The E3M is a very bass-heavy headphone. The fullness extends up into the midrange, so voices also sound richer, though less clear than I've heard from other headphones. The E3M's bass is also muddy and thick, which forced me to play music louder than I would normally listen.
The E3M headphones are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and they do a good job blocking environmental noise on the New York subway. On windy days, I occasionally heard a high-pitched whistle from the air moving over the earpieces, but it wasn't apparent most of the time.
I compared the E3M with the new Sony XBA-1iP earbuds ($99.99), and the sound was a study in contrasts. The XBA-1iP was much brighter and comparatively bass shy, but exhibited more vivid clarity.
The E3M sounded muffled on movies, lacking the detail I heard from most other in-ear headphones.
Conclusion Paradigm makes great speakers, but the Shift E3M's sound is hard to love. Its bass-heavy character by itself wouldn't disqualify it from serious consideration, but the muffled sound makes it a flat-out sonic bore.
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