The Paradigm Shift E1 earphones make a good impression once you first look at 'em, which falls apart after a few days once they - well - start falling apart. But what really ruins these earphones' chances is sound quality.
Only rarely do we hear earphones that have a more muffled-sounding and muggy mid-range than these E1 buds. They can leave singers sounding as if they're crooning from under the covers, and make arrangements sound congested and muddled.
This bloat isn't in the very lowest of registers, though, There isn’t the disastrously boomy bottom-end so often associated with style- and urban-focused earphones, but the effect is similarly off-putting when slid up the frequency spectrum a notch. It robs the sound of clarity, definition and any sense of expansiveness it might otherwise muster. The presentation is a flat wall of audio that, while not without impact, is largely without insight and musicality.
The worst part is that we could swear if these earphones were tuned slightly differently, they'd sound good. It's hard to be sure through the swamp-like low-mid murk, but we could swear there's a good pair of earphones fighting to get out of the E1s somewhere, with reasonably smooth treble to be heard if you squint hard enough (with your ears, that is). There's a decent width to the soundstage too.
However, as is it's as if someone has accidentally pushed a fader way up accidentally, upsetting the sound so much that it's difficult to think of as anything but plain wrong. With music that's all top and bottom end, such as the electro-beat pop of The Presets, the muddying effect is less pronounced, but as a whole the Paragidm Shift E1 are significantly outperformed by less expensive better-known, better-balanced sets such as the Sennheiser CX300 and Jays a-JAYS One.
At £49, we can think of almost no reasons to buy these earphones, other than that they look quite nice.
The Paradigm Shift E1 earphones look good, and feel hardy thanks to the metal backs of each bud. However, they don't appear to be particularly well-made and an ill-balanced, muddy sound means they are bettered by headphones available at half the price.