I’ve spent the last week enjoying a pair of these Auvio In-Ear Armature Headphones from Radio Shack. For anyone who hasn’t tried this style of ear phone they can be a little strange at first as the speakers actually sit inside your ear canal. Once you get over it though, these types of earphones are really comfortable and produce a much better, clearer sound compared to earbuds as they isolate you from external sounds.
The first thing that struck me about the Auvios is that the main body of the ear phones is made of aluminium. My pet gripe with most in ear phones is their flimsiness. They’re small and they’re wired so if the cord gets yanked they either pull out the earphone or they can break. The Auvios look like they will last a bit longer than most and the strong base means you aren’t afraid to pull on the ear piece or stuff them into their case.
Because this style of ear phone goes right into your ear, they need to be comfortable. The Auvios ship with three different sized ear pieces each made of either rubber (silicone?) or Comply foam. The stem that goes into the ear canal and holds the ear seal feels pretty solid too, it’s quite thick and at no time while changing ear seals did I feel it was going to snap off.
Personally the foam ones don’t really do it for me but if your ear canal is a funny shape or the silicone ones hurt or don’t fit then the foam ones can be very useful. The foam moulds itself to your ear and it’s a closed-cell foam so it shouldn’t get too dirty. The foam buds are quite fragile though so you don’t want to be changing ear buds all the time or you’ll destroy them. Once they’re in your ear the world just goes away and you’re on your own.
The 3.5mm plug seems a little long, I noticed it got in the way a bit especially when it was plugged into my phone as it stuck out so far. The cord itself was too short, about 130 cm long and I found this quite annoying sitting at a desk listening to music. If you’re buying these for commuting then it might be useful to have a short cord, less stuff to get caught on.
To test the sound I listened to a range of classical and modern music on CD with a flat EQ straight out of my Pioneer home theatre amplifier. I wanted to steer clear of portable audio players as well as MP3 files. I compared the sound from the Auvios to my Shure E3s and a pair of BeyerDynamic DT331 full ear phones.
I’m by no means an audiophile but I did find that the sound quality was a mixed bag. The bass on the Auvios was a bit light and tended to get lost in more complicated music, brass instruments also tended to distort at climactic points. These aren’t reference headphones though, and for just listening to music instead of analysing it I didn’t have any gripes.
Since then I’ve been using the Auvios day to day, listening to MP3s on my phone in an office environment. They’re very comfortable to wear for hours and the sound is clear and inoffensive, but not exciting.
Robustly made and they feel solid, especially the stem that holds the ear pieces, not sure about the grommet where the the cord enters the ear phone though but it is reinforced
Great sound insulation, you can’t hear much once they’re in and people around you can’t hear your music no matter how loud it is.
The good sound insulation means you can listen at much lower volumes than you may have before which means more battery life from your player.
Cord is too short for desktop use, would be fine for commuting though.
Sound quality is ho hum. Bass is a bit thin and gets overpowered. Big sounds can distort.
I’m a big fan of this style of in ear phone and my fragile Shure E3 ear phones served me well until their predictable demise a couple of months ago. The Auvios don’t have the same beautiful sound but they’re also not as flimsy, or as broken and they’re nowhere near the same price range. With a bit of care, these metal-backed ear phones should last you for a while. If you’re tough on headphones or just want to move up from earbuds then the Auvios are a good first step and worth a look. Amazon has them for US$106 but Radio Shack has them for US$79.99 .