TouchMyApps » Earphones http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:31:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Fischer Audio DBA-02 MKII in Review – Bittersweet http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/03/29/fischer-audio-dba-02-mkii-in-review-bittersweet/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/03/29/fischer-audio-dba-02-mkii-in-review-bittersweet/#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2012 13:54:37 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=67359 Fischer Audio have updated their best-selling DBA-02. And what an update it is. The DBA-02 MKII is a delightful earphone replete with comfort and an accessory kit that is the envy of the earphone world. How about its sound, you ask? I’ll be singing praises soon enough. First, let’s yabber about WOWs. Package and accessories … Read more]]>

Fischer Audio have updated their best-selling DBA-02. And what an update it is. The DBA-02 MKII is a delightful earphone replete with comfort and an accessory kit that is the envy of the earphone world. How about its sound, you ask? I’ll be singing praises soon enough.

First, let’s yabber about WOWs.

Package and accessories
The first WOW for me came when I picked up the chunky DBA box. It’s cardboard, not plastic, but it’s not run-of-the-mill cardboard. In Star Wars terms, it’s a Corellian cruiser, not Princess Leia’s transport; or better yet, it’s an imperial Star Destroyer, but without the two weak testicles at the top. Depending on how bony your bum is, you can sit on box without crushing it. The importance here is twofold. First: it’s a great place to keep the myriad accessories. Second, when the audiophile gear buying urge gets you bad enough, you can even hide away an amp or two from your wife. Third (and most important): it is a breeze to open. I feel that I’ve not been tough enough on certain manufacturers. Some still insist on sealing their goods with hard, finger-cutting plastics that necessitate scissors, a medical degree, and the application of pressure and hurried calls to 911. Yes, I’ve actually bled after opening certain earphone boxes. Not with the DBA-02MKII.

Inside the box, you get a wonderfully small (and therefore practical) zippered carrying case. (It is semi-hard, and will keep your DBA-02 MKII safe and snug with enough room left for a backup pair of ear pieces, and have room enough left over for an iPod shuffle or Nano.) Then, there are dozens of ear pieces for you to play with. There are three sets of hybrid pieces – though, I should admit that calling them hybrid is unjust to true hybrids as they are merely silicon flanges with a bit of foam on the inside. Nevertheless, they fit well and isolate well. Then, there are triple flanges, transparent flanges, and still more: there are loads to choose from, and each one is comfortable. Finally, there are two ear-guides and a shirt clip to keep the DBA-02 MKII put.

Let’s start with the shirt clip.

What it’s all about, I don’t know. Why do I say this? For starters, it’s a bugger to get on the cable. I really want to fasten cable after the y-split, but no can do. And even when I get the bugger into position before the y split, it does almost nothing to keep the cable next to my body nor touch noise down. And I’m no fool. I graduated from York University (the audience roars with laughter). With a degree in English literature (they gasp for air, hammering their sides).

It was an honours degree. (Someone in the second row falls over from cardiac arrest.)

I’ll preface the next section merely by saying: the shirt clip is the first strike against the DBA-02 MKII’s ergonomics. It isn’t the last.

Build quality and cable
The DBA-02 MKII is well made. It’s housing is tough, comfortable, and compact. It won’t unnecessarily weigh down the cable, or easily snag on loose clothing. The plug is nicely relieved. It is either melted to the cable or stuck there with adhesive, reinforcing internal contacts. It is not, however, L-shaped, meaning it will be under more stress, particularly if you use it with a portable player. L-shaped plugs withstand drops and pressure much better. That said, my CK10, which I consider the best-made earphone in the world, has straight cable. It is still going strong after years of combined usage. All that is to say: the DBA-02 MKII is well made, certainly in its price range.

But the cable is rectangular, not round.

Yay, so it doesn’t tangle as badly as some other designs. Yay, flat cables generally are stronger singular products than round or twisted cables. Yay. And, it’s in style. Hell, even Final Audio use flat cables on their excellent FI-BA-SB earphone. Yay Bob. Flat cables by nature stress their internal wires more because weight isn’t evenly distributed. Wires on the outside of cable tend to get stretched more than inside wires do. That leads to shorts. I’ve seen it with the a-Jays FOUR, and Monster Beats Tour.

That said, the DBA-02 MKII cable is better than those two. It is more snug, and better relieved than either. I expect it to last much longer, too, but I don’t think it belongs in a flagship product.

Fit
Praises ahoy. At least as far as comfort goes. The tiny size of the DBA-02 MKII is a wonder-worker for both small and large ears alike. It is supremely comfortable. The DBA will fit into any ear, you’ve got my York University Honours degree on it…

The ear pieces are excellent and come in so many sizes that at least one is bound to fit perfectly in your ears. Even so, I take advantage of the small sound tube to fitfitting SHURE Olive hybrid foams or Comply tips that I use on the Westone 4.

My opinion sours, however, as the cable fits into the equation. Square are buggers to use.

Let me illustrate. The logo on the DBA suggests it is meant to be worn with the cable over the ear. Great. Most good earphones are made to be worn in the same way because it keeps the earphones in the ear, relieving stress from the earphone and cable connection, and thus eliminating grand portions of touch noise. However, if you are to wear the cable over the ear, you necessarily need a cable cinch to keep the cables from flapping all over. The DBA lacks one. Big omission. The combination of ear guides and shirt clip are not enough. The ear guides do not work well if you have glasses, and even without, may not keep the earphones in your ears anyway. As stated earlier, the shirt clip requires a master’s degree to operate.

In the end, I gave up wearing the cable over the ear. Even twirling the cable around itself didn’t work to keep the earphones in. Good news, though, wearing the DBA down is easy, and comfortable. Thread the cable through your shirt and Bob’s your uncle. He’s a loud one though, as that cable transfers a lot of touch noise to the ears no matter how careful you are.

Sound
Here’s where we get back to the WOWs. In 2010, I called Earsonics’ SM3 a Star Child. It still is. The DBA-02 MKII may well be another one. Its overall voice is similar, though more tipped to the treble and upper mids. In a similar vein, it is smooth, mostly flat, and detailed. Some people find the DBA-02 MKII to be extremely detailed. I don’t. Any more detailed and the DBA would fall flatly into the categorical demon, “analytical”. It isn’t though, and instead, allows for a smoothly detailed high range that is open well into the mid range. Lovely.

One thing iPod and iPhone users will notice instantly is that they don’t need much volume to hit very loud listening levels. The DBA is quite sensitive even at its middling sensitivity rating of 108dB. If you are careful with your ears, old records need just a minor volume bump to a third on iPhone 4‘s volume slider. Volume war records of the last twenty years need much much less. Because of this, you may be able to pick out background noise even from very clean sources like Apple’s new iDevices and high end headphone amplifiers. Fischer balance this sensitivity with a relatively thick-skinned 43 ohms, which is great for most portable sources. It allows players with high output impedances to retain resolution even in passages where low can disappear.

And works it does.

As long as you are not a basshead, the DBA-02 MKII will bring a smile to your face. The signal certainly does reach low, but does so with prejudice. Marcus Schultz’ Mainstage won’t roar in the background as it does when powered by lower voiced earphones like the Victor FX500 or my personal favourite, the Radius, but its overall balance is better. Low notes are round, firm, and decay in perfect time. In my opinion, they trump my favourite CK10 by their more natural timbre.

With a good fit, I can listen to the DBA for hours with no fatigue. That isn’t to say that this earphone isn’t detailed. You will hear details like a Madeleine Peyroux’s tongue click against her palettes and though you won’t be able to sense the shape of the guitar player’s thumb, there are loads of moments that can only be described as pornographic. Fortunately, they are soft porn. If you expect Etymotic exactness, you needn’t look here.

To some, this will be a blessing, to others, it will be a curse. Earlier, I compared the DBA to the Earsonics SM3. I promise you, it wasn’t ingenuous. Fischer’s flagship earphone is cooler sounding than the SM3, emphasising upper mids more than bass, but it is equally as smooth within a different metric. That is, bass and mids flow together perfectly, better than almost any earphone I’ve heard at any price.

(The biggest audio quality caveat with the DBA, however, is fit. In order for midrange detail and clarity to be milky and sweet, perfect fit is imperative. I found that pushing the stock ear tips in too far caused the midrange to be harsh, tinny; long term listening became uncomfortable. For my ears, the DBA sounds better with a shallow fit, or with Shure Olive ear pieces. Your mileage may vary.)

Getting on, high frequencies: cymbals in particular, decay quickly, and shimmer just enough. High frequencies are less grating than those of direct competitors, again trumping my beloved CK10. I think the dime will fall to heads for some, and tails for others, as even this great balance will for some be too bright. Again, I fall into the category of worshippers of this sound.

You may or may not fall into that group. Remember, thought the low-mid frequency transition is extremely smooth, high mids to ultra high frequencies are aggressive. If you don’t like bright earphones, you probably won’t love the DBA-02 MKII. If you do, however, you will find lots to love. Lots.

Fischer claim that the DBA-02 MKII reaches 24.000kHz. I don’t doubt that it can reach that high, but not without a LOT of fall off well before that mark. Obviously my ears aren’t sensitive to those levels, but they do a good job of categorising various earphones. To these ears, there appears to be less overall sound pressure in the extreme high frequencies than some of my other favourites.

And that is a good thing.

In summary, the DBA-02 MKII is a smooth sounding earphone aimed at midrange detail. Lows and highs are plentiful, but neither forefront. With good fit, you can enjoy wonderful vocals, strings, and percussion with the DBA-02 MKII. For trance listeners, there is good enough space and soundstage to keep you thumping in that imaginary universe, but not enough to cause you to get lost. Rockers, the wonderful transition between bass and mids is wonderful, with the promise of fast, pleasant cymbal decay. I cannot really recommend the DBA-02 MKII for hip hop lovers, however, as bass simply isn’t duffy enough. There is no driver wobble; too much kilter, really.

Out and about
With a long cable and great carrying case, the DBA-02 MKII should be the perfect walking/trekking/commuting earphone. But unless you can quiet the cable down, I guarantee you will be annoyed by its energy and touch noise. Still, the overall combination is good, and with the right tips, you can really push background noise out of your music. Again, Shure Olives are great for this.

Conclusion
What more can I say? Fischer have upgraded an instant classic. They have nearly perfected an already wonderful earphone. For listeners who love details but shy away from the sometimes screechy Etymotic ER4 and CK10, this is the earphone for you. It is smoother and more natural in its transitions from bass all the way to highs than the almighty SM3. Wow. But this level of natural perfection doesn’t come without its own set of caveats. Nope. You’ll have to put up with a rectangular cable that only a mother, or, judging by the sudden onslaught of such cables, hip music lovers who’ve never had anything better, could love. For me, it’s a bittersweet romance, and one good enough for a warm grab, though honestly, I’m dying for a kiss.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

Earphone Summary
Earphone: DBA-02 MKII Maker: Fischer Audio
Price: $178-220 USD
  • Perfect transitions
  • Great low and high extension
  • Wonderful accessory kit
  • Great fit
  • Stupid, noisy cable
  • No neck cinch
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Westone: Expand their headphone line with Westone 1, September 4 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/18/westone-expand-their-headphone-line-with-westone-1-september-4/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/18/westone-expand-their-headphone-line-with-westone-1-september-4/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 08:41:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=18145 Last year, Westone released the first true 3-way earphone, the Westone 3. It comes in an overhauled shell, but remains similar in size to the UM2 before it. With a focus on consumers, the Westone 3 has a ‘fun’ sound which is graphically v-shaped in its frequency response with emphasis placed on bass and treble. … Read more]]>

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Last year, Westone released the first true 3-way earphone, the Westone 3. It comes in an overhauled shell, but remains similar in size to the UM2 before it. With a focus on consumers, the Westone 3 has a ‘fun’ sound which is graphically v-shaped in its frequency response with emphasis placed on bass and treble. This year, Westone are releasing the Westone 1, a one-way balanced armature earphone which utilises the same housing and what looks to be the same accessory kit. But, at 199$ versus the 399$ MSRP of the Westone 3, the new headphone will be an easier decision.

In typical Westone fashion, the Westone 1 will utilise the excellent cable which is the industry’s least microphonic and best relieved and bumpered earphone. The suggested street price will likely fall to around 139$, making this a perfect earphone for the active audiophile.

The below information comes from Earphone Solutions’ Website:

New Westone 1 Earphones to be launched on September 4th

Earphone Solutions is excited to announce the launching of the new Westone 1 which will start shipping by mid-September.

The new Westone 1 is very similar in shape to the Westone 3, however it comes with a slightly longer nozzle based on customers’ feedback. The Westone 1 has a single balanced armature driver that will add realism and punch to your listening experience. The fit promises to be up there along with the UM1 (which is NOT being replaced by the Westone 1).

The Westone 1 will include an inline volume control, 1/4″ adapter, travel case and ten different types of eartips to customize the fit to your ears. The cable design is the same that sets Westone apart from its competitors.

Westone 1 will have an MSRP of $199.99 with street price of $139 according to Westone’s press release on August 17.

We look forward to receive our first sample so that we can publish our review.

Headphones fit geeks like boots fit footballers. TMA loves headphones as much as anything geek. Take a look at our headphone section.

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Monstercable are giving away Jamz headphones signed by Toronto artist, Anjulie! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/17/monstercable-are-giving-away-jamz-headphones-signed-by-toronto-artist-anjulie/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/17/monstercable-are-giving-away-jamz-headphones-signed-by-toronto-artist-anjulie/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 00:41:02 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=18121 Yeah, it doesn’t get much cooler than today. Companies are doing giveaways left and right. Already, Jays’ c-Jays giveaway is live at their blog and just after waking up, I found out that Monster, too, are playing Santa Claus. The Jamz are a new headphone product from Monster which seems to be debuting with this … Read more]]>
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This is an image from Monster, not the actual contest!

Yeah, it doesn’t get much cooler than today. Companies are doing giveaways left and right. Already, Jays’ c-Jays giveaway is live at their blog and just after waking up, I found out that Monster, too, are playing Santa Claus. The Jamz are a new headphone product from Monster which seems to be debuting with this contest. As for Anjulie, Canadians rejoice! Another home-grown pop star is rising from among our somewhat low-key population. She is a musician from Toronto who has just been nominated for an MTV music award and does seductive pop rather well. The contest convolutes both the Jamz and Anjulie – rather, Anjulie’s signature will accompany the Jamz if you win.

Check out her Myspace page here, or click more below for a few of her videos.

As for Monster – for some they need nearly no introduction. For the others, Monster are a cable company, but have branched out into anything music. We have done a couple of Monster Headphones reviews which are part of our larger headphone section.

The contest takes place at Monster’s webpage and requires you just to fill in your name, date of birth, and acceptance of the terms and conditions – in other words, I joined!

Monster’s Anjulie-autographed Jamz Headphones giveaway

Anjulie videos:

Anjulie | Boom

Anjulie’s Mullet — Yepp, you read that right!

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Earsonics SM2 Inner Earphones in Review http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/12/earsonics-sm2-inner-earphones-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/12/earsonics-sm2-inner-earphones-in-review/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2009 13:32:15 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=17379 Earsonics, a French producer of professional earphones, have broken into TMA with their SM2 DLX, a dual balanced armature professional in-ear stage monitor which is priced at 280 € in France, or 268€ outside the country . It both feels and performs worthy of its asking price and comes in your choice of the following three attires: … Read more]]>

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Earsonics, a French producer of professional earphones, have broken into TMA with their SM2 DLX, a dual balanced armature professional in-ear stage monitor which is priced at 280 € in France, or 268€ outside the country . It both feels and performs worthy of its asking price and comes in your choice of the following three attires: black, crystal (clear), and white. Like the UM3X from Westone, Earsonics’ top-tier universal iem has been constructed to exacting standards and utilises the same cable type: a durable, non-microphonic twisted strand design which is a benchmark for cable quality. Also, like its American competitor, the SM2 is plagued by a dearth of accessories.

Specifications
Sensitivity: 119 dB/mW
Trandsducers: 2 Balanced Armature drivers
Frequency Response: 20 Hz -18 kHz
Impédance: 16 ohms
Driver: 2 transducteurs with a passive 2-way crossover
Accessories: 2 Large Comply® foams, cleaning tool, semi-soft carrying case

Package and Accessories
Earsonics’ package leads the pack in Spartan, utilitarian designs. It is a simply adorned cardboard package whose sparse amenities: two large Comply® foams, a wax cleaning loop, and carrying case, are moulded into a snap-shut plastic tray. While a dearth of accessories is strangely par for the course in many hi-end universal professional monitors, it is disconcerting considering the price.

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However, Earsonic’s choice of Comply tips is a good one: the foam tip company’s products block more outside noise than any competitor’s ear pieces, are soft, comfortable, and easy to use. A word of warning however; the extremely porous foams have a few draw backs. If you use your earphones to monitor in hot, loud venues, or exercise whilst listening to your earphones, Comply earpieces’ minutely vented surface absorbs sweat. Be careful when re-situating the earphones because the foam can channel sweat into the earphone sound tube which can lead to short-circuits and/or sound blockages which are nasty to fix. Also, Comply tips wear out faster than many competing foams, losing compressibility, isolation and ultimately, utility.

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Earsonics’ zipper semi-soft case is excellent. Add the extra tips and ear cleaning tool to the SM2 earphones and there is still room inside for some extras. What would make it better is an inner compartment for ear separating components.

I can admire Earsonics’ no-frills packaging for its small footprint which is easy to stow anywhere. Even the plastic tray doesn’t need scissors, knives, or can-openers to pry open. Consequently, I doubt we will see any reports of users who cut themselves while excitedly opening Earsonic’s packaging.

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Build Quality
As a professional monitor, it would be a mistake to expect less than supreme construction. Earsonics have done their homework – at least most of it. There is nothing on the professional universal monitor market which stands up to their craftsmanship – unless it is Westone. The two companies utilise the same twisted cable which is both strong and exhibits nearly no touch-noise. Terminated in a block-shaped right-angle headphone plug, the jack is housed in impact-resistant plastic which is properly shrunk on to the cable with ~1 cm bumpers. Similarly, the SM2’s earpieces and y-split are shrink-bumped for strength and longevity. Stress relief is an extremely important part of protecting your investment and it is refreshing to see another manufacturer take such care with its products.

Although the SM2 utilises the same cable as the UM3X, and admittedly, looks to have a common ancestor, it isn’t quite as ergonomic. Both are comfortable and strong, but the Earsonics’ choice of angular plains is a small step down from Westone’s more natural curves. Still, the SM2 sits extremely flush in the ear and is among the better thought out designs among top-tier universal earphones. This makes cold weather wearing easier; adding a toque to your minus 20 listening wardrobe is as natural as a pair of woollen mitts and red cheeks.

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Plastic seams aren’t melted together as precisely as Westone’s UM3X, sometimes opening ever so slightly along the furrow. That said, the differences are mostly cosmetic as beneath the seams are plastic sills which effectively protect the earphone’s innards from the the environment. The SM2 indeed, is one of the most robustly-constructed earphones on the market. If the UM3X outpaces it in construction quality and ergonomics, it is by the smallest of margins, and maybe better determined by personal taste.

But both monitors are professional by design and intent. Neither stands up in build quality to the mere audiophile Audio Technica CK100. The professional market is in need of robustness, not frailty. The SM2 should last a long time, but its plastic body is its biggest enemy and if Earsonics fully did their homework, they’d have trumped Westone’s run-of-the-mill plastic shell.

Sound
Besides a nearly flawlessly constructed housing, Earsonics’ focus is obvious: excellent, balanced sound. While slightly warm in the mid region and thumping out a strong, yet balanced bass, there isn’t an overpowering frequency in the SM2’s arsenal. Its one flaw could be a slightly peaky treble which is evident in trance. Saying that, it topples many universal earphones with a large, well placed head stage and is overwhelmingly smooth and neutral.

The Usual Suspects
Ice Cube – Raw Footage
Again this album debuts to test a new earphone. The reason isn’t just because I am a fan of Cube’s smart, egotistical lyrics. Like a lot of contemporary American rap, it is completely low-fi; chalk full of poorly extended instruments, duffy bass, and to a fault, vocal-focussed engineering. Headphones which perform American rap well come in a couple of flavours. The first is the type like Monster’s Beats Tour which sound like a a flat, but powerful wall of sound. The other (in this case, the SM2), plays Raw Footage without any holds: rather, the album cries for more detail, space, and better psychoacoustics from its engineers. Despite revealing how shallowly recorded the album is, Raw Footage is amazing with the SM2.

Raw Footage is strangled by its own texture-less low end – the SM2 bottoms out beautifully, though not in a violent and detailed rumble; rather it expires in a tired, duffy sigh. Despite this album’s prejudiced engineering, it is a great experience with nearly any upgrade earphone. The SM2 adds taut, gritty edge to the veteran rapper’s ranting vocals, render bass perfectly and, among balanced armature headphones, remains a favourite of mine for American rap.

MC Solaar – Mach 6
This album remains my benchmark for well-engineered hip-hop. It is quick, lyrically tight, and varied in speed with a good selection of instruments and vocalists. Though the SM2 isn’t as hot in the mid range as some other phones, it is technically superior. Vocals are crisp, quick and beautiful, while bass is fast, punchy, and powerful. For a technically perfect performance, the SM2 hits the target, but its more neutral midrange loses some lushness compared with a midrange hothead like Mingo’s WM-2. I reference the latter earphone only to point out that there are many flavours of sound on the market. The SM-2 is superior from build to overall performance, but the WM-2’s warmth lends extra legs on certain albums which crave greater midrange room.

Braveheart – The Soundtrack
At once soft and tender, at times, this album crashes violently in sudden thundering crescendoes. Braveheart needs a delicate, yet mid-oriented earphone whose head stage is above-average and which renders bass deeply.

All things considered, there is hardly a better choice in the universal monitor market. Instruments and space are flawless. Wider stages can be found in other earphones: the Sennheiser IE8 for instance; but in the balanced armature world — a world known for excellent instrument separation and placement –, there are few to match the SM2. Bass, which thunders in and out is deep and resonant, adding emotional weight to the album, yet it isn’t overly energetic. It won’t interfere with the other frequencies, smearing mids or recovering too late.

Phantom of the Opera – The Original Canadian Recording
While the London recording is good, the Canadian version, which debuted with Colm Wilkinson and Rebecca Caine is superior. Wilkinson’s Phantom: pained, wispy and haunted is translated admirably. There isn’t a better Phantom than in the Canadian cast, however, there is a better Phantom earphone. Again, the SM2 isn’t stressed by any music in this album, but it doesn’t butter up the excellent recording. Smooth and beautiful, if your tastes are strongly mid-centric, the SM2 may leave wishing for more pain, pleading and probably, for a cheaper, less-neutral earphone.

However, back to back with the UM3X, the the SM2’s more expressive bass and clearer treble lend more to this emotional album. Both earphones are top performers – there is no denying it, but one will likely fit your fancy more than the other.

Marcus Schulz – Progression
It is hard to recommend a better benchmark trance album than this debut by the American DJ. From the deep introduction in Mainstage to the gripping melodies of songs such as Spilled Cranberries and On a Wave, the SM2 is a liquid-hot hit. Trance, a genre which sounds great from the most neutral of earphones, benefits from the SM2’s deep bass and spacious head stage. Vocals are lush, but not overly hot and musical pacing is perfect. The only problem I have encountered is that at times, the SM2 can be tweaky with electronic treble. This isn’t unique to Earsonics’ product; many balanced armature earphones can be fatiguing with this genre. That said, Earsonics’ rendering of trance is stunning and is less fatiguing than several other popular choices.

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Sound – In a Nutshell
While I highlighted the above albums, I want to point out that the SM2 has no real sonic weaknesses in any genre. Its dual drivers are powerful at both extremes of the spectrum; bass is strong and detailed, revealing minute vibrations in stringed instruments, and in electronic music, convincingly deep and resolved; similarly treble is smooth, if not slightly recessed in comparison.

In a market which is endemic with campaigns which almost always suggest that more equals better sound, the SM2 proves that 1+1 can equal 3. After spending a month with the SM2, I want to recommend users to pay less attention to manufacturer’s advertising campaigns and more on their musical preferences.

The SM2’s closest relative – at least in terms of design – is the Westone UM2. Both bear dual balanced armature drivers, excellent twisted cables and robust headphone jacks. However, the SM2 is more articulate. Its bass is faster, doesn’t misstep in fast genres, and provides more detail. While the UM2 is a warm, foot-tapping earphone, the SM2 is more neutral. It compares very well with the UM3X though the two are again, different flavours.

Head Stage
While the smooth, yet detailed sound of the SM2 didn’t surprise me, its stage and instrument placement have. It betters the UM2 by a good margin and though similar in accuracy to Jays’ q-Jays, the latter is dwarfed by the scope of the SM2’s performance.

Out and About with the SM2
There is nothing really to write about. The SM2 is perfect. As I said before, its cable is nearly noiseless. Of course, the sound of your footsteps (which is transferred through your skeleton) will thump in your ears. If that bothers you, stop walking with such thin shoes – there is no inner earphone which will not transfer the sound to your ears. Outside noise is blocked to nearly null with the included Comply® ear pieces even on low volume settings and the SM2 is very comfortable.

At 119 decibels of sensitivity and 16 ohms, the SM2 will reveal hiss from your sources. With an iPod touch 2G, it’s hardly noticeable, but with and iPod nano 1G, hiss is bothersome in quiet passages. My Sony 828 has been sitting on the shelf because it is simply too noisy for serious listening.

The SM2 is a professional audio product. While it is one of the best for portable listening, musicians, who plugged into wireless amp/monitors, aren’t beset with the same worries. However, even wireless amps can be very loud, so be careful as the SM2 can very quickly become unbearably loud.

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Conclusion
280 Euros is a lot of dosh for any earphone, no matter the market. But Earsonics reckon that the SM2 DLX is worth the asking price. So do I. If you want excellent sound, good ergonomics and nearly flawless construction, the SM2 should be on your list. Again, due to design similarity and identical cables, it is easy to draw comparisons with Westone’s excellent UM2 and UM3X. Westone’s products are slightly ahead in ergonomics, but dividing the products on lines which are defined by sound quality is more difficult. The SM2 is similarly neutral when compared with the UM3X, but has a slightly heavier bottom end and an airier treble.

Comparisons aside, Earsonics’ SM2 is a great product. It is solidly constructed and sounds great, has the industry’s best cable and a great carrying case. Though sparse on accessories, it is certainly an easy grab.
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App Summary
Title: Earsonics SM2 DLX Developer: Earsonics
Price: 234-280.00 Euro
  • Small packaging
  • Snap enclosure
  • Strong, detailed bass
  • Great mids and clear treble
  • Best in class cable
  • Comply ear pieces
  • Needs more ear pieces
  • Not as ergonomic as Westone’s earphones

If you are like the geeks at TMA, you can’t get enough of headphones. Check out some of our latest reviews below:
Klipsch Image S4 in Review – Mingo WM-2 Inner Earphones in Review — s-Jays Inner Earphones in ReviewMonster Beats Tour Earphones in Review — Klipsch S2 in ReviewWestone UM3X in Review

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Jays s-Jays Earphones in Review – One Quick Bumble Bee http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/28/jays-s-jays-earphones-in-review-one-quick-bumble-bee/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/28/jays-s-jays-earphones-in-review-one-quick-bumble-bee/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2009 16:02:32 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=16608 Jays from Sweden joined the earphone market in 2006 with the balanced armature earphone, d-Jays. Since then, their engineers have been busy creating new technology and designs for their products. Later, they introduced the dynamic driver, j-Jays and the dual balanced armature, q-Jays that we tested in May 2009. Today, we have the s-Jays, an … Read more]]>

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Jays from Sweden joined the earphone market in 2006 with the balanced armature earphone, d-Jays. Since then, their engineers have been busy creating new technology and designs for their products. Later, they introduced the dynamic driver, j-Jays and the dual balanced armature, q-Jays that we tested in May 2009. Today, we have the s-Jays, an earphone that uses a new technology dubbed, ‘siren’, which refers to armature drivers which work similarly to moving coil drivers (dynamic). The drivers are designed to maximize low frequency performance and allow for high volume output without distortion. Jays has taken this technology and put it in their s-Jay, for the reasonable sum of $89.99.

Specifications
Variation: Black or White
Transducer: 6.4mm Siren Armature Driver
Impedance: 69ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (1mW): 113db SPL
Weight: 10grams (0.35oz)
Cord Style: TPE coated Kevlar Y-Cord
Mini Jack Style: Straight, Gold-Plated 3.5mm

Accessories
Our previous experience with Jays earphones is that they come “JAM PACKED” with accessories! The s-Jay is no exception and comes with with a 90cm extension cord, 5 pairs of silicone sleeves (XXS, XS, S, M, L), a pair of memory foam sleeves, gold-plated stereo splitter, gold-plated flight adapter, 4 pairs of filters, and a leather carrying case. All the accessories are of good quality (even if the carrying case is a bit too small). Otherwise, the s-Jays is extremely well-outfitted.

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Fit
I didn’t find a problem with obtaining a comfortable seal. However, I can see why many might have trouble – the body of the s-Jays is quite large compared to other earphones. Due to its size, the body may push against the back of the concha (outer curve of the ear) causing discomfort and difficulties with getting a proper seal.

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Despite this, I found a great fit and a fabulous seal with the s-Jays. They are not the most comfortable earphone to wear, but seal well with excellent sleeves which are perfectly stiff and well-shaped.

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Audio
I quickly found that classical and other orchestral music types aren’t the best fit for the s-Jays. So I moved on to rock, heavy metal, trance and hip pop music. I went through my entire playlist and all I can say is… fabulous… simply fabulous!

Highs
The highs on the s-Jays are slightly on the dark side, lacking the detail that I prefer in a earphone. In fact, the amount of detail, clarity, and the crispness of the s-Jays belies their armature driver – a design which often pulls high frequencies into focus. The s-Jays’ high frequencies could be noted as similar to those presented from a darkly-voiced dynamic driver: lacking some detail, clarity and crispness. I would recommend a product from Etymotic or Ultimate Ears if treble is what you are looking for.

Mids
Mids are smooth,  detailed, and warm for an armature earphone. The mid frequencies of the s-Jays are similar to Shure’s sound signature – perfectly warm and smooth, but lacking a portion of the detail that Shure earphones are famous for, and which I crave. Vocals are strong and deep, revealing the finer details and body of a singer’s voice. Depth is very good on the s-Jays, providing an enveloping, full-body experience. For the price, I have nothing really to complain about other than just a little detail – the s-Jays simply sounds wonderful.

Lows
This is the best part of the s-Jays! Lows are quick, accurate, and precise without muddy, overly “boomy” presentation. Power is just right; not too much, not too little, a power that flat out rocked with rock and pop and even trance! If you like these genres, the lows are absolutely perfect. Overall, the lows on the s-Jays are quick in the thumps, but carefully tread around the other frequencies, retaining accuracy.

Soundstage
I expected a very wide soundstage due to the fact that the s-Jays siren drivers are supposed to perform in a similar way to dynamic drivers. However, in the price range in which the s-Jays is marketed, I was rather disappointed. The soundstage isn’t as wide or long as I would’ve liked. I could describe their stage presentation like listening to a recording of a live performance through nice speakers rather than sweating, screaming with the rest of the fans with the music circulating overhead and all around at the concert. Overall, the s-Jays’ headstage is more compact than some dynamic earphones, but performs well when comparing it to lower-priced armature earphones.

Quality
We always expect a high quality build from Jays; we got it. Earpiece construction is very good with a smooth finish which is topped off by rigid housing materials. The cables are TPE coated, light, durable, and filled with Kevlar. They also perform excellently when playing sports or running since microphonics are minimal.

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Plugs are  stress relieved with Jays’ typical, but strong soft rubber. For overall build quality, the s-Jays receives a mark of 95/100. The only complaint I have is that the s-Jays hasn’t any stress relief around the ear-pieces. Fortunately, the cables connecting the earpieces are not stressed much for the majority of uses – a fact which is due to the shape of the housing and fit.

Conclusion
The Jays s-Jays is a brand new earphone, with brand new technology that we like very much and highly recommend to listeners of Pop, Rock, Metal, and Trance music. They may not have the best highs, but the mids are very good and the lows are absolutely fabulous for the price: accurate, quick, and powerful! Build too, is of superb quality with durable, class-leading cables. Jays are famous for packing excellent accessories into their products, a fact which has the s-Jays crushing a closet of useful accessories into the cardboard box. TouchMyApps has no other choice but to grab these bumble bee-like earphones!
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App Summary
Title: s-Jays Developer: Jays
Price: $89.99
  • Great build quality
  • Very Good mids
  • Excellent lows
  • Lots of accessories
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Minimal microphonics
  • Excellent cable
  • Lack of detail and clarity on Highs
  • No stress relief on earpieces
  • Earpieces may be too large for many ears

Love Headphones? Check out our growing headphone news and reviews section.

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Ear Budeez – Upgrade earphones on the cheap! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/27/ear-budeez-upgrade-earphones-on-the-cheap/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/27/ear-budeez-upgrade-earphones-on-the-cheap/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2009 17:21:26 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=16582 Some of you may have never heard of Jays, Westone or even Sennheiser prior to our headphone reviews, so when I mention Jensen, Audiovox and Soundcat, you may be scratching your head. Well, the three have teamed up and created Ear Budeez, an upgrade earphone which is likely one of the least expensive on the … Read more]]>
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Nope, not Rolando

Some of you may have never heard of Jays, Westone or even Sennheiser prior to our headphone reviews, so when I mention Jensen, Audiovox and Soundcat, you may be scratching your head. Well, the three have teamed up and created Ear Budeez, an upgrade earphone which is likely one of the least expensive on the market. Even in Canada, they can be found for less than 20$ – a nearly impossible feat – abroad, they are marketed starting at ~8$ US.

I haven’t had the chance to try them yet, but at their market price, I am dying to try. The fact is that mass-produced, inexpensive accessories move the market, not flagship products.

So what has me so excited about a pair of ~10$ earphones, especially after looking forward to JH13Pro? Well, it simply is that Soundcat, a supplier of high-end pro and consumer audio, have taken initiative with the Ear Budeez. In fact, Fit Ears, Sensaphonics, Livewires, Sleek Audio, Westone, Jerry Harvey among other highly respected custom audio companies work with the Seoul-based company to supply advertising, fitting, sales and after-service.

For more information, keep an eye on this page.

Into headphones? Check out our Headphones section.

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Monster’s Beats Tour Earphones in Review – Made for today’s music http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/25/monsters-beats-tour-earphones-in-review-made-for-todays-music/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/25/monsters-beats-tour-earphones-in-review-made-for-todays-music/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2009 18:40:52 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=16402 The Beats Tour, Monster’s second foray into quality mid-priced inner earphones, is a departure in sound, design and construction from their first, the Turbine; a product which is backed and co-produced by American hip-hop artist, Dr. Dre. At 150$, the Beats Tour tips the scale toward the more expensive side of portable earphones, but in … Read more]]>

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The Beats Tour, Monster’s second foray into quality mid-priced inner earphones, is a departure in sound, design and construction from their first, the Turbine; a product which is backed and co-produced by American hip-hop artist, Dr. Dre. At 150$, the Beats Tour tips the scale toward the more expensive side of portable earphones, but in many areas, stands tall even amidst stiff competition. However, at around the same price, the Tour’s closest competition comes from the Monster Turbine.

Monster, unlike other manufacturers, rarely advertise an earphone’s spec as a measure of sound quality, thus the Beats Tour hasn’t any information on frequency response, sensitivity, drive load, etc., printed on its packaging – rather, the company want you to enjoy the music rather than a bunch of printing which at times, can be misleading. TMA would also like to remind you that many horrid-sounding earphones have wonderful specs like 18Hz-22KHz, 110db sensitivity and the like. A spec is no more than the merest of guidelines.

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Monster’s homework was properly finished, including annotation and documentation, when their Beats Tour model was sent out the door. There are no traces of any last-minute design indecision in their product – it is a beautiful creation. Sheathed in a tasteful black art sleeve, the Tour’s red cardboard box is adorned by just three trademarks: Beats, Dr. Dre and Monster – a distinct marque of simplicity and elegance which is sorely lacking from many of Monster’s competitors.

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Monster have obviously spent time designing an easy-to-open package which isn’t going to cut fingers. It is also unlikely to be carelessly tossed out. A concealed magnetic latch, fastens the box together and opens to reveal the Beats Tour earphones, a carrying case and the adage, ‘Sound matters.’. As first impressions go, the Monster again deliver quality, attention to detail, and startlingly good looks.

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While the packaging, design and layout are impeccable – truly first class among portable earphone products – Monster’s accessory kit is somewhat underwhelming. Inside are 3 single and 2 triple flange earpieces – a fit kit which may or may not agree with your ears. It is similar to the Turbine kit, but with the addition of an extra triple flange, is slightly better adapted for different ear sizes and shapes. While soft, the silicon flanges are bulbous and may force undo pressure upon the inner ear. Both my wife whose canals are wide, and myself,  found our ears sore after only 20 minutes with the single-flange ear pieces. The triples worked for neither of us and unfortunately, don’t lend themselves well to modifying into dual flanges as the silicon is extremely soft and thin, easily tearing near the subsequent flange. Just as I lamented in my Turbine review, it is sad that Monster have not included a foam or hybrid foam earpiece into their kit.

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Monster also include a semi-hard case which is far more useful than the Turbine’s snap-to-close toss pouch. The Beats Tour fits perfectly inside, protected in the zippered clamshell with enough room to spare for extra ear pieces. There is no airplane adapter, splitter or extension cable and again, no foam ear pieces.

Cable and Construction
One of the most striking aspects of Monster’s Beats Tour is its cable. Red like the box, the thin, flat, and patent-pending, it is a portable-perfect 1,2 metres in length. Monster also claim that it is tangle-free (a promise which many companies make), a boast which I can attest as near-fact; no matter how hard rolled the earphone into a nasty yarn-like ball, the Tour never tangled. A good five minutes of the same changed nothing, and neither did haphazardly tossing the earphones around my laptop bag during a day’s long commute in Seoul.

However, my wife is that much more determined than I am. She tangled the cable – a miracle – using her intuition and probably some glue. This is the first earphone cable which I can confidently say is nearly tangle-proof.

Similarly, it is soft and not too energetic, creating very little noise in comparison to the Turbine’s cable. Microphonic sounds are largely dull echoes which are much less-intrusive than the sounds generated from many competitor’s cables, including Monster’s own Turbine.

However, the flat cable is both heavier and wider than its competitions; two factors which contribute to some annoyances while out and about. Using Monster’s earpieces, it weighs down the housing and can drag the earphones out of fit. Fortunately, the Beats Tour can be worn over-the ear, though fit and isolation may be impeded as the sound-tubes are angled for perfect use when worn straight down. All considered, Monster’s new cable, though not perfect, is far better than that of the Turbine.

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As for housing, Monster once again strike upon a quality design. As mentioned before, the sound chamber and tubes are housed in a sturdy turned-aluminium barrel. These are fastened to the cable with a strong, polished polymer carriage. This design, like the Turbine is unlikely to break despite receiving a load of abuse. Like the Turbine, however, there is no strain relief anywhere along the cable, a fact which, when contrasted against its sturdy build, puts the Tour at a disadvantage. Despite being famous for cables, Monster’s efforts in earphones seem paltry.

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Onto the Sound
Dr. Dre and Monster reckon that with the Beats Tour, I will hear what I have been missing in my music, especially with today’s “sonically demanding hip hop, rock, and R&B that crush ordinary earbuds”; a commentary I would fully have believed – that is, if I hadn’t been using extraordinary earphones until now. I upgrade immediately. In fact, the last bundled earbuds which I used came with my Sharp Auvi MD-DR7 Minidisk: the extraordinary Sennheiser MX300, phones that crush almost any OEM earbud out there.

Prompted by their suggestions suggestions, I prepared a list of modern Rock, Hip Hop and R&B: three genres that sound great with the Beats Tour.

Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

  • You’re all I have – The Beats Tour makes this song feel like it is played in a music store: powerful, upfront and lively. Bass weaves through guitars and drums for a deep rendition of Snow Patrol’s song. Vocals are in line with the Tour presentation, slightly recessed but well placed with the music but could be considered laid back.
  • Hands Open – Nothing is polite or recessed, guitar, drums and bass are all well-textured, loud and forward. Bass, though not incredibly deep, is awash with motion. It permeates the song through the Tour crashing wave-like, tangibly felt and heard. Guitar presence is among the most well-rendered parts of Hands Open with lower edges gaining power from the forward nature of the Tour’s bass.
  • Chasing Cars – In the same strain as Hands Open, Chasing cars is perfectly balanced with balanced presentation of all instruments and vocals.  perfect but bigger than life. Not clear, full of impact and bounding with musical stride.

Jackson 5: The Ultimate Collection – Though not modern, its re-master fits well with the sound signature of the Beats Tour.

  • I want you back – The Beats Tour retains the original lo-fi 1969 feeling which has rough edges despite the poor remastering. Though a perky listen, the music is simple and consists of few elements. Bass and vocals shine with the Tour, though vocal is still recessed when compared to instruments.
  • I’ll Be There – This slower song song shows what the Tour is perfect at – paced, melodic pop music. From drums to chimes and imaging – the song is pristine with engaging, but slightly recessed vocals and clear instrumentation.

Ice Cube – Raw Footage

  • I got My Locs On – The ‘duff duff’ bass of American rap is phenomenal with Monter’s Beats Tour. In faster music, the Tour are outpaced, but the slow, heavy beats of Ice Cube expand outward with finely cut fringes in a perfectly timed, tangible bass. Again, though vocals are recessed, primary and secondary singers’ voices maintain clarity and taut edges strong edges. The soft bass and polite signature of the Tour are great – even better than the Turbine for this recent Ice Cube release.
  • Gangsta Rap Made me Do it – Again, similar to the above, The Tour finds its legs. ‘Duff duff’ bass is perfect with reverberating edges whose slow, deep wells draw the Tour into its own territory.

Streets – The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

  • Never Went to Church – Though the Streets music is rife with extremely forward vocals, instruments and Geoffrey Skinner’s voice are harmoniously balanced in a presentation which has no rival among earphones in the price category.

The below selection of hip-hop, rock/metal, R&B and movie soundtrack doesn’t sound great with the Beats Tour:

Metallica – … And Justice for All

  • One – A Metallica icon – aggressive and well-written, it’s guitars have breath and edge, but vocals and bass are recessed to the point of lacking raw detail which permeated the band’s 80′s music. Ulrich’s drums are for the most part well breathed, but lack definition and tend to fall into one another.
  • Dyer’s Eve – is one of heavy metal’s fastest songs with precise, yet lightly brushed drums and kick bass which require a certain amount of sonic finesse.  The Tour’s bass presentation is too slow to render anything better than a congealed, yet deep throbbing which hits the listener in jarring waves.

Danzig – II: Lucifuge

  • Snakes of Christ – Sadly, this song’s excellent melody and timing lose emotion with Monster’s Beats Tour. Drums are excellent, but staging echo, guitars and vocals are too polite, withdrawing the metal from the music.
  • Blood and Tears – Timing and staging are excellent. Drums wrap around the back of the head while voices float in the rear right shadowed by offensive guitars. This song was admirably performed with the Beats Tour, but sadly, retained the soft edges which make this earphone best for slow music.

MC Solaar – Mach 6

  • Hijo de Africa – MC Solaar is not another duff duff rapper. His lyrics and music is fast – sadly, to the detriment of the Tour’s performance, too much a departure from American Rap. Male vocals are recessed and too polite for for this song while bass, unperturbed, booms too heavily. Fortunately, female vocals are detailed and lovely.

The Braveheart Soundtrack

  • Wallace Courts Murron – Where the Beats Tour excels is the joyous introduction, but as the deepest notes descend into the song, the Tour barely vibrates in the song’s most awe-inspiring portion. Poor performance.
  • Gathering the Clans – Once more, melody is captured well, but the deepest bass of the song simply falls flat, failing to deliver a sense of excitement and apprehension which this song evokes.

Analysis
In a summary, the Beats Tour is an excellent sounding earphone – if it is fed pop, slow hip-hop, modern rock and the like. It is especially tuned for music which has been engineered with forward vocals, fast, high-pitched bass impact, and overall loudness at its core. In other words, what Dr. Dre must be hearing in his studio.

For modern music, its presentation is like an advertisement that punches large and full of life. Music that is engineered with especially forward mids isn’t jarring, but flows, catching bass and treble in a great symphony. Every contemporary popular music type I tested was the same: spot on. Though the Beats Tour hasn’t the widest headstage, instruments, vocals and placement are impeccably rendered.

Problems, however, arise from the ever-present signature of the Beats Tour. Because it is engineered for a certain sound (and what seems to be a select group of music), it is like an equaliser setting that fits a song or an album. If you change your music, you need to change your equaliser. The same is true for the Tour – it is great, when used on a certain album or artist, but lacks personality, depth, and edge that make other musical genres tick. My favourite music, trance, isn’t spacious or nearly detailed enough in the low frequencies to be fun. Bass edges aren’t defined nor quick enough in recovery.

Jazz and classical can also be lumped together with trance. Any instrument that needs crisp lines to convey meaning to a listener is too polite, probably owing to the tendency of the Tour to favour duffy rather than resonant bass.

Finally, other than Jackson 5, older music which was recorded prior to the love affair with compression of today’s music, lacks a middle which the recessed mids of the Tour simply can’t satisfy. Therefore, Metallica and Danzig were generally passable, but not exciting and the Braveheart Soundtrack which hinges on resonant bass and crisp instruments was a doleful performance. The biggest surprise was MC Solaar’s hip-hop, a genre which Dr. Dre must be familiar with. It simply wasn’t the same music as it is with many other phones.

For the sake of comparison, the Beats Tour is like a better sounding Crossroads Quattro – thick bass, smallish soundstage and overall inarticulate midrange. However, the Beats is by far the better sounding earphone – if it is used with the genres which it can champion.

If you like bass, but like music outside of the three prescribed genres of hip-hop, rock and pop, you may want to look elsewhere. Another earphone which has great bass definition is the Monster Turbine, but a properly amped Audeo PFE is also a good choice as is the RE2 from Head-Direct.

Stage and Hiss
The Tour, like the Turbine is not an earphone which excels in presenting  a wide musical stage. Rather, it does a decent, though not exemplary job of separating instruments. In the same price range, the Phonak PFE will perfectly disappear, leaving less of an impression upon the music, where the Tour exerts its compressor-like influence on tunes. This is not a bad thing, but for the person who desires crystal clarity and trance-like staging, the Tour is a phone to skip. It does not hiss out of the iPod touch 2G, though picks up a fair amount from certain amplifiers and is annoying out of the rubbish headphone out of the MacBook Pro. There is no reason to expect anything else. The Tour performs similarly to many dynamic-driver competitors.

After countless hours with the Tour, it was time to see if dedicated amping would pull additional detail from the Tour. The short answer is no. The Tour performs its best with an amp, but there is not a big change like with the Phonak PFE. If anything, treble rings a little more clearly and headstage tightens, but bass performance largely is the same. This is both good and bad. For those who want to use their great portable amps with the Tour, there is only the smallest of improvement to be had over a quality DAP’s headphone out, but at the same time, there isn’t the need to purchase an expensive external amp.

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Out and about with the Beats Tour
The Tour, like Monster’s Turbine doesn’t block external noise as well as some other earphones, even when using foams. However, external noises are sufficiently attenuated to be able to enjoy music at reasonable levels. Even in the loud underground of Seoul where the beggars peddle their disabilites to commuters; even when everyone around is speaking on a mobile phone – even there, I didn’t have to raise the volume of my iPod touch. Isolation is adequate for those who need it. But, the Tour will not cope with much louder venues.

For isolation, the Klipsch S2, q-Jays, UE 700 and Audeo PFE will effectively block out the majority of background noise at any volume level.

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Conclusion
So, the 150$ question is, has Monster made the ultimate earphone? Well, that depends on you. If you like the music at which the Tour excels: slow hip hop, pop and contemporary rock, the Tour is a great-sounding phone; it strikes forward-vocals in a controlled pace and jives with the duff duff bass of recently mastered recordings. For that music, the Tour may be one of the best earphones in the <200$ market. Similarly, its unique cable is completely manageable; it doesn’t tangle, nor make as much noise as most competitors. Since it can comfortably be worn over the ear, its weight and lack of a cinch are forgivable.

However, Monster’s disregard for cable protection is a shame; earphones need to be adequately sheathed with bumpers and stress reliefs as cables often die and users are forced to buy replacements. This cable company has still not managed the formula for the perfect headphone cable – a fact that still has me scratching my head.

Ultimately, the Tour, like any earphone, is a consumer device and it has been made with consumers in mind who may not have been introduced to higher-end earphones. Thus, cabling issues are up for moot. Despite its flaws, the Tour is excellently designed, and in a non-gaudy, highly stylised facade, the Tour is dressed to impress.

In terms of sound, Phones like the Audeo PFE, Monster Turbine and q-Jays are more aptly suited to please in a variety of genres. The problem is that, after being impressed by the packaging and housing quality, the Tour is a great product if reviewed within very stringent guidelines. If your musical tastes venture out of the narrow band of genres at which the Tour excels, purchasing the Beats Tour could be a mistake. If you are looking for powerful, yet detailed bass with great highs and rich mids, Monster’s own Turbine is a better performer across a myriad of genres, though may not handle duffy music quite as well. In the end, the Beats Tour is left with Turbine envy.

For this reason, more than any other, the Beats Tour scores a Tap from TouchMyApps.

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App Summary
Title: Monster Beats Tour Developer: Monster Cable
Price: $149.99
  • Lovely package
  • Great carrying case
  • Decent selection of ear pieces
  • solid construction
  • Unique cable
  • good sound quality with modern pop music
  • no stress relief or bumpers along the cable
  • fit kit lacks foam pieces and silicon flanges may be uncomfortable
  • cable is heavy and has no cincher
  • sound is good for a limited array of music types

If you cannot get enough of headphones, please check out our headphone section.

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Music Acoustics – test your ears’ own equaliser settings http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/21/music-acoustics-test-your-ears-own-equaliser/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/21/music-acoustics-test-your-ears-own-equaliser/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2009 01:36:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=16016 The University of New South Wales in Sydney have come up with a very general, yet good test of your ears’ own equaliser settings. Essentially, it proves that while you can hear 30Hz – 16 KHz, you may find certain frequencies much louder than others. This test (link after break) should be taken in an … Read more]]>
Test-EarEQ-UNSW-MingoWM2.jpg

Mingo WM2 taken on MacBook Pro 2.4 (2007 model) OS 10.5.7

The University of New South Wales in Sydney have come up with a very general, yet good test of your ears’ own equaliser settings. Essentially, it proves that while you can hear 30Hz – 16 KHz, you may find certain frequencies much louder than others. This test (link after break) should be taken in an absolutely quiet environment with the best headphones or earphones you own. However, most headphones, loudspeakers, et al., impose their own frequency responses upon your hearing. This test has not been formatted for your source or your headphones, so it can remain only a general indication.

If you have an external DAC/soundcard or a neutral musician’s amp, utilise it for this test. Keep track of your results for whatever headphone you test as each will have its own idiosyncrasies. This will help you equalise your music more perfectly for a specific headphone/earphone/loud speaker.

My test was taken in relative silence (though I live in a construction area of New Seoul) with Comply® rather than with silicon flanges via the Mingo WM2 inner earphones. When JH13Pro, Sensaphonics, FitEars and a few other higher end customs arrive, it will be interesting to see what sound signature they impose on my listening.

Remember: each listening implement has its unique sound signature which should not be universally applied to other implements.

Equal loudness contours and audiometry – Hearing test on-line

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Klipsch S2 Inner Earphone in review – Budget price, Millionaire Build http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/20/klipsch-s2-inner-earphone-in-review-budget-price-millionaire-build/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/20/klipsch-s2-inner-earphone-in-review-budget-price-millionaire-build/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2009 10:06:29 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=15869 Introduction Klipsch, a leader in consumer and professional speaker systems since 1946, began production of premium earphones in 2007 with the Custom Series and the Image X10. In 2008, the X5 joined ranks in alongside the X10 in the Image line, and in 2009, two new members, the Image S2 and the Image S4, become … Read more]]>

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Introduction

Klipsch, a leader in consumer and professional speaker systems since 1946, began production of premium earphones in 2007 with the Custom Series and the Image X10. In 2008, the X5 joined ranks in alongside the X10 in the Image line, and in 2009, two new members, the Image S2 and the Image S4, become the newest entrants from Klipsch. Both house new dynamic (moving coil) drivers, a departure from the X5 and X10, which use balanced armatures. Today, we have the Klipsch’s cheapest model, the Image S2, a $49.99 earphone which contends with many other affordable earphones. Be on the lookout for this earphone from electronics’ vendors in August as Klipsch have not yet released the new S2 and S4 earphones.

Specifications

  • Variation: Black Only
  • Transducer: Single KG15, 5.8mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance:  18 ohms
  • Frequency Range: 12Hz-18kHz
  • Sensitivity (1mW): 106dB
  • Weight: N/A
  • Cord Style: Y-Cord
  • Mini Jack Style: 3.5mm right-angle gold plated

Accessories
For $49.99, I didn’t expect the S2 to move heaven and hell and, was rewarded: inside are soft, oval gel sleeves that come in small, medium, and large sizes. There is also a simple, suede carrying pouch that when squeezed, snaps open to gobble the S2. Sadly, my favourite: a dual-flange, oval sleeve isn’t included.  However, everything else in the package is very well-made; in particular, the pouch is top notch – no complaints on my part.

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Fit
“Noise-Isolating, Comfortable, Lightweight Design” is quoted on Klipsch’s package. They chose their marketing words well. When these little charms went into my ears with the medium sleeves, I could barely feel them! It is probably because the S2 is so light and has such a slim, yet long body which allows rather deep insertion without the earphone touching the inner ear. Likewise, the slim body prevents the outside of the ear from being irritated. The sleeve, or tips as some may call it, keeps the earphone fit and sealed within the ear very well. The S2′s extraordinarily light body is largely supported by the sleeve alone, a fit fact I found to be wondrous.

Whether mowing the lawn, or on busy streets, I couldn’t be happier with isolation. Under every circumstance, I am able to simply enjoy the music without outside interference. And, as for comfort, even after long listening periods, I have tended to forget that I am wearing the earphones until, that slight inner earphone itch comes along.

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Audio
The tiny  KG15 drivers of the Image S2 are custom made for the slim body, and at 5.8mm, are among the smallest neodymium magnet toting dynamic inner ear drivers. But, how does this new and miniscule technology affect quality of sound? Let’s find out shall we?

TMA ‘burns in’ all dynamic driver/moving coil driver earphones like the Image S2 with a minimum of 100 hours to allow the diaphragm of the driver to loosen, helping each earphone to perform to the best of its potential.

Highs
High frequencies perform a bit below my expectations – they are far too warm, lacking both detail and crispness. When listening to soprano singers’ high voices, vocals lack richness, detail and body. Simply, when listening to Granuaile’s Dance by Celtic Woman, violin pieces were a little soft, not as agile as they could be. Separation of instruments, which often is defined by crisp treble, therefore is not a huge strength of the S2. If you are someone who prefers a bright, detailed, and crisp high end, I recommend looking at something from Ultimate Ears MetroFi series or MEElectronics. If you are looking for a less intrusive high frequency band, then these may just be perfect for you.

Mids
The mid frequency band is recessed compared to the other frequencies, however, they perform smoothly.For the price of $49.99, the S2 is among the better-performing earphones along with MEElectronics Ai Series, and Head-Directs RE2. “Whenever You Call” by Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight is detailed with smooth voices that carry a good hint of emotion. However, one thing lacking in the mid range is that instrument and voice separation isn’t the greatest; sounds may tend to mingle a little too much at times, sometimes causing music to ‘mumble’.

Lows
Despite the small driver, (which I’m sure of you may be worried about already), low frequencies are in fact the most dominant and powerful frequency of the Image S2. They are just powerful enough with perfect depth, giving rock the liveliness that it needs. There wasn’t a particular piece of music where the Image S2 disappointed; whether it is bass guitar or drums, the Image S2 performs well above its price. The only “con” about the lows frequencies is that they are not nearly fast enough for trance music. Even if the S2 can keep up with the more powerful beats of slow trance music (slower at least…) the little beats in between couldn’t be picked up with these little baby Klipschs. Big trance fan? The Image S2s aren’t for you.

Soundstage
Soundstage isn’t one of the parts that were “astonishing”, the soundstage was above average for earphones competing in this price range, with great width, but less extension front to back. Pinpointing arrangements like: “the drums are on my right, guitar on my left, singer in front of me”, was not as easy as some other earphones. While listening to “Mo Ghile Mear” by Celtic Woman, the S2 didn’t impress me as much as phones that have a wider soundstage such as the similarly-priced MEElectronics’ Ai-M6.

Quality
The quality of the Klipsch Image S2 is in fact far above average in this price range. The earpieces are made extremely tough plastic. I wouldn’t want to take a knife to the S2, but it has survived my efforts to snap the nozzle off – not even a budge. They are that well-built. Cables too, are well made, but thin and in fact, very similar to the more expensive Jays earphone cables, but with more flex and no Kevlar® filling. The earpieces and the plug have a soft, rubber piece which acts as a strain relief which works very nicely, just not as great as a real, moulded strain relief.

Out and about with the S2
Microphonics isn’t a problem for the Image S2, though they do complain a bit from when you rub the cables with your fingers. Even with wind blowing against the cable or the cable rubbing against your shirt, wagging back and forth, there is no annoying noise. So when listening to your music, there’s no unwanted guests in the audio party you’re hosting.

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Conclusion
Priced at $49.99, these are going to be a strong contender in the affordable earphone sector. Good looks, good price and a great upgrade, the S2 will especially draw teenagers and people who are looking for good sound quality and a great warranty (2 years) without breaking the bank. Despite highs that lack detail and recessed mids, these are earphones that are very good value for the money. Comfort, isolation and build quality of the Klipsch Image S2 are all above and beyond expectations at the $49.99 price point. I would recommend these to people who are looking to wear earphones for a long period of time, and those who are slightly rougher on their gear than those at tma (sic)who polish and watch for every scratch that happens on our earphones and headphones. Overall, the Image S2 are very good-sounding earphones that feature an excellent build quality. Sadly, these little babies from Klipsch won’t come till August, but they are worth a ‘Grab’ from behind!

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App Summary
Title: Image S2 Developer: Klipsch
Price: $49.99
  • Excellent build quality
  • Modern and great looks
  • Accessories’ quality is high
  • Fantastic fit and comfort
  • Minimal microphonics
  • Good mids and bass
  • Affordable Price
  • Warranty
  • Poor High frequency presentation
  • Minimal accessories

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Can’t get enough headphones? Check out our headphone section and budget earphone reviews.
Meelectronics Ai-M6 and M9 in ReviewHead Direct RE2 Inner Earphone in ReviewNuforce NE7M mobile phone compatible earphones in review

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Great headphone deals http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/14/great-headphone-deals/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/14/great-headphone-deals/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2009 14:14:49 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=15376 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 … Read more]]>

headphone-small

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.


news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-ck10 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-ck10 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-ad700 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-appleinear 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-er4s 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$.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-sa6 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-superfi5 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-um2 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.

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-w3 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).

news-headphone-greatdeals-jabenamazon-z-buds 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.

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Headphone Bites – hot hot products for summer! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/30/headphone-bites-hot-hot-products-for-summer/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/30/headphone-bites-hot-hot-products-for-summer/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2009 15:23:12 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=14646 Canada day cometh to TouchMyApps in just a dozenor so odd hours, but we are already celebrating with a rush of great headphone news. This month and next, we will be reviewing a great range of headphones from the cost-conscious Head-Direct RE2 to the cost-no-object custom from in-ear’s audio god, the Jerry Harvey JH13Pro. Of course, … Read more]]>
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Monster's unique Beats Tour

Canada day cometh to TouchMyApps in just a dozenor so odd hours, but we are already celebrating with a rush of great headphone news. This month and next, we will be reviewing a great range of headphones from the cost-conscious Head-Direct RE2 to the cost-no-object custom from in-ear’s audio god, the Jerry Harvey JH13Pro. Of course, the middle will hold some other great options and a few surprises that we just have to keep secret for a bit.

Of note, Monster’s Beats Tour edition popped over to these shores to much personal rejoicing. I couldn’t help but take a listen in order to spout that first impressions are very good. We will also be getting closer looks at other Jays products, a super spy-secretive Monster earphone and some great products from Crossroads.

Needless to say, this summer is going to sizzle the ears of headphone fans, so listen up.

For more headphone articles, follow our headphone section.

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Q-Jays Inner Earphones in Review – Dual Balanced Armature Precision http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/05/31/q-jays-inner-earphones-in-review-dual-balanced-armature-precision/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/05/31/q-jays-inner-earphones-in-review-dual-balanced-armature-precision/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2009 04:27:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=11807 Jays – Design and Quality The Q-Jays represent our 3rd Balanced Armature earphone review. This time, Sweden’s Jays’ top product, the Q-Jay are on the table. They are also the smallest dual armature earphones in the world. And tiny they are – the body could fit two or three times into a Monster Turbine shell! … Read more]]>

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Jays – Design and Quality
The Q-Jays represent our 3rd Balanced Armature earphone review. This time, Sweden’s Jays’ top product, the Q-Jay are on the table. They are also the smallest dual armature earphones in the world. And tiny they are – the body could fit two or three times into a Monster Turbine shell!

From their website
Since 2006, JAYS has been pushing the barriers for design and quality, 
recognizing the need for better quality and better portability. At JAYS – 
we believe that the phrase – Sound of Science – should not be used lightly. 
JAYS is a passionate music loving company that puts its soul into all products 
they develop from their headquarters in Sweden.

JAYS already have a wide portfolio of award winning products and continuously 
work hard to be number one in making valuable great products. 
We want to make sure nothing comes between you and the music.

Milestones:
2006: Released d-JAYS
2007: Released j-JAYS, m-JAYS, q-JAYS, Bluestreamer
2008: Released s-JAYS, Bluestreamer 2, Accessories
2009: Released c-JAYS, v-JAYS …

Q-Jays Fit Kit and Package
Jays put together an excellent package that not only looks good, but is chock full of extras. Ear-pieces come in 5 sizes for a total of 7 pairs including a foamie type that secures onto the Q-Jay via a rubber grommet. The ear-pieces are not as supple as the Turbine flanges but are comfortable and look to be nearly indestructible. The foamie pieces come in one size only, but compress to a small size as well as expand outward to fit larger canals. Included is a splitter that allows you to share your music with a friend and Jays have also added an airplane dual mono adapter for those compressed flights.

The Q-Jays also come with a pleather carrying case that, while cute, is a bit too small for anything but the extra ear pieces. Inside is nice and fuzzy! Unfortunately, the packaging itself follows the Zagg Z-buds vein of sharp finger-cutting plastic packaging. Be careful when opening; make sure you have scissors or a handy knife with you to safely open the edges of the box.

Overall, the Q-Jays are presented very well and supplied with enough accessories to make their purchase worthwhile though lose points for a careless packaging design.

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Dual Balanced-Armature: Earphone Specs
Type Dual Micro Armatures
Sensitivity 95 dB SPL @ 1 kHz
Impedance 39 Ohm @ 1 kHz
Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 000 Hz
Earphones
Isolation JAYS Sound Isolating Sleeves
Size (L)19 x (W)7.5 x (H)7.4 mm
Weight 8 grams (0.28 oz)
Cord
Type TPE coated with Kevlar filling
Length 60 cm (23.5 in)
Diameter 2/1.5 mm (0,079/0,059 in)
Plug Straight, Gold-Plated Stereo Plug 3.5 mm (1/8 in)
Extension Cord 90 cm (35.5 in)

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Explanation
What that means is of little importance if you are not really into your audio. If not, then just skip over this bit.
The Q-Jays at 39ohms are nearing middle ground in terms of driving efficiency. They will show up lack in the output of many digital audio players but not shock the system into a bassless submission. The iPod Touch 2g will perform remarkably when driving music for bass quantity and resolution and the iPhone 2G and 3G will perform typically, with bass roll-off present in the lower frequencies but an overall warm presentation. The bass roll-off however, impacts on details, meaning that you may hear a thump instead of a rumble.

As for soundstage, iPod and iPhone users – you are in luck. The iDevice remains to this day on top in terms of left-to-right separation even when under load. Lastly, with a sensitivity of 95db, the Q-Jays can be driven loudly from nearly any portable but are not as efficient as Sleek Customs, the Monster Turbine or Sennheiser’s IE8. The Q-Jays are somewhat of an anomaly. At 95db sensitivity and 39ohm, they should not hiss much, but the opposite is true. While not as sensitive to dirty sources as some inner ear monitors, the Q-Jays will reveal hiss where it exists.

Q-Jays cable
Jays endowed the Q model with a uniquely designed cable. Firstly, it is strong yet supple and not subject to early crystalisation due to contact with body oils. Secondly, it is thick and though the stress reliefs on the jack portion are not melded to the cable, they inspire confidence. The headphone end of the cable is relieved by the tiniest rubber grommet. Though it lacks extra sleeving, it isn’t subject to the twisting or bending inherent in larger designs. Overall, the Q-Jays cable is a well thought out design with points that favour its strength.

As quite typical in low to high end earphones, the Q-Jays jack is gold plated. Unfortunately, it will not fit into the headphone jack of the first generation iPhone – you will need to buy an adapter. The Y-split section is tiny and not relieved but holds the cable sturdily in place. Above it is a small cincher that even after much use, stays in place and remains easy to manipulate.

The material is more prone to touch-noise than both the Phonak earphones and models from Sleek. However, the Q-Jay is not an excessively noisy earphone. When worn over the ear and in conjunction with the Y-split cincher, noise is mostly attenuated.

Jays made a decision to shorten the cable to 60 centimeters. This allows lapel-style players to be connected to a shirt or chest-strap without cable slack. Unfortunately, it means that one of the two extension cables must be used if you carry your iPhone in your pocket or purse. The two extension cables on the other hand, are long – too long. At 90 cm each, they make wielding your iPhone a messy affair. There is a minimum of 20cm of extra cable at your hip or dangling near your purse – a fact that can be annoying. Fortunately, each extension cable is as strong as the main Jays cable and well relieved. They will not break, though you may be tempted to cut them short!

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Q-Jays Housing Quality
The Q-Jays are plastic. The butt is rubber and houses the cable grommet which acts as anchor and stress relief. Usually, non-impact plastic harkens a ‘cheap’ evaluation in my opinion. However, in the Q-Jays’ case, the incredibly tiny housing size works miracles. The unit is very strong, unsusceptible to bending and the seams between plastic and rubber parts are perfect.

The Jays’ sound-tube is small enough to fit Shure, Westone, Etymotic or Sleek SA6 ear pieces (with a bit of pushing). Concurrently, larger pieces such as Sony’s hybrid fit. Rejoice! If you have a favourite tip or ear piece, there is a good chance that it will fit the Q-Jays.

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Sound Quality: The Right Fit means the Right Sound
With seven sizes of silicon and one foamie piece to choose from, you should have no problem finding a piece that is both comfortable blocks outside noise sufficiently. Both are important in order to realise the sound quality of Jays dual balanced-armature design.

The foamie piece will attenuate much more background noise than will the flanges and when properly compressed before insertion into the ear, will fit further into the ear canal. A good fit allows bass response and stage imaging to come to life.

The Q-Jays are the ONLY inner earphone that I can comfortably fit in my ear when sleeping on my side. Both when looped over the ear and when inserted from the side, the driver unit lies at comfortable angles and its miniscule size does not pressure the ear. Kudos!

This is a pillow - a white-tiger striped pillow!

This is a pillow - a white-tiger striped pillow!

Test Music
For my listening tests, I spent most of my time with these staples of my collection:
Armin van BuurenImagine –  Trance
- Trance is the standard by which I measure sound. It has speed, rhythm, space, vocal, timing and clear highs.
Paul OakenfoldBunkka – Trance
DJ TiëstoIn Search of Sunrise 7: Asia – Trance
Ice CubeRaw Footage – Rap
- For slower bass and vocals, I turn to American rap to test the intimacy of studio vocal and bass response.
MC SolaarChapitre 7 – Rap with PRAT – MC Solaar’s music is a perfect meld of speed, intense lyrics and good melodies. This is another test I use for vocal quality.
Kent – Rock/Alternative
- The melodic rock of Kent is rife with whiny vocals and guitars – how well rock plays on the edge of emo is an easy guess with Kent.
Ultima Thule – Rock/Punk
- For a bit of oldschool punkish, nationalistic rock, Ultima Thule are best. The edge to the music tests a headphone’s sibilance threshold.
Madeleine PeyrouxCareless Love -Vocal
- The grace in Madeleine’s voice carries deep emotion that quickly showcases a headphone’s vocal strengths or weaknesses.
Aphex TwinI care Because You Do – Ambient, Space – Without Richard D. James, most of my studies would be impossible. His electronic music composition works like classical music for a studied, tight production.

Q-Jays Bass: Tight and Punchy
The Q-jays utilise balanced armature type transducers – this sort of driver tends to react quickly to variations in music and sounds incredibly accurate. Part of the reason for this is that the drivers do not move as much air so bass is less tactile and apt to ‘bleed’ into other parts of the music.

Saying that, the Q-Jays are not a bass-heavy earphone despite housing a dedicated woofer. Bass is punchy, well-resolved, lending great attack and decay to music. However, if your collection of records utilises sub-bass for effect such as the intro for Markus Schulz’ ‘Management’, the rumbling effect will be quiet.

Bass does not bleed outside its domain. It is well-controlled. For example, Armin van Buuren’s CD is a slower, experimental trance release. The Q-Jays render it perfectly with an added crispness to the bass. This crispness works well in electronic and trance releases, but in certain vocal selections, can sound musty.

In Madeleine Peyroux’s CD, there is every so slightly a coldness generated by the bass guitars and drums – warmth would accentuate her rich voice.

Moving onto fast rap like MC Solaar, the Q-Jays’ rendering is stellar. His voice and all instruments contain very good images with a flowing, accurate bassline whose crispness holds the production together very well.
The edginess works very well for Rock and for Roll.

The Q-Jays bass is not bloated or even bottom-heavy. It is controlled and well placed, but for certain genre, may err on the side of cold. For rock, trance and electronic, its edge and crispness is perfect.

Q-Jays Mids and Treble
Simply put, the mids and treble from the Q-Jays are great. Extended, articulate and fast, both parts of the spectrum feel ‘right’ in just about any genre.

Particularly with trance where bass and treble peak in fast spikes, high notes can, however, be piercing. While it is a testament to the Q-Jays’ vertical extension, certain music may feel slightly fatiguing. Overall, voices are rich, sound effects up front and music is beautiful. Their size belies a great sound. If I were to compare them to another earphone in our reviews section in terms of mid and treble quality, it would be the Phonak 112 and 121.

Q-Jays Soundstage
Again, similar to the Phonak, Q-Jays create a well-defined 3D stage for music, besting the Turbine and Nuforce for placement of instruments but residing in a smaller space. Vocals, though not overly warm are intimately moving and often eerily float in their own space.

Movies too, are great with the Q-Jays. The combination of swift bass and good 3D stoundstage makes them great for action and sci-fi extravaganzas. The Matrix was great, but Underworld’s freaky sound effects came to life very well on my iPod Touch when paired with the Jays phone.

Even live music is great with the miniscule earphone. Ultima Thule in Dresden is a great exercise of balance between the crowd and the band, their interactions and reactions to one another. Though a complex album, the Q-Jays render it in perfect harmony of space and staging.

Q-Jays Amped
Most of my listening was done straight from my iPod Touch or 1G nano. I was not disappointed with any music I listened to, nor did I want for anything. That said, I used the Nuforce Icon Mobile quite often with the Q-Jays and welcomed the greater stage and 3D accuracy of instruments.

Bass too, blossomed with ruddy lines that became even more crisp and attentive to details and weight. Though the overall effect is quite subtle, the Q-Jays do stand to benefit from amping either the headphone out or using a dock and amping the line out of your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Q-Jays on the Go
The Q-Jays cable is both too short and too long. When out and about, I looped the extension cable’s extra slack around my iPod, taking care not to bend the cable out of the headphone jack. I will be blunt: 1,5 metres is annoyingly long and the stock length of 60cm is too short.

I think Jays could have designed two versions of the Jays: one with a long cable and the other short. Or, they could have shortened the extension cable which is 20-30cm too long to be used without annoyance. If you use the Y-split cincher, microphonics are reduced when wearing straight down from the ears and when looped over the ears, are nearly imperceptible. Since the cable is light and free of dangling bits, the Q-Jays will not catch on anything. Other than length problems, these are great on-the-go phones.

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Conclusion
Jay’s research is evident in the Q-Jays. Articulate, tiny and beautiful, they are gems that exude confidence in solid construction and attention to detail. While not bass heavyweights, low notes and instruments are well defined with great bass detail and.

Treble and mids are striking, extended and confident. Vocal music sings and highly sung instruments engage beautifully, if sometimes too much so and staging accuracy is great. The 3D composition in music, while not impressively wide, is realistic with great balance and interaction between its respective parts.

If I were to decry any one function, it would be cable length. Jays chose an overly long extension cable that at times, makes using the Jays a science. However, the units are so well constructed and pretty that they make up for a somewhat sloppy cable.

I cannot fail to mention in conclusion that they are the most comfortable earphones I have ever used when sleeping on my side. Better than customs, the UM2, CK10 and a host of other well-constructed earphones. Great work Jays.

Jays Q-jays inner earphone gets grabbed by TouchMyApps. Please take a look at our other Headphone reviews.

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App Summary
Title: Q-Jays Developer: Jays
Price: ~$179.99 – ~$250
  • Great Fit Kit
  • Impressive Bass and Treble
  • Realistic Soundstage
  • Good cable construction
  • Housing is sturdy
  • Comfortable for sleeping!!!
  • Beautiful design
  • Package is an all-plastic finger-cutter
  • Cable is too short, extension too long!

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