As we noted in our review of its PFE 112 earphones, Phonak isn't exactly a household name in the UK, but it's certainly making a name for itself. Having made an impression with the aforementioned PFE 112s, the company now has a revised model called the PFE 012s, offering not only a revised sound signature but, perhaps more importantly, a lower price.
In fact, the PFE 012 earphones aren't just a bit cheaper that the PFE 112s, at a touch under £80 they're a massive £40 cheaper. Taking the PFE 012s out of their packaging it takes more than a moment to notice where those savings have been made but PFE 112 owners might notice the accessory-filled zip-pouch which accompanied those earphones isn't supplied with these. However, as nice as it is to have a carrying case, and as much as we like Comply's foam tips, it's hard to complain about their lack on inclusion considering the price difference between the PFE 012 and PFE 112 earphones.
The PFE 012s, like the PFE 112s, have an adjustable filter, letting you alter the sound signature of the earphones to your tastes. Unlike the PFE 112s, however, which came with a choice of black or grey filter, the PFE 012s come only with a green filter. This is the contributor to the PFE 012's "Perfect Bass" slogan, as Phonak says this new filter is the bassiest the company has yet provided - although this enhanced bass shouldn't come at the cost of other frequencies.
Other than this new filter, and the lack of an accessory set, the PFE 012s are identical to the PFE112s. That is, we hasten to add, a good thing, because the PFE112's were constructed very nicely. We especially like the cabling of the PFE 012s, which is neither too thick nor too thin, and has a rubberised coating that gives it a quality feel.
We also like the over-the-ear design as it reduces cable noise. We do wish the PFE 012's came with foam tips, however, as although the three choices of silicone tip supplied do make getting a comfortable, secure fit easy, they aren't as pleasant to wear and don't offer such good noise isolation. The earpieces themselves are also nicely designed, fitting snugly into the ear such that you can even lie on the side of your head without interfering with them.