As Musical Fidelity has a bit of a reputation to protect they created the EB-50 in-ear monitors from scratch with the aim of producing earphones that would give a flat frequency response. Just as you would expect from studio monitors.
That box containins seven pairs of differently shaped tips which should give you a snug fit, three extra colour-coded pairs (for sharing, I guess), over ear clips for those engaging in physical activities, or perhaps musicians using these to monitor a studio session or live work, a tie clip and a cleaning cloth. In the main box you’ll also find a carry pouch with a mini to quarter inch adapter, an airline seat headphone adapter, a few more rubber tips and, of course, the earphones themselves.
The bullet-shape design of the EB-50s is encased by a ‘non-resonant military-spec aluminium body’. In order to further minimise internal vibrations the driver capsules, loaded with neodymium magnets, are enclosed in a multi-layer, anti-resonant material.
The EB-50s have a non-removable cable measuring around 1.2 metres with a 3.5mm gold-plated jack plug at the end. Another quality touch is the aluminium cable splitter which bears the serial number and MF EB-50 stamps. For those looking to use these with their smartphone, the in-line mic and mute button will come in handy. I like the neat touch of the attached cable tie which makes packing them away a cinch.
They are light but their size, where not uncomfortable, may remind you of their presence. I suppose that is the small trade-off for these earphones packing so much to prevent unwanted vibrations.
I have happily worn these IEM’s on my commute and then for hours at a time at my desk. I found the longer tipped, ridged caps to be the most comfortable for me and they also did a great job of blocking out most of the ambient sound from the office and tube. I wouldn’t recommend keeping them in if you plan to walk on the streets as someone could quite easily sneak up on you.
This is probably the most important part of the review as Musical Fidelity are pricing the EB-50 “superior performance ear-buds” at £150.
I am pleased to report that the audio output is excellent across a wide and varied choice of music.
I’ve had them plugged in to my PC, my iPhone 4 and my Hi-Fi and compared with other earphones the response whipes the floor with what I have tested previously (Beats by Dre, stock iPhone (but so do tin cans), Apple EarPods, Klipsch Image S4i, and Audio Technica ATH-CKS90).
Listening to Prince’s Pop Life (Fresh Dance Mix) demonstrated just how flat the response was. Everything could be heard without anything being over dominant or being hidden. The slap-funk bass was punchy without being muddied (as with more bass heavy earphones – yes Dre, I am looking at you) and the hi-hats and cymbal hits had a nice natural crispness to them.
The Package by A Perfect Circle and Massive Attack’s Angel proved to me that the EB-50s can handle low, dubby, bass lines without distorting or coming over as being too thin. They still allowed the vocals and other instruments room to breathe with the other purcussive effects on Angel coming through as atmospherically as you would expect.
Grace by Jeff Buckley had me locked in through Hallelujah, Last Goodbye and Lilac Wine. You get every nuance of Buckley’s vocals which, for me, gave the tracks a refreshed and emotional depth that I’ve not heard through earphones before.
There is a downside though – unless you have your iTunes library packed with lossless audio files such as FLAC or have ripped your CDs at 320kbs you may find some of your digital catalogue practically unlistenable as the EB-50s will highlight the tracks low quality.
I was really impressed by the stereo imaging with instruments and effects appearing to come from well outside the earphones. This not also helps the immersive effect but also makes the instruments easy to position just as the engineer and producer wanted them to be.
The sensitivity of the EB-50s means that you don’t have to have your dial turned up to 11. The clarity and sensitivity meant that I had to turn my music-makers down before slipping the earphones in.
Classing the Musical Fidelity EB-50s as in-ear monitors is actually warranted in my view as they add no discernible colouration to the music and they do squirt out the tunes across a flat frequency range as promised.
Vocals come across emotively whilst instruments were placed in their own space without having to jostle for position. This does not mean that they were detached either, far from it. The EB-50s are the closest that earphones have brought me to sitting in a studio control room listening to a mixed and mastered track.
Everything about these earphones points to high end and high quality as does the packaging.
The EB-50’s from Musical Fidelity offers a great sound for all your music – they are not cheap at £150 but you could also spend a lot more and still not got much better.
If you are wanting honest sound reproduction then upgrade your MP3s to higher bitrates or to lossless and enjoy exactly what the musicians wanted you to hear via these excellent
earbuds in-ear monitors.