I’ve been a long time fan of high-quality audio, be it home, car, computer and now portable. I run my iPod with ALC (Apple Lossless Audio) not because I like being able to only fit 60 albums on my 30G unit, but because I cannot stand the audio degradation of AAC, MP3 or any other audio compression technology. Now, before you start screaming “golden ears wannabe” or other magic monkey-juice analogies of those that can hear well, let me explain. On a stock set of earbuds from an iPod headphone output, you aren’t going to hear the difference between 60Hz and 90Hz, the design just doesn’t matter. And you can completely forget about phase and separation.
I currently run a pair of Shure E4c in-ear monitors on my rig. I find the midrange absolutely stunning, with solid bass response and a respectable treble response. They are nowhere near as accurate on the top end as my previous Beyerdynamic DT-880 dynamic open cans, but those aren’t really useful on the road (or even working in the yard). The E4c IEMs have a solid 30-35 dB of noise isolation, making it easy to hear the music without completely destroying your hearing in the process. They are also very detailed, making the sonic imperfections of AAC (particularly the iTunes Music Store variety) very obvious.
Most IEMs use a single driver, some of the higher end ones use two drivers. The new E500’s use three drivers – one tweeter and two woofers. This is expected to offer a very wide response curve that should meet the needs of everyone that looks for an IEM that is accurate. I’m hopeful for more top-end extension and the same solid bass that I get with the E4c. Yeah, I don’t ask for much. These are supposed to land sometime at the end of May or early June, so stay tuned for a review.