Earbuds are, for most folks, a commodity item. We find them in bargain bins, as freebies with most hardware, offered for free on some flights, and, I’m sure, probably in cereal boxes. I much prefer full over-the-ear cans personally, but when I’m traveling or walking, I am not a fan of the weight and heat of wearing anything more than earbuds. Recently, we were offered a very nice looking set of buds from a company called Huaham 233621®. The E300 Comfortable Music Earphone is one of a line of headphones and earbuds they make. I was sent a pair to try out, so let’s take a closer look.
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The earphones are supposed to be sound isolating or noise canceling (depending on which translation of the web sites you get), and some reviewers state this is very good. I did notice that the earbuds prevented me from hearing small sounds (a tea kettle whistle down the hallway, squeaky chairs, etc.), but it was as much due to the music playing as to the sound isolation. With the house quiet and the AC running, I can put on just the earphones and still hear the hum of the fan. With true noise canceling or isolating devices, those small, monotonous noises are canceled, even without music playing. I kept reading reviews online about how well these earbuds performed, and I’d go back and listen to a podcast or something for a while, and just couldn’t hear it. I worked with the fit in my ear canals, but could never hear anything that resembled active voice cancelation. It sure didn’t live up to the statement on the packaging – “Sound without Noise.”
But what about the quality of the sound? Does the spoken word of a podcast come through clearly? Does the soundscape of a piece of music deliver the product the producer intended? When I’m talking on the phone, can I tell who it is, or does Aunt Hermione sound like Uncle Albert? This is, to me, by far, the most important aspect of any listening gadget. I tried the earbuds with these different types of content, and found the sound wanting. Not really horrible, mind you, but the lack of bass in both the music and spoken word made the sound a little thin. With podcasts, it actually made words easier to understand, but music was definitely worse off for the lack of aural richness.
Bottom line – I’d go for a $1 pair of gas station buds and save the $19 towards a high-end set.