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Old 09-08-2010, 07:58 PM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277

Originally Posted by saxmaster765 View Post
I found these fairly good for a couple of reasons:

1. These sound rather nice for stock. (Apple's are horrible and crappy sounding)

2. The design of the old stock ones (these) have that ridge that allows it to sit in my ear fairly easily, although it gets a little painful after a while.

The new design (these) fits okay and they sounded close to the same as the old ones before a couple of idiots next to me ripped them apart while I wasn't looking (then I saw them try to push the ripped and exposed wire back in).
There is (as per "was") a third type of OEM bud -- it had a sort of thin tubular element perpendicular to the phone itself (wire coming out the end of the tubular part), which, if you tried (not advised!) could rotate (I think it has a dab of cement), at first seeming like it can unscrew, but in reality, not.

My first Sansa (a refurb) came with that type, and I've managed to pick up maybe two of them over the next couple of years since I got the original.

I much prefer that type -- more lightweight feeling (less heft hanging from the ear), smaller/easier to place in ear (always easier to put something smaller rather than something big and inflated-looking, which is how the newer type looks compared to the "kind with the tube"), and, mainly, they DO sound noticeably better (clearer high end).

I tried A/B comparisons between the standard Sansa buds and the "kind with the tube" and there was NO mistaking the difference. The normal kind does sound OK (better than many of the various in-ear types I've picked up over the years), but, the "tube kind" sounds MUCH better than the "inflated looking" type they put out by the millions.

All of that said, I prefer a decent set of in-ear phones for a few reasons -- better isolation, better sound (wth good ones), more comfortable (with good ones), and, stay in my ears better (with good ones).

I'd be more comfortable with the Sansa buds (in both senses of the word) if it was easier to find replacement foam covers for them. With my ears, at least, those PITA-to-apply foam "boots" make a BIG difference -- enough of a difference that between the physical discomfort and sound quality penalty from using the buds WITHOUT the foamies, I just will not do it.

I generally ONLY use the bud-type when I need to be able to hear extraneous sounds while listening to the phones.

FWIW, the BEST sounding in-ear phones I've picked up over the years, in approximate order of sound quality, are the Koss KE29BZ phones I got on Woot (I got ALL of these on Woot, I think), of which I sadly only got two sets, during a two-for-tuesday sale, for about five bucks for the pair. DANG but I wish I'd gotten more of them! BEST bargain I've ever got! They did sell more later, during wootoff, but I missed them.

Even sadder, of the two sets I got, one is currently misplaced (gave it to my wife, who refused to use them, and now we can't find them), and the set I've been using just busted the cable where it goes into the 3.5mm plug (poor strain relief). I do NOT want to send them in for for the lifetime replacement warranty, because 1) they're nicely broken-in, 2) I worry they'll send an "improved" version that won't be as good (hey, might be better, but I'm not a gamblin' man), and, 3) the cost to send these in will be roughly what it'd cost for me to buy a decent ANGLE-plug to replace the lousy straight-plug that came with them. In all, BEST phone bargain I've ever had, they REALLY sound great.

Next in the Microsoft "Premium" phones that more or less "came with" my Zune 80 refurb, (These are the ones that MS sells separately for $40, but included with ONE model, the Zune 80). The Woot sales page for the player said it came with those phones. The MS refurb box that contained the player said it included those phones. But, the phones actually supplied were a standard set of brand new (unused, with three colored sets of foam "booties") MS earbuds. After mucho sturm und drang, Woot ended up replacing the phones for everyone who complained. It took months, and by the time they finally arrived I had completely forgotten about them.

Sadly, I missed out on getting more of those too. They unloaded the ones they had left over during a Wootoff, for something like three bucks each. I'd have backed up the truck and bought all I could at that price. They REALLY sound great, and, the powerful magnets at the back do make it easier to prevent cord tangles.

The only downside is that the nice cloth cover over the cable tends to pull up, with the result being the plastic cable poking through at the areas where the braided cloth is a bit expanded. If you've ever worked with coax the right way (push the braided shield so that it loosens up, then push an opening at the corner, and then pull the central lead through the opening, without cutting any of the braid) then you can visualize what happens with the "nice" cloth covering at multiple spots on the cable (wherever it bends, eventually).

You can't readily pull it back in place (visualize a toy "chinese handcuff" from the 1950s -- flexible tube of woven grass or bamboo leaf or whatever, you tell your friend to put a finger in each end and then pull -- ha ha, he's trapped). The only thing you can do is tolerate the loops of plastic cable poking through, or, cut the cloth cover at each place where that happens (and then have it ride up an inch or so away from the exposed loop), or, remove ALL of the cloth covering.

Also, the strain relief at the plug... sucks. (lousy strain relief seems a very common problem). The outer soft part loosens up and slides off, leaving NO strain relief.

Still, a hell of a deal if picked up free (with a player), or for three bucks (if you were one of the lucky ones). They DO sound GREAT, and are fairly comfortable.

Third-best is a white set of in-ear phones, with translucent (silicone?) "soft part" (the part that goes into the ear), Unfortunately, the brand name seems to have rubbed off the phones, and I can't remember who made them. I think I paid ten or twelve bucks at Woot a long time ago.

The next-best type (equal or a tad better than the white ones) was picked up earlier at Woot, I forget the brand, they were about half-metal, and they sounded very nice (not as nice as the MS or Koss), until my son broke 'em for me. Ah, well...

Finally, my latest acquisition, "Jensen JHB564 Headshox Metal Earbuds" I got at the last Wootoff, I think they were about two or three bucks each, I got three sets, they sound just a tad less-good compared to the nameless white phones (with better low-end).

My hearing is in bad enough shape (mis-spent youth too close to the Grateful Dead "wall of sound"), so I really NEED to have decent high-end if I'm to have ANY ability to enjoy a sense of "presence" while listening to music. Unfortunately most phones either focus mainly on LOUD bass (welcome to the boom-boom era), or, they boost the high end POORLY (scratchy highs, painful sibilants, etc.) So, when I do find a set of phones with CLEAN sound, that does NOT sacrifice the treble end, I value them.

Hope this info is of some use to someone or other.

And, yes, I do realize that it'd probably be trivial to pick up REALLY great-sounding in-ear phones (multiple drivers, etc.), if I was willing to plunk down five hundred (or more) for a nice set.

Since I'm not a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief -- just a tired old fart on disability -- I make do with what I can afford, which admittedly ain't much, but, there are some bargains if you shop around carefully.
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