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Old 03-24-2011, 09:26 PM
dv8tor dv8tor is offline
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Default Best In-Ear Headphones for Gym (Shortlisted a few but open to suggestions)

Hey guys,

I am in the market for purchasing a new pair of IEMs specifically for use in the gym during workout. I don't do any cardio (running, treadmill, stair master, etc.) and I do pure weight lifting and strength training 3-4 days a week. My budget should be in the range of $30-$40. I will be driving them with a Sansa Clip+ (or sometimes a Cowon D2+) coupled with a FiiO E5 at times. I actually don't have the Sansa Clip+ yet but will be purchasing soon as I heard D2's don't fair that well in the gym for ease of use. I also would like to mention that I've never worn over-the-ear IEMs before. My previous pair which broke were Creative EP630s. I don't mind getting used to the new fit, but also am still open to using normal fit IEMs.

Here are my list of priorities:

1. Since the cans will just be used for the gym, I prioritize first and foremost the durability. I want something that will not give in to easy wear and tear.

2. Second, would be noise isolation as I would like to workout in peace (listening to upbeat music and heavy metal). I want as much noise isolation as possible.

3. Third, I listen to all sorts of music (except r&b, trance, party-music), but for these specific IEMs, I would just be piping out pure metal (all sorts from death and metalcore to prog and thrash) and any other upbeat music for working out. I don't mind if it's for bassheads, but I don't want anything sounding tinny and lacking in detail.

With these priorities, I have finalized my shortlist to the following (in order). Please let me know your insights on each and which would be the best option. I am also open to other options within the price range specified above so feel free to suggest more.

1. SoundMagic PL30
-I've read in other forums that these are good for the gym. There's no doubt that sound quality on these babies are top notch for the price. However, my only concern is the fit and durability. If I'm not wrong, these things are made of plastic right and the cord is just old-fashioned rubber. I also would like some comments on the ear-guides which go over your ear. I wonder if these would last in gym conditions. I like the range of accessories offered and various ear tip options. My other concern is also that the company is a Shenzen-based (China) one and quality-wise, I would like to know if these are disposable or durable in the long-run. There are no service centers and they don't seem to have an official website so customer care is out of the question.

2. MMElectronics M6
-These caught my eye due to the reinforced cording and tangle-resistant steel memory wire. The M6's are also designed specifically for sports use as seen in its marketing. They are a tad more expensive compared to the PL30s (where I'm residing) and do not have as vast a selection of ear tips as the latter. I have also read that they are not the best when it comes to sound (compared to the PL30s).

These last two options are really not solid options (and actually might get a lot of criticism), but I figured I'd ask anyway just in case they get some good comments:

3. H20 Audio Flex Waterproof and Sweat Proof Headphones
-I don't know how these are exactly durable because they don't look the part based on photos. But they are marketed as waterproof and sweat proof and can actually be taken for a swim. Sound-wise, I'm not expecting much, but for a regular beating at the gym, I'd expect durability.

4. SkullCandy Smokin Buds
-I never did or actually want to support this brand due to negative feedback they've gotten in audiophile circles. But they seem to garner a lot of positive feedback among kids, teenagers, and extreme sports athletes. Knowing that BMXers and skateboarders endorse these says something about durability, and the cord is of fabric material as well.

Anyways, I hope I can get some insightful suggestions and finalize my decision soon.

Thanks guys!
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2011, 02:24 AM
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BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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I used Etymotics Er6's with my sansaclip (and sansaclip+) for years. I seem to be very similar to you, gym, strength training, metal upbeat music etc. I did cardio as well tho so noise isolation and the sweat factor was important.
But er6's are the ONLY IEM's I have ever used so i can't really comment on how good they are as I kinda need a comparison. I see plenty of people criticise etymotic over here for being overpriced but alot of ppl agree that they do isolate noise rather well.

Personally I had no complaints over them, but i'm about to try out some Ultimate Ears Superfi 5vi and I gather they sound quite different.
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  #3  
Old 03-29-2011, 11:16 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dv8tor View Post
Hey guys,

I am in the market for purchasing a new pair of IEMs specifically for use in the gym during workout. I don't do any cardio (running, treadmill, stair master, etc.) and I do pure weight lifting and strength training 3-4 days a week. My budget should be in the range of $30-$40. I will be driving them with a Sansa Clip+ (or sometimes a Cowon D2+) coupled with a FiiO E5 at times. I actually don't have the Sansa Clip+ yet but will be purchasing soon as I heard D2's don't fair that well in the gym for ease of use. I also would like to mention that I've never worn over-the-ear IEMs before. My previous pair which broke were Creative EP630s. I don't mind getting used to the new fit, but also am still open to using normal fit IEMs (a rew.

Here are my list of priorities:

1. Since the cans will just be used for the gym, I prioritize first and foremost the durability. I want something that will not give in to easy wear and tear.

2. Second, would be noise isolation as I would like to workout in peace (listening to upbeat music and heavy metal). I want as much noise isolation as possible.

3. Third, I listen to all sorts of music (except r&b, trance, party-music), but for these specific IEMs, I would just be piping out pure metal (all sorts from death and metalcore to prog and thrash) and any other upbeat music for working out. I don't mind if it's for bassheads, but I don't want anything sounding tinny and lacking in detail.

With these priorities, I have finalized my shortlist to the following (in order). Please let me know your insights on each and which would be the best option. I am also open to other options within the price range specified above so feel free to suggest more.

1. SoundMagic PL30
-I've read in other forums that these are good for the gym. There's no doubt that sound quality on these babies are top notch for the price. However, my only concern is the fit and durability. If I'm not wrong, these things are made of plastic right and the cord is just old-fashioned rubber. I also would like some comments on the ear-guides which go over your ear. I wonder if these would last in gym conditions. I like the range of accessories offered and various ear tip options. My other concern is also that the company is a Shenzen-based (China) one and quality-wise, I would like to know if these are disposable or durable in the long-run. There are no service centers and they don't seem to have an official website so customer care is out of the question.

2. MMElectronics M6
-These caught my eye due to the reinforced cording and tangle-resistant steel memory wire. The M6's are also designed specifically for sports use as seen in its marketing. They are a tad more expensive compared to the PL30s (where I'm residing) and do not have as vast a selection of ear tips as the latter. I have also read that they are not the best when it comes to sound (compared to the PL30s).

These last two options are really not solid options (and actually might get a lot of criticism), but I figured I'd ask anyway just in case they get some good comments:

3. H20 Audio Flex Waterproof and Sweat Proof Headphones
-I don't know how these are exactly durable because they don't look the part based on photos. But they are marketed as waterproof and sweat proof and can actually be taken for a swim. Sound-wise, I'm not expecting much, but for a regular beating at the gym, I'd expect durability.

4. SkullCandy Smokin Buds
-I never did or actually want to support this brand due to negative feedback they've gotten in audiophile circles. But they seem to garner a lot of positive feedback among kids, teenagers, and extreme sports athletes. Knowing that BMXers and skateboarders endorse these says something about durability, and the cord is of fabric material as well.

Anyways, I hope I can get some insightful suggestions and finalize my decision soon.

Thanks guys!
If microphonics really annoys you (you stressed that you wanted to work out in peace, and sound isolation isn't the only factor), then the M6 and Smokin' Buds are probably the best choices (though I'd take ANY half-decent brand over Skullcandy) due to their cable materials. Keep in mind that for good isolation, you may have to buy aftermarket earbuds to ensure a snug fit (a review that I read recommended Sony Hybrid tips for the M6).

Where do you live? Amazon.com is having a discount on the M6 right now (and they're shipping this internationally): http://www.amazon.com/MEElectronics-...pr_product_top
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Turn down the volume when playing music. Your ears will thank you.
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2011, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post
...SNIPPED...you may have to buy aftermarket earbuds to ensure a snug fit (a review that I read recommended Sony Hybrid tips for the M6)....SNIPPED...
+1. If they fit your IEMs/nozzles, I am a huge fan of the Sony Hybrid replacement tips. Others to consider are the Super.fi tips as well.
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2011, 01:50 PM
dv8tor dv8tor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceBanner View Post
I used Etymotics Er6's with my sansaclip (and sansaclip+) for years. I seem to be very similar to you, gym, strength training, metal upbeat music etc. I did cardio as well tho so noise isolation and the sweat factor was important.
But er6's are the ONLY IEM's I have ever used so i can't really comment on how good they are as I kinda need a comparison. I see plenty of people criticise etymotic over here for being overpriced but alot of ppl agree that they do isolate noise rather well.

Personally I had no complaints over them, but i'm about to try out some Ultimate Ears Superfi 5vi and I gather they sound quite different.
Thanks for the advice BruceBanner. While the Etymotics are pretty pricey for my budget now, I'll definitely explore them when I upgrade in the future. I'm still definitely getting a Sansa Clip+ for the gym. Seems like its a must for everyone who goes to the gym (from audiophile forums). Had a friend recently who gave me an awesome tip. Try taking N.O. Xplode then working out with metal. It's brutal dude. Haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post
If microphonics really annoys you (you stressed that you wanted to work out in peace, and sound isolation isn't the only factor), then the M6 and Smokin' Buds are probably the best choices (though I'd take ANY half-decent brand over Skullcandy) due to their cable materials. Keep in mind that for good isolation, you may have to buy aftermarket earbuds to ensure a snug fit (a review that I read recommended Sony Hybrid tips for the M6).
Thanks for the advice too mbamg. I actually already have purchased a pair of SoundMagic PL-30s and have been trying them for the past few days. However, I can't seem to find the perfect fit. While it has clear mid-range, it definitely lacks the bass I need for the music I'll play in the gym. It also gets very uncomfortable when wearing for prolonged periods of time.

I may return these and consider the Smokin' Buds. I'm thinking now that normal fit (not over-the-ear) IEMs would be better to use in the gym.

Thanks for mentioning the Sony Hybrid tips. I'm definitely trying those out soon.
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2011, 03:13 PM
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Machiventa Machiventa is offline
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Get the M6's! I've seen audiophiles raving about em for a very affordable (and comfortable) IEM.
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  #7  
Old 04-02-2011, 04:01 PM
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The Ultimate Ears Super Fi 5 blow the etymotic er6's out the water. They are louder, far bassier and alot more fun to listen to. They have good noise isolation too. I can get them here in oz for $120, u might be able to get them cheaper elsewhere. Forget the er6's and anything from etymotic, over priced.
Listening to the Super Fi is just wonderful, im enjoying listening to my music all over again xD
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  #8  
Old 04-05-2011, 08:56 PM
mbamg mbamg is offline
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Lol why do I feel that all of my IEMs have way too much bass? Perhaps I should get the PL-30s so I wouldn't have to keep killing my ears.

Well, I got the M6, and yeah, the mids are recessed, there is much more clarity in the treble than in all the previous IEMs I've owned so far, but unfortunately the bass overpowers everything else - again. There's also a little sibilance in the highs, which sort of ruins the experience for me.

Microphonics is barely noticeable thanks to the shirt clip, just as the review said. Isolation is great, I can barely hear anything with these on.

However, I cannot say that they are comfortable. I had to use the stock triple-flanges as none of the other tips provided decent isolation, and as my left ear is a little shallow, I can feel the tip poking somewhere, making me uncomfortable. Looks like I'll probably have to find Sony Hybrids in Canada then.

While these IEMs are great for the price, I still find them pretty disappointing. Although my other IEMs sound much more muddier and coloured in comparison, if I was to pick and use any of my IEMs based on comfort, these M6's would be the last choice.

Edit: I'm trying out the other tips again, and find them to be much more comfortable. Looks like I'll be sacrificing isolation for comfort.

Edit: Maybe not. It sounds muffled without the triple-flanges.

In a quiet room I can listen to my Sony Walkman at volume 1 and still feel it's way too loud with my cx300s, ckm55, and especially the m6's with all that isolation. Why can't volume increments be smaller...
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Last edited by mbamg; 04-05-2011 at 09:12 PM.
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  #9  
Old 04-07-2011, 04:15 AM
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I've recently forgotten about the Smokin' Buds and I really promised myself in the past to never purchase SkullCandy. I have, however, seen better alternatives and new options. I really want to start taking my Sansa Clip+ to the gym, but need a good, durable set of IEMs to pair it with. I simply cannot afford to bring my fragile Image S4's.

What are your thoughts on the following IEMs?

Sennheiser CX 271
I'm actually considering these because they are cheap and actually come with a very durable, reinforced cable. These are also marketed with heaving heavy bass which is just what I need for the type of music I'll be tuning into when I workout. My only concern is that I've been trying to search the net for reviews for this model and haven't found much. It seems like it is not one of Sennheiser's top-selling models.



a-Jays One:
These caught my attention due to the flat, unobtrusive cable and the solid-build. The manufacturers also promise heavy bass and good isolation. I've read a couple of reviews for these and most are positive. They are a bit more expensive than the Sennheisers, but nothing too expensive for my budget.
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2011, 04:09 PM
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Ultimate Ears Super fi 5, cannot rave enough about them xD
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Old 04-07-2011, 04:18 PM
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The cables on the a-Jays are probably extremely microphonic. I've heard three other pairs of IEMs with flat cables, and they all transmitted much more noise than round cables. Usually flat cables also can't be worn over the ears as easily as round ones as well.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post
However, I cannot say that they are comfortable. I had to use the stock triple-flanges as none of the other tips provided decent isolation, and as my left ear is a little shallow, I can feel the tip poking somewhere, making me uncomfortable. Looks like I'll probably have to find Sony Hybrids in Canada then.
Consider trimming the end of the triple flange for your left ear, and turn it into a double flange. See if that helps with comfort.

Barring that, consider selling your m6 and getting the soundmagic pl50. Very comfortable, light, no microphonics. And since it's a balanced armature earphone, the bass is much lighter.
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