The world of audiophillium is an intense place. There are so many great toys, too many of which come at insane prices. Settling – purchasing a cheaper alternative – happens often and unfortunately, can sometimes cost more in the long run in what can only be called, the Real McCoy envy. But, buying The One – that headphone or amp that you know will change your world – is even more troubling as it can sink your rent cheque for some months.
Jaben.net’s Deals – Jaben often bundle great products together to form truly inspiring audio packages which can be shipped all around the Globe.
|Jaben.net – CK10 Bundle 279$
This bundle is remarkably priced. The CK10 is not marketed outside of Japan and remains close to 300$ at most international vendors. Jaben throw in a 149$ portable amp and two more goodies: interconnects and a line out dock to create the best current portable audiophile package.
Though not yet reviewed at TMA, the CK10, is an all-time favourite of mine, impressing with its smooth, detailed rendering of any music and bypassing the competition’s tiny soundstage. The amp package along with iPod dock and interconnect ensures that the CK10 is adequately fed from your iPhone or iPod, exhibiting its best sonic characteristics.
The CK10 build quality is top-notch, beating out even Westone’s UM2, UM3X and W3 for sturdiness, quality parts, and housing robustness. Its Achilles heal? While Audio Technica made a great noise-free cable that is stronger than any competitors, it remains improperly bumpered and lacks quality stress relief. Despite this caveat, it is the best of the small form factor iems on the market.
Amazon’s Deals - If you live in the USA, you are blessed with one of the most trustworthy online stores. Lenient return policies, great selection and many shipping options, Amazon is the king of the jungle.
|Audio Technica CK10 211.99$
If you don’t care for the entire 279$ bundle from Jaben, Amazon have rounded up some great resellers whose USA prices nearly mirror those of Japan. If you can snatch up the CK10 for 211.99$, go for it.
|Audio Technica ATH-AD700 79.22$
My first high-end Headphone was not the Koss Porta Pro, it was the AD700, an open-design Headphone that has great stage and fast attack. It is a great companion to rock music and even electronic and extremely comfortable. Considering that it retails closer to 140$, Amazon’s deal is a no-brainer.
|Apple In-ear headphones (previous generation) 21.99$
While not the new dual-balanced armature version that are gaining a serious fandom, the previous generation in-ear headphones represent a huge sound quality jump from Apple’s included earbuds and seal a goodly amount of noise out of your music. Originally retailing at around 50$, the new Amazon price makes these a hard bargain for many competing products.
|Etymotic ER4S 179.00$
Concurrent with my love affair with Westone’s UM2, I mingled with the ER4S. It is the grand daddy of all universal inner ear monitors and has remained in its nearly 20-year market life, one of the most highly sought-after inner ear monitors. Each driver is hand-selected and matched, a feat not bested by any other manufacturer – one that proves Etymotic’s devotion to audio quality is not just skin deep. The ER4S is an unbelievable sounding IEM with a linear if not slightly treble-elevated frequency response. Along with the CK10, it is one of the most neutral earphones on the market and at nearly half its MSRP, a steal at 179.99$.
|Sleek Audio SA6 179$
Sleek’s SA6 retails for 250$ and features the same detachable coaxial cables as its more expensive sibling, the Custom CT6. For 179$, the SA6 is a wonderful sounding steal from one of the most exciting new audio companies on the planet. For lovers of all types of music, Sleek’s universal earphone is great. While not as smooth as the CK10, it offers a weightier, foot-tapping sound with great extension and staging. The added bonus of Sleek’s design is of course, its modularity. Users can add treble or bass to their music by snapping on bass ports or treble tubes for a truly unique audio experience.
|Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 134.95$
UE’s new designs are stunning. I was duly impressed by the shiny MetroFi 220 and the UE700, but the SuperFi 5 new, space-age design is one of the sleekest earphones on the market. And, considering its retail price of 170$, a great steal from Amazon.
|Westone UM2 264.98$
The UM2 was my first foray into high-end portable music and remains a benchmark for quality build in an inner earphone. It sounds good, is well made and features a noiseless cable that can withstand long and sweaty band performances and insane road climbs on your Marinoni bicycle.
|Westone 3 349.99$
This phone retails at 399$ and has changed the universal inner earphone landscape for discerning listeners. Suffice it to say that Westone’s top-of-the-line consumer product has become a benchmark for audio quality, and to some, the ultimate universal IEM (though some others prefer the UM3X).
|Zagg Z-Buds Red 31.99$
When I reviewed the Z-buds, 79.99$ was too much to ask. However, Zagg have retooled the Z-Buds cables to better fit active mobile phones users’ lives. For just shy of 32$, the Z-Buds are a worthy and innovative buy.