Music on Fire: Stick It In Your Ear

Klipsch IMAGE S4 -Ear Enhanced Bass Noise-Isolating HeadphonesThe key to a good music experience on the Fire is a good—though not necessarily expensive—pair of headphones. The Fire’s built-in speaker is far from the high-fidelity experience you’re used to getting from a quality home stereo, heard through quality speakers, but that doesn’t mean the Fire can’t deliver audio worth listening to. A good pair of headphones is all that’s required, and they don’t have to cost a fortune.

High-End Headphones Aren’t Required

You’ve probably heard all about noise cancelling headphones. They generally look like the kind of headsets sound engineers wear: bulky, with speakers that completely cover the ears. They’re also pretty expensive. Most people know about the Bose line of noise-cancelling headphones, such as the Quiet Comfort 2 model that currently runs about $400 on Amazon, but believe it or not, people are paying $1500 and up for even higher-end models, like the Sennheiser HD800.

Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to get quality sound from your Fire and other portable devices. Noise isolating headphones are a much less costly alternative that can work just as well in most environments, without the added bulk and weight.

Noise Cancelling vs. Noise Isolating

The way noise cancelling headphones work is by outputting an electronic frequency that collides with, and cancels out, any sound waves coming toward the listener from outside the headphones. Noise isolating headphones use a purely mechanical approach to shutting out environmental noise: they’re earbuds that feature soft, vinyl cups designed to seal the ear canal completely when the earbuds are inserted, such that the only sound coming in is sound from the earbuds. It’s like taking a pair of earplugs and installing tiny speakers in them.

Finding Quality Noise Isolation At An Affordable Price

Earbuds can be had for anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars, and they all seem to employ those little vinyl cups to some extent, just to keep them anchored in the ear. So how do you know you’re getting a quality pair, and that you’re not paying too much for them? Check the reviews. One excellent source for unbiased reviews of all things high-tech is CNET’s reviews are very thorough, and the site also publishes user product reviews and lists average user star ratings side by side with those of the editors. Working downward in price from moderate to economical, here’s what CNET suggests for noise isolating headphones.

CNET editors gave the Klipsch Image S4 In-Ear Headphones, pictured above, their top rating of “outstanding”, with 4.5/5 stars. From CNET:

The Klipsch Image S4 earphones offer exceptional sound quality for the money. They’re also very comfortable and come with a few handy extras such as a storage box and cleaning tool.

The Klipsch Image S4 In-Ear Headphones are currently on sale on the Amazon site for $62, 22% off the regular price of $79.99.
In the $30-$40 price range, CNET rates the (currently priced) $39.99 TDK EB900 High Fidelity In Ear Headphones highest, with an average star rating of 3.5/5. Amazon customers rate them even higher, giving them an average of 4/5 stars. From CNET:
Despite some small shortcomings,  TDK’s EB900 in-ear headphones sound as good–or better–than a lot of  more-expensive competitors.
In the $15-$20 price range, the MEElectronics M6-CL Sport (currently priced at $18.83 on Amazon) took top honors, with a star review rating of 3.5/5. CNET users and Amazon customers both have rated them an average of 4/5. From CNET:
The MEElectronics M6 earphones are inexpensive, and they  offer plenty of bass and generally solid audio quality. The design is  attractive, durable, and comfortable. A nice array of extras is included in the  package.
That “array of extras” includes a zippered carrying pouch and vinyl ear cups in multiple sizes.
So you see, it IS possible to get quality audio on the go without overspending.


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