Pros Provides effective noise "cancelling," great sound and strong bass
Cons Earbuds must be inserted fairly deep for good bass and noise reduction, flimsly cord is too long and gets caught on everything
Summary These small buds pack a powerful bass punch and provide good ambient noise reduction and rich sound. In the gym, crappy gym music is gone... on the street, buses and car horns bleed away... I can even run a vacuum cleaner and barely hear it. The buds come with four differently sized tips that can be interchanged for extra comfort or better noise muffling. ...And it is muffling, not digital noise canceling like Bose headphones have.
Unfortunately, the buds have to be inserted fairly deep into the ear, which takes some getting used to (and looks weird to do - you have to pull up on your ear to straighten the canal and really dig them in deep... a little water is recommended in the manual to help). Once in place, the buds provide good flat sound response and rich bass (they're vibrating directly inside your head). The earbud also contains some sort of "filter" that the documentation claims is there to "smooth the frequency response" and "keep earwax out." Ew, but I guess it's a fact of life. Instructions say the filters can get clogged which affects the sound quality and since they are "not reusable," you have to replace them. The kit contains 1 replacement set and a check of the company's website shows a set of 6 (three changes) is $15 plus shipping. Kinda pricey for a piece of plastic smaller than a match head.
Major cons: The thin wires seem like they could easily rip out of the back of the earbuds, which is also easy to do because the wires are too long and tend to get caught on things. The buds, when inserted correctly, stay in the ear really well, adding to the possibility of ripping the wires out by accident. The funniest thing I noticed was that when the rubbery buds were deep in my ear, I could hear my footsteps over the music... deep inside my head. It's weird, but you can get used to it.
Big advantages: Great bass, effective ambient noise muffling and excellent sound quality. The sound quality really is great... Listening to songs with my ER-6i earbuds has already helped me hear subtle parts of the music I missed for years.
The price, which is now around $70 if you shop around, is good for the quality of the sound, the tight bass response and the effective noise muffling.
I plug them into my iAudio U2, which already has deep bass (20Hz - 20KHz) and 13mW power per channel and they sound amazing! For iPods, which generally have weaker bass, I'm sure these are ideal.
Pros sound, noise-cancelling
Cons contact with chord amplifies in your ear
Summary I haven't listened to any other in-ear headphones (Shure, Ultimate Ears, etc...), but compared to my apple earbuds, and even the Sennheiser PX200s, they absolutely blow them out of the water. In terms of sound, these have a clarity that is simply amazing. You will hear details in music that you have never heard before.
The bass in these have been criticized, but with a good fit, there is no lack of bass whatsoever.
Not many people seem to take notice at how well these cancel outside noise. I have also used the Bose QC2 and QC3, and frankly, they don't even compare. Just think of it as having ear plugs with sound flowing through them. If you are looking at a set of active noise-cancelling headphones, make sure you check out some passive, in-ear sets as well.
"Satisfied Customer"on by Jerry A
Pros Sounds great, comfortable
Cons cord is tangle prone
Summary I was living with the stock ipod phones for a long time, and finally decided to look into an upgrade. Since you don't easily get the chance to demo earbuds (people doen't like to mix with other peoples ear wax!), I put my faith in CNET's editors choice and got the v-moda bass freq's. Bass was delivered as promised (maybe a little too much), but the rest of the frequency spectrum was horrible. I sent them back, and v-moda refunded my cc without any issue (i did have to pay shipping). after further investigation, I went for these er6i's, and I am in heavan...sound is awesome, and thanks to its isolation, I can have a satisfying listening experience and lower volumes (I commute in NYC, so blocking out external noise helps a lot!). You do have to be very careful crossing the street though. Sound is well balanced, these supposedly have a low end boost which supplys a very nice definable bass. These are also very sensative, so they can get very loud when desired, even with older recordings which are more dynamic and not mastered with super compression to sound as loud as possible through every passage. A good fit in the ear canal (as with all in ear buds) is essential to get these things to sound up to their potential. The cord tagling thing is not such a big deal, and after using it for a while, you kind of figure out how to avoid the problem. Definately try all of the eartip options - the foam tips will pretty much work for everyone (good ideas to use the foam as a reference so you can hear how its supposed to sounds), but they are kind of a pain, so if you can get a good fit with the plastic tips (the small ones worked best for me), it'll give you one less thing to fuss about. Ipod stock buds got the cord right, but not much else. I paid $76 after shipping and taxes, and they are well worth every cent.Updated
A friend of mine couldn't get comfortable with hos Shure SE210's aso he gave them for me to try and keep if I wanted. Out of curiousity, and hearing people bash the 6i's, I cleaned the eartips tested them out. They sounded pretty good, similar isolation, tight bass etc., but definately less clarity in the mids and highs when compared tothe 6i's. I actually expected the Shures to be better based on reviews and price point, but i'm sticking with the 6i's (and that's without any $ influence since they were freebeies anyway). I also didn't feel that the Shures were as comfortable as the 6i's. Another friend of mine who was using stock buds now has these shures and is quite happy, as either the 6i's or the shures are a huge improvement. Don't get me wrong, the Shures are nice might have cut it for me if I had never tried others, but the SE210s are not as good as the 6i's. And both models suffer from microphonics - I'm guessing it must be an issue accross the board for IEM's.
"Quality buds."on by Dejkle
Pros Intense clarity and tremendous bass for itty, bitty ear buds.
Cons Thin wires do tangle too easily. Translucent attachments yellow and brown after limited use, creating a nasty looking inner ear piece, tolerable though. Isolator an understatement
Summary These are the goods if you're looking for affordable studio quality headphones. I've never dealt with many aspects of listening to ear canal buds like these and here's what I learned. I was so used to bass that moved me, bass that i felt in my body. I used to measure the quality of bass with this in mind. But with the ER-6i, my opinion is that the bass is measured by it's lack of distortion and how well it compliments the other sounds. In this manner, they boom!
Another important detail I want to cover about canal bud:. The isolation is extreme. The seal the headphones create can feel very tight and uncomfortable at first. But after a few hours of listening like this, you will appreciate the style so much more. In ear phones like these allow for listening at a MUCH SOFTER VOLUME, still hearing every individual sound. The isolation is a bit too much for gym and maybe even pedestrian use. You won't hear much of anything. But on your own, at home, they bang nice and make music better period.
I found that listening on planes is hard. The pressure of the seal and the change in ear pressure in altitude change can cause some discomfort. That may just be me.
Overall I'm so happy i made the switch to these inners. I'm sensative to sounds when working and trying to sleep and the ER-6i's are my perfect companion headphones.
Pros Incredible comfort, inside helmet, great sound
Cons price, durability?
Summary I love these! Too expensive, but worth it I guess, except my left side just stopped working, so I don't know what the durability is like with the thin wires.
They are like earplugs with great sound. So comfortable, I forget they are there, unlike the "Buds".