Best In-Ear Headphones
Audiophiles or people who love high quality sound are widely divided based on the type and genre of music they like. But that is not the place where the divide stops and audiophiles also have different preferences based on the kind of music gear they prefer – earphones, in-ear earphones or on-ear headphones.
Here’s something for the in-ear earphone lovers – a quick review of the best in-ear earphones in the market today – the Bose QuietComfort 20 / 20i.
The Reigning Champion for About Two Years Now
Unlike smart phones, where manufacturers can just multiply the computing components to churn out more performance, sound engineering that goes into making earphones takes a lot more.
With that, it is not surprising to learn that the Bose QuietComfort 20 (20i is specifically built for the iPhone, iPad & iPods, with the same performance) in-ear earphones that were released in the third quarter of 2013, are still unbeaten in terms of build quality, ergonomics and superior audio experience.
The technology packed in the QuietComfort 20 is brilliant and multiplies the music experience many folds that works superbly with rock, pop, hip hop and most other genres.
The Sleek, Beautifully Crafted but No-Nonsense Design
Bose knows that their name is enough, and so they never have had to resort to flashy designs in their audio gear. Talking about the one design difference between the 20 & 20i, it is found in the inline remote control and mic where you find an Android / Windows friendly one button version in the QuietComfort 20 and a three-button version in the 20i.
These noise cancellation earphones fit snugly into your ear canal and also have a fin-shaped projection that provides stability against the ear lobes. The noise cancellation pack has the noise cancellation microphone and the inline battery and circuitry compartment, and thanks to the sleek design, this compartment is slim and the ergonomically the best in the market today.
Bose has done a remarkable job in fitting the noise cancellation components in a small space and placing it near the plug end of the earphones; because unlike the on-ear headphones, there is no space in the earphone designs.
The remote control and microphone compartment will let you talk over the phone. But the real icing on the cake is the fact that Bose provides an ‘Aware-Mode’ through a button that uses the noise cancellation technology to let you hear what’s happening around you while it silences the music playback.
And what all the Bose fans were waiting for a long time, Bose finally made a pair of noise cancellation earphones that will work even without the battery in the passive mode which bypasses the noise cancellation circuitry! And the performance is pretty similar in both the active and passive modes.
But with Bose’s claim that the rechargeable battery lasts about 16 hours on a full charge after two hours, you might as well take advantage of the brilliant noise cancellation technology. The earphones have a set of green status LEDs to indicate the mode that you are using.
As for what else you get in the package, Bose gives you a neatly designed pouch to carry the earphones in, a removable shirt clip, a USB charging cable and two extra pairs of ear tips. Now, one way to look at the fact that they provide only two extra pairs of ear tips is that Bose is probably too confident that the provided ear tip size options must fit all the ear types and sizes.
Performance – The Real Deal That Makes Or Breaks Our Opinion
On testing these earphones with a wide variety of music genres, you’ll find that the more you use it, the more you will like them! The bass reproduction is pretty on the spot, not too soft yet not too hard on the eardrums. The bass effect is nearly always in perfect proportion and hits the sweet spot; that makes the listening experience a delight and doesn’t tire your ears after long durations.
The guitar and percussion sounds are reproduced pretty accurately and the earphones do not distort unnecessarily. The vocals may or may not strike the right notes for you, depending on whether you prefer the pure and untouched voice of the singers or do not mind it being smoothed out to deliver the best possible audio.
Meaning to say, this can annoy the traditionalists off because they want the singers voice to be unadulterated.
Noise Cancellation Technology That Gives the Competition a Run for Their Money
Now, about the impeccable noise cancellation technology that is a runaway winner and leaves the rest far behind. The cancellation circuitry does its job exceptionally well. It nulls out the various sounds like the humming and whirring of your air conditioning unit, the buzz of flowing wind, train noises and probably even the atomic explosion that will wipe out your neighborhood (obviously, it’s hyperbole and no one has tested the atomic explosion part!).
Impressively, it even blocks out the human sound that other noise cancellation earphones usually cannot because of the wide variation in the intensity, pitch and rhythms on human voices. All this is done with little to no assistance from the way the ear tips fit into your ear canal, which is an aid that many other earphones use for cancelling the ambient noise out. To sum it up, the noise cancellation in this pair of earphones is outstanding and simply the best you will ever hear.
Rounding It All Up – QuietComfort 20 & 20i Is the Absolute Greatest
A superiorly minimalistic design, clever placement and stacking of the noise cancellation circuitry, excellent performance over a wide range of sounds and an unmatched noise cancellation technology make the QuietComfort 20 & 20i an excellent choice for the audiophiles who prefer in-ear earphones.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 earphones are available across various e-commerce websites with an average price of about USD 298.
The price may be a little bit on the higher end, but for the performance and design it delivers, it is well worth the price. As they say – for the true audiophile sound is primary, the cost is secondary!