We covered this topic in a previous article, but we’ve adjusted for market changes, user feedback and added many more models to the article. All of these brands are locally available at the time of the review.

For testing audio quality, we threw a variety of music at each headset– J-pop, rock, hip hop, metal, EDM and Lindsey Stirling (who we believe should be a category of her own) – in FLAC. The hardware of choice was a Nexus 5 running Viper4Android – a smartphone, because that’s what people generally use with these. That, and a lot of cross-referencing with the folks at Head-fi.org, helped us give you this complete list.

So, without further ado: let’s begin.

iDance My Cookie – Rs 1190

idance-mycookie-80-iDance is a relatively unheard of brand in Sri Lanka. Their last appearance was at Infotel 2013 where they had a stall showcasing their headphones, in ears and leggy models.

Glossing over the peculiar naming scheme that iDance uses (MyCookie?) this is a surprisingly good entry level headset that also has an inbuilt microphone. Sound quality is far higher than the fake Beats you’d buy for Rs 700/=, although a tad overpowering on the lows, shrill on the highs and lacking definition all around, making it good for Steve Aoki but bad for Lana Del Rey.  It also comes in eight colors.

Available at: Ace Com (Unity Plaza), the HiFi Center, Takas.lk

TDK IP100 In-Ear Headphones – Rs 1600

TDK’s a bit more discreet. These headphones offer nothing new to the game, expect that their audio quality is better than its competitor – slightly clearer than the Cookie we’ve looked at so far, but along the same lines. It also has an inbuilt microphone and playback control for IPhone, iPod and ‘select’ Samsung Galaxy devices – which means it may not work on your Android device.

Available at: Takas.lk

AKG K321 – Rs 2500

akg k 321The K321 inspires mixed feelings. It’s a stylish all-rounder that offers quality sound that few in this price range can beat. It’s fairly balanced: lows, mids and highs are represented decently for the price, producing sound with little to no distortion. The noise cancellation on these is quite impressive – but the tips are rather uncomfortable.

Available at: Abans iStores – Kollupitiya, Race Course, The Arcade – Independence square

 

ikd

Skullcandy Riot and Skullcandy Ink’d 2 0 – Rs 2750

Here, we come across two almost identical in ear headsets; the Skullcandy Riot and Skullcandy Ink’d. Available in a wide variety of colors, these also come with an inbuilt microphone. Sound quality wise, they’re quite decent for the price – but in no way are these balanced: they lean heavily towards the bass and mid are relatively muddy, making them pretty much the same as the TDK or the Cookie – a good pick for EDM but hideous for nu-metal.  Both the Riot and Ink’d are almost identical in sound reproduction and vary only in a few cosmetic changes.

These tend to have a rather fragile build quality and the loss of audio on one side is a common issue.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

Sennheiser CX213 – Rs 3000

x1231Anyone who knows anything about audio would have heard the name Sennheiser at least once in their lives. Known as a premier audiophile manufacturer, they provide some of the best headphones and in ears along with high quality microphones.

Being the replacement for the Sennheiser CX200, the CX213 offers a decent blend of price to performance. The earphones are quite comfortable to wear and build quality is good but they do tend to get tangled up and can lead to cable damage so watch out for that. Decent audio quality with substantial bass make is a worthy competitor to the AKG K321 which lack a bit of clarity. Available in White, Pink and Blue.

Available at: Redline Technologies

TDK Clef Urban Earphone – RS 3100

TDK_CLEF-UrbanThe Clef Urban has bass, but it’s not an overpowering bass. Rather, it’s milder, with more pronounced mid and high frequency range when compared to the likes of the Skullcandies.The design incorporates what TDK calls CRVCM (Copper Reinforced Voice Coil Mechanism) which apparently provides a wider range of frequencies for a more accurate soundstage.  The Clef-Urban also comes with a built in microphone and is aimed mainly at the smartphone user who wants to listen to good music and take/answer phone calls without breaking the bank.

Available at: Takas.lk (www.talkas.lk)

 

 

 

Skullcandy Smokin Buds 2 – Rs 3500

smokinThe Smokin Buds are Skullcandy’s midrange earphones. Sound quality again is a bit of a step up from the Riot and Ink’d (which is to be expected as the quality scales higher along the price scale). Build quality is similar to the Riot and Ink’d along with the flat cable that helps keep your earphones tangle free. Multiple size ear tips are included as usual along with the standard built in microphone. Sound quality is not a big step up but mids and highs are clearer that its the first Smokin Bud.

The first generation of Smokin Buds were quite hardy, outlasting almost every other headphone in extreme daily use. We’d recommend taking a good look at these if you treat your earphones really badly. However, don’t expect instrument separation to feature too highly in what you hear from these.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

 

Skullcandy FIX and Skullcandy 50/50 – Rs 4500

We find ourselves face to face with another Skullcandy duo. The FIX and 50/50. The naming scheme of Skullcandy has been a bit confusing. What does the Fix fix? And the 50/50 is half and half of what exactly?

fix

Sound quality wise, neither win any awards. Both models suffer from the usual overpowered bass and lack of definitive mids and highs. Both look and feel a little more brittle than the Smokin Buds before them. Both come with carrying cases so that you have something to pack your earphones into and keep them safe. Both come with an inbuilt microphone and playback/volume controls for iPod and iPhone.

There’s one last thing both have in common: you’re going to need to do quite a bit of EQ work to make these enjoyable.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

 

 

 

AKG Q350 (Quincy Jones Edition)

qcjNow here’s something worth collecting. AKG did a Dr. Dre and added reputed record producer, arranger, and composer, instrumentalist, record company executive and jazz trumpeter Quincy Jones to the collaboration. The result; the Q350 Quincy Jones edition.

Sound wise, these have the ear marks of an AKG product – a beefy bass punch and wide soundstage – but also suffers from a tinny treble. Quite unusual given the pedigree of these earphones. Given the instrument separation, which is quite decent, we’d say these are actually more suited for vocal tracks and even podcasts as well as instrumentals. Apocalyptica, Adele and Peter Gabriel, perhaps?

Available at: Abans iStores – Kollupitiya, Race Course, The Arcade – Independence Square

 

Skullcandy Titan w/Mic – Rs. 5,000

titansIn all honesty, this is Skullcandy’s one decent attempt at a good pair of earphones.They have their appeal.

Music-wise, the bass or low frequencies tend to overshadow the mids and highs, but much less than before.The Titans performed quite well on EDM and trance music and is generally favour bass junkies – not so much for the true audiophile, but it does well in its genres nonetheless. What they lack in finesse, the Titans make up in volume.

It has a built in microphone and even has its own pouch to pack them up when you’re done with them.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Takas.lk, Chelseys

Logitech UE350 – Rs 5500

Another product by Swiss manufacturer Logitech, the UE350 has a decent and accurate sound reproduction, good bass levels with a decent thump along with detailed mids and highs. They don’t look like much, but they’re leagues ahead of the TItan in terms of definition. The only issue that users have complained that the earphones tend to lose audio on one side after a while. Potential buyers take note.

UE350

Having owned a pair of these, I can honestly say I was content with the quality – it’s an all-rounder that works well with music ranging from rock, metal, techno or EDM. Keep in mind that these are intended to be reference earphones – which means their sound is as flat as you can get for the money: some fiddling with the EQ and you can customize it to sound like anything you need. An excellent pair of earphones for the price.

Note: the version with the mic – the Logitech UE 350VM – costs Rs 6,500. They’re otherwise identical products.

Available at: Redline Technologies

Sennheiser MM30G w/Mic – Rs. 5,500

mm30gFor a long time the UE350 stood unchallenged, but now we have the Sennheiser MM30G. Ironically, the MM30 has two models; one is the MM30i and the other is the MM30G. The former is for iPhone and iPads whereas the latter is aimed at Samsung Galaxy devices We’re not quite sure as to why exactly Sennheiser decided to opt for two models that have the exact same features.

Whatever the case may be, these earphones pack a punch. Not surprising given the pedigree of the manufacturer. Music playback is a joy. Each earpiece has a dynamic speaker that gives you clear audio with a wide frequency response and excellent bass performance. Noise cancellation is also quite strong will little to no ambient sounds when the earphones are worn. Both models have inline microphones and a 3-button remote for making calls, control music playback, and for adjusting the volume.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

 

 

And now the moment of truth. What do we pick?

Best headset for the Price – Rs. 1000-3000: Sennheiser CX213

Even though it doesn’t have a microphone, in terms of music quality, the CX213 is pretty much the bang for the buck earphone to buy. A very close second would be the AKGK321, but the CX213 has a small lead in terms of clarity and comfort..

Best headset for the price – Rs 5000-7000: Sennheiser MM30G/I

The Sennheiser MM30is arguably the best headset for the price in this category. It beats both AKG models because it offers cleaner audio and a much more balanced sound signature. Compared to the UE350 (which is an awesome earphone as it is), it has a more acute bass reproduction whereas the UE350 provides a more reference  audio signature. Those who want mic on their headset can opt for the UE350VM, but the MM30 has a mic and is cheaper than the UE350VM and provides a slightly better listening experience. What’s not to like?

16 COMMENTS

  1. I got iDance My Cookie from online shop last week to use it as hand free with my mobile. but the experience is really bad. it’s having a hum that will hear to other party. I even let them know via facebook still not acceptable response from them 🙁

  2. all these are in-ear phones, and i never got into/used to them. for me the weapon of choice has always been the Sony Fontopia earbuds (the hang-off-the-ear kind) … good all-rounders. and about 700 to 800 LKR at Siedles and Nastars

  3. love the UE 350s. sadly, had like 3 pairs fail on me already, and now im outta the warranty period 😛 excellent pair of headphones, WHILE THEY LAST. Only thing that beats them for me right now are the UE 6000s, but the 350s are louder 😛

  4. I recommend avoiding the AKG q350s unless you plan to use them rarely.
    With daily use, i managed 6 months.
    I took great care of them, cleaned it every two days and wrapped in a figure 8 to prevent the cable pinching.
    While they lasted, they sounded and looked amazing, with the only downsides of being uncomfortable and slightly sharp upper treble.

  5. Been using sennheiser cx213s since 2014 December as I remeber, never went for another even for the sony’s bundled in ear that came with my phone eventhough it had a mic , cx213s never failed me up until now ,2017. Sennheiser + Poweramp=Perfectness.Perfect audio,perfect fitting,only drawback is lacking a mic.Once a sennheiser user and would always be.

  6. Check out WOW’s online store they have a good selection of earphones. plus they deliver and you have the option of paying cash on delivery which is convenient since you can test the product out. check it out if you are interested https://www.wow.lk

  7. Skullcandy means bass! Believe me the Skullcandy 50/50s are the best bass ‘earbuds’ I ever had.
    Of course I have a Audio Technica m50x at home for pure lossless audio but for the boring morning 1 hour commute, I have the 50/50s and trap music so I don’t fall asleep.

    If bass is what your looking for bass go for a Skullcandy or Sennheiser pair. They are the best bass earbuds not doubt.

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