘Y’ cord design, they terminates into a nickel plated ‘L’ shape plug.
MX400CS is a 1m ‘Y’ cord design, they terminates into a nickel plated straight shape plug.
Both are traditional no frills design. The MX500 has an added volume control slider. The 1m cord is too short for must users. It should’ve been 1.2m instead. The cable design is; twin wire jointed/glued together to form one instead of a single cylindrical type you see on all the In-Ears above. They look uglier to me and can get quite twisty. The MX500’s ‘L’ shape plug has an average profile. It juts out about 1.9cm from the player. The MX400’s straight shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out about 2cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
Both MX500 and 400 are better than most of its competitors at this price range. Both share the same sound signature, the difference is that the MX500 has slightly deeper bass. Both are quite well balanced, with nice sounding midrange and treble. One often complain is that the bass is not strong enough. Not as clear as the MX550, K14P but has stronger and deeper bass. Both have rolled off treble at the upper ends of the frequency range. Unfortunately, it has a muddier sound, midrange and treble isn’t as clear as the rest. Despite all these flaws, it is still a worthwhile upgrade from most of the stock earbuds that came supplied.

Built Quality: 4 stars
Built quality is very good for an earphone at this price range. Its cables are thick and sturdy yet flexible enough for ease of use. The MX500 earpiece is entirely made of blue plastic, looks cheapskate to me. The MX400’s black plastic with a shiny cap looks much better to me. The driver grills are made of plastic instead of metal.

Comfort: 4 stars
Both MX500 and 400 are identical in design and size. I have no fitting problems but might not suit others. Without the foams, earpieces are harder to stay in place.

Suitable for:
A capable upgrade from stock earbuds at a cheapo price. You can’t ask for anything more. The MX500 white will suit all iPods. Suitable as a back-up pair of earphones.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sennheiser MX550 | Overall Rating: 3 stars - Click for more photos
MSRP: $36. Prices are pretty much the same everywhere I guess.
Package includes: MX550 earphone, 1 pair of foamies and a classy hard case with cable spool.
Status: My brother’s back up earphone.



Design/cord: 4 stars
The MX550 is a 1m ‘Y’ cord design, they terminates into a nickel plated straight shape plug. The MX550 has an added volume control slider. The 1m cord is too short for must users. It should’ve been 1.2m instead. The cable design is; twin wire jointed/glued together to form one instead of a single cylindrical type you see on all the In-Ears above. They look uglier to me and can get quite twisty. The classy hard case included is a nice touch though. The straight shape plug is quite low profile. It juts out about 1.8cm from the player.

Sound Quality: 3 stars
The MX550’s midrange is clearer than the MX500 but muddier than K14P and E888. It is kind of ‘in between’ these earphones. The major flaw is its shallow bass. It churns out more bass than a K14P but has less bass extension. Everything sounds like a dull thud to me. It does not sound good to me at all, I do not like them and so not worth talking about it!

Built Quality: 3 stars
It has thinner and flimsier cables. Looks cheapskate! Even the volume control looks cheapo. The earpieces are made of plastic with anti-kink sleeves. The driver grills are made of metal, at least it looks nicer.

Comfort: 5 stars
The earpieces are smaller and lighter than the rest of the line-up here. It is more comfortable to me. Its size should suit most people, especially females who have smaller ears.

Suitable for:
Good for nothing earphone! A slight upgrade to the free stock earbuds. If your iriver or iaudio comes with stock MX400, please don’t buy this.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:41 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:21 AM   #6
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Lightbulb Earphone Review: The traditional earbuds! MDR-E888 & K14P

Sony MDR-E888 | Overall Rating: 5 stars
MSRP: $79. Cost me $69 back in the 90s. Said to be discontinued, but still available at Sony Square at Funan and Bluetin. Only LP versions available. SP versions are very rare these days. MP version is extinct!
Package includes: E888 earphone, 1 pair of foamies and a classy hard case with cable spool.
Status: Owned them since the MD Walkman and Discman days. About 10 years old!



Design/cord: 5 stars
This pair of earphones has quite a long history, released way back in the mid 90s. Sony used to their MDR-E888 earphones in ‘MP’, ‘SP’ and ‘LP’ versions. MP=Micro Plug, for used with Sony’s early Walkman and Discman’s remote, one of the first remote control with detachable earphones. (Early remote had fixed earphones) Subsequently, the micro plug proved not popular, thus the birth of the ‘SP’ version. These days, only the ‘LP’ version is available.

I used to have 2 pairs of ‘LP’ version, one pair in silver and the other in gold. Seems like they are not longer with me. I remembered giving the gold one to an ex-girlfriend, the silver one I cannot find it. Lost I presume. I am left with the original ones that I’ve got the ‘SP’ version from the E888 early days. Mine is known as E888G on the packaging, gold case, silver earphones. Sony subsequently releases them in 2 colours, gold case with gold earphones and blue case with silver earphones, both in ‘LP’ and ‘SP’ versions.

SP=Short Play/Plug=0.4m cord and LP=Long Play/Plug=1.2m cord. I prefer to have such a choice as a single 1.2m long cord is much more convenient and lighter than a 0.5m + 1m cord ‘SL’ combo.

Sound Quality: 5 stars
This is the sound that perhaps all earphones should have. If you’re wondering how a well balanced earphone should sound, look no further, this is it. If you’re wondering if any of the In-Ears reviewed above match the E888 in this aspect, squash that thought. They don’t even come close, let alone match or surpass it. They’re even more balanced than entry level IEMs like the ER6i (Too bass light) and UM1 (Roll off treble), with lesser details and clarity. Having said that, the E888 is not as clear or have the details of what a ER6i or UM1 or even a Cresyn can offer. The only earbuds that is better than E888 is the ATH-CM7ti but that is a pair that is untouchable for many people and the price might not justify its performance improvement. The downside is that it works well only in a quiet environment. For outdoor use, In-Ears and IEMs are the way to go.

Please note that I reviewed this pair without any modifications and they do need a very long burn in period. About 100 hours will be ideal. Do the ‘silent cap and paper filter removal mod’ its clarity will open up and offer more details. How good it is? Its clarity can match a Cresyn and almost rival an ER6i and UM1; it loses out on details and of cause, isolation. What I do is just remove the paper filter and put everything back together again. Sounds as good as the original mod. The sound impact/slam is really

So let me rave more about its sound quality. Starting off with bass; oh my god, it’s bass! The E888 managed to churn out quality bass from its 16mm drivers. Paired with an iPod Shuffle, its bass is just nice, quantity and quality wise. Paired with a Discman with bass boost off, it is a bit lacking in bass. On the bass boost one step, oh it is heavenly. Max out the bass boost, you feel like you’re in a disco. The E888 is obviously design to handle Sony’s bass boost as even at the max setting, the bass doesn’t sound boomy or flabby. It remains precise and tight. Bass extension is very good for an old earphone like this.

Here comes E888’s strength; its midrange, while it is not silky smooth, it is pleasing to the ear. Vocals are faithfully reproduced. Clarity is one of its strength in the earbuds category but still, when compared to more expensive higher end earphones, it will sound a bit muffled. The Cresyn, which is clearer, have a similar sound signature but its midrange cannot match the E888 for impact/slam and its bass doesn’t go as deep. Lower midrange and upper midrange are pretty even with no audible humps. It is not a warm or dark sounding earphone.

It seems to me that all of the earphones I’ve reviewed, I have an issue with their treble. Some are too harsh; some have over emphasized upper treble while some have rolled off treble. To me ears, the E888 is almost perfect with its sparkling treble; the real deal. No emphasis on lower highs or upper highs, just nice sounding even treble. No rolled off upper highs like the ER6i and no rolled off lower highs like the UM1.

Prior to doing this review, I have not heard my E888 for months. After this refresher session, I am convinced enough to invest in another pair of E888LP; if I got spare cash that is! Given the popularity of In-Ears these days, Sony is unlikely to come up with something like this again and the E888 being rumored to be discontinued, I’ve to get a pair! Don’t look down on them because it’s an earbud and are perceived to have weak bass, give them a chance and you might be impressed.

NOTE: These days, the E888 is made in Philippines, not in Japan as the original ones are. Any sound quality change, I am not aware of. I guess it should still sound as good as what I had, maybe with some slight changes in sound. Remember, mine is the Japan version and is 10 years old. In earphone age, it’s a bloody old man! It is kind of funny considering Sony had a gem in their hands for more than 10 years and they still managed to come up with duds like the EX51/71.

Built Quality: 4 stars
I had them for almost 10 years! Look at them, still pristine. Oh yes, it is made in Japan. Compared to other earbuds and In-Ears in this review, everything about the E888 screams ‘class’. Its cables are quite thick and sturdy. The driver compartment is connected to the stem by rubber. This makes the earphone quite flexible. The stem is also made of rubber, with a metal cap. But I’ve also heard of complains that the cord don’t last too long because of Sony’s unique split at the joint.

Comfort: 3.5 stars
The ‘Silent cap’ attached is a little to large for some people, making them uncomfortable. Not for smaller ears.

Suitable for:
All players and most mainstream music. Balanced sound on the cheap! A very capable earphone, give them a chance and never look back again.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

AKG K14P | Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
MSRP: I guess its $40, not sure. Check them out at SLS or Adelphi.
Package includes: K14P earphone, 1 pair of foamies and a traditional hard case with cable spool.
Status: Got them from a fellow member here.



Design/cord: 4 stars
The K14P is a 1.2m ‘Y’ cord design, they terminates into a nickel plated straight shape plug. The K14P has an added volume control slider. The volume slider is bigger and better built than the Sennheiser models. The cable design is; twin wire jointed/glued together to form one instead of a single cylindrical type you see on all the In-Ears above. They look uglier to me and can get quite twisty.

Sound Quality: 3.5 stars
The K14P’s clarity is better than the Sennheiser models; in fact, it is approaching E888’s level. Midrange is smooth and clear but not quite up to a E888, fall short by a small margin. It has a slightly inferior version of the similar sparking treble of an E888. Bass is a major disappointment. Extends deeper than MX550, about MX500 levels but it only churn out a tiny wee bit of bass. Sound signature is similar to a ER6i, quite thin sounding. Pump up the bass boost, it will sound great.

Built Quality: 5 stars
Its cables are very thick and stiff! It is thicker and stiffer than MX500’s and every earphone reviewed here. Excellent stuff but not very user friendly due to the stiffness of the cable. The earpieces are made of plastic and have a thin layer of rubber coating. This enhanced its feel and looks. Certainly do not look as cheap as a Sennheiser model. The drivers are covered by a metal mesh grill instead of Sennheiser’s plastic.

Comfort: 3 stars
The earpieces are slightly larger than the MX500/400 and E888. This makes it very uncomfortable for me. Too big for most people I think.

Suitable for:
Budget users who want a taste of E888’s clarity. Very good for bass heavy players or players with bass boost or EQ capability.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:42 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:21 AM   #7
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Arrow Etymōtic Research ER•6isolator & Westone UM1 universal fit true IEMs

Etymōtic Research ER•6i | Overall Rating: 5 stars
MSRP: USD$149. Can be bought under USD$90.
Package includes: ER•6i earphone, 1 pair of triflange tip, 2 pairs of biflange tips, 1 pair of standard foams, 1 shirt clip, 2 pairs of extra filters, 1 filter removing tool and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Bought a new black pair.



Design/cord: 3 stars
Long and thin yucky black ‘Y’ cord! Looks and feels cheapskate. They are design to be light weight as Etymotic recommends it to be worn straight down and as such, a shirt clip is provided to reduce micro phonics. Without the shirt clip, coupled with its longer than usual cord, the micro phonics can be a disaster. Cord length is 1.5m long and terminates into a 'L' shape gold plated plug. The cable design is; twin wire jointed/glued together to form one instead of a single cylindrical type you see on all the In-Ears above. They look uglier to me and can get quite twisty.

The ER6i uses filters to prevent ear wax from entering the sound nozzle and smoothen out the sound. The filters are costly and are an additional concern but fortunately, it does not need to be change often. Depending on usage, filters need to be changed two to three times a year.

Sound Quality: 5 stars
The ER6i is known for its clarity and detailed sound. Etymotic’s sound signature is a little light on the bass with a slight emphasis on treble. This makes it sound clear. Its sound can be describe as sterile, analytical, business like, clear and bright. Etymotic detractors will describe it as boring, tin can, shrilly fake treble and so on. I do admit that this earphone is not a toe tapper. Do not sound as exciting or engage you in the music.

The ER6i, although said to have its bass boost from its brother, the ER6, it still lacks bass to my ears. It is horrible with hip hop, rap, R&B and metal songs. Its bass just doesn’t engage you, it still sounds thin. For metal songs, it sounded like a tin can because of its anemic bass and bright treble. Bass boost or EQ is essential to bring out the bass. Because of its low amounts, its bass will sound clean, tight and precise. Even with bass boost max out on my Discman, it doesn’t sound flabby, it is heavenly. The ER6i has clean, deep and precise bass; it just needs a boost or EQ.

Its midrange is very sterile. Clean and clear plus clarity makes it a very capable earphone. It is a colder sounding earphone than warm sounding. Details are very impressive. You can really hear more sounds that you thought never exists. Even when the singer takes a breath, you can hear it! Recording flaws and non intended sounds made during recording can be heard quite clearly.

Etymotics earphones are said to be bright and thin sounding. So I was expecting some bright sparkling but maybe harsh treble. It is not the case with the ER6i. In fact, it has a slight treble roll off at the upper ends. Thus making not overly bright and missing some little details at the upper ends.

Built Quality: 4 stars
Although the cord looks and feels flimsy, it is actually very durable. I’ve read that they do actually last quite long. The stress area is near the straight plug. On larger players or players with its earphone jack at its sides, it adds additional stress to the cord when you bent or place it in a bag. The straight shape plug will suit smaller flash MP3 players like a iPod Shuffle. An ‘L’ shape plug will have solved the problem. The earpieces itself is made of clear plastic and looks durable. Etymotic recommends that a tip is always attached to protect the earpiece from shocks.



Comfort/Ear Tips: 2 stars
It is supplied a pair of foam tips and triflanges. Unfortunately none of them fit me. I had to modify both foam and triflanges by cutting the top of thereby shortening it. After the modification to the tips, the converted biflange is the most comfortable and produces the best sound. The ER6i has a huge array of tips in different sizes available.

Isolation levels: 5
Maximum isolation from any earphone, quite phenomenal if you are coming from budget in-ears or traditional earbuds. Unrivaled levels as claim by Etymotic Research. You will be sealed off from the outside world. It is so good that you can hear your heart beat, own breath and foot steps. Very dangerous when crossing a busy street!

Suitable for:
Suitable for most players but it is a thin sounding earphone; need EQ to bring out the bass. Not recommended for bass shy players.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Westone UM1 | Overall Rating: 5 stars
MSRP: USD$109. Some sites offering some discounts.
Package includes: UM1 earphone, 2 pairs of standard Comply foam tips, 2 pairs of short Comply foam tips, 1 ear wax remover/hook, and a semi hard carrying case with a small pocket built in.
Status: My brother’s IEM.



Design/cord: 4 stars
The UM1 is a 1.27m (50 inch) long ‘Y’ cord that terminates into a low profile ‘L’ shape gold plated plug. The cords are braided, hard and have a plastic tube slider to adjust the length of the split. The ‘Y’ split joint is plastic and have plastic tubes as stress reliever. It is designed to be worn with the cords over the ear, down your back, just like professional musicians’ monitors. This is to reduce micro phonics and coupled with its braided cords, it actually works very well. Unfortunately, the ‘Y’ split is too high up, thus making it short for the cord to be worn in front instead of back. The ‘Y’ split will be almost touching your chin! So it got 4 stars instead of 5. The ‘L’ shape plug is very low profile. It juts out about 0.9cm from the player. The design of the earpieces looked like some hearing aid, but when worn, it remains flushed in your ears. They are only visible from your side/angle view.

Sound Quality: 5 stars
Westone’s sound can have drastic changes with different ear tips. With a carefully selected tip, it will sound as what I had described. Without one, it will sound worst than a cheap radio. Generally, a modded bi-flange and short Complys provide the best fit and sound.

The UM1’s bass is quite impressive. Deep, tight and have the quantity to please most people. It’s bass, even when maxed out on the bass boost or EQ almost never distorts on loud volumes. I guess it’s the advantage of the balanced armature drivers Westone uses. It is almost impossible to achieve this with a dynamic driver. Westone estimates it rolls off at 40Hz, which I think is quite accurate. Bass levels are below EX71/EP630’s level, at about E888’s level but able to churn them out at louder volumes without distorting or sounding flabby. It is able to handle almost all genres of music except the demanding classical genre where really deep bass is essential.

The UM1’s strength is its silky smooth warm sounding midrange. A joy to listen to, vocals can sound quite magical. It actually has more details in the forward sounding midrange than the ER6i. They are very prominent, presenting sounds you never thought exist. Clarity is about as clear as a ER6i.

Unfortunately, the UM1 has lower treble roll off, which can make it sound muffled without a suitable tip. Fortunately, its upper treble is not harsh. A carefully selected/modded tip is essential to bring out the treble. This is a more musical and warm earphone compared to the ER6i. It also has some sort of soundstage, narrow but it has one rather than ER6i’s ‘in your head’ sound. Definitely a toe tapper.

Built Quality: 4 stars
Its built quality is excellent but the finishing of the cords and plug’s sleeve are not as well as others. There are a few rough edges at the plug sleeve and at the ends of the stress reliever. Other than that, it is very well built. The braided cables are quite tough albeit a bit thin. The clear plastic housing of the earpieces is well finished, no rough edges at all. You can actually see what is inside the earpieces and the sound nozzle. Its box proudly says: ‘Made in USA’ and is probably the only universal fit monitor along with its bigger brother, UM2 to be made there.



Comfort/Ear Tips: 3 stars
No matter what, these higher end IEMs are not going be as comfortable as the normal In-Ears. Unless, you use a single flange tip, or you have a custom made UM56 sleeve, it will be as comfortable. The way it should be worn is also different than the normal styles. It’s ‘over the ear’ and ‘behind the back’ style might not suit some. The UM1 can fit a huge variety of tips including Shure’s E1/E3/E5, Etymotic’s ER4/ER6i foam and flanged tips in addition to the supplied Complys. With a suitable mod, you can fit a Sony tip as well.

Isolation levels: 5
With a suitable tip, you can achieve isolation levels as good as a Etymotic model. The modded bi-flange tip offers the most isolation while the yellow foams offer the least but has a very good sound. You will be sealed off from the outside world. It is so good that you can hear your heart beat, own breath and foot steps.

Suitable for:
Suitable for most players. It is an efficient earphone, thus can be a bit sensitive, background hiss can be heard on some players. May need EQ to balance out the treble.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:43 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:53 AM   #8
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hey nice review..
nw i hav a ex71 here..but the cord snaps..shows the wires bare..tink i am gona change my earphones..
Cresyn LMX-E630RL n HJE 50..which 1 shld i get?
for HJE 50 whr to get cheaper rates?
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Old 01-12-2005, 03:13 AM   #9
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Arrow A comparative review of the two Westones

A comparative review of the two universal fit Westones
What are the differences between this pair of identical twins from Westone? Two hearing aid look-a-like with black braided cables, they are the UM1 and UM2, the bigger brother. People often wonder what are their differences and how do they stack up against each other. Well so here are my findings according to what my ears and eyes told me.


(Which is which? Left = UM2 & Right = UM1. They look almost the same!)

Physical difference
Physically, they are very similar, both sports the same clear coloured body shell as well. Up close and personal, the UM2 is slightly bigger and curvier while its smaller brother, the UM1 has a more angular look. The bigger UM2 is also heavier due to its twin drivers. That’s all! The rest of its physical qualities are the same. The sound nozzles have the same length and diameter as well. On my UM2, it has clear Y joint and plug as they are the older more expensive ones that come with a pressurized crush/water proof Pelican case. The newer UM2 has the same black Y joint and plug.


(The top cable belongs to the UM2 & the bottom one belongs to the UM1)

Design difference
The UM1 is a single armature driver earphone while the UM2 has dual armature drivers with a passive crossover. The UM2 is also more sensitive. You will need to lower your volume. Background hiss can be heard louder than the UM1. Both Westones are some of the lowest profile IEMs available currently. When worn correctly, both hardly protrude out of your ears and with its cables routed over your ears and back of your lower head, they’re very discreet and its microphonics are almost zero.


(From a distance, can you tell the difference?)

Sound Difference
Here is where they differ the most. The UM2 is basically a UM1 taken to the extreme. They still share the same sound signature. It has a bigger soundstage, deeper and more bass and a little more details, not much but enough to be able to tell the difference. Instrument separation is also slightly better. That’s all you know. There isn’t much difference in the upper frequencies and clarity. The UM2 doesn’t have improvement in every aspect. It looks and sounds disappointing! Considering the UM1 is almost three times cheaper. Its like that as you go higher up the audio chain. You pay more for less improvement. The UM2 got to be heard to believe. The extra driver DOES make a difference. Lets just say that after listening to a UM2, every single driver earphone will sound dead. Its like the HD555 Vs HD595. The 555 is about 90% of the 595 and to me, the UM1 is 75% of the UM2.

At times, the UM1 can even sound better because it is a single driver design. Hence, its treble can be heard easily compared to the UM2. The second driver of the UM2 really put a lot of the lower frequencies into the mix. For some people, it is a godsend. The bigger sound and deeper bass makes it sound like a headphone. For some people, it can be too overpowering and overwhelming. I can see why they’re disappointed with its sound. While the UM2 is worth the extra money, it doesn’t improve on UM1’s treble and the extra bass can overwhelm its treble at times

But the UM2 have to be heard to believe, the bigger sound and deeper bass you get is quite unachievable from single armature driver IEMs. I never heard anything like that from an earphone before. The UM2 requires higher bit rate MP3s or CDs to sound its best while the UM1 is more forgiving. It also sounds its best at louder volumes. Both Westone require careful selection of tip to achieve its best. If you have a UM1 or read my UM1 review and wonder how the UM2 sounds like, just imagine your UM1 souped up/pimped/Zhng or whatever and you get a UM2!

This review was done with biflange tips and powered by an iPod Shuffle and Sony D-E705 Discman.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Ear tips comments for UM1/2 & ER•6i
These are my comments on the various tips I've used. The fit and seal one is able to achieve varies so this is highly subjective and personal. Good for me might not work for you.

Etymotic Research triflange - Used on UM1/2 & ER•6i (Converted to biflange)
ER’s triflange have no stem but it is softer and more comfortable than Shure’s. Sound wise, when compared to the Shure’s, there is no difference. You need a stem to mount it onto a Westone. So I used the snipped off top flange as a stem.

Shure triflange – Used on UM1/2 (Converted to biflange)
As above, the Shure’s are harder and have a stem. Makes mounting them easier but they’re more uncomfortable for me. Shure and ER’s converted biflange gave me the most isolation besides the Standard Complys. They also sound the best.

Shure grey flex - Used on UM1/2 & ER•6i
These are mono flange tips. Very similar to those cheaper in-ears’ tips. I use them (With its stem shortened) on my ER6i as they’re more comfortable than the biflanges and provides the same SQ. These work very well for the Westone as well. They can be as good as a biflange, sound wise and isolation wise.

Shure clear flex - Used on UM1/2 & ER•6i
These are harder and stiffer than the grey flex tips. As such, they’re less comfortable but provide a little more isolation.

Standard Complys - Used on UM1/2
The standard Complys has less treble on the Westones. They’re a little too long for me but provides excellent isolation. I seldom use these. The Complys have a different texture than other foams like Shure’s/Westone’s yellow foams and ER’s black foams. The Complys are softer, smoother and more comfortable.

Short Complys - Used on UM1/2
The Short Complys release more treble and tone down the bass more than the Standard Complys. They’re one of the better sounding foam tips while providing adequate isolation.

Westone yellow foams - Used on UM1/2
These have the least isolation of any tip but they’re also one of the best sounding ones. Perhaps THE best sounding tip I used. It’s cheaper than most foam as well.

ER4 black foams - Used on UM1/2
They have one of the best isolation of any foams and sound as good too but due to its rougher texture and length, it can be a little uncomfortable.

ER6i standard beige foams - Used on ER•6i
I used them on my ER6i. A disaster! Too long and too hard. I hate them. I have to shorten them to use but its diameter is a little too big for me.

ER6i small beige foams - Used on ER•6i
They give one of the best SQ for my ER6i but very uncomfortable. BAD! They sit quite deep in my ears and coupled with its rougher texture, my ear was rubbed raw.

That’s about it. The two ear tips I frequently used are the ER biflange and Shure’s grey flex. I chose them over foams due to comfort, convenience and economic reasons. Remember, these tips are used on my ears. You might like other tips that I don’t like.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:37 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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Old 01-12-2005, 07:35 AM   #10
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Hey really thks for the review!

Very in depth and focus.

Yup i will place shure e2c together with sony e71 from my own experience.

One too bassy. Shure too treble.

Yup thks for the review once agn!
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:11 AM   #11
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Earbuds review coming up soon.

Thanks for this great review! Good effort put to share your experience and knowledge. Please come up with earbuds review soon. I want to buy one and I don't like in-ear types.
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Old 02-12-2005, 12:48 AM   #12
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Thumbs up

hi, i own a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE50 and have been using it daily for the past 2 months and i must say i totally agree with your review of it. practically said what i wanted to put in words, especially the part regarding the "hassle" of a cord. goodness, if it weren't for the fact that i simply cannot afford to build an entire company from scratch to manufacture earphones that sound awesome, look good, AND won't cause the user any frustrations because of a stupid damn cord, i would've thrown the whole pair down the chute. yes, i would chuck it because of the damn irritating cord that seems to be built with a mission to irk, but alas, i don't print money.

it's still a more-than-decent pair of earphones for one in this price range though.

but now you've got me interested in the 1.2m version of the Cresyn, partly due to your generous remarks regarding it's sound quality, but more so because of the cord.


keep it up with your reviews, nice effort.
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Old 02-12-2005, 05:55 PM   #13
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the Panasonic RP-HJE50 white earphones does it gets yellowish very fast?
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Old 02-12-2005, 06:13 PM   #14
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the Panasonic RP-HJE50 white earphones does it gets yellowish very fast?
doubt so, unless you're a friggin dirty bugger. in which case, EW!

anyway, 2 mths on, with my dedicated usage of up to 3 hrs everyday, walking everyday in sun, rain, and sweat, it still looks brand new.
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Old 02-12-2005, 06:26 PM   #15
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Exclamation Better comfort, more bass and impact on a ER•6i

Better comfort, more bass and impact on a ER•6i
Etymotic Research, their earphones really need deep insertion to get good and strong bass. My experience with them had been disappointment, surprised, impressed and finally satisfied and happy. You really need to insert the earphone as deep as possible. I guess ER designed and tuned its earphones to sit deeper. Therefore, if it is not inserted deep enough, less bass is heard.


From the above pic, you can see how much i've shorten the grey flex tip and the length of the ER6i with a biflange and grey flex attached

I experiment with all the tips available in the sales package, cut them, modify them but to no avail, bass was always lacking - Disappointment. I even had Etymotic Research send me free sample tips twice – Surprised and impressed. They sent me a total of four different types of tip but unfortunately only their biflange tip suit me. Comfort and bass was still lacking a little. I then shorten its stem; in fact, I trimmed them off to have the driver sit closer to the opening of the tip and thus allowing and placing the driver further into my ear. Bass improved a little to my surprise. I thought I only need to insert the tip deep into my ears, where the driver was position doesn’t matter, but I was wrong!


This pic shows the original length of the grey flex (Right) and a shorten one (Left) attached on the ER6i.

Then some Shure Ultra Soft Flex (Grey) tips came along and that’s it! It is the perfect tip for the ER6i as I soon discovered. The soft curvy design allowed me to insert deeper and I shorten its stem (About 3-4mm) to bring the driver nearer to the opening edge of the tip, thus positioning them deeper. The result is slightly more bass and impact which leaves me – Satisfied and happy. I find them to be more comfortable than a biflange as well. Isolation levels are about the same as a biflange for me.



Etymotic Research is certainly a customer orientated company. The best I’ve experience when it comes to electronic products. They’ve sent me free tips to help me get a good fit and now, the latest, a Smartwrap cord manager with its brand name and website printed on it. I gave them some feedback on improving an already very good product and commented on the ER6i’s 5 foot cord. A little too long for me and then the cord manager arrived! You can don’t like their products but you gotta love their customer service.

Note: The resulting difference between a biflange and Shure’s grey flex is not great. Only slight but I’m able to tell the difference and is certainly more comfy. And what works for me might not work for you, so give it a try but if it doesn’t work for you, then too bad!
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Reserved for future reviews! Perhaps a CX300 if it makes it to our shores!

Press release for CX300
Info/Specs
From Headfi
New MM series for HP
MM Pics
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sennheiser gone mad! New release - 17 whooping new earphones! Dunno if they will make it to SG or not. I also dunno what stung them into this. lol. Must be ipod hype. Din see any in-ears here. How could they? Outdoor earphones without isolation?! But i must admit that the designs are quite nice and and well thought off. Like the shirt clip and case.

http://www.style-your-sound.com/oss2/flash_us.html

7 Sports - http://www.style-your-sound.com/oss2...t_Sport_US.pdf
7 Street - http://www.style-your-sound.com/oss2..._Street_US.pdf
3 Style - http://www.style-your-sound.com/oss2...t_Style_US.pdf

Last edited by afbug1; 13-06-2006 at 11:30 PM.. Reason: Reserved for future reviews!
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