I don’t know why Dell decided to give me a free pair of Creative Labs EP-630 Headphones with the laptop I recently bought them, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? And, if the truth be told, I appreciate the gift – especially since the clunky pair of Maxell behind-the-head headphones I had been using went kaput. Though I had some reservations at first, these are actually some darned nice headphones.
Recommend this product?
To say that there’s no comparison between my previous headphones and the EP-630 is a no-brainer: they’re about as alike as dolphins and aardvarks. The EP-630s are extremely compact, as befits in-the-ear-canal phones. A 36-inch flat cord terminates in a gold-plated 3.5mm plug on one end, and splits on the other to feed a pair of tiny speakers built around 9mm neodymium magnets. The individual wires are about 12 inches long. The whole works weighs only ten grams – that’s right, metricphobes: a third of an ounce!
While running at 16 ohms of impedance and a sensitivity of 106 decibels; the little drivers are built with a nominal frequency response of 6 Hertz to 23 kiloHertz, a lot wider range (especially at the high end) than these old ears can detect. That’s one heckuva lot of sound packed into one tiny package.
The use of soft silicon-rubber earbuds – they’re shipped with three different sizes to fit most ears – will isolate the wearer from most ambient noise; a feature to which I can attest (I have to swivel my head like a hyperkinetic owl to keep people from sneaking up one me). They work very nicely for drowning out noises on airplanes or ignoring one’s spouse while listening to streaming music or my iPod. Mine (the ‘phones, not the spouse or the iPod) came with a small nylon drawstring bag (about two inches on a side) for storage of the ‘phones and extra buds.
The main question, of course, is how well they reproduce sound. Creative Labs claims that they’re built with a bass boost, and I definitely don’t argue that – I’ve heard bass lines in very familiar songs that I wasn’t even aware were there before. They also have nice, clear high tones, not that my ears can detect the dog-whistle range stuff any more. Reproduction of the ends of the sound spectrum is at least as good as my bookshelf speakers; no distortion at low and medium volume. I value what’s left of my hearing too much to try them at high volume. They have far better frequency response and markedly less distortion than the $30-pair of conventional Maxell headphones they replaced.
Wearing in-the-ear-canal phones takes some getting used to, and new owners will also have to fumble with the three sizes of buds. They stay in the ear by friction quite well when one is moving around, making them excellent for use with portable electronics like your MP3 player or iPod. I strongly discourage using them, however, when running or biking out of doors, as the noise isolation is potentially very dangerous.
Others have noted that sounds are conducted along the headphone wires, complaining that this is distracting. Given the firm connection necessary to hold the tiny ear buds against the walls of the ear canal, I see no way to isolate the ears from sound conduction along such a path. At a guess, the same people would probably end up complaining about bone conduction…
Overall, the EP-630 headphones have proven a gift that I greatly appreciate. If they give out (or wander off on their own) I will certainly look to Creative Labs for a replacement pair.