Headphone review: earbuds can be nothing but a bust

What university student doesn’t enjoy listening to music in at least one of its endless forms? Music is an entertainment medium that goes hand-in-hand with the college experience like no other form of entertainment. It can somewhat alleviate the boredom of a painfully lengthy study session. That arduous slog to Stone Center might not seem so terribly long with a few of your favorite tunes. It can be an introvert’s best friend; if you’re not feeling up to bantering with your classmates, just put in some earphones. It should deter a large percentage of your well-meaning peers.

Most people probably have at least one pair of headphones lying around—very likely the stock earbuds that come with an iPhone or a ten-dollar pair from Wal-Mart. Many are totally content with these and will never upgrade, and that’s just fine for casual listening. However, it’s worth investing a little more if you want to get the most out of your music library.

There are some outrageously pricey high-end models out there for those with a finely tuned ear and deep pockets, but I’ll introduce a couple of options here that are more accessible to those of us who live on Chick-fil-A and ramen. If you’re ready to take the leap into the world of novice audio, then check out the following two models.

(Tip: Both of these models are in-ear monitors. They may take some getting used to if you don’t regularly insert foreign objects into your ear canals. Don’t give up on them if they’re a bit uncomfortable at first. Also, it is highly advisable to look up the proper way to insert an in-ear monitor before you start shoving things into your brain.)

Here are a few options:

SteelSeries In-ear Flux
Driver: 6mm
Frequency response: 20 – 20000 Hz
Impedance: 19 Ohm
Cable length: 1.2 m
Jack: 3.5 mm
Price: $50 on Amazon
The In-ear Flux model from gaming peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries is one of the best options available in the $50 or under price range. They have a well-balanced overall sound signature, with a nice kick on the low end, a clear, detailed mid range, and good extension into the upper register. The slim form factor and high-quality silicone tips make them comfortable to wear for extended periods. They also have a single-button in-line microphone for taking calls. These are the earphones I use for music, video streaming, and anything else on a nearly daily basis, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

Driver: 8.5mm
Frequency response: 5-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Cable length: 1.2m
Jack: 3.5mm
Price: $20 on manufacturer’s website
For those who want bass on a budget, JVC’s “Xtreme Xplosives” should do the trick. They have a powerful bass punch without completely drowning out the high end, and according to the manufacturer they have been “ergonomically contoured” for a more comfortable fit for a wider variety of ear shapes than the previous model, the FX1X.

Sawyer McKay
Staff Writer

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