A decent upgrade from your MP3 player's stock earbuds
- Punchy bass, good isolation
- Overpowering mid-range, missing treble
TDK's EB-400 earphones are some of the cheapest canalphones available, and they're a good upgrade from the standard earbuds of many MP3 players despite a few problems.
Price$ 19.95 (AUD)
The EB-400 is the premium model in TDK's latest range of earphones. They're in-ear headphones that offer a decent amount of isolation and have a heavy focus on mid-range sound.
The headphones need to be inserted quite deep into the ear. This helps block out background noises — meaning volume levels can be lower and sound is clearer.
The sound quality isn't fantastic, but it is a step-up from the stock earbuds offered with MP3 players. At a normal listening volume (quite a low volume setting on the test iPod, thanks to the low impedance and in-ear design of the EB-400) music was quite enjoyable to listen to.
The headphones are bass-heavy, with strong low-range notes that are quite slow and lingering. The mid-level dominates, and it is quite detailed when listening to complex tracks. There's a smooth emphasis, evident on piano tunes, which sometimes makes the headphones sound bloated and dull.
At high volumes we found that while the bass was still audible it didn't extend very low and music sounded quite hollow. Mid-ranges became overpowering, often drowning out higher treble frequencies and leading to a loss of clarity in instrument-heavy sections of music.
The headphones are easy to insert and they come with three sizes of silicon sleeves to match ear size. They can get slightly uncomfortable over long periods of time.
Each set comes with a silicon cover, matched to the anodised casing of the earphones themselves. This cover will snugly fit a second-generation iPod Nano. Although Apple has issued a newer model of the Nano, the popularity of the previous generation means that the silicon skin may still be useful to some consumers.
There is a small amount of vibration heard when the earphones' cord moves, but this phenomenon occurs with all in-ear headphones. Some higher-end models counter this with thicker cords or cords wrapped with different materials, but the EB-400 just uses a normal cord. This will present a problem during activities involving constant movement, such as jogging and walking.
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