Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Nixeus in-ear earphones/mic

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Given the amount of traveling that I’ve been doing over the past couple of years, I decided to kick off a series on this blog taking a look at some of the (often morphing but fairly compact) pile of gear with which I travel. This is the inaugural post on this theme.

I favor big over-the-ear headphones when I’m editing podcasts at home. For travel? Not so much. Small and lightweight is the name of the game whether I’m plugging into a conference call or just listening to some music.

The Nixeus in-ear earphones are a nice example of compact earphones that can be used for either phone calls or listening. Their MSRP is $39.95 but they’re available for about half that on Amazon as of this writing.

They come with three sets (S, M, and L) of roughly cylindrical foam earbuds that you can use to tailor their fit. Like other earphones of this general type, the idea is to fit them relatively snugly into your ear—both to better block ambient sound and to keep them from falling out. From a fit perspective, I think of this type of design as something intermediate between iPod-style earbuds which just sit loosely in the ear and the silicone-style ear tips which you press fairly tightly into your ear canal. 

One of the challenges with reviewing this type of product is that fit and comfort are ultimately very much a matter of preference and the geometry of your particular ear. For extended music listening, I still prefer the silicone ear tip design such as Klipsch uses for its (significantly more expensive) X4i. On the other hand, I know a fair number of folks who just don’t like what they describe as “jamming” said silicone ear tips into their ear. 

What I can say is that the Nixeus earphones have a much more solid fit than do standard ear buds and, in part for this reason, their audio quality is commensurately better as well. The sound quality (both for the earphones and the mic) is as good or better than other examples of the same general design which I’ve tried.

Really, for the price, if you’re still using basic earbuds, give these or something else like them a spin. You’ll be glad you did. With Christmas coming up, it’s also probably worth mentioning that the Nixeus packaging is sleek and modern (with a magnetic closure for the box) so it looks like something costing more than it actually does.  

[Disclaimer: These earphones were provided to me for review purposes. No other compensation was provided and the opinions in this review are mine alone.]

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