After reaching out to the ILX hivemind for suggestions on buying a new pair of headphones, I ended up getting a pair of Etymotic Research ER6i Isolator In-ear Earphones, against the advice of former Stylus colleague and renowned audiophile Nick Southall. This, I realize now, was my first mistake.
In my haste to find a suitable replacement for my old AKG K 26 P’s, I settled for a pair of in-ear earphones. They were nearly twice as expensive as the AKG’s, but based on what I read online, they’d be much gentler on my precious eardrums because I wouldn’t have to play them as loudly to drown out ambient noise. Since I want to preserve my hearing at least until I have teenaged children, this sounded like a good idea.
When I first used them, it was a revelation. I barely had to turn the volume on my iPod on and I got amazing sound, and, despite what you might read on Amazon.com, decent bass response. But imagine my surprise when I discovered that the right cone blew out while I listened to R.E.M’s “Living Well Is the Best Revenge” sometime this past spring.
No worries, I assured myself, confident that their customer service would be able to deal with my issue in a fair and timely manner. I mailed my faulty earphones back, had them repaired, and they were returned within a few weeks. If there’s one good thing to be said for Etymotic Research, it’s that they have fine customer service.
Everything was back to normal. They sounded great and were very comfortable, despite the fact that they need to be inserted pretty deeply into the ear canal to properly isolate the music. I was in love with them all over again. That is, at least until yesterday. They’re broken again, and this time it’s the left cone.
I’ve written customer service again, but this time I was far less understanding. I don’t feel the need to placate anyone. They’re charging a decent chunk of change for a product so fragile I don’t it think can be used in real life settings. I plan on getting this pair fixed or replaced and then keeping them at work, never to be used outdoors again. They’re so bad they make me wish I’d read an Amazon review before buying them. They’ve been a major disappointment and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone looking to replace Apple’s horrendous earbuds.
It’s back to the drawing board then. What earphones or headphones do you use? Where and how do you use them? I need your suggestions!