Shure E3g sound-isolating earphones
A word in your ear...
You can take all of these with you. The tough case Shure has designed for the earphones has a cup inside - it's the spindle you wrap the cable around - to keep them all in. Just don't open the case too quickly, or the wrong way up, or they'll all go flying out.
With the range of sleeve sizes and types, almost everyone who tries these earphones should be able to find a pair that suits their ears, giving the snug fit that's essential to good bass reproduction and to ensure that they don't slip out. You may need to experiment - one pair of sleeves I tried fitted perfectly, it seemed, but I just wasn't getting a decent bass out of them. I was about to produce a damning verdict, but a change of sleeves later and I was sold.
There's no doubt these guys offer very good sound quality. I still think the bass isn't as solid as I was expecting but the overall sonic range seemed much sharper than, say, a pair of regular iPod phones. The sound was louder at a given volume setting - easily adjusted, of course. I don't have a PSP to try the E3gs with, but I ran some frag sessions on my notebook and the results were impressive.
I also tried the E3gs in the street, this time connected to an iPod, on the London Underground and on a London bus, and found that while the sleeves don't block every single external sound source - and I don't think any 'phones of this type can - they muffle them significantly, allowing you to enjoy your music, your game or whatever at much lower volumes than you might otherwise have to.
Quieter environments can effectively be made silent with the Shures in place, and while that's great when you're sitting at home or even in the office, I'd not recommend using them when you out in the street. It's too isolating when you can't even hear your own steps on the pavement - or people coming up behind you. Crossing the road becomes much more risky when you can't hear approaching trucks.
Shure's E3G earphones are undoubtedly very fine, and the best of 'phones of their kind I've tried. You get a wide array of sleeves to try and a good case to keep them in. The E3gs themselves are well-made with a solid surround where the cable splits in two and a rugged 3.5mm plug. The cables are thick enough to suggest the wires inside aren't going to break easily, but not so thick that they become unwieldy, though anyone used to quickly wrapping earphone cables around their MP3 player may disagree. With the right sleeve, the sound isolation works as well as it can, and the audio reproduction's undoubtedly very good too.
My only problem is the price. The E3Gs retail for $200 in the US and around £110 in the UK. The 'phones are undoubtedly better than in-the-ear 'phones a quarter or a third of the price, but I can't honestly say they're three or four times better. Definitely a set for the audio fidelity fanatic rather than the cost-conscious consumer. ®