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iSkin Cerulean X1 Noise Isolation Headphones - iSkin Cerulean X1 Noise Isolation Headphones
They look pretty too: each smoothly-sculpted earpiece has its ear chamber adorned with a small, darkly silver dome surrounded with a cord-like decoration, and the channel you push into your ear is made from similarly glimmering metal. It seems almost a shame to clip the silicon inserts on the end of these.
With the tips in place, the X1s lock out a decent amount of sound - as long as your ear shape permits you to get a decent seal. Travelling on the tube, I found them comparable to my trusty old Shure E2Cs in this respect, and yet they're more comfortable to wear. They're not quite as luxurious in the ear as the foam tips you get with Shure's more recent ear canal phones, but the three pairs of translucent silicone inserts supplied are very soft and very comfortable. Despite the weight of the X1s I found it straightforward to get a good, comfortable fit plus, because the phones don't go a long way into your ear canal as phones from the likes of Shure, Etymotic and Ultimate Ears do, they're also a lot easier to get used to wearing.
So they're ultra-stylish and pretty comfortable to wear. But it's sound quality we should be most interested in with headphones. That's what you ought to be paying your money for, and clearly iSkin is pretty confident here: the X1s will set you back £69.99, and though this isn't the most money in the world you can pay for headphones - Riyad reviewed a pair of Shure's E500PTH headphones that cost a whopping £420 last year - they are firmly in mid-range headphone territory alongside Koss's good value KEB79s and Shure's SE110 and SE210s.
Loading up a few tracks from the little-known, but superb Return to Cookie Mountain by TV On The Radio, and you can really explore the X1's strengths. The bass beat on I Was A lover and the drums on Method have punch and weight to them that stop you in your tracks. I turned up the volume up a little, and then a little more to see how loud they'd go and never got close to reaching the upper limits of these headphones. At really loud levels, these phones make it sound a bit like you're standing next to one of those massive PA cabs in a live gig; they have a similar kind of visceral, brutal wallop to them, but a wallop that seems to have a measure of control.