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October 03, 2005
Testing headphones in the New York subway
In the Globe and Mail, Peter Svensson test-drives new in-ear headphones in the New York subway system. The idea being, of course, that if the sound quality is OK in the roaring, snarling, screeching New York subway, it'll be OK in some bucolic wonderland in Flyover Country:
"My testing ground was the New York subway. It not only provides plenty of bass rumble, but brakes that squeal like pigs having their backs waxed. In the middle range of notes, there's the yakking of my fellow New Yorkers, God love them. This is a very trying environment for ordinary headphones — I usually have to raise the volume really loud to understand a spoken-word recording, and the bass gets lost in music no matter what I do."
Svensson tested the Shure E4c ($299), the Shure E2c ($109) and the Etymotic 6i ($149) - all of which are a cross between iPod earbuds and standard earplugs - in addition to two noise-canceling headphones "of the more common kind, the bulky type that goes over the ear." The conclusion? Svensson says that the in-ear headphones are effective at dampening high-pitched noises as well as other noises over the full spectrum, but he's put off by the idea of ear wax remover. (ew!) He also mentions something about bodily orifices, and about putting things where they don't belong, especially if the fit is too tight. Way too much information, Peter, although big props for the advice about ear hygiene.
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