I’m kinda lucky to have
HeadRoom, the large net/mail headphone retailer, right in my hometown (Bozeman MT). When I need cans I just cruise by and buy whatever they recommend: they’re audiophile fanatics and listen critically to everything they sell.
In the field I use ear canal headphones (don’t call ’em “earbuds,” sez HR). They sound good, they seat well (i.e., don’t fall out), and they’re small, so you don’t look like a Martian when approaching folk outta-the-blue to interview them. I usually pay between $100 and $200 for a really good, but not top-o-line pair.
I used a Shure E4 with an Etymotic ER6 as backup. The Shure sounded better and had a thicker cord. I say “had” cuz I recently broke both (abuse), leaving me field phone-less.
So I swung by HeadRoom for new Shures, but Shure’s new E’s have much thinner cords. “Anything else as good?” asks I.
Guy pulls out the Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro ($180). I buy sans listen; take ’em home and am impressed. For the first time I hear a decent bass response from ear-canals. People say both the Shure and Etymotics have good bass, but I never thot so, even when I had the in-ear seal as tight as a [fill in offensive simile here]. But these UE’s go low, likely cuz of their dual drivers, one just for bass. (Caveat: HR mentioned the crossover could be a prob as it occurs at in vocal mid-range, but probs for them are usually out of my range of perception.)
Bass is important not just for the funk-in-recordings but also for field recording, as most of the wind and plosive overdrives occur in the lower freqs — lower than most open-ear phones go. So you could be wrecking your recording and not know (hear) it.