#1
Old 12-12-2013, 09:30 AM
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Best-sounding earbuds, only $12?

I read a fun wirecutter.com article on The Best Headphones Under $30. Since earbuds always have one channel die on me (I'm cursing at you, Skullcandys), I've given in to treating them like disposible items. So I buy cheap ones.
My addiction to audiobooks means I sometimes have earbuds in for 10 hrs/day, so the sound and comfort matter a lot. My favorite cheaper ones so far have been the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds (but they tend to fall out) or Jibs (less tinny than the Ink'ds, and only $10).

But then I found this article. And immediately ordered the Panasonic TCM125's, directly from Panasonic (free shipping!). While waiting for them to get here, I picked up the Sony MDR-EX37B “Bumpin Buds” that came in 2nd in the review (100x better than the MDR-EX10LP's that you see everywhere, even Walgreen's).

Well, the Panasonics just got here. They're damn good! The Panasonics and the Sonys sound almost identical. To each other, and to some $50 earbuds. Not tons of bass, but that's what I was expecting. Perfect for what I listen to: jazz, "tasty" rock (not techno/house/trance, very little hip-hop), and of course audiobooks.

They're $12.50 from Panasonic, $12 + $6 shipping form Amazon (actually a 3rd party), and $20 from Best Buy -- but not stocked in stores (yet?).

So try a pair!
#2
Old 12-12-2013, 09:52 AM
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I appreciate the link. I was looking for some good-value 'buds for Xmas and the Panasonics are right on target... and are available for $15 on Amazon Prime, free shipping.
#3
Old 12-12-2013, 09:57 AM
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You must be crazy, headphones only sound good if you spend at least $200. Your ears must be broken.
#4
Old 12-12-2013, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrsone View Post
You must be crazy, headphones only sound good if you spend at least $200. Your ears must be broken.
It's all relative. If you have always used ear buds in the sub $50 range, you can have no conception of what earphones costing over $100 can sound like - and so on up the price scale. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to my current custom in ear monitors that cost $1400 - and they are worth every cent.

Last edited by NineToTheSky; 12-12-2013 at 10:53 AM.
#5
Old 12-12-2013, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NineToTheSky View Post
It's all relative. If you have always used ear buds in the sub $50 range, you can have no conception of what earphones costing over $100 can sound like - and so on up the price scale. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to my current custom in ear monitors that cost $1400 - and they are worth every cent.
I know, I'm just being sarcastic.

I was a radio DJ for a while, used some headphones on nice equipment, while at the same time also used the headphones I picked up at Wal-Mart. Some people, mainly it appears kids listening to Ipods won't give a second look to anything that doesn't have the Beats name on it. I've never used them, they may be good. The marketing is at least.

Last edited by jrsone; 12-12-2013 at 11:05 AM.
#6
Old 12-12-2013, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrsone View Post
I've never used them, they may be good. The marketing is at least.
All marketing, they are cheap headphones and don't sound good. They're a status symbol, not a serious piece of gear.

I have some Shure earphones that were cheaper than most (?) Beats headphones and I guarantee they sound WAY better. On a related note, I had a chance to listen to a pair of ~$400 Westone earphones recently...they honestly sounded amazing. I sometimes wonder how much of this stuff is BS, but these REALLY sounded good.
#7
Old 12-12-2013, 11:32 AM
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Several people liked Panasonics in the thread from earlier this year. The ones linked to in that thread are significantly cheaper but don't have the mic or remote button; I don't know whether there are any other differences in quality.

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 12-12-2013 at 11:34 AM.
#8
Old 12-12-2013, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NineToTheSky View Post
It's all relative. If you have always used ear buds in the sub $50 range, you can have no conception of what earphones costing over $100 can sound like - and so on up the price scale. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to my current custom in ear monitors that cost $1400 - and they are worth every cent.
Ahh, but have you tried my patented Monkey Cable(tm) brand headphone cables with those? Monkey Cable uses quantum supercooled ionicly shielded three-inch thick liquid metal helical wire to deliver only the richest, purest electrons to your headphones. Normally a three-foot segment sells for $32,725, but for a doper, we'll cut you a deal and slash it to $30K even. Your ears will literally orgasm as soon as the package reaches your house.

Anyway, I'm also of the "disposable earbud" philosophy--they always short out on me. For a while, I was finding the cheapest thing I could on amazon and buying them 5 at a time, but this most recent time I got annoyed at the $3-4/item shipping charge (seriously?) and bought some $15 buds at target. Good enough for me, even without Monkey Cable(tm).
#9
Old 12-13-2013, 07:36 AM
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Since this is a hardware question, moved to IMHO (from Cafe Society).
#10
Old 12-13-2013, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawMonkey View Post
Monkey Cable uses quantum supercooled ionicly shielded three-inch thick liquid metal helical wire to deliver only the richest, purest electrons to your headphones.
Am I to presume there's a REAL monkey in there??

My apologies to Monty Python.
#11
Old 12-13-2013, 12:48 PM
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Day-to-day if I'm just walking around I use knockoff apple earbuds I ordered off Ebay from China for $2 a pop. I have a box of ~15 left in my closet somewhere. These are more than adequate for podcasting, audiobooks, etc.

For working out, I just popped into Target and bought the first hook-ear headphones I saw and ended up grabbing a pair of Skullcandy Chops (~$20). I've previously used Philips or Sony's but they were all sold out. Lucky for me. I'm wary of the over-marketed headphones like Beats and Skullcandy but these didn't disappoint. These have lasted longer than all of my other work-out headphones and the sweat doesn't seem to bother it much. I've read good reviews of the "industry-leading" Sennheiser OMX (retail $80 but can usually be found for ~$30) but it doesn't seem necessary.

I keep a pair of Yuin PK2's at the office. They look and feel like cheap, airline-quality earphones but the sound quality is amazing. These are a bit pricier at ~$50-70 but if I'm just going to sit on your butt for multiple hours on end trying to drown out the world, I can't think of a better headphone for it.

Then just in the interest of sharing, I also have a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50's. I wanted to see what I was missing with dinky little earbuds as opposed to massive over-the-ear cans. I love the sound but I'm glad I "only" spent $100 on these rather than the 2-300 I had anticipated. I was thinking about the Seinnheiser Momentum but honestly, the diminishing returns on sound quality would have been completely wasted on me.
#12
Old 12-13-2013, 02:54 PM
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Nitpick: those are "In-Ear Headphones" in the link, not "Earbuds." Compare with Apple earbuds, where the whole "pad and speaker" thing is not jutting out. The difference is that there is no such thing as good earbuds.
#13
Old 12-13-2013, 08:12 PM
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Even though I'm happy with my $12 "In-Ear Headphones" doesn't mean I don't appreciate good sound. In fact, I usually can hear the muddiness (and/or "clippiness") of most anything under $50.

Y'know, when I need a shot of "hearing every time Knopfler's finger slides down a guitar string" I borrow a friend's Studio Cans (high-end don't-know-model-number, by Audio-Technica).

I just don't want to get spoiled and have to spend hundreds on "the good stuff" (come to think of it, that applies to scotch, too... and wine and cars and guitars and scotch and bikes...).
#14
Old 12-13-2013, 09:48 PM
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THANK YOU for this thread. I'd love to have a really nice pair, but since I lose or break them so easily , I stick with cheapies. It's nice to know there are some halfway decent ones.
#15
Old 12-13-2013, 11:29 PM
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Those panasonics are only $15 with free (prime) shipping on amazon right now.

I've been using the Panasonic RPHJE120 models, but I will ask for a pair of the $15 ones for christmas. The Panasonic RPHJE120 is pretty decent though.

I really like the Sony MDR-ED12LP but they are not that reliable for me.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 12-13-2013 at 11:29 PM.
#16
Old 12-14-2013, 01:26 PM
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I get these...

http://koss.com/en/products/head...-Ear_Headphone

I have to replace the ones I have now since the cables are starting to fray...I bought them in 2007.

I think my work environment damages the plastic on the wires.

They run from about $20-$40, depends on where you get em.

Come in white also.
#17
Old 12-14-2013, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digs View Post
I read a fun wirecutter.com article on The Best Headphones Under $30. Since earbuds always have one channel die on me (I'm cursing at you, Skullcandys), I've given in to treating them like disposible items. So I buy cheap ones.
Seriously. I'd be willing to invest in better earbuds if they were durable at all (and had decent sound for earbuds), but I'm not willing to take the risk. I don't trust them at all to last. So, yeah, earbuds are disposable.

And yes, I have a nice pair of Sennheiser HD650s for serious listening. Not quite practical for walking the dogs.
#18
Old 12-15-2013, 02:18 AM
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I never could get used to having those things jammed in my ears. I'd rather have full over the ear type headphones.
#19
Old 12-15-2013, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by randompattern View Post
I never could get used to having those things jammed in my ears. I'd rather have full over the ear type headphones.
They usually come with 3 different size pads to try the one that works best. I assume that the large ones are for audiophile elephants as the mediums are too big for me.
#20
Old 12-15-2013, 04:50 PM
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I use a set of Yuin PK3's which are really nice. About $40 on ebay.

I can't use the in-ear buds. As soon as they form a seal my inner-ear goes wonky and I get motion sickness almost straight away.
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