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Thread: Cheap headphones review

  1. #1
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
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    Cheap headphones review

    the earphone industry is a racket. A very big racket. A lot of frayed wires too—compared to other stereo hardware, most earphones have an absurdly short lifespan. Planned obsolescence is the business model here: thin wire insulation and Y-splitters break, solder joints fail, even drivers blow. Handle with care, use an umbrella, get lucky, and your earplugs might last nine months. Might. That’s why frugal audiophiles steer clear of pricy IEMs.

    What can be said, without hesitation or doubt, is that the KZ-ATE sounds better than it has any right to. Whether the cost is $5 on eBay or $14 through Amazon Prime, this is the kind of impulse purchase anyone can live with. Old school audiophiles who smoke pipes and fetishize vinyl would call the earphones “musical.” Which means that it is, to quote Mr. NewWaveAudio, “sweet and buttery.” You won’t subject your ears to fatigue during long listening sessions, and all three frequency ranges (sub-bass is an urban myth) are distinct and well represented. If you enjoy a smooth, warm, evenly balanced sound that crosses over to multiple music genres with ease, these will do the trick.

    None of the usual sonic flaws associated with cheap buds—sibilance, shrill highs, muffled bass, and the like—are evident. Granted, the low end could be a bit tighter. Also, the cable is gummy, prone to tangles, and has a hint of microphonics, but that’s just audiophile nitpicking. This headset isn’t about soundstage, presence and frequency extension. It’s about the democratization of hi-fi. Why should unpaid interns and Uber drivers have to listen to their Spotify playlists through pathetic OEM smart phone buds? Order a dozen units before the Chinese economy tanks and the cheap headphone market goes belly-up.
    https://www.wired.com/2017/01/review...-fi-earphones/


    So reading it, I bought a pair from amazon and... well I've ordered three others simply to use when the first pair wears out - I paid £11 per pair and they are fantastic for the price.

    So if you are tight like me, take a punt.

  2. #2
    Master
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    A piece from the review says.

    "Earphones are not comfortable. Anyone who says differently is either an earphone salesman or self-medicating. Inserting a piece of plastic into the ear and the ear canal is not a pleasant sensation"

    and I'd whole heartedly agree with that, 100%

  3. #3
    Bought some KZ-ATEs a few days ago for £4.80. Looking forward to getting them. Already have the MRice 300s. Stunning for the money. Also ordered some Pistons Fresh will see if they live up to the hype.

    In the past I have spent hundreds on headsets, Buds and IEMS (Phonak Audio 232s, UE 900s, Plantronics Backbeat Pro, Westone, etc. etc.) but, providing you do some research, these new budget headsets coming out of China certainly give them a run for the money.

  4. #4
    Master
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    Well at that price I just bought a couple of pairs. It'll be interesting to see how they compare with my beloved and very expensive (and very comfortable!) Shure SE535's. Not expecting much :)

  5. #5
    Master snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reggie747 View Post
    A piece from the review says.

    "Earphones are not comfortable. Anyone who says differently is either an earphone salesman or self-medicating. Inserting a piece of plastic into the ear and the ear canal is not a pleasant sensation"

    and I'd whole heartedly agree with that, 100%
    Rather that than the hot ear you get with on ear phones.

    Clearly the reviewer hasn't experienced that or has delicate little ears 😁

    M

    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    The SoundMagic E10 is still king of the Chi-Fi earphones and you can pick a pair up for under £25.

  7. #7
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonzo697 View Post
    The SoundMagic E10 is still king of the Chi-Fi earphones and you can pick a pair up for under £25.
    I've had a few and I think they are better.

  8. #8
    I have just received my KZ ATE from gearbest, they are excellent, such a full and deep sound. This part of the review is spot on:


    "What can be said, without hesitation or doubt, is that the KZ-ATE sounds better than it has any right to. Whether the cost is $5 on eBay or $14 through Amazon Prime, this is the kind of impulse purchase anyone can live with. Old school audiophiles who smoke pipes and fetishize vinyl would call the earphones “musical.” Which means that it is, to quote Mr. NewWaveAudio, “sweet and buttery.” You won’t subject your ears to fatigue during long listening sessions, and all three frequency ranges (sub-bass is an urban myth) are distinct and well represented. If you enjoy a smooth, warm, evenly balanced sound that crosses over to multiple music genres with ease, these will do the trick."

    These were £6.90 from gearbest, an absolute bargain (you will wait about 3 weeks for free delivery)

    http://www.gearbest.com/earphones/pp_216373.html

  9. #9
    I was sent KZ ATRs in error. I have to say they are spectacular for the money. According to reviewers they are supposedly a step up from the ATEs. And all for £4.80!

  10. #10
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    There's some great cheap headphones out there

    I've been reviewing quite a few different bluetooth headphones recently and have found that there's some truly remarkable cheap headphones coming out of China. Their build quality matches their more expensive counterparts and the sound quality isn't that far behind.

    One company to definitely keep your eye on is 1More. They are making some remarkable affordable headphones and earbuds.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hussey View Post
    I've been reviewing quite a few different bluetooth headphones recently and have found that there's some truly remarkable cheap headphones coming out of China. Their build quality matches their more expensive counterparts and the sound quality isn't that far behind.

    One company to definitely keep your eye on is 1More. They are making some remarkable affordable headphones and earbuds.
    I am on the lookout for some bluetooth sports in ear headphones, bought some terrible blue things in Tesco that worked once!

    I really dont want to spend much, any recommendations? Will have a look at 1more

  12. #12
    Craftsman Ticker's Avatar
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    Well I've just dipped my toe in the water for a pair. Can't go wrong for the price. Worst case, my son can use them...

  13. #13
    Craftsman
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    Can't stand earphones, headphones every time for me..............

  14. #14
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montybaber View Post
    I am on the lookout for some bluetooth sports in ear headphones, bought some terrible blue things in Tesco that worked once!

    I really dont want to spend much, any recommendations? Will have a look at 1more
    I took a punt on these

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    £20 and I think they're superb ok you're not expecting a lot for 20 quid but they've lasted 6~ hours on a charge and the sound is pretty bloody good tbh never going to set the world alight but way better than I expected and they stay in my ears. Hardly any weight to them hard to fault tbh

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Montybaber View Post
    I am on the lookout for some bluetooth sports in ear headphones, bought some terrible blue things in Tesco that worked once!

    I really dont want to spend much, any recommendations? Will have a look at 1more
    I'd go for Soundmagic E10BT (£60) or the Brainwavz BLU-100 (£30)

  16. #16
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    I'll second the Soundmagic E10's, excellent for the price.

  17. #17
    Well I've got a pair of ate and atr on the way for a total of $14 shipped.

    Crazy, worst comes to the worst they can be the next pair of headphones the mrs destroys

  18. #18
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acg View Post
    Well I've got a pair of ate and atr on the way for a total of $14 shipped.

    Crazy, worst comes to the worst they can be the next pair of headphones the mrs destroys
    Something I hadn't realised to start with - they go *over* your ears so the weight on then sits behind your ears (it will make sense when you have them).

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Alansmithee View Post
    Something I hadn't realised to start with - they go *over* your ears so the weight on then sits behind your ears (it will make sense when you have them).
    Yep. Here's a review link with photos of how to wear them:

    http://www.gudreviews.com/earbud-hea...-plug-ear.html

  20. #20
    Craftsman TimeThoughts's Avatar
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    I'm a Sennheiser over ear man (HD25-1 ii) but I just took a punt on the KZ-ATEs a moment ago after reading this. Just bought them from 'GearBest' because that site uses Paypal. £6 or something silly like that incl P&P.

    Looking forward to seeing how this works out, but...

    One worry I have is that decent Chinese items like Ultrafire Torches and FiiO audio gear is now being faked over there. So I assume the KZ ATEs are a decent bit of kit, as long as thats what your actually getting !

  21. #21
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    Just ordered a pair of the Soundmagic E10BT's. Basically the same as the original E10's but in Bluetooth version. I loved my E10's but lost them a while back so looking forward to receiving these. Also have a pair of Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2's which are great (over ear Bluetooth) and a pair of Backbeat Go 2's which I don't really get on with (hence buying the E10BT's).

  22. #22
    Thanks for posting - perfect timing as my commuting earphones have just gone wonky in one ear......will try these as a replacement

  23. #23
    Cheers all

  24. #24
    Master Vanguard's Avatar
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    Soundmagic here as well, perfect for the gym and much better than the toot Apple give out with their products

  25. #25
    Craftsman Ashtennisguru's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting OP - amazon seems to have them from various resellers at between 7.99 and 11.99, all appear to be exactly the same product, so have order a pair of the 7.99 ones, just as a test to compare to my more expensive Sennheiser ones.

  26. #26
    Master
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    And I have just ordered a pair as well. Will be using then for jogging, so be interesting to see if they stay in.

    Thanks for the posts on here - all very useful.

  27. #27
    Craftsman Ashtennisguru's Avatar
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    So, I got an email from Amazon this morning saying my order had been dispatched... and was scheduled for delivery on April 1st (which is worrying in itself! :) ). Being couriered by ChinaPost, so obviously coming direct from China.

    It staggers me how for £7.99 an intricate item (which apparently performs exceptionally well) can be designed, built and delivered halfway around the world and still have people make a profit along the way - just goes to show how much mark up is put on goods these days I guess!

  28. #28
    Journeyman PJdB's Avatar
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    I am always going through earphones, whether they break or I just lose them, or I lose the earbuds which fit me, and none of the spares fit.

    My latest earphone purchase, - pretty good, well made, nice carry case, sounds decent enough


    Tennmak Pro Dual Dynamic Driver
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/n10/Tennm...words=tennmark

  29. #29
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    +1 for Soundmagic E10's superb for under £30, in and out my gym bag almost daily and subjected to sweat and abuse and are lasting up really well, great build quality and fantastic sound quality.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Shops/Sou...soundmagic+e10

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by yumma View Post
    +1 for Soundmagic E10's superb for under £30, in and out my gym bag almost daily and subjected to sweat and abuse and are lasting up really well, great build quality and fantastic sound quality.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Shops/Sou...soundmagic+e10
    Seconded, also bought some for my son (15) who hasn't lost or broken them over a 6/12 period, a record

  31. #31
    Journeyman qpop's Avatar
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    Anybody got experience with the "flagship" models? The ZST I think are the ones.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtennisguru View Post
    So, I got an email from Amazon this morning saying my order had been dispatched... and was scheduled for delivery on April 1st (which is worrying in itself! :) ). Being couriered by ChinaPost, so obviously coming direct from China.

    It staggers me how for £7.99 an intricate item (which apparently performs exceptionally well) can be designed, built and delivered halfway around the world and still have people make a profit along the way - just goes to show how much mark up is put on goods these days I guess!
    Doesn't the Chinese government pay for world wide shipping this is why Chinese companies can make a profit on very cheap items.

  33. #33
    Bought a pair of the ATRs a couple of weeks back, in actual fact I'd kind of forgotten about them until they turned up today. China Post is not the quickest, it would appear.

    Anyway, got them home, unpacked them and tried them - they sound like earphones to me. Maybe a little nicer than the Apple ones that came with my iPod, but hardly world-shattering. The Apple ones fit better IMO. Still, they weren't expensive and they'll do as spares so no harm done.

    Cheers,

    Plug

  34. #34
    Master
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    I bought some Betron YSM1000 earphones from Amazon, amazing quality for £19.99

    maseman

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by maseman View Post
    I bought some Betron YSM1000 earphones from Amazon, amazing quality for £19.99

    maseman
    Me too, got them in a flash sale for £16.99 but find them too heavy in the bass my liking .

  36. #36
    Craftsman Ashtennisguru's Avatar
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    KZ-ATE's arrive from China this afternoon - they are fantastic! They knock my £50 Sennheiser's into a cocked hat and for £7.99 you cannot go wrong!

    They also came with some delightful Mandaringlish on the box, including "Perseverance origin from Love. As audiophile we commitment to reappear the touching melody to everyone" and "Sensitive sound details bring wonderful delight of aural"

    :)

  37. #37
    Master Ian_O's Avatar
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    I was drawn to Gearbest by reading this thread, and in fact ordered some KZ-ATRs to try out. However, I then starting browsing other stuff on there, including bicycle bits. Now, tell me what you see here (and I'm really hoping it's not just me that did a double-take when I saw the photo)!!

    http://www.gearbest.com/bike-lights/...18.html?wid=21

    I've got to say, the product looks like the dog's bollocks to me.
    Last edited by Ian_O; 18th March 2017 at 21:05.

  38. #38
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    "Inspired" I too ordered the KZ - ATE headphone. Must say very impressive. They are my back up headphones, prefer in ear for the convenience.
    These as as good as my Sony XBA H1 which cost £ 60 they conveniently packed up a month after the warranty expired! I was looking for a replacement anyway. Quite good for the price. The "instruction" manual is a riot to read

  39. #39
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    I've been using my newly acquired Soundmagic E10BT's for a week or so now and can say they're excellent (as were the original E10's). The only downsides are they no longer come with the Comply tips and that the battery (which is halfway along the linking cable) can be a bit awkward. Although saying that I just clip it into the neck of my t-shirt (around the back) and it lasts for 12hrs on one charge!

  40. #40
    Master markc's Avatar
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    Well, thanks to this thread I ended up here: https://www.audiobudget.com/ and am now the proud owner of a pair of Rock Zircon earphones (£12.99 from Amazon).

    They have absolutely no right to be that good for that little money - I have a paire of Shure SE115s that I bought (a few years ago) for half price (£50) and the £13 Rocks are (in some ways) nicer to listen to. A bit warmer, more bass and smooth where the Shures are very detailed but possibly a bit tiring.

    The noise isolation is top notch too - I can hear virtually no external sounds.

    I'm now seriously considering acquiring some of the other models on the Audiobudget leaderboard - considering most of them are less than £15 a pop - what is there to lose?

    Cheers,

    Mark C

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluetorric View Post
    Can't stand earphones, headphones every time for me..............
    A useful contribution to a review of earphones.................

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by markc View Post
    Well, thanks to this thread I ended up here: https://www.audiobudget.com/ and am now the proud owner of a pair of Rock Zircon earphones (£12.99 from Amazon).

    They have absolutely no right to be that good for that little money - I have a paire of Shure SE115s that I bought (a few years ago) for half price (£50) and the £13 Rocks are (in some ways) nicer to listen to. A bit warmer, more bass and smooth where the Shures are very detailed but possibly a bit tiring.

    The noise isolation is top notch too - I can hear virtually no external sounds.

    I'm now seriously considering acquiring some of the other models on the Audiobudget leaderboard - considering most of them are less than £15 a pop - what is there to lose?

    Cheers,

    Mark C
    Thanks for the useful link Mark. Have ordered a set of Rock Zircons myself. Can't wait to try them out.

  43. #43
    Sigh...zircons on the way for me too.

    The two pairs of KZ's only arrived today as well.

    still it's a cheap addiction

  44. #44
    Master markc's Avatar
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    Just ordered a pair of VJJB K4S earphones and a pair of UiiSii HM7 earphones. Total cost £18.98 from Amazon (arriving tomorrow).

    As above... at least it's cheap.

    Mark C

  45. #45
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    I always have problems with the "in ear" buds falling out anyone else have this issue... anyway to stop it?

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justmuller View Post
    I always have problems with the "in ear" buds falling out anyone else have this issue... anyway to stop it?
    Super Glue...

    Failing that normally "proper" in ears will come with a range of tips both foam and rubber and you have to see which type and size fits best. If it is something like Apple headphones then you are stuffed.

  47. #47
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    I'm grand with apple ones, tried a number of different tips no luck... might try the superglue 😆

  48. #48
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by vulcangascompany View Post
    Doesn't the Chinese government pay for world wide shipping this is why Chinese companies can make a profit on very cheap items.
    I think it's a 'deal' involving Switzerland. China has a super cheap postal deal with the Swiss and they, in turn, have a super cheap deal with the EU so I think it comes through Switzerland. Net effect is the EU/UK supplier doesn't have a hope in hell of competing :-( It's possible that this unfair postage racket will cease once/if/when/maybe (please insert any other options you deem fit) the UK is out of the EU.

    Sorry potentially meandering into politics there.

  49. #49
    Master markc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justmuller View Post
    I always have problems with the "in ear" buds falling out anyone else have this issue... anyway to stop it?
    Even the "cheap" earphones have a selection of replaceable tips (luckily for me as my ear canals are different sizes). The best thing to do is experiment until you find some that fit.

    Some of them are designed to hook over the back of the ear before insertion into the ear canal - thus removing the downward force on the buds - maybe try that?

    Failing all that - superglue, it's the only answer ;-)

    MarkC

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian_O View Post
    I was drawn to Gearbest by reading this thread, and in fact ordered some KZ-ATRs to try out. However, I then starting browsing other stuff on there, including bicycle bits. Now, tell me what you see here (and I'm really hoping it's not just me that did a double-take when I saw the photo)!!

    http://www.gearbest.com/bike-lights/...18.html?wid=21

    I've got to say, the product looks like the dog's bollocks to me.
    Definition the dogs bollocks!

    Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

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