As one of the best wireless earbuds, I love Apple's AirPods Pro 2 for their serviceability, be it flawless “Hey Siri” voice activation, instant connectivity to iOS/MacOS devices, or simple audio personalization. I can also acknowledge something that some other critics won’t: their impressive audio quality, which is highlighted by an extended soundstage wider and more articulate than previous AirPods releases.
But every now and then, I place Apple’s long-stem buds back in their smart charging case and pull out a pair of audiophile wired earbuds to bask in a more refined listening experience. Something that easily plugs in to my MacBook Pro’s aux port and fulfills my music listening needs. My current go-to pair of wired earbuds just happens to be the EarFun EH100 — $99 from the EarFun store.
EarFun EH100: $99 @ EarFun
EarFun's EH100 in-ear monitors leave Apple's AirPods in the dust. They feature dual dynamic drivers for bass and midranges, with a custom balanced armature (BA) driver for high frequencies, as well as swappable tuning nozzles, each designed to vary the sound signature.
Price check: $99 @ Amazon
These in-ear monitors come equipped with powerful specs that pump out some of the finest audio and blow Apple’s soundstage out of the water. I anticipated better sonic presentation, but not at an audiophile level, especially for $99. Nonetheless, that’s what arrived at my door, and I’m completely grateful for the audio upgrade, which has filled my audio appetite in many ways and persuaded me to stick with wired earbuds until the next best true wireless creation comes along. Here’s why.
EarFun EH100: Dynamic sound design
The EH100 house exceptional audio specs underneath a zinalium alloy shell that provides extreme durability and gives the buds a more lavish appearance than their low price suggests. EarFun’s triple driver hybrid architecture consists of a 10mm bio-diaphragm and 6.8mm liquid crystal diaphragm dynamic coils that expose more detail in music tracks. Throw in a custom balanced armature driver for extended high frequency detail and Hi-Res Audio certification to deliver every detail in recordings, and you have the makings of a bargain audiophile model.
After multiple listens trying out many of the best music streaming services, I am convinced that the EH100 are a far greater audio solution than the AirPods in lots of ways. Bass was stronger, but not excessive, giving just enough room to fully consume mids and highs, alongside impactful lows. The monstrous bongo drum break on Nas’ “Made You Look” pounded my eardrums with veracity, and never distorted the soundstage. Other upbeat tracks like the Jonas Brothers’ “Waffle House” featured articulate vocals and pleasant reverb, courtesy of the vibrant electric piano keys. All these effects were diminished on the AirPods Pro 2.
These buds claim a frequency range that reaches up to 40kHz. That's way beyond the realms of human hearing, but nevertheless I picked up on notes and nuances that would normally go unnoticed on the AirPods and some of the best wireless headphones.
Apple Music now offers three tiers of high-quality audio: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). The big issue is that no AirPods model supports lossless streaming. Wired headphones and a portable DAC are required to enjoy this feature. Well, EarFun launched a partnering $99 DAC (the UA100) that increases fidelity when paired with the EH100 or other wired earbuds. Purchasing both EarFun products comes out cheaper than the AirPods Pro 2 at full price ($249) and gives you true lossless sound on Apple Music.
EarFun EH100: Tuning nozzles to customize sound
Wired earbuds don’t come with control apps that support sound customization tools such as EQs, presets, and spatial audio. However, IEMs like the EH100 come bundled with swappable tuning nozzles, each designed to vary the sound signature.
The ambient nozzle accentuates sub- and mid-bass, bringing more oomph to the low end. Sound has more punch to it on contemporary tracks and blends well with other frequencies. Reverb comes on stronger without compromising other elements or vocals. More importantly, the nozzle gives bass a more natural presence, which can often sound artificial or heavily compressed when toying with EQs or presets.
As terrific as the ambient nozzle performed, I preferred the balanced nozzle since it stabilized frequency range. A nice mix of impactful lows, crisp mids, and smooth treble channeled through the drivers. This level of tuning complements most music genres, which was relieving since it didn’t require manually adjusting the EQ to achieve the proper sound signature for every track.
The AirPods Pro 2 are well engineered, and spatial audio is a game-changer that creates a more immersive listening environment, though Apple’s buds lack the EH100’s imaging and resolution.
EarFun EH100: Zero latency
AirPods operate superbly across all Apple devices: iPad, iPhone, Mac/MacBook, and even the iPod Touch. It’s rare to encounter any latency when listening to music wirelessly. That same performance doesn’t carry over to Android or Windows devices.
Wired connections don’t require additional steps (e.g., encoding/decoding transmission) or compression, and deliver the sound exactly as it was intended to be heard. Therefore, you’re getting lag-less audio that produces more data over Bluetooth.
The EH100 played music and movies without a hitch. There was a noticeable boost in playback compared to the AirPods; the EH100 instantly played and transitioned between tracks, and sound quality was superior to the AirPods in every way.
EarFun EH100: Are wires still better than wireless?
Wireless earbuds are favorable because of their practicality. These tiny cordless in-ears come bundled with a compact charging case and are a convenient everyday carry item. You never have to worry about getting them tangled or snag them on an object. Features are bountiful on many of the latest releases. Sound is both adequate and customizable, depending on the model, and pricing is competitive.
Meanwhile, wired earbuds deliver a far more accurate sound with uncompressed audio signals as well as a more dependable connection and zero battery-life issues. They’re just as affordable and portable. Compatibility is wider too; you can use them with any media device supporting an aux or USB-C port.
I’m still compelled to run with the AirPods Pro 2 on an average day because of their seamless performance with Apple devices, many of which I own and rely on for work. However, the Earbuds EH100 are my new go-to when I want prime sound. The low MSRP also make them widely appealing for bargain consumers wanting audiophile-grade buds on a budget.
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A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.
You think they sound good now, wait until you figure out you have them in completely backwards. How are they even staying in your ears like that?Reply
Bro.. you're literally wearing them backwards. You're putting the right IEM into your left ear.Reply
Don't say things like "perfect for audiophiles" when you don't even know how to put IEMs in your ears. I can guarantee you there are better IEMs under $100 from companies like Moondrop, truthear, 7hz, kiwi ears etc.
This is kinda hard to explain, but there are also some parts in the article that are complete nonsense (and anyone in the headphone hobby could tell immediately), but to normal people those parts probably look coherent enough to not question them.
Overall this article feels like someone who has just gotten into the hobby (but doesn't really know anything yet), trying to sound like he knows what he's talking about. It's gonna take a lot longer to understand what makes a headphone good, how to show how good a headphone is, the science involved in headphones, what the best headphone is for every price bracket, how to judge the quality of a headphone and compare it to the others on the market etc.
Step 1. Know the difference between earbuds and iems. Step 2. Learn how to wear IEMS... Step 3. Know at least a little something about audio quality to make comparisons. Step 4. Wait until you at least know step 1 thtough step 3 before writing an article.Reply
I'm not an expert but man, this article only tells me the guy knows nothing about what he tried to write. Those are not "earbuds", besides, he is using them backwards, I can't believe there's even a close up photo of him using them that way, it's like trying to write a review about a pair of sneakers, and then taking a picture of yourself using the left sneaker on your right foot, and the right sneaker on your left foot.Reply
Reminds me of this poor "Nate Gentile" guy from Spain who believes he can build custom mechanical keyboards, but all he does is practically crap due to the fact he doesn't reads and doesn't documents himself.
I see your wearing i.e.ms for the first time?Reply
Why do you have the right bud in your left ear?
Redo article again please, and this time get it right.