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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Battle of the Buds

1. Introduction

The great news about all of the iPods and array of MP3 players currently available on the market, is that you can carry all your tunes in one handy device. Most provide excellent audio quality as well as ample storage. But Apple and other manufacturers have to cut costs somewhere. The iPod video and Nano are beautiful players, delivering top notch performance and sound – just not through those little white ear buds. Don’t fret though – the easiest way to drastically upgrade your music player is to upgrade the headphones.

That's where this review steps in. It is a roundup of some of the best headphones available out there, and will hopefully help you decide which are right for you. The roundup consists of some incredibly expensive and unbelievable earphone/headphone alternatives and some relatively budget priced models as well. While it may not be fair to pit $300 headphones against those costing 1/3 the price – the results may surprise you. We are not all in the market for headphones costing as much as the iPod itself – but that is certainly possible – as you will see. In a future review, I will look at real budget alternatives.

For now, each headphone will be thoroughly reviewed and then rated. At the end of this review, I will also provide my final conclusions which I hope will help you in your decision-making.

The Headphones in the roundup are:

  • Altec Lansing IM616 In-Ear Headphones
  • Shure E4g – “Gaming Edition” Earphones
  • Shure E3g in-ear Earphones
  • Shure E2g in ear phones
  • Audio- Technica Import Series ATH EC7 GM
  • Audio-Technica ATH EW9
  • Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 Pro

 




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