MP3 players have made a huge impact on the way we enjoy music today. Gone are the days of clunky, battery gobbling CD players and bags filled with but a handful of albums. Instead, we revel in the luxury of carrying around a lifetime of music on a player barely the size of a wallet.
With player capacity increasing regularly, relatively poor quality 128kbps MP3s are quickly being replaced by higher bit-rate files and more often superior formats such as AAC and OGG Vorbis. With near-CD equivalent quality at your finger tips, it's an audio crime that so many people are using headphones that aren’t even worthy to hang washing on. Sound quality is only as good as the weakest link in the chain and if you’ve spent good money on a portable media player it makes sense to ensure that your headphones do it justice.
With this is mind, we decided to take a look at the Shure E4c sound isolation headphones. Shure is better known for its range of microphones – most notably the SM57 and 58 series, which are pretty much the de-facto standard for instrument and vocal recording around the world. With an obviously excellent understanding of speaker technologies, one would expect it to be able to make a decent set of headphones.
The E4c headphones are very small and lightweight. The cable is thicker than you usually get with headphones due to superior shielding. The cable is also fairly long at around 1.5m.
Unlike traditional in-ear headphones, these are designed to fit as far into your ear canal as possible. This is to ensure the best sound reproduction and also has the benefit of keeping almost all outside noises from entering the ear. Several sets of ear buds are provided, and these are made of differing materials and sizes to suit almost any ear size. Along with this, there is a 6.3mm adapter and an inline volume control should you need one. All of these are gold plated to match the headphone jack for superior contact. This is all included in a discreet carry bag, which is also large enough to house the headphones.
Unlike sound cancelling headphones, which reduce noise by emitting a sound that is an exact opposite to the noise you want to remove, these work on the principle of just physically blocking out noise. This makes the whole experience a lot more immersive and means you music can be playing at a much lower volume as you don’t have to compete with the noise of trains, planes or automobiles.