Damaged Gears

Evolve your Gears

Damage Reviews: MDR-E888

leave a comment »

Alright, I was originally going to give the Triple.Fi’s a fully deserved review, but they are with Logitech at the moment due to defective left driver.  Oh well.  However, I’ve listened to MDR-E888 enough to give my full impressions on the nigh legendary earbuds.  Suffice to say that there are no other earbuds of this caliber (save the Yuins which I’ve not yet heard…  Want to give me one?  Inquire within…  Please?!?) on the market.  And, easy for me to say that, if you love earbuds that doesn’t involve shoving things deep within your canals, you should really getyour hands on a pair of these…  And if you love portable audio in general, well…  it becomes complicated, but in a good way, I suppose.

As I have noted earlier, the open earbuds are all but extinct in the US market.  So, you’re either left with inferior pack-in earbuds that the manufacturer paid $0.03 out of a warehouse in Timbuktu or a low end bud that came from a warehouse in Shenzen, costing the manufacturer $1.24.  On the other hand, there are tempting eBay auctions from Hong Kong for these, and holy crap Batman, they raise all sorts of Red Flags left, right, and center.  I have some interesting experiences with these auctions I intend to share later on, but there’s a reason why these set of earphones cost $4.00 vs. $40 or $300…

But you like the small earphones (earbuds, if you prefer) AND do not like shoving things down your ear canal.  I respect that.  Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t.  And all they have to offer are Sony Bean earbuds.  Technically competent but really unexciting and ultimately waste of money.  After all, $10 nets you a pretty decent meal, or a pretty damn good pair of earbuds in the JVC Marshmellows, a Damaged Gears favorite.

Imagine my surprise when I found a pair of these hanging around a department store in Busan, Korea.  Costing anywhere between $50-$70 (60000 KRW-72000 KRW) in the mainland, and significantly less at Duty Free Stores (48000 KRW, or about $43-45 given the exchange rate), they were more or less no brainer for this tourist/visitor in Korea.  It was a good choice.

Damage, why would you get an open earbuds in this day and age?

Good question.  For one, incredible sound staging and depth.  Let’s forget the trebles and bass, the responses, and what not.  We’ll come back to those in a moment.  The first thing that blows my mind with these earbuds are its wide sound stage.  Listening to these, they immediately remind of Sony’s much bigger offering, the MDR-SA1000 (another favorite).  Things sound literally 3D without having to resort to gimmicks from the DSP or other trickery.  Comparing these to other similar (and more expensive) offerings in the market, it’s remarkably refreshing.

Once you get past that openness, you start to delve into what the MDR-E888 offers in its core.  To be certain, it’s got that signature Sony Sound: bright trebles with some exaggerated bass (though surprisingly, not as bassy as other Sony buds).   You can EQ the buds, and they will take to EQ like fish to water.  However, you’re not going to kill the natural brightness with burn-in.  In fact, I’ve listened to these for awhile, and if there is burn-in, then they will exhibit very little changes afterwards.  Not that it matters much, since the general sound is agreeable with me from the start.

As I said before, if you have small ear openings, these maybe physically incompatible with your ears, as the drivers are quite large (16mm, IIRC).  You will have hard time tracking these down, though audiocubes.com is probably your best bet.  If you can track them down, and fit these, you will be welcomed into a world of wonderful sound.

They are, still hands down, the best traditional earbuds (not IEMs/Canal type) out there.  Only if you can find them, however.

Grade: B+


Written by Damage

02/25/10 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: