FOGEY 5 In-Ear Earphones

Jun 22, 2011 No Comments by

The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

For more information on which type of headphones/earphones best suits your needs and your ears see the Buying Guide.

  • There are at least three varieties of in-ear earphones:
  • Those that sit in your ear (like the white ones supplied with Apple iPods) and are held in place by the antitragus (a ridge of cartilage that some of us have and some don’t).
  • Those that have silicon ‘buds’ or ‘tips’ and are pushed into the ear canal for a snug fit.
  • Those that also fit into your ear canal but are custom-made.
  • As it happens, all the earphones featured here fall into the middle category.

Klipsch Image X10i and S4i

Klipsch Image X10i

Although they might seem fairly similar the X10i are more than twice the price of the S4i (pictured above).  Both have a built-in microphone to take phonecalls and a three-button remote system (developed in conjunction with Apple) for music and phone control, which is all well and good but TF can’t help thinking that sashaying down the street juggling myriad phone calls while simultaneously shaking your rump to the funk sort-of screams ‘tosser!!!!!’.  Weirdly the X10 from which these derive are more expensive.  The buds/tips are oval (as opposed to round) which apparently makes them more comfy.  The audio quality is second to none.  Well, second to the Etymotic ER-4P MicroPro, according to Cnet who concluded: “Since most buyers prefer headphones with plenty of bass, we think the Klipsch Image X10s are winners.” Unless you’re a rabid audiophile you might not notice the difference between the S4i and the X10i.  Quibbles: the cables do a bird’s nest impression after being scrunched in a pocket.  Since the remote was designed to control Apple devices don’t count on it doing the same for any other brand.

More info here.  Buy Klipsch Image X10i £174.95 Klipsch Image S4i £79.54

Grado GR10

Grado GR10

Holy Mother of God!!!!  £395 for a pair of ear buds!!!!  Indeed, plebs, that is the considerable damage these seemingly insignificant items will do to your thrusting wad.  Grado are the Bentley of big, skull-hugging cans so it might seem they’re lowering themselves somewhat in making a product for the MP3 fraternity, given (and it is a given…) that an MP3 music file is akin to so much sonic pooh compared with .flac or .wav or Apple Lossless.  That aside, these are highly regarded by sundry sheiks, oligarchs and desperate hacks who get to review them.  Making the GR10s really sing is troublesome because you’ll need a decent source – quality recording, perfectly reproduced – to fully appreciate the difference between these and a pair of buds that cost £30.  “They manage to deliver lots of insight with breathtaking agility without ever seeming clinical. It’s a fine balance that very few rivals can match,” says What Hi-Fi?  It’s easy to scoff at terms such as ‘insight’ and ‘agility’ in this context but you try finding ways to describe nuances of tone and timbre.  Every day.  For dozens of fairly similar products.

More info here.  Buy (ha, ha, ha….) Grado GR10 £395

Shure SE535

Shure SE535

Ditto the sentiment for the Grado GR10 but with added !!!!!!!!!!!!! because these babies are £450.  (Well, they were at first…) Yes, friends, more than the weekly take home pay of the average British worker.  The price of an unencumbered iPhone 4.  Sell your children, live in a tent and eat dust just so your lug-holes can be massaged by earphones Trusted Reviews described as, “without a doubt the best you can buy and we recommend them unreservedly.”  Who wouldn’t make such a bargain?  Yes, they sound fabulous but you know you’ll lose them or the dog will eat them and then you’ll experience the disdain of the insurance company that can’t quite believe its policy covers anyone with that much spare cash to fritter away.  Are you any the wiser if we tell you the SE535 “Utilizes Triple High Definition MicroDrivers – a dedicated tweeter and dual woofers for spacious sound and rich bass.”?  Hmm.  And what, pray, is a Triple High Definition MicroDriver?  Well, “It is made up of three balanced armature drivers – one dedicated tweeter and dual woofers. It also includes an integrated passive crossover that ensures high and low frequencies remain distinct and defined.”  That’s that sorted, then.  There’s screeds more of this sort of bumph on the Shure website.

More info here.  Buy Shure SE535 £329

Sennheiser CX400II and CX300II Precision

Sennheiser CX300II Precision

This is much more up our back passage.  Any Fogey could afford a pair of these.  Shure and Grado both make earphones that are cheaper than the models above (such as the Grado GX200 at around £20) but none of them made the Fogey 5.  Sennheiser, likewise,  make posh cans that will require a remortgage but it’s their cheaper models that are more consistently raved about.  “Ditch your iPod buds; they’re killing your music. Treat your ears to these instead,” says TechRadar.  “These are not the best headphones you can buy, but they are incredibly good value.”  The difference between the two is the CX400IIs have a volume control, cable winder and cable clip whereas the CX300IIs don’t. Both come with three sizes of in-ear bud for a snug fit.

More info here and here.  Buy Sennheiser CX 400 II Precision in Black £15.34 and Sennheiser CX 300 II Precision in Black £14.55

Phonak Audéo Perfect Bass 012

Phonak Audéo Perfect Bass 012

Phonak made their name with high-end hearing aids which is sort-of ironic (or a sound business strategy) given the hoo-hah about too-loud music played through earphones banging your eardrums into oblivion.  One of the many advantages of well-fitting buds is they keep your music in while shutting extraneous noise out.  So, in theory, you shouldn’t need them ramped up to 11 to hear any subtle noodly bits.  “The PSE 012s may be bassy for a Phonak earphone, but the fuller bass is subtle rather than overpowering,” say Trusted Reviews, while the audiophiles at Stuff gave them their maximum 5 stars.  There’s nothing fancy – you get the phones with 1.2m of cable, three sets of different sized earbuds and a pouch to keep them in.

More info here.  Buy Phonak Audéo Perfect Bass 012 Black £79