Budget sound Part 1: Earphone
Audio: an important part of our interactions with technology. Whether it’s your daily companion device, or at home with your other electronics, good sound comes at a price, perhaps often a little too much! In this series of articles I will attempt to introduce budget solutions for different scenarios based on my experience over the years.
I’ve tried perhaps hundreds of earphones (in-ear headphones) in the past decade! We get so many of them in different situations. In a rush at an airport, or desperate to listen to your music while out and having forgotten your existing one…solution: just grabbing the cheapest you find and it will get lost sooner or later. I don’t think we care much for them. Those who do, step it up by going to the next level and above the £50 mark where you can find some pretty decent offerings. But what if you just want something cheap & good? It doesn’t have to last forever, but while it does, it makes worth your while. I never thought I will find one, but after years of a passive search, I think I have finally struck gold.. Well, not exactly gold..maybe silver!
Panasonic RPTCM125EK Headphone (with Microphone), if you don’t mind the in-ear design, is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Priced at £11 from Amazon (US RRP $19.99,) they won’t break your bank while providing an ergonomic and comfortable design. The sound is very clear and balanced, and it fits firmly in your ears so you won’t have to worry about it slipping out now and then. Since it seats a little deeper than your average earphone (or buds!), it also does a better job of sound isolation. It comes with an inline microphone, which is pretty average, housing a button for play/pause or answering calls that works nicely with most smartphones.
It’s not without an issues or two however, with the main downside being the cord. If Panasonic updates this line with a flat tangle free alternative, then they will have a real winner.
RPTCM125EK is also available in different colours. If you don’t need the microphone there’s another model lacking so which is even cheaper.
+ Good clear sound
+ Ergonomic design
– Tangle bound cord
– Average microphone