So I stopped by Best Buy yesterday and picked up a pair of these, and I'm not impressed. I did some initial listening and then let these burn in for 18 hours. Let me start by saying that I really wanted to like these, they're beautiful and are compact and I really like the design overall, all they needed to do was sound good enough and I'd be sold.
Here are my impressions.
First, the build quality, aesthetics, and comfort on these are all very good. Let's go ahead and get that out of the way now, if all you want is something that looks and feels good then these may be for you. Now on to the sound:
In a word, muffled. After 18 hours or so on continuous playback to break them in the sound really hasn't changed much at all, so I doubt it'll change much going forward either.
First of all, out of the box and un-equalized these are borderline unlistenable. There is NO top end, and I don't mean that like "they're missing that last little bit of sparkle", no I mean no top end. There's lots of upper bass, midrange that is there but overshadowed by the bass and a top end that is virtually non-existant. I don't have the tools to measure them, but if I did I suspect the FR curve would be a line that goes from upper left to lower right with a few weird spikes. If you have music that is excessively bright to the point of unlistenable on other headphones it may work well on these - I do not have any and cannot think of any though and just see how any human with normal hearing could enjoy these unequalized.
No problem, that's why we have equalizers right? Well first off I'm generally opposed to equalization on principle alone, but even moreso on portable devices because of the battery hit. However, to really give these a fair shake and be able to form any coherent opinion other than 'suck' I played around with the EQ settings on the iPhone.
I tried all the options, and the two that sounded the best were bass reducer and treble booster. Treble booster just bumps up the treble while mostly leaving everything else alone, bass reducer drops the bass down a bit which results in the high end popping out a little. Treble booster worked best 90% of the time but for music that was real bassy I went the other way. Even with the EQ engaged though, these still have a very dark sound to them. So with the treble engaged the highs were a bit better, they were at least there but were very thin sounding, but the overall sound of the headphone was still very colored and dark. That upper bass just overshadows the entire midrange and just throws the whole sound way out of balance. I suppose some forms of Rock and maybe electronic music sound ok, but overall the sound is just not good even when equalized.
I also dug out the Zune to get a comparison on another device even though these are engineered to iDevices. The results on the Zune are exactly the same. In fact when playing back the same file the Zune and iPhone sound remarkably similar (I still hate the lack of physical volume buttons on my Zune though).
So in review, not impressed