Simply put, these ear buds are bright and punchy. They handle a broad mid-range with ease, although at times the performance of its lows and highs may seem inconsistent. It’s not exactly accurate sound, but it does deliver very well for its form factor, with tech jargon to back it up. That being said, I think this pair offers a more prominent low to medium-low end compared to other models I've tested.
It's very important to note that the ClarityOne Earbuds only spec 8 ohms of resistance, which means much, much less energy is required to push a wider spectrum through its drivers, compared to other 20 ohm or higher models. This technological feat is the most likely reason why first-time listeners and reviewers will “hear the difference” on their mobile media players, which typically sacrifice output power to accommodate battery life.
But too low of resistance may lead to distortion. Radiohead’s “Codex” is a good test song that, on Yorke’s prolonged mid-frequency high wails, will eventually start distorting on a medium or format that is compressed or colored. On a FLAC track on both the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S2, with a flat EQ, and even the disc itself on a CD player, Thom seemed to sometimes clip away at higher than “medium” volumes.
To test the acoustic “crispness” of this pair, I loaded up tracks by Rodrigo y Gabriela. With their fluttering classical Spanish strumming, and more rock-influenced palm flicking and muting, there could have been many opportunities for clipping, but these ear buds handle it with ease, at comfortable listening levels.
Finally, electro music. While I don’t dabble in this sub-genre much, it does offer a similar pop-like listening experience. Both have a reputation for mastering with heavy compression, but with the first option, I would have to go through the pain of listening to pop music. The driving, booming bass of some Digitalism and Justice tracks are more prominent on these buds, but mostly because of how the music was produced.
In general, these phones offer an enjoyable sound stage, but the output of guttural lows and very sibilant highs may widely vary. Speaking to other headphone enthusiasts, some agreed that a burn-in period may be necessary. One thing is for sure - these buds are built specifically for mobile devices. The science behind this magic is a whole different story...
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