Tag: "headphones"

Sneaker Freaker x AIAIAI earbuds

Finding decent headphones is always an issue for me. After spending a lot of time trying out different styles of in-the-ear pieces, I decided I’d never find the perfect fit for my lugholes: every pair I’ve tried have either fallen out after 10 seconds, or I’ve had to jam them in so hard that I’ve risked brain damage. Spending £180 on a pair of Ultimate Ears Super.fi ‘phones turned out to be a total waste of money – after all, who’s gonna want to buy secondhand foam that’s been jammed into your ear? No-one, that’s who.

So, I’ve been sticking with my Audio Technica headphones for the past few years. They’re great, but hardly inconspicuous… and I fancied something a little stealthier. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a set of these AIAIAI ‘phones in my mailbox the other morning, courtesy of the guys at Sneaker Freaker. These aren’t any old ‘phones though: the SF team have given them a special makeover with a slick colour treatment.

Firstly, they fit really well. A selection of interchangeable tips – soft foam or latex – gives a custom fit, so that’s a big plus point. But the nicest feature is a multiple-function button on the leads. When used with an iPhone, the button answers incoming calls (and, as you’d expect, hangs up as well). When using the iPod function (again, on an iPhone), the button functions with a single push to play or stop the music. Push the button two times and the iPod will forward to next song. They’ve got the standard 3.5mm jack plug and therefore will fit iPods, iPhones, most MP3 players, laptops and all kinds of stuff.

You want technical data, right? Here you go:

Driver unit size: 9 mm
Impedance: 16 ohm
Sensitivity: 106dB/mW at 1K Hz
Frequency Respons: 20-20K Hz
Rated power input: 4 mW
Maximum power input: 20 mW
Microphone Operating Voltage: 3∼10 V

All that really matters is that they sound good, fit well and look great. And you can buy them here from the Sneaker Freaker store for $60USD.

Audio-Technica ATH-ES7 Portable Headphones

If you play a lot of music on the go, then you’ll be well acquainted with the perils of choosing new portable headphones. I’ve sat on/crushed/dropped/lost countless pairs over the past 30 years. I’ve spent (fairly) large amounts of cash on things I was advised to purchase, only to bin them weeks later. I’m also a member of the ‘in-the-ear headphones always fall out’ society, which has limited my choices in the past.

Previously, the best headphones I’ve owned have been my faithful Sony Eggos (MDR-D66’s, if you want their technical name). Decent sound, lightweight – and more-or-less unbreakable through normal use. Oh, and they looked pretty interesting too. After three years of using these pretty much every day, they still work fine, but the pessimist in me figured it might be time to get some replacements before they disappear. And, guess what? I was too late. The replacement Sony model just doesn’t do it for me.

So, it was time to look further afield. And, damn, there are a lot of ‘phones out there now. Aesthetics aside, I can see just how easy it is to fall into the trap of spending a fortune on something that just isn’t going to appease your listening requirements. I’d dabbled with supposedly snug-fitting in-the-ear models (the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi Pros), only to end up slinging them aside because they just didn’t feel comfortable for any longer than an hour. Back to the faithful over-the-ear jobs for me.

A quick visit to Audio Cubes left me with a few options. After a think and a browse elsewhere, I went back and bought the audio-technica ATH-ES7s: they had good reviews, decent specification and (despite the fruity mirrored finish on the ear pieces) looked pretty good. At $170 they were pushing the budget a little, but I figured I’d treat myself. Ten days later they arrived – and they’re great.

The first thing I noticed was that they’re a bit bulkier than the Eggos. Not really a problem, but it was interesting to see how comfortable they’d be after a few hours of wear – and they passed the test. Then I gave them a little road test with some of my favourite tracks: I wanted to test for bass, clipping when dealing with loud tracks and detail. Those aren’t the correct technical terms, but I’m fussy about how my music sounds. Check the official audio-technica ATH-ES7 website for the full specification.

The bass is fantastic! Undistorted, clear… but it actually feels bassy, like how you can feel the reverberations when a car with a bass bin drives past. At high volumes, there is very little distortion as well. I’m only two weeks in on these, but so far they’re working well. If I encounter any issues, I’ll do an update here, but until then they come with the Trashfilter seal of recommendation.
Available here at Audio Cubes (who are probably the only place I’d order my headphones these days).