M-Audio IE-20 XB Reference Earphones

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M-Audio IE-20 XB Reference Earphones

One of the most commonly voiced complaints about earbuds is that they don’t deliver enough bottom end; those tiny drivers just don’t have much material to work with when it comes to producing long waves. M-Audio’s IE-20 XBs are the exception to the rule. These earphones pump more bass than many full-size headphones.

M-Audio went long by going big—the IE-20 XBs (the XB stands for extended bass) are easily the largest earbuds we’ve ever seen; they’re more than twice as large as Shure’s E4gs. Their bulky nature can be attributed to the fact that each piece houses two speakers: an armature driver for producing high and midrange frequencies and a dynamic driver to pump out the lows. A built-in crossover routes frequencies to the appropriate speaker, and a pair of acoustic canals keeps the sound waves separate until they reach your ear canal.

Those of us here with smaller ears were concerned that the Kong-like proportions of the XBs would lead to a match made on Skull Island, so imagine our surprise when we discovered how comfortable these earbuds are. The included fit-kit accommodates a wide range of ear sizes, and the cables loop over the tops of your ears, which keeps them out of the way and prevents the plugs from sliding out. The cables are removable, too, so should they ever be damaged, you can replace just the inexpensive cable instead of the entire earphone.

The IE-20 XBs aren’t just bass monsters, they’re equally adept at delivering crisp highs and well-rounded mids. While we listened to Warren Zevon’s “Please Stay,” the XBs impressed us with their ability to produce Zevon’s lead vocals, Emmylou Harris’s background vocals, and Gil Bernal’s tenor sax all on an equal footing. They’re pretty spectacular with games, too. We’d hesitate before using these earbuds as studio monitors, though, because they really do emphasize lows. Use them for mix-down work and you might end up with tracks that sound bass-shy when played back through other speakers and headphones. But if it’s bass that makes you boogie, you’ll revel in these M-Audio buds.

THAT WILL SMITH

Comfortable, fits a variety of ear sizes, a "bass monster."

NOT "THAT" WILL SMITH

Tend to focus on the lows a wee bit, which might affect the composition of your mixes if you decide to use other speakers.

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BeVar

I just recently tried out the Phillips SHS8000 buds ($30.00) and was fairly impressed. First time user, I have always preferred my Klipsch 5.1 system. However, I need an edge playing all the new games because at 60 I really suck at it now. I love FPS especially mixed up with RPG games, you know Bioshock, STALKER, etc.

I can't play Counter Strike anymore because I am just not fast enough now... too bad; "growing older Gracefully" is Bullshit.

Back to the review: STicker Shock, YES. Geese; $400, $200, the E.D.G.E. Acoustics GX400-$179.00; give me a break.

At my age and income I can buy allot of toys. Big rig, SLI 8800 y'know, but ear buds at these prices are ridiculous. I know the manufacturing cost for these puppies are the same as a $50.00 well made set.

I think the buds themselves have allot to do with how well you hear all the positions; Y'know, how well they fit the ear canal and reduce outside interference.

My thrust now is to find replaceable buds like the ones used on better sets and see if that makes a difference with what I already have.

I can tell from everything I read so far I will eventually buy one of these way over priced units but I got to tell you I really like the way these Philips SHS8000 hook over the ear; very secure and comfortable.

BeVar

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Oedipus_Rex

I thought the review made these sound pretty good. Did a search on Froogle and almost keeled over when I saw the price. $199 is a little (make that a lot) out of my price range. I wonder how many years I'll have to wait until the price drops to $50 or until $200 doesn't seem outrageously expensive to me for earphones.

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turdflinger

From http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/IE20XB-main.html : these run USD 249.95 MSRP.
I agree; the price of these earphones is nuts.

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