Old 10th January 2007, 00:18   #1
Wolfgang
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Headphones - what to do?

I was given a Sony Walkman MP3 player by my dad for Christmas. My dad said "I don't really know what MP3s are, but I figured you'd like one of these." He was right, despite the ATRAC crap, SonicStage (which is rubbish) and the lack of any other better method. I like the little thing - lots of battery life and it's simple with features I want and few I don't. I'm using the ml_sony plugin for winamp at present to upload stuff to it, but it's buggy and doesn't allow me to put playlists on the device. Development is on hold it seems, unfortunately.

Anyway, with the walkman came earphones, earbuds to be more precise. I've never liked these, they fall out of my ears and they sound tinny, like the bass has been turned too far down and the treble has been hiked up. If I shove them into my ear canal, the sound is pretty great, but I don't want to hold them constantly.

I want to get some proper earphones, like these Sennheiser PXC-350:

However, the one HUGE advantage of the earbuds is that along with the tiny walkman, I can just stuff it all into my pocket. I can't stuff a PXC-350 or any of its friends in my pocket. And while the sennheiser earbuds promise to provide good sound, I'm still not sure.

What do you do? Are there any earbuds where the sound isn't crap?
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Old 10th January 2007, 00:25   #2
Atmo
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Canalphones?

I've been using a pair of these for a while now. Bass and general sound quality is more than acceptable, especially since they didnt cost much more than a decent set of buds.
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Old 10th January 2007, 00:53   #3
Wolfgang
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Canalphones... I'd never heard that term before. Well, I'm going to give the Sennheiser CX300 a go. They have got very good reviews in Amazon and some audio forums I've had a look on.

Damn, I wish I was back in Australia.
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Old 10th January 2007, 01:11   #4
gaekwad2
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In-ear phones are like earplugs with phones in them. They isolate completely from the outside world (much better than those overrated noise-cancelling phones). In fact they have to in order to work, if they aren't inserted correctly they sound like crap.

The CX300 seem to be more like Sony EX (or similar) earbuds.
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Old 10th January 2007, 03:28   #5
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I keep a pair of these in my laptop case so that I can listen to music without disturbing anyone else while I'm out of town. They're not great, and they can get a bit uncomfortable after long periods of use, but they do sound decent. (Especially for six bucks.)

When I'm at home, I have a pair of these to listen to my music with during the evenings so I won't wake anyone up with my stereo. These headphones are AWESOME.
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Old 10th January 2007, 04:09   #6
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If you're made of money, buy Etymotics.

If you want earbuds that rival the sound quality of high-end full-size circumaural headphones, get Sony ED21LP earbuds. I've tried many, many brands and models of earbuds, and these are truly exceptional. For $20.

(They're one of the few really wonderful things that Sony makes. )

I'm a psychosomatic sister running around without a leash.
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Old 10th January 2007, 08:16   #7
fwgx
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I have three pairs of Sennheisser headphones. At work I use the PMX60's which sound great.

Then at home I have a pair of HD-515 and RS-120


They each have their uses but for general small headphones you can't beat the PMX60's, very good stuff.

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Old 10th January 2007, 19:33   #8
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Sennheiser makes top-end headphones, for sure. But none of those models will fit into a jeans pocket or change purse.

And Sennheiser earbuds are only mediocre, in my experience. Build quality is very good, but the way they fit is nothing special. And with earbuds, it's all in the way they fit into your ear.

I was surprised as hell to find the Sony ED21LPs beat out everything else. They were around the 30th-or-so buds I tried, simply because I failed to believe Sony earbuds would be worth a damn.

More than anything to do with materials quality, I think it's got the most to do with the intra-canal design. They don't go as far into the ear as others, but as far as they reach seems to be just right for optimal audio delivery. Any earbuds can send high frequencies into your ear quite acceptably. But getting really good lows - the "chest pounding hallucination" you get from really good full-sized headphones - are something I never expected from earbuds in the two-digit price range. The ED21LP delivers strong bass frequencies extremely well. All earbud makers advertise "great bass response". But none "make the room move" like these do - at least in anything close to their price range.

Because of these little $20 wonders, I'll never buy Etymotics. They do sound fantastic, but the sound quality difference between them and these ED21LPs is marginal. And certainly not worth the tenfold+ price difference.

In fact, for fear that (a) one day, Sony will stop carrying this design of earbud, and (2) no one else will offer anything like them for under $100, I better go buy a few extra pair and put them in protected storage. I don't ever want to be without these things.

I'm a psychosomatic sister running around without a leash.
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Old 10th January 2007, 20:08   #9
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from what i've seen from user comments and people i know who use them, the cx300's do what's needed though really it's always going to come down to what best suits you (like i'm using my old sony earbuds from 98 i think despite having some spare mx550's to use just because i'm lazy and the old pair work )

there also things like the clip over the ear types of headphones (reference) which may be something to also consider from what you said about buds popping out and if i remember correctly they fit in a little container so can be transported relatively easily (unless i'm getting confused with the sennheiser sports range... just too much to remember with all of the products )

-daz
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Old 10th January 2007, 22:52   #10
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Apparently no one else flies much. The Etymotic ER6i's I have are pretty good. The bass is accurate (although not pronounced) with a good seal, and the noise blocking is as good as the $300 Bose Quiet Comfort 2's at less than half the price.

The Sony EX 51/71 are ok, but the bass is really sloppy. Supposedly, the EX81's are more tight, but I haven't tried them.

Shure just announced a new line. I tried the e3's, but they were painful to have in my ears and painful to listen to, no bass despite a good seal and a overly prominent midrange.

Also, check out:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/forumd...p?s=&forumid=2
there are several threads on canalphones.
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Old 10th January 2007, 23:29   #11
Wolfgang
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I lost the eBay auction for the Sennheisers (they got too expensive). I'm looking at the ED21LPs now and they have some pretty good reviews on Amazon, along with a couple of bad ones complaining about distorted base when it's too loud, earwax accumulating in the rubber bit and the fact the cord is too short.

They're certainly not US$20 on Amazon UK - £10 plus the annoying £5 delivery charge. I'll see how much they are in a shop.

Thanks for the feedback, guys.
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Old 10th January 2007, 23:33   #12
fwgx
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Quote:
Originally posted by ScorLibran
Sennheiser makes top-end headphones, for sure. But none of those models will fit into a jeans pocket or change purse.
No, but the PMX-60's rest round your neck quite comfortably, which is almost as good in most situations I've found.

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Old 10th January 2007, 23:58   #13
Wolfgang
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I just saw the PMX60 and CX300s in a shop window and I must say they looked very nice. But I really do want to be able to put them in my pocket.
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Old 11th January 2007, 00:06   #14
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check your pm

-daz
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Old 11th January 2007, 01:09   #15
dlinkwit27
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i've had these for idk how long, and love them!
http://www.audioreview.com/aiwa/PRD_285877_2750crx.aspx

they have been dropped, kicked, sat on, scrunched in a bookbag (backpack) and they still work great!
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Old 11th January 2007, 19:50   #16
ScorLibran
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
I'm looking at the ED21LPs now and they have some pretty good reviews on Amazon, along with a couple of bad ones complaining about distorted base when it's too loud, earwax accumulating in the rubber bit and the fact the cord is too short.
Very likely people not knowing how to set their EQ, and/or using horrible DSPs.

With some nominal crossfeed and a PCM cut-only EQ (like the one from Shibatch), I experience sound quality from the ED21LPs unequaled by any other earbud or portable headphone for under $100.

And I agree, the cord is too short, which is why I use an extension. For the sound quality of these buds, it's well worth the extra few dollars for the extra cord if you need it.

With in-canal earbuds, ear wax will be a problem for anyone who generates too much of it. The only way to avoid that for such people will be to use standard earbuds that barely hang in the ear, costing the sound quality - and particularly the bass handling - of the in-canal position provided by the ED21LPs. My ears generate what I'd consider an average amount of wax, and these earbuds never get an accumulation of any kind.

But like with any other audio equipment, there's only one way to be sure of how well they serve your needs - try them yourself if, at all possible. Since this is often not possible before a purchase, the next best thing is to buy from a place that has a return/exchange policy. At least the financial risk is much lower with $20 earbuds than with more expensive alternatives.
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Old 11th January 2007, 21:21   #17
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What I'd like to see is a high quality bluetooth headphone?.

I have a little over the ear one that I use for Skype. But that's telephony quality.
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Old 11th January 2007, 21:54   #18
Atmo
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Quote:
Originally posted by rockouthippie
What I'd like to see is a high quality bluetooth headphone?.
Well, RF wireless phones have been available for a long time, but they're not really portable...

Bluetooth would be possible, but it's probably more impracticle than using corded headphones with a portable device.

Firstly, the player would either need to support bluetooth communication or you'd need an outboard adaptor which would require it's own power source.

Since you'd need a pair for stereo, you'd need two recievers with a power source for each, unless you wanted a cable joining them. They'd probably be a bit bulky/heavy to fit in buds unless they reciever was on a short cable that could be clipped to your collar or something. Without something like that there'd also the issue of them being lost, if a bud pops out of your ear while walking/running/riding, it can only fall as far as the cord allows, but if you're going to use a cord, it may as well extend to the player anyway...
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Old 11th January 2007, 22:21   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Atmo
Well, RF wireless phones have been available for a long time, but they're not really portable...
I have a 2.4 Ghz TV transmitter and a 900 Mhz amplified speaker set. About 5 years ago, these became pretty useless because of all of the new interference sources that all the cordless phone and other goodies that everyone uses.

Quote:
Bluetooth would be possible, but it's probably more impracticle than using corded headphones with a portable device.
I think this would be awesome for a MP3 cell phone.

Quote:
Firstly, the player would either need to support bluetooth communication or you'd need an outboard adaptor which would require it's own power source.

Since you'd need a pair for stereo, you'd need two recievers with a power source for each, unless you wanted a cable joining them. They'd probably be a bit bulky/heavy to fit in buds unless they reciever was on a short cable that could be clipped to your collar or something. Without something like that there'd also the issue of them being lost, if a bud pops out of your ear while walking/running/riding, it can only fall as far as the cord allows, but if you're going to use a cord, it may as well extend to the player anyway... [/B]
This blue tooth "headset" I have is not any bigger than an earpad type headphone. Usually, when I waste a pair of headphones, it's not from them falling out or off my ear. It's from something catching the cord and ripping them out/off.

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Old 12th January 2007, 22:58   #20
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Quote:
What I'd like to see is a high quality bluetooth headphone?.
Maybe like this?

http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er88.aspx

These even offer the option of an iPod remote.
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Old 15th January 2007, 20:38   #21
Wolfgang
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Well, I got the Sennheiser CX300s in the end at a very reasonable price.

I have to say, they do an excellent job at drowning out exterior noise, even on something as noisy as the Piccadilly line on the underground. And since I'm a bass man, they are perfect. One thing that sucks is that since the clarity is so good, I now notice how crap 128kbps and 160kbps MP3s sound! I'll have to turn them into WAVs and reencode them into ~240kbps.
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Old 15th January 2007, 21:48   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
I'll have to turn them into WAVs and reencode them into ~240kbps.
don't bother. lossy is lossy


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Old 15th January 2007, 21:57   #23
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You should first encode them to Atrac 3. All the experts in the MiniDisc forums say it sounds better than the original so it should also help with your mp3s.
And while you're at it resample them to 96kHz at least (192 would be even better of course).

Then get Lame 3.92 (newer versions suck!) and use the following command line:
-V0 --preset radio -k -q9 -b256 -B256 --resample 48 --interch 1 -md -p --noshort --notemp --nores --strictly-enforce-ISO --nspsytune --athlower -56 --ns-bass 2 --ns-alto 12 --ns-treble 9
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Old 15th January 2007, 22:02   #24
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that'll sounds tits.


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Old 15th January 2007, 22:15   #25
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Did you try it? It sounds absolutely amazing!

Though if you prefer your music to be soft and calming you may want to add the -x switch.
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Old 15th January 2007, 22:33   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by gaekwad2
-V0 --preset radio -k -q9 -b256 -B256 --resample 48 --interch 1 -md -p --noshort --notemp --nores --strictly-enforce-ISO --nspsytune --athlower -56 --ns-bass 2 --ns-alto 12 --ns-treble 9
Basically that's a complete re-mix of the music. How this could be a good thing is kinda beyond me?.
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Old 15th January 2007, 22:38   #27
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Thanks gaekwad, that's great, I'll try it later. Instead of Atrac3 I was going to use WMA because it's easier to use with the Windows Media Player (which rocks - I can right click on things in the windows explorer and play them from there). But maybe I can do both and increase the sound quality?
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Old 15th January 2007, 22:44   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
Instead of Atrac3 I was going to use WMA because it's easier to use with the Windows Media Player
Use Windows Media Lossless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows...Audio_Lossless
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Old 15th January 2007, 22:50   #29
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Use Musicmatch to play it back. Something about it just "sounds better"


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Old 15th January 2007, 23:11   #30
gaekwad2
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Quote:
Originally posted by rockouthippie
Basically that's a complete re-mix of the music. How this could be a good thing is kinda beyond me?.
Ah, but you'll have to agree that Queens Of The Stone Age never sounded better than this:
Attached Files
File Type: 7z nooneknows-clip.7z (54.6 KB, 135 views)
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Old 15th January 2007, 23:25   #31
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Yeah that sounds great when I play it with SonicStage!
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Old 15th January 2007, 23:31   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
Well, I got the Sennheiser CX300s in the end at a very reasonable price.
so i hear (groans at his own attempt at a pun)

-daz
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Old 16th January 2007, 02:06   #33
ScorLibran
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
Well, I got the Sennheiser CX300s in the end at a very reasonable price.
Congrats.

Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
One thing that sucks is that since the clarity is so good, I now notice how crap 128kbps and 160kbps MP3s sound! I'll have to turn them into WAVs and reencode them into ~240kbps. [/B]


Quote:
Originally posted by gaekwad2
You should first encode them to Atrac 3. All the experts in the MiniDisc forums say it sounds better than the original so it should also help with your mp3s.
And while you're at it resample them to 96kHz at least (192 would be even better of course).
Nice.

Sometimes I wonder if the folks on the MD forums might really believe those things.

...No way. They HAVE to be kidding. The alternative is just too shocking.
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