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What we bought: Why I still use a $15 pair of wired Panasonic earbuds every day | Engadget

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My finest headphones aren’t all the time the most effective headphones for each scenario. When I’m settling in to work for a number of hours, then yeah, I’ll seize my outdated Oppo PM-3s or trusty Koss KSC75s to make streaming music extra of a pleasure. When I’ve bought a protracted aircraft or practice journey forward of me, I’ll carry the AirPods Max to dam out the world extra comfortably. (I personal too many headphones, to be clear.) But not each occasion requires one thing good – or, within the KSC75’s case, fragile – and I don’t need to run the gear I’ve paid good cash for into the bottom after I can keep away from it.

That’s after I flip to Panasonic’s ErgoFit earphones (or, “RP-PCM125 ErgoFit,” to make use of their correct title.) This is a fundamental, $15 pair of earphones that’s been round for the higher a part of a decade however continues to offer an unobtrusive match, sturdy design and agreeable-enough sound.

Put one other manner, they’re my most popular set of beater headphones. Even if you do not know that time period, you possibly can in all probability guess what it means. These are the headphones you utilize when placing in your “good” pair is extra hassle than it’s value. When it is advisable to make a fast run to the shop however solely have a couple of minutes left in your podcast, you carry the beaters and end it up. When you see an amusing video on-line however you aren’t positive if it’ll be acceptable to blare over your audio system, you utilize the beaters to be protected. If, like me, it is advisable to take heed to one thing in mattress earlier than drifting to sleep, the beaters are the headphones that received’t get in the way in which however will survive your tossing and turning for those who move out with them nonetheless on. And in the event that they don’t, who cares? They’re simply your beaters.

There are one million completely different headphones that would make for good beaters, however when most individuals speak about them, they consider in-ear headphones which can be low cost and sturdy. You can toss them in a bag or (bigger) pocket and know they’re prone to survive. You by no means must be delicate or deliberate with them the way in which you’ll with a superb set of over-ears. You don’t need to by chance step on them or go away them on the practice, however it received’t break your day for those who do, as a result of shopping for a brand new pair will not chunk a gap in your paycheck. They don’t sound as good as your good headphones, however when you possibly can’t sit and hear for a protracted stretch or actually savor a recording’s particulars, they’re there, they usually work.

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The ErgoFit earphones match this description kind of precisely. Everyone takes to in-ear headphones in a different way, however the ErgoFit’s earpieces are small and noticeably light-weight, with tender silicone ear ideas that, for me, don’t grate over time. Panasonic contains three completely different sizes of ideas within the field, and with the fitting match they seal an honest if not superb quantity of noise. (Voices are nonetheless prone to get by way of in the event that they’re loud sufficient, although.) They are available in quite a lot of colours, if that issues to you. And whereas there’s a little bit of cable noise once they rustle in opposition to your chest — which may be irritating — I’ve by no means needed to fear about them coming free, both. 

Unlike many earphones on this value vary, there’s additionally an in-line distant and mic for pausing tracks and taking calls. The high quality of that mic isn’t something higher than “usable,” however that it’s even there’s a plus at this value. (If you don’t want a mic, Panasonic sells a variant without one for $10.) 

These are easy wired earphones made at a time when 3.5mm jacks had been nonetheless widespread, so that you want a dongle to make use of them with most telephones and tablets as we speak. That is annoying, however for “beater” functions, I’ll take the trade-off of not worrying about battery life (and degradation) or having to take a beat to make sure every thing’s paired first. When my AirPods died on an eight-hour flight to Europe earlier this 12 months, the ErgoFit slotted proper in as backup. 

Most importantly, they’ve lasted. I’ve carried these earphones on my individual continually over the previous four-ish years and straight up fallen asleep on them extra instances than I can depend, however in that span I’ve solely needed to outright exchange them as soon as resulting from a frayed wire. The plastic-heavy design seems and feels low cost, however it’s been sufficient to outlive.

These issues are nonetheless outdated and $15, so I can’t say they sound implausible. You received’t hear the form of element or treble sparkle that you would be able to get from better-sounding earphones within the $30 to $50 vary, and the sound profile is perhaps a bit too boosted within the mid- and upper-bass vary for some. This isn’t a Koss KSC75 deal the place the ErgoFit outperforms earphones 5 instances their value. 

Still, what’s right here is not unhealthy. The low-end is emphasised however not overly boomy, and higher-frequency sounds aren’t piercing. The profile misses finer particulars, however it’s often clean. With much less intricate hip-hop and rock tracks, it’s advantageous. For $15 beater earphones, it’s good.

Really, any low cost set of headphones you want might work pretty much as good set of beaters. The normal sound high quality of cheap earphones has risen over time, with sub-$40 pairs just like the Moondrop Chu and BLON BL-03 incomes praise from reviewers as of late. But for those who often end up not wanting to place your good headphones in danger, the ErgoFit earphones have given me peace of thoughts as a reliable, snug, and hard-to-kill backup plan. They’re something however trendy, however their utility is timeless.



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