Shure E4c noise-isolating earphones
Review Up until the time of writing this review I believed that the only real way to block out all general noise while listening to your MP3 player was to invest in pair of noise-cancelling headphones. It seems I was wrong.
While the noise-cancelling option is a good one, the main problem is that it involves donning a rather large set of headphones to achieve the desired affect. Shure's earphones promise to produce the same result but with considerably less baggage.
What this means in the real world is that rather than cancelling background noise, Shure's 'phones isolate noise - essentially by wrapping them in sufficient padding to dampen out background sounds completely. This is achieved using a selection of soft or flexible sleeves from which you choose the set that best fits your ear. The box is packed with them, with sets made out of everything from foam, through rubber to a slightly sticky silicone.
Shove them in your ear hard and deep enough and, as you can imagine, you won't be able to hear a darn thing. Once in place, the earphones get down to what they do best: producing a decent sound. And that's exactly what they do.
The 31g E4cs incorporate the same precision components used by professional musicians to monitor their performances on stage and are equipped with high-definition drivers and what Shure calls "tuned-port technology", a system that "improves airflow around the driver to deliver professional-grade sound with extended bass response". It works: the 'phones create an ultra-wide frequency soundstage with smooth, brilliant highs and extended bass.
Of course, there are drawbacks. For starters, you've got to be prepared to lodge the buggers into your ear pretty hard to get the full effect and this may be off-putting to some people. Fail to get them positioned correctly and the results can be disastrous. At first, misplacement made us believe that their was no bass to the sound. Pushing them too deep ensured a lovely and appetising ball of wax came out with them when we were done [clean your ears next time - Ed.].
You can tell from the thickness of the earphones' 1.5m cable, the small padded case in which to keep them, and the plethora of ear sleeves and gold-plated jacks, that this earphone set means business from the outset. But at the price of a typical MP3 player, you would hope they do.
Get past what your mother always told you about sticking things in holes that you shouldn't, and the E4c are a very impressive - if expensive - set of earphones indeed.