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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Battle of the Buds

2. Altec Lansing IM616 In-Ear Headphones

The IM616 is an in-the-ear headphone. This particular model was designed in collaboration with Etymotic who makes some of the best headphones in the business. They are engineered to provide an accurate music stream; these micro earphones assure smooth treble, clear and natural piano, crisp percussion and rich orchestral music. The earphones are shaped to comfort-fit like earplugs, capturing awesome bass within the ear. Importantly, this earplug design blocks out external sound, allowing lower level listening volume and preventing hearing damage and overload distortion from otherwise excessive noise.

Design :The IM616 is a very lightweight Earphone. The unit consists of a tri-flanged white rubber tip which fits over the driver. Underneath the tip, is a filter that catches ear-wax and other lovely junk that might interfere with the sound quality. The filter needs changing every so often, and Altec Lansing includes a pair of fresh filters and a handy ear-wax cleaning tool.

Obviously, if you keep your ears clean, you won’t encounter too much trouble. The key to these earphones is that you really have to put them in your ear canals. Once they are set deeply into the canal, you find that you actually turn the volume lower than what you might ordinarily use with other headphones.

Sound Quality: The IM616 produced accurate high frequencies. I actually heard more detail when listening to these headphones than I had ever heard before in my music. The highs were crisp, the vocals were smooth and the separation was unbelievable. Where these headphones were lacking, to my taste, was in the bass. Now, I have very, very small ear canals, especially on one side (as a result of ear surgery) so I had several members of my family try out these phones. My oldest son is a giant, and he heard loud, crisp bass. He has the biggest ears, so I guess that made the difference. These are high end phones with a high end sound.

Comfort: The IM616 began to hurt in my ears over an extended period of time but other members of the family who listened with them felt no discomfort at all. The plastic was a bit hard but they are very lightweight.

Over all Grade : A-

Pros: Great highs and detail. Lightweight, well designed and sturdy

Cons: Need to be shoved way into the ear canals. They are uncomfortable over extended periods of time. Lacking in bass.

vailable at for US$149.00

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