I test a lot of earphones and headphones here at CNET, and often what I'll do is try out a review sample for a while and then pass the product on to get a second or third opinion from other editors or our resident audio guru Steve Guttenberg. I don't tell the person I'm passing the headphones on to how much they cost. In that sense, the editor's judgment isn't colored at all by pricing.
In the case of TDK's EB900 in-ear headphones, I thought they sounded good. They had a nice clean sound to them and I liked their comfortable foam eartips (three sizes of tips are included) and also thought their design was distinct and appealing.
I knew what the earphones cost, but when I passed them onto Steve Guttenberg, I didn't say anything about their price. After he ran them through his test tracks on his iPod, he said he liked them and also thought they sounded pretty good. While he considered the bass a little boomy (too much), he thought they were nicely defined and the treble was smooth and clear. "Usually people don't complain about too much bass, though," he added.
When I told him I'd seen them for as low as $35 online (though most stores sell them for around $70), he was impressed; he thought they sounded as good or better than a lot of earphones that costs around $100 and compare favorably to the $79 Klipsch Image S4s, which are among our current favorites in this price class.
As for drawbacks, well, the earphones' cords have a cloth covering, which is both good (it helps prevent tangles) and bad (when you don't have any music playing you can hearing the cord rubbing against your clothing). We also weren't sure how the connection between the cord and each earphone would hold up over time. If you accidentally snag the cord on something and tug too hard, it might lead to problems. Also, while the black foam tips (three sizes are included) are comfortable, they will have to be replaced within a few months.
Despite these minor shortcomings, if you can get these earphones for a good price, we don't think you'll be disappointed. How long they'll last, we don't know, but at least they come with a carrying pouch. It's probably a good idea to keep them inside that pouch when not in use.
Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.