What are the best cheap earphones? Samsung EHS64 – an audiophile’s bargain

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Samsung EHS64 earphones

Samsung’s EHS64 earphones are amazing value at well under £4 on Amazon. Though their clarity is not at Sony MH1C let alone Dunu Titan 1 (FiiO EX1) levels (other well recognised sonic bargains I regularly listen to at home that also punch well above their weight) they’re a very enjoyable mildly U-shaped listen and have sufficient detail, frequency balance, transient response and open airy sound to not feel like one is missing out on too much regardless of music genre (not something that can be said of even the once much lauded HiFiMan RE-0 whose limited bass extension means one can completely miss out on bass rhythms). Sound-wise they’re not dissimilar to the venerable Koss Porta Pro (modified with the ‘quarter mod’ that helps lift that headphone’s treble veil) with an energetic but never distracting or aggressively sibilant treble (something the Titan 1 can fall foul of with certain tracks), clear articulate vocals and a tight extended open sounding bass that’s not boomy or resonant – there’s a tiny hole near the driver that probably contributes to the open sound (more natural than the PortaPro’s which exhibits some mid bass ‘bloom’). I often find myself listening to them in preference to my Sennheiser HD600 full size headphones since much less of a faff to use (straight out of my phone, no amplifier needed, can lie down/sleep with them) and keep with you (they’re always in my jacket pocket). I use them with homemade Comply style tips that are just a single 3M yellow foam earplug (about 10p a pair on Amazon in bulk) cut in half lengthways with a small hole drilled through them for the best and most comfortable ear canal seal. Tips can make a big difference to how a particular earphone sounds (seal, ear insertion depth and bore diameter affect frequency response) though the standard silicon tips the earphones come with are pretty compliant and comfortable to begin with and you may be happy sticking with them if they happen to fit your ears well. They even happen to have a phone microphone and volume control! I also use Genelec near field active monitors and their dedicated subwoofer and know how close to natural lifelike sound hifi can get but really think nowadays with careful choice one doesn’t have to spend anything like the fortune one once did to get very close to top class faithful sound and music reproduction – once at a certain minimum level of fidelity (like the Samsung’s) there’s really not that much difference in the emotional experience from the music that more exotic and expensive equipment brings. You can find a fuller review of them against other standard earphones supplied with mobile phones here. They sound good straight out of the packet but like many ear and headphones improve with some ‘burn in’ – just leave them playing music at moderate volume from say a home radio for a day or two.

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