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[What distinguishes the pictured phones from the Sony MDR-ED21LP phones, rated a "best buy" by the top consumer magazine? Frankly, after comparing both--specifications and empirically--I'd have to say about five bucks. Both phones have 16mm drivers, as big as you'll find in bud-style headphones. Perhaps the Ed12's are a bit "louder" (i.e. gaudier). The Sony website indicates that the Ed12's are no longer being made. I'd take that as all the more encouragement to pick up an extra pair.]

I've just compared these Sony's, currently going for less than ten, with 3 other low-priced headphones, using audio from a uncompressed CD played on a decent home stereo system as a reference point. The differences, admittedly, are minimal, highly dependent on the preferences of the user as well as the conditions of use. Because these Sony's, unlike the other phones, are not intended for deep insertion in the ear canal, they're probably not the phones of choice if noise isolation--for example, in an airplane with the jet engine running--is desired. But in a quiet setting, they came closest to matching the sound of the CD as played by a stereo rig costing over a thousand. The highs and lows were never boosted at the expense of the mids, which were warm, unforced, inviting.

The currently highly popular JBuds Noise-Reducing Ear Buds, for just under 10, were also exceptional for their nice fat mid-range sound. However, the sound seemed somewhat forced compared to the Sony's, and soon I was tiring of the sound of even Getz' tenor saxophone. The Skull Candy INK'D definitely had the younger, moving' and groovin' rapper in mind. The sound was aggressive from the start, with Tony Williams' cymbals coming right out of the chute. Though the thinnest-sounding of this group, they'd still perform well enough to satisfy most tastes. The well-reviewed Altec Titaniums also produced an impressively full and balanced sound, though the heavy, cloth-covered cable can present problems to the listener with smaller ear canals--unless he's OK with hanging on to the phones with both hands.

The Sony's use a 16mm bass driver, whereas 10mm is quite standard. But since this type of phone doesn't produce the tight seal of inserted ear phones the bigger driver with "extra deep" bass is practically required to achieve a balanced, realistic sound. It's unfortunate if Sony's hype leads some users to expect nothing but ground-movin' groovin', because the phones are unlikely to open fault-lines in your current digs.

Nothing too relevatory--except that you don't have to spend more than ten to get adequate earphones. And in some cases, the neglected models (such as these Sony's) are, at the very least, the equals of the hottest items being sold on Amazon.
0Comment17 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 21, 2009
I personally have several pairs of headphones and earbuds ranging in several prices and brands. As far as I can tell, Koss makes the best headsets, even better than the Bose ones in my opinion, BUT these Sony earbuds must be the best earbuds I have ever owned.

1. They have excellent sound quality that I haven't really seen in many earbuds.

2. They stay where they are suppose to be, in the ear, but not really IN the ear like most earbuds, these earbuds slide into the outside of the ear and barely go into your canal, leaving little to discomfort.

3. They have bass built in, but not obnoxious bass, so you can enjoy music the way it was intended.

Find this Helpful, then hit yes!
0Comment26 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 27, 2010
I have been using these for my MP3 players and PC music listening for about a year now. I compared these to products in the 10-70$ range from Koss, Panasonic and Philipps as well as branded (ipod, Archos, Cowon) and these Sonys beat them all on: general clarity and detail and most important for me in an earbud - realistic bass response.

Most earbuds have a reasonable midrange response and the better ones deal with highs in a civilized manner. MOST however fail with basses: either too exaggerated and artificial (I mean - how much you can squeeze those tiny diaphrams for 20-100HZ soundwaves?) or lacking and anemic. These, however, deliver well balanced sounds with open enough highs, controlled mids and nice boosted (yet not inflated) basses, and all for a price which is about 1/5 th or less than anything that even comes close!!!

There is a caveate though - their unique shape (one of the factors in creating the great sound) is not to everyones' liking. You need to play with them, position and re-position them until you identify the "sweet spot" where they sound just right, as any change in position has direct effect on the sound bias (too much bass, too much highs etc.). After some trial and error you get to that spot in a second and its a non issue anymore.

To sum up - exceptionally good earbuds for an exceptionally good price, with some getting used to required. Highly recommended to broke audiophiles :-)
0Comment7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 17, 2008
I hate ear buds! These are the most comfortable I have ever used! I can wear them all day no problem. The flexible design will fit any ear comfortably. They sound great too! Highly recommend them!
0Comment10 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 28, 2011
I bought these Sony earphones because of the unusually shaped earbuds, L shaped 1/8" stereo jack, and the reasonably low price. So far I have been pretty satisfied with them, but it remains to be seen how durable they are.

The shape is odd, but these earbuds fit nicely and comfortably into the structure of the outer ear. The bud doesn't seal into the aural canal like an earplug, so you can usually still hear some ambient sound, which for safety reasons is sometimes desirable. The bud doesn't have any kind of sponge padding or rubber inserts, but I can wear them for hours, without major discomfort. Sound quality is decent, with better performance in the bass frequencies. There are probably better suited for the spoken word, podcasts, talk radio, or audible books, rather than music, although heavy metal and rock sound pretty decent through them.

When used with portable MP3 players, earphones with straight pin jacks seem very prone to failure. The cable tends to get bent back, and this often leads to a bad connection, or breakage of the wiring inside. I have had way too many earphones where one of the earbuds has gone dead, because of a problem with the connection at the jack. With an L shaped jack, the chances of this kind of failure seems greatly reduced. Sony and Sennheiser are two of the few manufacturers that use L shaped jacks.

These earphones provide decent sound quality, and are comfortable to wear, but only four stars for now, until the question of how well they hold up under use is answered.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 15, 2010
This is an update to my previous review. I now understand why there are so many greatly differing reviews on these. Some reviewers report excellent sound quality while others say the sound is tinny and awful. The bottom line is that to get the excellent sound quality some people are talking about, the earbuds have to fit perfectly into your ear canal. The key is to get them deep enough into your ear, otherwise you get the tinny sound many have experienced. These "almost" fit me. The first time I used them they did sound tinny and did not feel secure in my ear. Then I experimented and twisted them gently while pushing them deeper into my ear and that made all the difference in the sound quality! Unfortunately they quickly start moving back to their original position. As others have noted, the ear piece is not very flexible or soft, so it either fits you or not.

What good is excellent sound quality when it is based on the remote chance that these will fit your ears? They will have to either redesign the ear bud piece or make them removable and provide different sizes like other manufacturers do. Until then these are not recommended at all unless you have a friend that has a pair and you can try them out to see if they fit you properly.
0Comment5 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 16, 2014
This is my fourth pair. One broke because I did not treat it well, one I keep at home, one I keep in the office, and this last one I keep as a back up since Sony has stopped producing this model.
They produce balanced treble and base. It's not going to rattle your head with booming bass, but I do not enjoy my music that way. So if you are looking for heavy bass, this is not for you.
The best thing about these headphones are that they go in the ear, but not all the way in. I find the new style of earphones that you jam into your ear painful, and often block out too much sound - dangerous when walking around in urban areas. Also, they sit in the ear just enough so they do not fall out when running.
I am upset Sony is no longer making these or anything like them. They also are moving to the in the ear headphones.
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on April 11, 2014
These headphones where labeled to be the newer model for the "Sony MDR-ED21LP Fontopia In-The-Ear Headphones". It's clear to me that the 16mm drivers are the same, but damn, the build quality is nothing compared to what it replaced. These headphones are really fragile and weak feeling. I also don't like the new design, you certain can't lay in a pillow with these on due to the part sticking out, the old model was far better in design. The wires on these headphones are terribly cheap. I seriously don't see these lasting for very long at all, and I mean I'm hoping a month will be fine. For now these are only for a back up as I decided to buy more professional, high quality IEM's. Sony really should bring back the Sony MDR-ED21LP Fontopia In-The-Ear Headphones, the quality and style where spot on.
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on July 8, 2015
Best ear buds I've of ever heard. The 16 mm drivers are so far superior to the standard 10 mm ear buds that they are in an entirely different class.
Finally, buds that stay put in my ears while exercising. Volume as high as my ears can stand without distortion. And the bass is the best feature. How they can deliver that much bass in those buds is beyond my comprehension. It has to be that unique shape combined with those well engineered 16 mm drivers. They are partially open air, but are capable of such volume that if they sealed tight to the ear, they could easily cause damage to the ear. The first ones I purchased were $24,00. As they became more and more popular, prices increased. Why Sony discontinued these is beyond me!!!!
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on August 23, 2014
I bought these headphones around 5 years ago in a store- It was the best $20 I ever spent! These headphones have great sound quality and fit comfortably in the ear. There is a big, boomy bass and I was surprised at how well these can handle a combination of lows and highs at one time. After 5 years (And a drop in the bath!) they are just starting to deteriorate and I have decided that I most definitely need a new pair. If you getting the opportunity to buy these, I definitely would as I can say, hand on heart, they are the best in ear headphones I have ever used!
11 comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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