Reviewing headphones with my tin ears

Base case – Macbook Air from 2012, Rhapsody, The Smiths “There is a Light”, set to volume 5.

First up, an Apple earpod pair from an iPhone I got recently. Free with iPhone 2013?)

Kind of low volume. Weird.

Loose in my giant ears. Feel they are barely hanging on there.

Not hurting me.

Listening experience is “blah” – a 5.

Second up, another pair of Apple earpods. Free with iPhone (2014)

Louder! WTF?

I am hearing that bassline in the opening with a twang that was not there before.

This sounds more lifelike.

There are some strings in the backdrop that are soaring!

I suppose I’d say like 8 for this.

Third up, some cheap ones I got for $7. Also in-ear but with silicon nubs. Made by iKey.

These are stuck in my ear. All other sound is evicted. Normally I love these on planes. I use them as combo earplugs.

Wow it’s loud. Too loud. I want to lower it. Jeez! Loud!!

The bassline is not as sharp. The voice too – “muffled” I guess is how to say it. Like the little echos/small space of talking in a small space.

The strings – not as clear or soaring! Wow, there is a difference here. It’s kind of like the way a Xerox copy that is lower-resolution turns two slightly different grays just into the same gray. That blotting is what I think is happening to the individual sounds. It’s cruder.

I guess this is a 7. I can actually hear it well unlike the first one but it is so clearly worse sound.

Fourth up, Skullcandy in-ears from Serge nearby. $20ish?

Fit nicely, snug. And so it is loud. Not too loud.

Strings – even the supporting strings are singing clearly and reaching elegant peaks.

That closing weird synth clarinet they have on this song is lifelike almost – like being in the studio with their Roland synth :)

Score: 9

Fifth, some “DJ” headphones from Technics that John lent me. On-ear headset. $120

Comfortable, loud at the perfect level.

The voice! There is modulation in his voice that is so human and delicate – little warbles at the ends of phrases. Wow.

Also the “symphony hall” quality to these. A big full lush blanket of sound.

However the individual voices are not as clear. On the bassline the notes are registering as tones without the texture of the bass string’s action. Same for the string synth up at the top. Very odd – could it be that the bass and upper register are poorly delivered?

I have to score this worse I guess so it’s an 8.

More coming later – some Sonys, Grados, Bose, Sennheisers and Beats upstairs to try.