Music and sound are very important to me. And since I had the chance to review the new Sonomax sculpted eers custom headphones that recently won the CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Awards Best of Innovations, I had to give them a try. The eers headphones are unique in the fact that they use an expansion technology that allows them to mold to the shape of your ears. The best part about the custom fit feature is that you can have them fitted and ready to go in about 5 minutes.
While the custom fitting aspect of the eers headphones is truly unique and impressive, I have to say that the overall sound quality leaves more to be desired, especially with the eers hefty price tag starting at $199.99 (I’m actually reviewing the $299.99 model). But, first, let’s take a look at what Sonomax got right with the new eers headphones.
What I Liked
There were a few things that I really enjoyed about the eers headphones. The first is that Sonomax did a fantastic job making a take home system that you can use to create custom fit earpieces that are molded specifically for your ears. At first, I was extremely hesitant to have some silicon injected into my ears to create molded headphones, but after going through the instructions a few times I knew what I was doing and became more comfortable.
Sonomax provides the user with a Fit System, which basically looks an over-the-head-headset that is used to inject the silicon into your ears. You lube up the tips of the Fit System with the included lubricant, put them into your ears, and follow the directions to inject the silicon. If it sounds weird to you that’s because it is; but to be honest it really is kind of cool that you can create these headphones by yourself. You are supposed to have a “animator” (basically someone else to ensure that the Fit System is in place), but if you are careful and follow the instructions you can most likely do it yourself. Once the headset is in place and activated it takes 4 minutes for the silicon to mold to the inside of your ears. If you have ever used earplugs, the kind that you roll, insert into your ears, and let them expand, then you know exactly how this process will feel.
After the four minutes you can slowly take them out of your ears, wipe off the lubricant, and then take them off of the Fit System. You then put the provided end caps on the left and right earphones and you are done. It’s simple process but you can run into some issues if you are careful (more in a minute on that).
I also think that the build quality of the eers headphones is pretty great. The cable for the headphones is made of some sturdy material, not at all like the feel of the standard issue Apple Headphones. The material is definitely made to last. Also, the Ear Loops that go over your ears feel good and are comfortable.
One last thing that is great is that the eers fit very well and for doing anything active (running, biking, whatever) they stay in the entire time without much adjustment at all. This is something that most “active” headphones can’t even do well, so it’s nice to see that Sonomax created something that could stay in your ears.
What I Didn’t Like
It’s hard for me to not be critical about sound quality in any headphones. I have played music for about 18 years and there is a certain quality that I expect a product to be in order for me to recommend it or use it. Sadly, the eers headphones fall below that quality of sound.
The sound is tinny, lacks a full depth, and sounds completely different than any other headphone that I compared it to (not in a good way). I compared the sound to the Apple In-Ear Headphones, the Klipsch Image S4, and Ulitmate Ears 700. I consider the Apple In-Ear Headphones to be the lowest acceptable sound range that I have heard, while the Klipsh and the Ultimate Ears are both excellent for their price. The eers headphones can’t hold a candle to any of these headphones. It’s a shame too, considering that the price is so high for even the “most basic” pair ($199.99), as these other headphones are around half or less than half of the price. What’s even more alarming is that the headphones that I was sent are the PCS–200 with the “Premium dual drivers with crossover” that retail at $299.99.
I would say that for some people the sound quality may be passable, but many consumers now a days are looking for more “bass” in their headphones and make that equivalent with quality. If they looked at the eers in this regard, they would be extremely disappointed.
Another thing that I noticed is that if you change the position of your jaw to anything other than the position that it was in when creating the headphones you will start to lose the sound isolation seal that they headphones give to your ears. I noticed that my jaw had to be slightly opened to keep the seal of the headphones. Sonomax recommends lubricating the earbuds before putting them in with the provided lubricant for a “perfect seal”. I tried this multiple times and still had the issue of the seal being broken with jaw movement. Also, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to lube-up their headphones every time they want to listen to music.
I think that the idea of creating custom fit headphones on-the-fly without having to drop hundreds to thousands of dollars is a good one. But, I also think that if you are going to spend over $100 on headphones, they should have at least a bare minimum of sound quality.
While the Sonomax eers may be innovative and are made of high quality materials (the case, the headphone cable, and the Ear Loops), I can’t recommend them for someone who wants quality sound as there are better and more affordable options. If the sound quality of the eers was on par with the more affordable options out there then I may change my tune as they would be a great way to get a nice fitting pair of custom headphones.
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