For the last couple of weeks or so I’ve been faithfully trying out a new pair of headphones, or I should say ear buds, from Nox Audio called The Scout In-Ear Headphones. I’m a lover of music and rarely go anywhere without my Zune in tow. In recent years the headphone market has changed, many users now opt for the very lightweight and quite high performance ear buds. I myself have always been a fan of “over the head” headphones as they tend not to be as loud and I can still hear the ambient sounds of my surroundings.
Upon opening the Scout In-Ear Headphones I found a small carrying case, along with three different bud sizes. I really found little to no difference with the varying sizes upon my initial trials with them, but I did find as I began to move around the different sizes actually do make a difference. The smallest size was for me; they fit much deeper in the ear canal and were also the most comfortable. The cord on the Scout In-Ear Headphones are longer than most, which did get caught on a few more things as I went about my business. One thing of note here is that the behind each bud is what looks like a rubber paddle. The silicon flanges are there to guard against an accidental pullout (e.g. getting caught up by the longer cord). To my surprise the flanges actually did help, but not completely. They helped the earbuds from being pulled out completely, so you end up having them around half way in your ear, which is kind of uncomfortable and made you re-adjust anyway. Also in the box came a short guide on use of the new ear-buds and a limited 30-day no questions asked warranty card.
The Scout In-Ear Headphones comes with a no tangle, or tangle resistant cord, system; I found this to be quite true. The main cord is shaped a little like flat speaker wire or a small extruded rectangular box. This splits into two smaller squared off tubes that lead up to your ear-buds. The set I was using was a bright white (it also comes in black). It immediately made me think of spaghetti or linguini in terms of size and shape. I constantly tried to make the cords tangle up, but they do have a spring about them and they go right back to their original and natural shape. I would think this would also help them not to be as fragile as some of the other ear-bids on the market, which is a good thing considering how many I’ve ruined over time.
Here are the features of the Scout In-Ear Headphones:
- Compatible with Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, PC’s, iPods, iPhones, and all other electronic devices that use a standard 3.5 mm jack
- XBOX 360 and PS3 compatible with NOX Negotiator Universal Optical Gaming Adapter
- Balanced armature drivers that meet audiophile standards
- The World’s Smallest, built-in send/end button!
- Omnidirectional microphone specially designed to provide high fidelity voice pickup
- Stylish square and flat cables
- Silicone flanges for a secure ear-canal fit making it great for those on the go
I am sure that most wanna know the technical details of these little in-ear headphones, so here it is:
- Input: Requirement 3.5mm stereo jack
- Power: 2X20mW
- Weight: 0.5oz (14g)
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW @ 1 kHz + or – 3dB
- Microphone sensitivity: -45dB V/Pa + or – 3dB
- Input Impedance: 55oms@1kHz
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Hz
- Dimensions: Wire Length 4.0ft (123cm)
- Comes in 2 Colors – White or Black
- Suggested Retail – $79.99 US dollars
Now for the most important part, how do they sound? Most of music is contained on my Zune, which does not have any downloaded music of any type aside from a few MP3’s I’ve snagged from friends. I rip my music at high bit rates off CD’s to my PC and conversely to my Zune. Listening to music this way ensures bit rates of around 920kbps, almost lossless. For me at least, this is best way to listen to music. How does this relate to headphones and ear-buds? I’ve always found the over the head-headphones to be the better listening medium, though the newer and much more improved ear-buds have made a remarkable advance I technology in recent years. Up until now I had settled on a fairly nice and expensive JVC set of buds. Since trying the Scout, I think I have found a new favorite. I did a short test on both sets of ear-buds to see how they performed and took notes on the comparisons.
My test was on three quite different tracks, from three different periods of time. They were Metallica’s “Ride the Lighting” title track, Tool’s “Lateralus” (Again title track) and “Space Bound” from Eminem’s latest. The Metallica track was recorded in the 80’s, so its sound is very different from the other two, almost having a raw live tone. I found in each case that the Scout buds had a measureable and very noticeable difference in clarity. The highs were higher with the mids being cleaner and richer on every track. The JVC buds had a deeper Bass response in each case, but once again the Scout’s bass hits were much cleaner. I was pleasantly surprised that they outperformed a pair of ear-buds that I had put so much faith into. The Scout buds have a retail price of 79.99 U.S. dollars which is very comparable to my old JVC’s, notice I said old.
One thing that has me confused is the send and end button located on one of the ear-bud cords. This button has no use that I can see, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to what it actually does. On the other cord is an Omni-directional microphone specially designed to provide high fidelity voice pickup. The mic is very small but quite cleverly located.
Overall the new NOX Audio Scout ear-buds are one of the best ear-buds I have ever tried on. The very consistent high performance and comfortable buds have made me a great fan. I would recommend them to anyone that loves quality in small packages.