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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 Sonyís 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 Sonyís 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 donít 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 ĎLí 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 ĎSPí and ĎLPí 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 ĎSLí 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, itís 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 ĎVí shaped. Not worth describing its sound in my humble opinion!

Built Quality: 1.5 stars
Iíve seen pictures of the EX71ís 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. Sonyís 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 oneís 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.

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
HJE50ís design is similar to EX71ís. A 0.5m cord plus a 1m long extension, meant to cater for use with Panasonicís portable playerís remote. Like the EX71, the shorter 0.5m cord terminates into a straight shape gold plated plug. The 1m extension terminates into a ĎLí 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 ĎLí 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 isnít 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.

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 SHE9500ís 0.6m cord terminates into a straight shape gold plated plug. The 0.6m extension terminates into an ĎLí shape gold plated plug. From the joint/split, the left cord is 12cm long and the right is 50cm long, excluding the earpiece.The ĎLí 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 Discmanís 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 EX71ís. Its stem is made of harder rubber than EX71ís. 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 doesnít 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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