JBL Reference 220 Headphone (White)


New Head-Fier
Pros: Quality sound, lots of extras
Cons: Cloth cord, small soundstage?
Let me get some disclaimers out there before I start writing this review. This was the first pair of $30+ headphones/IEMs I bought. I also got them on clearance (50%) so, for what I paid, these are quite a good deal. At retail price, I'm not sure they are a steal.
When I first plugged these in, I noticed the bass was fairly prominent. Now, either I'm getting deafer or the bass has tamed as these have aged. I'll go with the latter. I remember reading reviews online that stated these are bass heavy. Well, that's probably because they were listening to a brand new set. Give them some time and the lower frequencies will calm down. The sound is more detailed than anything else I've listened to previously (hoping to change that soon). So these sound great, but looking at where these fall in the spectrum of IEMs, I gather there is something to be gained from nicer buds. I've always used these in my iPod 30GB (before the hard drive crapped iteself) and currently in my Zune 120GB. They sound good in both but better in the Zune (probably because its out is better). Isolation is pretty good. With these in properly and nothing playing, sounds are really subdued with nothing being intelligible except someone raising their voice at me. I like that: enough to knock out normal noise levels, but not so much you wouldn't know the world is ending.
The biggest complaint I have about these was part of the cool factor going in: the cloth cord. It creates such a noisy listening experience on the go. I try to use these when stationary (i.e. at work, relaxing, riding in a car). I don't notice a big sound stage either (not that I've ever heard what that should sound like). Maybe that's just a drawback of IEMs, maybe it's the files I listen to (have 320kbps when possible). Everything sounds up front and separated as far as left and right go, but I don't feel like things are in front of me or to the right and up and so on and so forth like people talk about on this forum.
Finally, these buds came with a lot of little extras. The nicest of which is the case, and the not so nice is just about everything else. The attachable clips and band seem like an afterthought and don't mesh well with the buds. All the extra plugs would come in handy for travel, and there are a few different tips, but that is standard practice.
All in all, these are good little headphones at the price I paid. They have been a welcome addition after my 3 month old Skullcandies threw in the towel...yes, I owned Skullcandies. Get over it. Consider me educated since then.