From the flashy streets of Las Vegas in the US to the neon-lit lanes of the Electric Town of Akihabara in Japan.
From the busy conferences in Barcelona to the calm die walk cafes in Paris.
From the crazy shopping alleys of Hong Kong to some long, cramped up flights across continents.
We have witnessed people of different sorts and of the many commonalities that you may think of, the geeky nerds thriving on gadgets 24×7 and people plugged into their smartphones/tablets. Some have some big fat headphones while most of them are conscious about attracting attention and instead use the earphones.
While the commonalities are evident, but what is being listened to on those earphones varies. From podcasts to music, from FM radio to work calls, the needs vary. While some are particular about the clarity of the output, others care for the durability the most. Some hunt down for an excessive bass for immersive effects and others want something that would silence the noise coming in from outside. And there are some who want the best of everything and also some who want it all crunched into a highly affordable price!
Since we have gone through various situations and mindset drifts ourselves, we thought why not share with you, some of the best earphones that we have used and enjoyed! The list we are about to present is not necessarily in the order of recommendation, but they are well tested through time. So let’s get into the groove, shall we?
1. Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
The Little Brother of the Momentum family it may be, but its performance is not too far from its bigger brothers and over-the-ear models. Its iconic design is distinguishable easily, and so are its metallic black and crimson glossy colors. With absolutely no plastic in its core delivery system that is made of stainless steel tunnels, the sound output is crisp, and Sennheiser has done well to deliver the media in their truest sense.
If you were to listen to acoustic music or instrumental, you would be able to appreciate this chap a lot. It does pretty well on the bass too, but it’s not the one that will thump the beats into your years. Lows are its strength while the mids and highs are acceptable. It comes with a three-button controller for volume up and down and a center button for skipping tracks. With an excellent tactile feedback, there is no learning curve. While the wiring does a good job in not getting too entangled, it’s not very durable. If you’re not taking good care of it or using it in extreme conditions, it will start withering within a year. As for its angled EarPods, it will take a week or two to get used to as one may feel it’s gonna fall off the ears!
Frequency Range : 15Hz – 22000Hz
Cable Length : 1.3m
Weight : 16gms
2. Sony MDR-XB50AP / MDR-XB30EX In-Ear Earphones
If you are more of that clubbing kinda person who listens to a lot of hip-hop, EDB, Trance and Techno, and gets enticed by the thumping beats and won’t mind straying off the “purity” in music, then this is the one for you. As advertised, Sony delivers that extra bass while still keeping the output free of distortion even at 80% volume which is good sound engineering, as the mids and highs too are well delivered. Many earphones that go for extra bass tend to lose focus on that front but not this one.
The ear pods fit very well and as stay in your ears as you let your body sway and air-head-bangs come off to those beats. One thing you’d have to get used to with that extra bass is that it isolates the outside noise to a considerable extent. The build quality is top notch and would last you for a long time even if you were to put it through some rough usage, including that tangle-free wire.
Frequency Range : 4Hz – 24000Hz
Cable Length : 1.2m
Weight : 82gms
3. RHA S500
Out in the game for more than a decade now is the hardcore audio engineering company from Britain that you may have heard only if you are an audiophile. If you are the kind who loves nothing but the music as it rolled off the studio recordings, no artificial enhancements, pure clarity of the voice and the instruments, then this could be just what you are looking for. It knows to operate from just one space that that is from a place of the absolute balance of treble and bass, music and non-music consumption. With this sort of output, things like podcasts, talk shows, calls and such are delivered in a very high quality including noise cancellation option. For a quick test, do a conference call with the RHA S500 and any other pair of earphones, and you would know what we mean.
The build quality is pristine, and the EarPods fit well into your ears with one of the seven plug-ins that come in the box, and you wouldn’t believe how light this thing is! Simply put, this is for the sound purists only! You can buy one for around Rs 4000 in India or $40 in the US.
Frequency: 16Hz – 22000Hz
Cable Length : 1.3m
Weight : 14gms
4. Jays A-Jays One+ T00085
Fan of matte black? Care more about the audio output than the design? This may be something that you’d love. Keeping the design so simple yet so effective and coloring it in matte black, the Jay One+ will surely get you thinking. This is one of those rare combinations of high bass and crystal clear vocals – not something that everyone can master easily in sound engineering, that goes the length into optimising it for smartphones in particular. It is magic how the Jays One+ adjusts itself to the kind of music you’re listening to an intelligently delivers the right mix of treble and bass. And if that is not enough, the earphones can be programmed with an app that can be installed on your phones. Super duper uber tangle-free cords and but the EarPods are simple and minimalistic in their design that they may keep falling off if you’re on the move/jog. So certainly not the one for fitness or headbanging! Another downside is that the mic doesn’t pick up sound that well so you may have to up your tone or keep the mic real close to your mouth which means the other side can almost hear you breathing into it.
Frequency: 20Hz – 18000Hz
Cable Length: 1.14m
5. 1More Triple Driver Premium In-Ear
Not sure how many of you out there have heard about this brand but this is an American company that is out there to deliver the best possible audio engineering but with a disruptive approach to challenging the pricing of the big guns (a phenomena we have come to see a lot in the smartphones, aren’t we?!) With a design that has a mix of piston + nozzle with a angled EarPods that shine in chrome the 1More is definitely looking bold. As the name indicates, it has two drivers for balanced armatures while one additional one purely to address clarity, speaking of which this is another one for the purists and not the bass patrols but the sound resolution is so high and pristine you cannot stay off appreciating it. No matter what genre of music you’re listening to any podcasts or talks, there is such a telling demarkation on the human voice and the instruments involved (if its talks, then you’d see how separated the voices and the crowd claps are) which is a proof of some good sound engineering going on.
The earphones do have a mic but can also be controlled via an app on your phone. The wiring comes with kevlar reinforcements but gets tangled very easily. This one comes with the maximum number of accessories in the box including a clip for your shirt. You can buy one in India for Rs 8,999 or in the US for $149.
Frequency: 20Hz – 40000Hz
Cable Length: 1.2m
The list is endless and so are the preferences. We built the list not keeping any price bracket in mind but focusing on the brands that care and invest a lot in sound engineering in its true sense and some brands that are very good, and you may not have heard about. Most of the ones mentioned have an end-to-end focus on the design, output, packaging, out of the box accessories, post-sales service and so on. There are Bose (SoundSport In-Ear), Creative (Aurvana In-Ear 2), Audio Technica (Solid Bass In-Ear series), JBL (Synchros S200a) and others at varied price points but we kept the list to just 5. It so ended up that they all fall between Rs 4-10k range.
If you’re particular about economical and much affordable pair of earphones, we will be dropping a dedicated article for it very soon! But here is a quick list nonetheless:
What is your choice of earphones? Do you like us carry multiple pairs for different purposes or shoot for a multipurpose one? Do tell us in the comments