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Like the SE420s, the SE310s feature heavy duty cabling that feels like it can easily survive any amount of tugging, pulling and winding. The modular design means that the actual earphones have a relatively short cable that then plugs into the 91cm extension lead – all the plugs and sockets are gold plated and have a reassuringly solid feel to them.
In the box you get three pairs of foam sleeves in small, medium and large sizes along with three pairs of soft flex sleeves, also in small, medium and large. You also get a pair of triple flange sleeves, although you’d need to have pretty strange ears to feel comfortable with these plugged into them! As I mentioned in the SE420 review, the new foam sleeves are superb – as well as being incredibly comfortable, they also block out the vast majority of ambient sound when plugged into your ear canal. Rounding the package off is an ear wax cleaner and a zip up carry case.
I decided to kick off my listening tests with some Corinne Bailey Rae, without a doubt one of the best young talents to hit the music scene for some time. Like a Star is a great audition track, filled with beautifully subtle sounds complemented by Corrine’s truly angelic vocals. The SE310s managed to pick up every sound, no matter how subtle – every slide down the fret board of Ms Bailey Rae’s guitar can be heard, and every pick of every string is easily discernable from the last. As the accompaniment flows into the mix, there’s a pleasantly warm bass feel to the proceedings, not overpowering, but strong enough to make its presence known.
Moving on from the delicate vocals of Corinne Bailey Rae, I fired up Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics album. It’s very easy to dismiss Miss Aguilera’s music as trite pop, but nothing can change the fact that she possesses a staggeringly good voice. In fact the sheer power of Christina’s vocal range can often prove to be too much for some earphones, with the sound descending into a cacophony of distortion. The SE310s handled themselves very well, with full-on R&B tracks like Slow Down Baby coming across full and loud, but without becoming muffled or distorted. Meanwhile, acoustic and vocally led numbers like Save Me From Myself conveyed a beautifully subtle side to that sometimes overpowering voice.