Friday, June 03, 2005

Ultimate Phones for Ultimate Ears?

How much would you pay for a pair of earphones/headphones that will offer you crystal quality in most environments (including open air, flight, noisy station etc)?


No? then try $900 for size. Yes! thats what the Ultimate Ears UE10 costs.

I must point you to these sources for more information - A post on Ken Levy's blog and of course, to Robert Scoble's blog too.

Also visit this site Ultimate Ears. I don't know about you but they have a few models for mere mortals like me that cost between $150 - $250 (WoW)

As far as I see on the net, there are two kinds of technologies available for high quality audio irrespective of the surrounding decibel level - isolation earphones (like the Ultimate Ears) and active noise cancellation earphones (like the Bose).

Isolation earphones come in either custom built or off the shelf models. If you want a custom built piece then you'll have to visit an audiologist who will make an impression of your ear canal and earphones are specially manufactured based on the shape of your ear canal. Off the shelf pieces are slightly generic in shape but are similar in spirit to the custom built ones. There are no noise cancellation circuits and they achieve their level of isolation by completely blocking your ear canal and deliver crystal quality sound right into the heart of your inner ear. If you have worn ear plugs at a loud concert, just imagine the same except that the ear plugs are actually phones that deliver sound. Since there are no noise cancelling electronics etc, they are really compact and some models can even be worn under a helmet.

Being a proud owner of the Bose Quiet Comfort 2, I can definitely say that the Bose is amazing at getting rid of extraneous noise. Of course, it helps if you have heavy metal thundering inside the cups :-). But all these technologies fall a little short when you compare them with phones that 'block' your ear canal allowing literally no room for external sound to reach your ear. But am I willing to pay a burning $900 for it? No, I'd rather pass. Having said that, there are cheaper models ($150-%250) that I might consider purchasing a lot later to try out.

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