Earbud Impotence

So I ordered a pair of highly, highly, highly regarded Etymotic ER-6i earbuds the other day and I have to say, they have about as much bass as the iPod Nano’s built in speaker. I don’t get it… all over the web, people rave about these things. iLounge, a community of smart iPod fanatics, has 17 independent reviews and almost every single one gives the Etymotics five stars.

The one thing that makes me suspicious is that many of the reviews — as well as the instruction manual — stress the importance of stuffing these things as far into your ear canals as possible. Well I’ve done that, and with all four supplied earpieces. Still nothing. Any further pushing and I’m going to puncture an eardrum.

So my question is, has anyone else had problems with the fit of high-end isolator earbuds? I’m thinking that some ears are probably just incompatible with them entirely.

60 comments on “Earbud Impotence”. Leave your own?
  1. James says:

    Wanna trade me?

  2. Dave says:

    I purchased a set of Sony Fontopia earphones a while back. It was a similar situation. I did get them to sound great but I really had to jam them into my ears to the point where it was very uncomfortable.

    You’re either a person who likes the in-ear earphones or you’re not. Unfortunately, you don’t generally find out until you’ve wasted some money.

  3. I haven’t tried the Etymotics, but have a couple of music-producer friends who speak highly of them. (Etymotic also makes good earplugs for concert-going.)

    I have the Shure E3Cs and have been pretty happy with them. They come with a bunch of types of ear-pieces, but not the same all-the-way-to-the-cranium flanged ones that the Etymotics do. However when I lost enough of those, I picked up earpieces for the E4Cs which are the flanged type and also work on the E3Cs. I think they sound great and stay in much better than the supplied ones.

    They can be a pain to get in, though. The trick is to actually push your ear closer to the back of your head while you’re inserting them.

  4. Sujay says:

    Maybe you just got a bad pair?

  5. Whyren says:

    I’ve got a pair of these and they can manage to pull great sound…but I have to struggle with them for quite some time before they’re seated right (and usually afterwards if they get moved around). Even then, I notice that my left ear never quite fits with them (either the flanged or the soft foam) so it’s entirely possible that certain ear contours don’t work with these.

  6. Marc says:

    I’ve had canal phones from Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser. Of all of them, I kept the Sennheiser CX300s.


    They have excellent base response with sweet mids and highs. The only thing I don’t like about them is the cord — if you’re listening to music and running, you don’t want the cord to rub against your chest/clothes/anything cause they transfer the rubbing noise into you ear.

  7. Danny says:

    Bass response with an in-ear driver is completely dependent upon the seal that you get in the ear canal. I had a similar experience with a set of Apple’s in-ear headphones. The supplied rubber tips were completely worthless in my ears, so I tried some tips I had from a pair of Shure E2s. The Shure tips worked great, and the bass response is as good or better than my pair of Sony MDR-7506 studio reference headphones.

    My advice is to find out if there are other tips out there that fit the stem of your Etymotics. Your ear canal may just be too big for the supplied tips.

  8. Cara says:

    A guy I work with suggests these: Ultimate Ears. He’s a musician and apparently has “very discriminating ears”. He did mention that he had to try several different plug sizes in order to get the “proper seal”.

    I’ve used the Sony Fontopia for years though and you can get them for $20-40 bucks. But maybe I don’t have “discriminating ears”.

  9. Taylan Pince says:

    Solution: don’t use in-ear headphones! You will never get the same quality you would have in proper headphones.

  10. Kevin says:

    I have a pair of the ER-4Ps and one thing I’ve noticed is that the sound quality really depends on your source. If you haven’t tried this already, hook them up to your home stereo system and have a listen. I know mine don’t have nearly as good a bass response from my iPod as they do from my computer or stereo.

    As far as the ear seal goes, you can try the foam tips too. They can be easier to get a good seal with.

    Keep trying, it’s worth it. Good luck!

  11. John says:

    I tried the Sure in-ears, then the Ultimate Ears and finally settled on the ER-4Ps. They have the isolation and reasonably accurate sound reproduction I’ve been looking for.

    Kevin is spot on when he says that source matters and the foam tips do a better job of providing a seal than the rubber ones in some cases, including if you are working up a sweat on stage.

    Again, keep trying and you’ll find something that works for you!

  12. Chris Moritz says:

    About 6 months ago I tried several supposedly “high-quality” ear buds.

    None of them matched the bass of the standard Apple ear buds enhanced with Griffin Technology’s EarJams.

    I couldn’t believe it. $20 plastic snap-ons give better sound quality than $140 noise-cancelling headphones. Unbelieveable.

  13. steven says:

    I have had the same problem… and am now convinced my ears are just deformed and incapable of hearing any deep/substatial bass.

  14. Rick Rajter says:

    I’m sorry to here that. I have a set myself and they are freagin amazing… particularly if you live in the city like me and take the subway (it blocks out all the screeching at the stops). Yeah, the bass won’t be subwoofer quality, but it is still damn impressive. I actually prefer it to speakers because of the sound isolation.

    Have you tried both sets of attachments? I prefer the earplug kind (where you squish it down and it expands) as oppossed to the tri-cone one… but they both have their ups and downs.

  15. ~bc says:

    It’s all about fit. If the Et’s don’t seal for you, then maybe you need to try someone else’s… I have had the Apple In-ears, and found positioning, as mentioned above is the key. The provided ear rubbers didn’t work for me, but I found the Sony Fontopia in-ear rubbers fit the Apple buds and fit (and most importantly stayed) in my ear, and I’ve used them ever sense. Not high-end ‘phones for sure, but excellent for the $30.

  16. Dan Bowling says:

    I bought the same pair. I was surprised at the lack of bass as well, but then I read into it. Turns out that this bass boost that many of us like is entirely artificial, and not part of the original recording. The ER6i in-ear phones reproduce with very high quality, and that means lower bass than most other headphones that artificially inflate it.

    I did notice that I really did have to get a good seal though… and once I did, the bass went way up. I recommend using the rubber(ish) inserts, rather than the foam ones, as I got a much tighter seal… and wet them first too.

    The longer I have had my ER6i, the more I have enjoyed them… especially on the plane.

  17. Ming Teo says:

    I tested the Etymotics and decided that shoving a tri-flange two centimetres up my ears wasn’t the least intrusive method I could have found to get good sound – and I wasn’t even allowed to try out how it sounded, I had to buy a pair of replacement earpieces just to be able to try out how it felt.

    So, in the end, I opted for a slightly less “raved about” set of canalphones, the Shure E2C, which only went around one centimetre into my ear canal, didn’t hurt as I removed them (there is no tri-flange) and the sound… well, they sound quite nice. While “nice audio” is quite subjective, I like them and recommend them, which has a lot to do with not being too interested in feeling pain when I’m finished listening to music.

    Plus, the E2Cs were cheaper.

    P.S. The principle of canalphones in the first place is really cool though – block out exterior sound, so you don’t have to turn it up as high, so you don’t go as deaf over the years.

  18. Calvin Tang says:

    I tried Mike’s earbuds today. I have to say that I agree that there wasn’t just too little bass, there was zero, zilch, nada.

    I have a pair of in-ear Sony noise canceling earbuds (ironically, from Mike) and they definitely provide the bass range. I don’t think it’s just an issue of fit either, since both Mike and I tried ’em and they didn’t work. It is possible that he got a defective pair, but then again I’ve tried Etymotics before and I noticed the same, lacking bass.

  19. Rocketeer says:

    In-ear earphones are cool if you’re always on the go. However I feel that over-ear headphones have a better overall sound response, and there is hardly any fatigue after using them for long periods, the only snag is the price range.

  20. Phil Oye says:

    Mike, it is all about getting a good seal. Here is a link for help.

  21. Chris Platts says:

    Haven’t tried the Etymotics, but I have pair of Shure E3Cs which come with soft and medium rubber, and bright yellow malleable foam earpieces. I seem to have an oddly shaped ear canal and couldn’t get any of the rubber earpieces to work – no bass at all.

    However the disposable foam earpieces are designed to be squashed right down and inserted in the ear. They then slowly expand over 20 seconds or so to produce an airtight seal. Once that seal has been made the bass response is phenonemal and the isolation from external noise superb – and as it attenuates both steady state noise (train and aircraft noise) as well as transient noise, they are much more effective than noise cancelling headphones.

    I have been told that the best sound is when you use custom earpieces made for you – about £25 each from a high street hearing centre here in the UK. I intend to try that once my current supply of foam pads are used.

    Hope that helps.

  22. Daniel David says:

    This is the exact same experience I had!.

    I purchased the ER-6i’s from Buy.com after months of research. The only other headphones I considered were the Shure E2C and E4C which I ruled out because of the inverted position and cost, respectively. These were for work so I wanted them to look as close to normal headphones as possible.

    The ER’s gave me limited bass response, but did manage to block out all surrounding noise, which was actually quite annoying when working in an office with 2 others, they basically had to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.

    The headphones lasted 2 days before I sent them back. The sound quality was nothing special, bass response was very disappointing, and because of those results the price was absurd to me.

  23. Andy says:

    I hate in-ear headphones. I think I have small ear canals or something because after about 5 minutes with any in-ear headphones, my ears are killing me.

  24. John says:

    I have some of those Sony Fontopia earbuds. They drove me crazy at first and yes, they do have to be inserted fully to get the full performance. But I bought them specifically to use under my motorcycle helmet on long trips so earbuds were my only option. It probably took me an entire riding season (about 6 months here in Montana) to get use to them. Now I use them all the time, even as I type this.

    One interesting aside: I was on a road trip in ’04 in British Columbia and I lost one of the silicone earpieces during a lunchstop near the Columbia Ice Fields. That night I was able to modify a foam earplug to continue using the earbuds on the trip, but when I got home I had to order replacements directly from Japan. I couldn’t find any stocked stateside, at the time. It cost more to ship the things than to buy them, but far less than buying a whole new set of earbuds.

  25. Dennis West says:

    Shortly after gettting my first iPod, I got a pair of the Apple, in-ear headphones and I couldn’t stand them. The plugs that went into my ear kept slipping out changing from nice and bassy to awful and tinny. Also, when they were in all the way, it was like I was wearing ear plugs and I could hear every breath and noise my mouth made amplified terribly. Fortunately I could return them.

    Now I use some Sony Psyc headphones that clip over my ear and have such good bass that I frequently have to take them off at work and make sure that my powered speakers aren’t on accidentally.

    Much better.

  26. I’ve never tried the Etymotics, but the Shure E2C’s I use have fantastic bass. But you do have to shove them really really deep into your ear to get good sound.

    Unfortunately, sound-isolating earbuds are a really really poor choice for running, so I’ve switched back to the standard Apple headphones for the time being.

  27. Dave says:

    Earbuds don’t like me. They fall out. Doesn’t matter how far I jam them in, they wiggle further and further out, the bass disappears, and then they’re dangling around my collar.

    I just picked up a pair of totally non-portable REAL headphones, and I’ll never look back: SR60 from http://www.gradolabs.com/ (I’d give you a link right to the product, but it’s a frames site — ack!)

    By the way, Grado makes a set called the iGrado, but I found them uncomfortable to wear, and inferior in the audio midrange.

    Good luck!

  28. foggy says:

    Mike, I have a pair of the Etymotic E4Ps which I thought the same thing about when I first got them. Oddly enough, they seemed to improve in base output the more I used them. I also use them with a headphone amp (the small battery-powered one from Headroom). I know, it seems like the last thing these need is more power — I felt like I might blow my eardrums out WITHOUT the amp — but a good amp will not make the music much louder, but will put a good amount of ooomph in the low end. Also, as others have said, stick ’em way in your ear, a little moisture on the rubber ends helps (don’t lick them!)

    I strongly recommend all of you check out the SRS iWow plug for iTunes if you havn’t already. Use the HipHop preset and you’ll have more bass than you can fit in your boat!

    Cheers, foggy

  29. Jason says:

    If you can get your hands on the headphones that come with a Nokia 770 – check those babies out. I don’t know how or why they crank so much bass, but they do.. and best? They’re not those macroni shell type deals that completely seal into your ear so you can hear yourself breathing. Check ’em out!

  30. Andrew says:

    I’ve recently purchased the V-Moda Vibe, and have been pretty impressed. Now I don’t have the aforementioned “discriminating ears”, but I couldn’t believe the bass and range of sound that these in-canal buds provided. I heard certain parts of songs that I hadn’t heard previously.

    Excellent noise reduction, fairly affordable ($85-100) as these things go, decent reviews. Another oddity I found was that the left ear bud felt awkward, while the right was fine – it turns out that my left ear canal is slightly smaller than the right, so I mixed the silicon buds and wear two different sizes. As for staying in, these haven’t slipped, and stay in for a long time while exercising or moving about.

  31. Leo Kennis says:

    I own a cheaper pair of Ccanalphones, the Sharp MD33. I think you are indeed pushing them far enough in, but you still get no seal. Try wettening the earpieces, and also just wearing them sometime. Your ears will adapt to them, and you will produce a lot of earwax…this will help keeping them in and creating a seal.

    However; after wearing them +/- 1 year, I found these in-ear things to become more and more unconfortable. I bought a pair of Koss KSC75’s; clip-on earphones. If you fail to get a seal, buy these. The sound is more than excellent and comfort is much higher…

  32. Marc Rullo says:

    I have these and they take some getting used to because of the invasive nature of the penetration. That being said, they’re great. Rule of thumb – if you can’t get them out of your ear without digging them out then you don’t have a proper seal and will get no bass response.

  33. dave says:

    Sorry to hear…. (bad pun!)

    I have personally used Westone UM1s (http://www.westone.com/music/universal.html#um1) and have found them to have great bass response. I use them for playing live music, but they would work well as MP3 buds too.

    The foam they use is excellent at cuttiing out external noise. So much so, that I often have to take one out so I can hear the rest of the band, (again, live music setting, but you get the idea.)

    They run about $109, if you purchase them online:

    Hope you find somethign that works!

  34. Richard says:

    Get some Sennheiser or Sony inear ‘phones :) All the Sennheiser ‘phones I’ve had have had great base. Plus both the Sony and Sennheiser as affordable should you loose them somewhere.

  35. John Patrick says:

    The best pair of headphones I’ve ever purchased are the Koss Sparkplug in-ear pleasures. You get the headphones, a pair of squishy plugs and a SPARE pair of squishy plugs all for the reasonable price of around $30.

    Once you’ve got ANY volume on these headphones you’re not going to hear a nuclear blast even if it went off a mile from where you stand plus they’re the comfiest things I’ve ever put in my ears (besides peas and carrots when I was younger, long story, won’t go into details) and you can quite comfortably sit for hours listening to your iPod or other music device without the lobes being irritated.

    Example link:
    Koss Sparkplug Earphones from Ebay.co.uk

    The auction above itself runs out in about 4 minutes but the seller, Scottish Sterling, sells these all the time, I highly recommend them personally.

    Hope that helps!

  36. RR says:

    Possibly mentioned already, but its a long thread so just take this as a second/third/Xth motion if its all been said already …

    After finding out that the cheap Apple in-ear phones improved sound quality by practically isolation alone (at least, got wayyy more bass out of them than the included iPod buds), I decided to look into GOOD isolating in-ear sets.

    What stopped me was the inability to walk-my-return back if I ordered online for something so subjective. Some ear canals just aren’t round or deep enough to get and maintain a good seal. Even the highest-end in-ears will sound like tin if there’s insufficient air seal.

    Picked up the Shure E2C’s from the local electronics trough, figuring they’d go back in a day or so. Getting a seal wasn’t too tough (I still think my ears are not ideally shaped for these) but found after a few months of wear, the silicones and the PVCs started to permanently lose their friction (skin oils absorbed into the rubber I guess) and would require re-seating a few times on my morning walk commute. I didn’t think I’d need to replace them that fast. Maybe I’m just a greasy mofo.

    I’m very happy with the E2C’s for the price, enough to make me really wonder how much better their higher end units, especially the 2- or 3- driver models sound.

    Someone mentioned wanting a normal cable path vs. the Shure’s scheme of wrapping up and behind the ear. Its a little odd at first, but so very stealth … most people don’t notice I’m wearing them (which is a problem sometimes, people will come up behind me and be talking for a minute before realizing I haven’t heard a thing) and sinching them behind your head keeps the buds from getting tweaked when the rest of the cable gets tugged. With this setup, you can feed the cable up under your shirt for an even stealthier install.

    If I could walk into a store (read: and do the reverse the same day if I’m not happy) and try the Etymotics I would … but I do wonder about the depth of the flange. The three-seal design probably isolates even better, perhaps even has better grip.

    My only gripe about in-ears, and it applies to any I’ve tried … is that a long day of wear really prevents your ear canals from breathing, so get used to doing a good ear cleaning daily if you’re wearing these things a lot. Maybe one of the manufacturers will figure out how to build a micro-scale air exchanger into these without losing sound pressure.

    (off topic, but) Oddly, if I plug these into my wife’s cheaper Shuffle (first gen, the pregnancy-test looking model) they sound bassier? Anyone else notice this? I’ve done back to back tests between my Nano and it and I don’t think I’m crazy. I thought the Shuffle was built to be disposable? It sounds tight and the high frequencies stay clear so its not like its just a hard-wired effect or something. Anyone?

    I just realized how long this was. Sorry!

  37. RR says:

    @foggy — thanks for linking the SRS plugin for iTunes. I normally avoid effects plugins, even avoid anything but a flat EQ, but discovered the SRS plugin in Windows Media Player made live and acoustic music really come alive without unduly coloring the music. It was the ONLY reason I used WMP … the plugin wasn’t free for the other players I had on the PC.

    I thought I went looking for the equivalent for the Mac, but didn’t find it at the time. The included “enhancer” under iTunes doesn’t do anything for me.

    I do find that for electronica (or music you might not had a ton of post-processing effects on it) you will likely notice weird artifacts with SRS WOW enabled if there were already spatialization effects added in the recording. (one of the recent Dandy Warhols albums had at least a few tracks that just sounded bizarre with SRS WOW enabled)

  38. 1 says:


  39. NL says:


    Is it possible that you are just used to the excessive bass (really lower mids actually) of many speakers and headphones ? A flat speaker can actually sound a little bass-weak at first, because it lacks overly loud lower mids (100 – 200 Hz) which manufacturers market as “bass” for loud-slamming-electronica-rap-craving kids. As a professional musician, and a consultant to a leading high-end audio manufacturer, I find the etymotics to be impressively linear for the price.

    Hope this helps. Try to get used to it. That’s really how it should sound !

  40. Margaret says:

    Hey, I found your blog thru a Seattle Times article on Myspace. Anyway, I use Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones [link]. They’re super cheap [

  41. Wayne says:

    You need the small, two flange ear buds for the etys. Then put a little water on them for lubrication and put them in until you get a seal. Having them that far in takes getting used to, about a week. Turn on the bass heavy EQ setting on the ipod.

  42. Rafael says:

    I have to agree with Marc above, the Sennheiser CX300 earbuds are hot stuff, particularly when it comes to bass. And they really are excellent at drowning out external noise.

  43. Michael says:

    I can’t read all 42 of these comments but I have E4c’s and could not stand them at first. I had to turn them higher then I thought I should have to and there was no base. A friend told me they were not in right but as far as I could tell they were in all the way. After a couple of weeks I found the right way to put them in and now they are AMAZING! Great base, my iPod volume is set very low and I hear every pin drop from the buds. Great on airplanes too! The key is really the fit. Sort of in the ear and then pointing forward. Don’t give up. When you get it, they rock!

  44. I’ve had my ER-6i’s for a good few months now and I absolutely love them. No problem at all with the low-end for me, but I did have to experiment with all of the supplied filters to find the ones that sat well in my ear.

    Like a lot of folks have said already, it’s all about how they fit in your ear – you shouldn’t have to ram them way in there, they just need to be tight for you to get the best out of them.

    Good luck finding a pair that works for you, Mike!

  45. Kevin says:


    Have to ask what the source material was and what was the output device? I say this because I have Ultimate Ears Super Fi 3s and at first the bass clearly was not like my Sony MD71s but the sound detail was significantly higher and they do not need as much volume for the same sound level. (My winamp volume level is almost at silent ‘cuz the Super Fis are so loud)

    I then adjusted the base settings in the app (winamp, itunes, media player) and the bas came back without the muddiness of the Sony. Now does that mean the Sony’s were better, no, just that Sony tunes for a particular listener.

    Often the “professional” buds are geared to a flat response and maintain clarity. Yes ear fit is very important. So all that said if you dont like go with the $40 Sony MD 71s they are very nice for the price.

    I think Robert Parker (the foremost authority on wine) I think once said “if the wine tastes good to you , then it is good wine” or something like that. Ya know

  46. Jim Gleeson says:

    I agree with you Kevin, that if it works for you, then that’s what is good. I never liked earbuds myself because they are rarely comfortable and I just don’t like sticking things in my ears. I usually either pipe my music through headphones or use an FM transmitter in my car. I don’t worry too much about bass and such because now I spend more time listening to podcasts than music, thanks to TWiT, Mac OS Ken, Maccast, and a Buzz out loud, yes it gives me the opportunity to geek out and not have to listen to commercials.

  47. RR says:

    @ Jim Gleeson: So basically anything that doesn’t kill you is good enough for you, that’s good. Voice reproduction is just fine on the crappy earbuds supplied with most mp3 players, iPod earbuds included.

    “I don’t listen to music, but I’ll weigh in on a sound-quality topic anyway. God I love the sound of my own typing.”

    * sigh *

  48. Jim Gleeson says:

    @RR, it takes all kinds. Some people are audiophiles, some people are not. The mp3 file format is not even CD quality to begin with unless you import your cd’s using the lossless format. Yet, many people listen to audio of substandard quality inherent in the mp3 format without complaint. People also watch degraded quality videos on youTube with crappy video and audio and find themselves entertained by that.

    “I listen to music and lie in wait on certain blog postings and await to pounce on those whom I deem unworthy to join the discussion.”

    *shaking head in pity and resignation*

    PS. Concerning the sound of my own typing…people in glass houses…

  49. Robert C. says:


    I’m a big fan of sealed earbuds for airplanes and bus rides. I haven’t used the Etys, but I’ve always heard they have bad bass response.

    I’ve owned Koss Plugs (now they’re called Spark Plugs) for a number of years, and they have great bass response, even though the sound isn’t audiophile quality. For $20-30 they’re great–since my main goal is to listen to music and watch movies in loud places without making myself deaf.

    The best two websites for headphones are HeadRoom (great store with reviews and recommendations) and Head-Fi (affiliated forum). Most of those guys don’t like too much bass, so take them seriously if they say there’s not much bass response. I don’t see them recommending the ER-6i very highly anymore–a few other models have come out in the past year that look preferable.

    I’ve never been able to get a good fit with the flanged-earplug style, but anything with a foam earplug should fit well enough. If not, you could always go the custom route and get some Ultimate Ears fitted for your ear.

  50. Mat says:

    Just throwing this in there, if you’re looking for a good set of buds that can actually deliver decent quality sound (from acoustics to drum & bass), take a look at the Skullcandy Buds. The best sound quality i’ve heard from ear buds, you can get them off EBay for less than half of the listed price).

    Anyway, that’s my contribution, thanks for flagging this set though, i’ll definetly avoid them.

  51. NL says:

    Hey Mike,

    After my first post, I received my third pair of ER6i. (one was stolen, one worn out).

    I am quite unimpressed with the sound. I loved the two first pairs, but the new ones lack bass, as you said. I will inquire, as I am really surprised – they sound very different than the ones I bought a year ago.

    I would definitely not recommend them anymore.

  52. En Croute says:

    I’d recomend plugging your earphones into a better device – it’s easy to forget that the sound production is half of the battle, and if your device won’t drive the base units, it will sound poor.

    I tested the same MP3 trcak on an an iPod and on an Cowon iAudio X5, using Shure E2C and E3C’s.

    The ipod on the E3C’s was poor, but OK on the E2Cs.
    The X5 on E3Cs had a much rounder full bassier sound, and the cheaper E2C’s had the best bass.

    I know you can adjust the bass on the equaliser on an iPod (well on the more recent versions), but you try a better MP3 player…

  53. Well, I’ll chime in, too. I think the solution to your problem is pretty simple. All of these high end earphones come with removable inserts. You can have custom made inserts by an audiologist (like at those hearing aid stores) and they will make a custom set for you. There are few websites that even provide this service. Google “audiologist earphone customized”.

    I have the Shure E4c and I couldn’t work without them. Their new E500PTH is supposed to address the bass issues and comes with “one tweeter and two woofers.” The problem for me after a while they can really become uncomfortable. I will say that after you use these you can’t go back. It’s like watching a TV in black and white and then seeing a big screen plasma in high def.

    Someone also mentioned airplanes. I’m a consultant and spend much of my time in the air. Even if your not listening to music, these drown out much of the noise. I tried the Etymotic and didn’t like them. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for with these. I’ve always read good reviews of Ultimate Ears, too. Hope this helps.

  54. Noel Jackson says:

    I had the same experience. Then I bought the ER4p and, they blew the SOCKS off the ER6s IMHO. Three times as much though…

  55. Ben says:

    I’ve owned a pair of ER-6i’s for about 3 months now and initially I was also rather disappointed with the sound I was getting from it. After further use though I came to the conclusion that the mids and highs were actually quite good and very clear. If you seal them correctly, they block out almost all external sounds and you could hear your music at a much lower volume than with the iPod earphones.

    However, bass still remained disappointing. While I could hear the bass, I couldn’t feel it. And what’s the point of bass if you can’t feel it? So I went looking for another set.

    I tried out my coworker’s Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 EB and while the bass pumped out of it definitely rattles your fillings, it comes at the expense of the mid and highs, making them sound really garbled compared to the ER-6i. Plus the earphones themselves were huge comparatively and I didn’t like how you had to hook them over the top of your ears.

    So I took a chance on the V-Moda Vibe and so far I’ve found the sound quality to be quite satisfactory. Definitely meatier bass and while the mid and highs still doesn’t match the ER-6i most of the time, it’s still pretty acceptable. Only thing is I wish they came with more plug options as I actually like the multi-flange plugs that came with the 6i. The Vibe ones hurt my right ear after a while for some reason if I insert them too far in. There’s less sound isolation than the 6i but also practically zero microphonics and occlusion. So for $80 it gives you pretty good bang for the buck.

  56. Steve says:

    I have the Shure E2’s and in order to get good sound you must try all the various earpieces to find one that fits your ear canal so that the earbud fits firmly in your ear without closing the sound port of the earpiece.

    I found that I had to insert them much further than I was initially comfortable with, but once I did I got acceptable bass.

  57. seth says:

    very good post, i’m in the market for new earbuds. i had the typical pair of sony 71’s that others have posted about and loved them as they were my first foray into non-stock earbuds. then i bought a pair of the sennheiser mx90vc, but the odd ear fitting tabs are killing my ear so i’m going to return them and get the cmx300’s that everyone seem to recommend.

  58. seth says:

    Well, I returned my Sennheiser mx90’s and exchanged them a gunmetal gray pair of V-Moda Vibes. WOW, these little things put out some beautiful sounds. Bear in mind though, I’m no audiophile and primarily listen to either 192kbit mp3s or the occasional ogg file, so my source of audio is not the best. Anywho, just thought you should know the V-Moda Vibes sound wonderful and the reviews I’ve read about them are pretty much true about them sounding great, doing a decent job of noise cancellation and lastly, you will want to do a 12-24 hour burn-in period to get the most out of them (basically leave them plugged into your audio player of choice for 12-24 hours at the normal listening volume).

    Good luck with your earbud decisions.

  59. Lise says:

    Has anyone ever tried custom fit earbuds? You see all the anchors on TV using them. I found an interseting website

    I have heard that this process is not that expensive and worth the investment for custom fit earbuds.

    No, I do not work for this company.
    I have never found over-the-counter comfortable earbuds

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