iPod and earbud/earphones

Discussion in 'High End Audio' started by Jim Mauro, Jan 1, 2005.

  1. Jim Mauro

    Jim Mauro Guest

    A question around a portable music player may seem inappropriate
    for this forum, but the real question is around the "science"
    of portable listening (poorly phrased - please indulge me for a
    minute)...

    Santa brought me an iPod. I'm unhappy with the stock earplugs that
    ship with the iPod - they sound OK, but I can't get them to stay
    in my ear. Did some research, and the Etymotic Research ER-6i looked
    like a winner (the ER-4i was a little out-of-range, price-wise).

    My initial experience with the ER-6i left me very disappointed.
    The use a flange so they can be inserted into the ear canal, and
    this stay put, but I was not happy at all with the sound - sounded
    like the first generation of CD players, back in 1980 or something.
    Thin, tinny, etc...

    After some experimentation, I found that the seating in the ear canal
    has a huge impact on the sound quality (I know, DUH!), and I could get
    the ER-6i's sound actually very good. But doing that consistently is
    something I stil have not mastered. So....

    I'm curious of the folks in this forum have had similar experiences, and
    would share what they concluded. I'm getting ready to trash the "earbud"
    devices altogether and just use headphones, but that means compromising
    space and weight (I commute a lot - the iPod is used for commuting and
    traveling).

    I'm also curious about the science of earbud devices as compared to
    over-the-ear headphones. Obviously, there's more of an engineering
    challenge to building an earbud device that provides good sound, by
    virtue of the size constraint, so it seems intuitive that a moderate
    prices headphone is going to sound better than an expensive earbud
    system.

    thoughts, comments, experiences welcome.

    (FWIW, I love music, and care about sound. Have a fine rig at
    home, very good vinyl front-end,, still listen to vinyl, etc...
    just by way of background).
     
    Jim Mauro, Jan 1, 2005
    #1
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  2. Jim Mauro

    Harry Lavo Guest

    Read a review somewhere in last two months of a new earbud product that is
    custom-molded to your ear and is supposed to provide phenomenal bass. Can't
    remember where saw, or who mfg was. Shure sticks in my mind, but my memory
    is far from reliable these days.
     
    Harry Lavo, Jan 2, 2005
    #2
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  3. Jim Mauro

    Chung Guest

    You might want to read the following:

    http://www.linkwitzlab.com/reference_earphones.htm

    Siegfried Linkwitz likes the Sony Fontopia and the Shure E2C's, and the
    equalized ER-4S. I found the E2C's to sound very good, but perhaps like
    you, I am not a big fan of ear canal phones because they are harder to
    use, and they could block out too much sound to be safe for walks, etc.
    I also found the ER-6's not very comfortable. The Sony Fontopias are a
    step up from the iPod buds, so you may want to give that a try. A
    light-weight comfortable over-the-head set that I use a lot is the Koss
    Porta-Pro, but they leak quite a bit of sound.
     
    Chung, Jan 2, 2005
    #3
  4. <snip>

    Jim,

    I own an Etymotic ER-6 for some years now and I still like
    it. Viewing a movie on a transatlantic flight with my ER-6
    is just unbeatable. Good sound, effective noise damping and
    much less fatigue during the flight. The same is also true
    for train travel.

    The sound from my good old portable Sony C-303 CD player is
    fantastic through the ER-6. More so, because I feel more
    comfortable when I know that my neighbours in the train are
    not disturbed by the sound from my earbuds... The sound from
    my laptop is as well pretty good.

    However, when listening to my new iAudio G3 MP3 player I
    experienced the same thin, tinny sound you described. Since
    I know that the ER-6 is an excellent earbud on other sources
    I blame it on the MP3 player. Moreover, the iAudio simply
    has not the power to drive the ER-6, i.e. I have to set the
    volume to about 80% max. to have decent sound. The only way
    out now is to adjust the built-in equalizer to get the best
    match for the program material. Another possibility is to
    use less compressed MP3 files if you have enough disk space.
    I feel that the detail resolution of the ER-6 reveals
    compression flaws in MP3s and this makes the listening
    experience very dissapointing.

    Cheers,
    Franco
     
    Franco Del Principe, Jan 2, 2005
    #4
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