I was checking out the web and came across two earphones. They bear the High Definition Sound Standard lettering and talk of ETL technology.
Some ETL talk from the TBI Audio Systems website...
"You only have to listen and if you get close to other small speakers you really hear the chaos existing inside the enclosure. If all of the sound that you hear is all over the room then where is all of the sound on the other side of the drivers' cone? It remains trapped in the box bombarding the cone with chaotic sound waves that cause a sound character termed boxy and colored. This problem exists with all speakers especially small ones."
"The ETL™ (Embedded Transmission Line) provides a unique loading foundation that allows a bass reflex design to perform to infrasonic frequencies actually below 20 Hz. It does this while providing inherent acoustic shielding for the drivers' diaphragm to eliminate interaction with reflected room signals."
"ETL™ eliminates the biggest enemies of the speaker driver, the enclosure itself and the rooms negative effects on placement. In doing so it creates for the first time an enclosure, which improves the drivers operation in real acoustic spaces. It does this by creating a coherent controlling internal pressure from the source signal itself, which drives the entire diaphragm surface the full frequency range thus resisting the effects of lower pressure reflections. The room becomes acoustically friendly and positioning can be where it needs to be including on the wall, on stands, on shelf or bookshelf placement. Room reflections become benign facts of life not modifiers of the drivers acoustic impedance thus allowing the individuality of the rooms sonics to co-exist with the loudspeaker and its placement."
So, very basically, ETL is essentially mounting the driver differently so it behaves like a piston and reduces housing resonance and sound waves interacting in a negative way.
OEM Starsonic has produced two models using the tech. The E1 series, EP-828-E1 canalphones and the EP-888-E1 earphones...
Being curious I got a hold of a sample of each. I paid for them from one of the global suppliers. They are not free samples.
I got my samples and burned them in for ~50 hours. Then I listened to them for a while. Do they do the things mentioned in the above chart? They do sound pretty natural and are relaxing without fatigue. They are strong in the vocals with good clarity/intelligibility and detail. They both have a pretty airy stage with nice extension on both ends. Good detail and clarity(varies with tip on the in-ears) also. The do gradually lose impact but keep their sound balance well as they go to low volumes.
They are both a little better than I thought they would be and spending a few $$$ on them was worth it. I'm all for experimenting, trying out something new or different, but it is better when it works out.
I'll throw them right into the fire. First up, the 828 in-ears against the popular and high value Xears TD100. A stiff challenge indeed!
I chose the TD100 since they are a popular, good performer and they have a similar signature making for a more appropriate comparison. Apples to apples if you will. Very much so as they are hard to tell apart sound-wise. The Starsonic are slightly less bassy, take one more notch of volume, and the soundstage is slightly smaller. The detail level is equal but slightly harder to hear on the Starsonic. The slight edge goes to the Xears for a slightly more effortless sound. Hey, more burn in may loosen up the 828's drivers a bit and even them out. Feel free to PM me as I don't like having essentially two of the same phone. I'll keep the Starsonic as a Y-cord with slider and lighter housings work better for me.
Next up, the EP-888-E1. The challenger is a solid little entry familiar to a few people who use buds, the Sennheiser MX471.
The Sennheiser is inexpensive, good looking, well built, has a great cable, and sound well worth the admission price. The Starsonic has a nice housing but with big 16mm drivers they will give some people fit issues. The Senn is made for smaller ears and can be built up with rubber rings and foams. The EP-888-E1 has a lousy cable. One of the weaker ones I have seen on a bud. A reverse J-cord with the right side being the short side. Really looks weak next to the Senn. But, in this case the Starsonic wins the battle of SQ. A bigger, more open sound with better detail and clarity. Slightly more extension also. The caveat is the signature which has 2 or 3dB less bass than the MX471. I feel both can use some bass through EQ or an E3 amp thrown into the mix. Still, the EP-888 has more separation, sharper notes, a bigger deeper stage. The Senn is slightly mid forward while the 888 is nearly flat from bass to mids to treble. A better quality warmer sounding cable could make these a real winner!
This little experiment was fun and it paid off. Not sure what will become of the tech. These seem like very basic entry-like models so something of higher quality/more advanced design could be really good. Hopefully, we will see more headphones/earphones with this tech.
Edited by jant71 - 8/14/10 at 8:01am