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Monday, December 03, 2007

Ultimate in Music for the ones with an ear(or two) for music and details.

Hot on the heels of the PMP post, I thought what better than writing about the headphones to go with such good devices.

My search for the best headphones has perhaps ended, and with an happy ending. After growing up with the tinny sounding Sony headphones bundled together with cassette walkman and chatting headsets, I finally noticed what I needed to hear the music, one which I have so carefully collected and cherish. Yep, a better set of headphones !!

Since I am on the move often now, having a portable audio device was half the answer of spending your time waiting for that flight, or once inside, waiting for the flight to land. With the noise in the plane, especially when you get the seats next to the roaring jet engines, none of your normal earphones can overpower that noise. This resulted in maxing out the volume on the player and trying hard to listen to your music amidst the roar. This is when I found about noise cancelling headphones.

Noise cancelling headphones are use technology to solve the noise problem. They cancel the noise by generating opposing spectrum, which for me, didn't sound so nice. Even though I haven't had a chance to try any noise cancelling headphones, I am pretty sure they wouldn't come close to the real champs - Noise Isolating earphones.

Noise Isolation works without any technological/electronic way of suppressing noise. All they do is create a fit like an ear plug (in ear canal type) or a snug fit over the ears (in studio style), which blocks out the external noise thereby providing you with a silent listening environment. At first, I was apprehensive about the ability of the headphones to really isolate the noise as they mention. So I thought, why not give a try . . .

After researching for over 7 months, I finally narrowed down my choice of IEC type earphones to two brands : Shure & Ultimate Ears. I had heard a lot about shure and its audio equipment is top notch. Ultimate Ears was a new term to me, however after diving deep into the web with google, I found it to be comparable and in some cases better than Shure.

The prices of these brands itself is a big deterrent, more so in the case when you don't want to buy the lowest class of their range and feel left out from the top offerings. Amazon is a heaven for electronics and I chanced upon a lovely sale of the Shure E2c IEC earphones for $49.99 (reg. price $99 and above). I was quick to order one and in the meanwhile Radioshack came up with Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 3 Studio IEC
earphones for $49.99 (reg. price $80-129). Also, I got the UE Super.Fi 5 Pro series which retail for $249 for $169 from Amazon to see what difference do the higher version makes.

UE Super.Fi 3 Studio was outstanding in build and immediately showed me what I was missing all these years. Sound never was so clear, at such low volumes, and best of all, I could be in any noisy surrounding and still the volume level need not be pushed up !! I heard instruments in the soundtracks and albums which I couldn't have thought existed.

When the UE Super.Fi 5 pros arrived, I didn't wait for the Shures to come in and opened them and got going. There was a slight disappointment at first, since I didn't find a huge difference in the sound, but then after hearing for a considerable time, the UE 5 pros made their impact with rich bass and nice acoustic feel. Now only the Shures remained and I tried them on. To my surprise, I couldn't manage to get them to fit in my ears and gave up on it and returned them. So, I was left in dilemma about these two from UE. Both were excellent headphones, with UE Super.Fi 3 providing excellent sounds for vocal based audio and UE 5 for instrumental and jazz based. I decided to keep them both. A whopping investment of $200. But what the hell, I got something for which I am never going to go back into the market.

Sounds music to your ears, well go out and try it for yourself. The UE 3 Studio is still around in Radioshack stores if you can find one.

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