Zune Premium Headphones v2 Review

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Reviewed Dec 2009

Details: Microsoft’s answer to the ADDIEMs – a ‘premium’ earphone for the Zune
Current Price: $37 from Amazon.com (MSRP: $49.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: N/A | Sens: N/A | Freq: N/A | Cable: 3.9’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: stock single flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (3/5) – Velvet carrying pouch and single flange silicone tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (2.5/5) – The housings are made of a lightweight matte plastic. While there are no technical flaws in the molding, I struggle not to call them downright cheap-feeling. The magnets in the housings are a nice touch and help keep the earphones neat. The cloth-wrapped cords are a redeeming factor but the lack of proper strain reliefs makes one wonder how long they will last
Isolation (3/5) – Surprisingly good for a low-end dynamic IEM
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Present when worn straight-down but unnoticeable when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (3/5) – The hous/iings are extremely light and can be worn either cord-up or cord-down. People with smaller ears may have trouble getting a good seal with these, but I like them just fine

Sound (4.2/10) – The most surprising thing about the sound produced by the Zune buds is just how nondescript the signature is. The sound is quite balanced and neutral – really very inoffensive. The bass is there and neither lacking nor excessive. The treble is neither shrill nor sparkly. I like the fact that these aren’t mainstream-oriented bass cannons but still manage to be fun at times. Clarity is quite good but they could certainly be more detailed. The presentation is also a bit two-dimensional (not much depth), sometimes resulting in a ‘flat’ sound, but the stereo cues are still very easy to grasp. Overall the Zune buds are good performers but lack a musical ‘personality’ that would differentiate them from the competition.

Value (5/10) – While the Zune buds are respectable performers as far as low-end aftermarket earphones go, the $50 MSRP is not justified by the mediocre build and plain sound. At $20 the Zune buds would be top competitors. At the current price, the magnets just feel like a gimmick designed to drive up the value of an otherwise mediocre product.

Pros: Inoffensive, balanced sound; magnets are handy for storage
Cons: currently overpriced, mediocre build


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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