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Looking for the Sweet Spot... Bass-Heavy buds around $50-150

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

My humble greetings to the Dignified community of Head-Fi forums, Equipment  locale,

 

I’ve been faithfully and exceptionally served by my pair of $60 sony extra bass Earbuds for about 5 years (it’s been so long, and they are so worn, that I have no idea which model), and they finally went on me… My usage has been increasing since I got a Smartphone, and between my phone and computer those buds are juiced an buzzing about 6 hrs/day.  Being as it is, I decided that, much like I do for most personal “toys”,  I wanted a high-end, top quality piece of equipment.

 

Here’s what I’m looking for:

Price: $1 - $150ish

Type: IEM, Earbud, or over-the-ear if the phone is worth the investment

Uses: @ work on HP elitebook Laptop, & HTC Hero for both music (via player, LastFM app) and phone calls. Don’t exercise or anything, but lots of walking when using the phone. Thinking about getting an Amp in the future.

Music:  Rap, Alt Rock, Techno, and spattering of Oldies and Classic Rock. So Bass is top priority for sound, high end clarity as well.

Features (prioritized):

Rugged Construction - I’m tough on all my stuff, you should see my shoes!),

Comfortable feel -Wear them long periods of time. Most often, I use the medium/stock size single tips. Bi/Tri flanges are hit or miss, and Foam NEVER work for me.

Microphone- Use it for all calls during the day and @ work. Sprint HTC Hero

 

Gist of things: Sound is the top priority, with Bass being the dominate factor in that regard. The fact is, that’s the whole reason why I want to buy high-end IEMs, rather them using $5 junkers. I went to every Best Buy in my area, and grabbed every pair over $45 dollars that they carry… which I have outlined below. I’ve spent countless hours scouring the Internet for reviews and such, having led me to this forum.  The outcome is:

Diddybeats-Whites that work with phone don’t fit very well and hurt over time.

Klipsch S4s- Shoddy construction likely to get broken in short time.

CX300IIs- Best deal, but is the conservative pic, and isn’t the “BADASS” pair I want.

 

I know from my hunting online that there is a Plethora of options out there, and certainly there is a pair that matches what I’m looking for much better than the options I’ve got listed here. Fact is this is ALL that is available in a store around me (50 mile radius)… and online won’t let me return them no-questions-asked OPENED for cash like BestBuy. While I wish I was rich enough to just buy them all, I doubt any of us are in that sort of position. I’ve been pouring over ClieOS and Joker’s reviews, which have given great insight. Hopefully the kind folks of the Head-Fi forum can help me out, and point a bit more specifically based on what I am hunting.

 

Thanks for your time and attention,

Jason Fogo

 

 

 

Beats by Dre Tours – Real heavy on the ends, so just couldn’t get them to sit properly for an extended period of time.  The price is bloated from packaging, marketing, and name recognition. Way over-hyped compared to the actual sound it produced. Between the fact that they didn’t sound anything special, wouldn’t sit in my ears, or would hurt from cramming them in, $150 isn’t worth the name and great solid construction. Fact is, this met all the features and criteria I have… BESIDES sound!

Beats by Dre Ibeats- I honestly dug these more than the Dre tours… and the 50 price drop with comparable sound. They were solid in some ways (construction, cords), but did nothing exceptional … and with 6 other sets with a comparable sound, all under this pricetag, not a chance.

Diddy Beats (Black & White)- First, let me just say that I HATE P Diddy, and at first refused to touch them.. but after being disappointed with all the other Dre Beats, I wanted to see if my hopes his product would be worse were true. To my initial dissatisfaction, they were the best of them all. Seemed to have the heaviest/deepest bass out of all I tried, with more than adequate crispness of highs. I started with the black, which I really dug the ascetics of, and fit comfortable with L single tips (spent 4.5 hrs with them). However I have a HTC Hero, so control talk didn’t work. Found out the white one’s do, so swapped them out, felling I found THE pair… well they look silly in white, have no volume controls, and most disappointing of all … They Fit Differently! I had to use the smallest singles (triples and foam just don’t work well for me). My ears started to hurt 40 minutes in to listening.. More importantly they just didn’t sound as good as the black ones. I just can’t justify spending $150, and not fully liking them (not to mention self conscious of the big white shiny feminine style).

Jaybirds ($99 ones)- Awkward feel. All mids, no deep bass. Did have a nice “crispness”, but listening to mostly rap, Bass is a must.

Sony MDR-EX85LP – Pretty comfortable, and easy to use (pop em in, no adjustment needed). The bass has great response, however the set-up seems to drown out the highs once you have them seated properly, which I think is because the treble comes out towards the inside area of the ear, not the canal. For $50, these seemed like a solid deal, and kept them for comparison for further research. The case that came with it was real nice as well, between the plastic insert to set the buds and wrap the wire, and the extremely – Pretty comfortable, and easy to use (pop ‘em in, no adjustment needed). The bass has great response, however the set-up seems to drown out the highs once you have them seated properly, which I think is because the treble comes out towards the inside area of the ear, not the canal. For $50, these seemed like a solid deal, and kept them for comparison for further research. The case that came with it was real nice as well, between the plastic insert to set the buds and wrap the wire, and the extremely durable nylon pouch. Doesn’t have “fashion sense”, but is the most practical of all I tried.

Sennheiser CX300II- These remind me of my car (05 VW Jetta GLI w/ turbo, racing seats, and banging stereo)…  Fantastic performance (though not exotic) for a great price. There  is great balance between clarity on the high end, and thump on low side. However, whether it is due to lack of input from my set-up, but they just did not have a lot of top end. I can handle maxing out my volume on my laptop, while most others it would be too much. Maybe an amp would help, but the lack of features is what stopped me for just settling with these. A mic is necessary, as much of my listening occurs on my HTC Hero. Junk case didn’t help either. These are a perfect Back-up, but just don’t satisfy my want for that feeling of getting the “perfect” high-end item.

Klipsch Image S4 – Out of all the buds tested, these seemed to have the highest SQ. They also were the most comfortable compared to all the others (except maybe the CX300s, which were so light you forgot they were there).  Similar to the sony’s they were quickly set-up in-ear.  However the complete lack of presentation, seemingly low quality, and shoddy construction made me shy away. I heard plastic creaking within the first hr of handling them. I would CERTAINLY break them soon, which is sad because they sound great. Case sucked, and no mic. I would honestly consider the one with the Mic if it had better construction. I’m honestly hoping those new S5i are the ones that do the trick for me! But with soooooo many other companies out there available, I don’t want to just assume and spend the money online with the risk that I can’t send back if I find something nicer.

 

V-moda Remix- Loved the all metal construction of these. And despite their heavy weight, they sat well and didn’t have “fallout” issues. Unfortunately, the SQ was lackluster, and didn’t  make listening a unique experience. If I’m going to spend anything over $25, it must feel different than the average buds, not just be more loud.

Sennheiser’s Adidas Waterproof ($89)- Much like the V-moda. There were certain features that stuck out,  but the overall lack of SQ or depth, much less stage size/feel, tossed these out quickly.

SkullCandy Full Metal Jacket – Built like a tank, these seemed the perfect anathema to my qualms with the S4s. These were the “nicest Skull candy’s that Bestbuy had. Had all the options I was looking for (strong wires, bud construction, mic, nice hard case)!  Unfortunately… they are junk. Awkward and poorly balanced just like the “Beats by Dre”, not to mention heavy from metal construction, makes the fit/comfort factor a total fail. Sound quality was the worst out of all the buds tested.

post #2 of 4

Since you found the fit of the EX85's comfortable, but want strong bass, you might want to consider the relatively new Audio Technica CKS90's as well. They have a similar design to the 85's, without such large ports in the outer ear, and really should have incredible bass. I have a pair of the older CKS70's, and the construction is quite good, the strain reliefs chunky, etc. While I have done a few things to them to improve the sound, the CKS90 shouldn't be so much of a compromise.

 

You can snag a pair from Accessoryjack - you might be a bit of a guinea pig though because Head-Fi reviews of them are nowhere to be found. They have an incredibly high sales rank and overall a decent rating on the Japanese ranking site Kakaku, if that helps.

 

Welcome to Head Fi btw. You seem fairly dedicated for buying every single pair and returning them. I'm surprised that is even allowed for hygiene reasons!

post #3 of 4

Sennheiser IE6.

Refurbs for $50 on amazon, $100 new. There's no other iem for bass tilted presentation with that sort of build quality.

 

CX300 are crap, along with half your list.

post #4 of 4

Suggestion: Denon C751.

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