For years, makers of headphones for portable devices aimed to make stereo phones that were both good sounding and inconspicuous.
The trade-off came at the expense of tone. These days, consumers have no qualms about wearing full-sized headphones in public, if not for the “serious music-lover” vibe it conveys then most certainly for the excellent tone that can be had from a proper set of phones equipped with large-diameter drivers.
Unfortunately, conventional headphones are usually designed for use in homes and studios, not for the knockabout world of suburban yard work and urban commuter trains. IFrogz, makers of digital audio accessories, has addressed this matter with its affordable EarPollution line, which includes several models of headsets as well as ear buds.
I recently checked out the Mogul and CS40S headphones to see how they do in the real-world environment of New York City’s mass-transit system. At just $39.99 retail, the CS40S is a perfect headset for anyone who wants to upgrade from cheap ear buds and headphones to something that not only sounds a world better but looks cool, too. The phones feature AeroFoam ear cushions that sit lightly on your ears for a very comfortable listening experience.
True to the name EarPollution, the CS40S blocks out a good deal of external noise. Inside each earpiece is a 40mm large-diameter driver that delivers extremely deep and smooth bass. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz, and you can really hear (and feel) those lower frequencies.
The highs also translate well, providing clarity and power without harshness. Sensitivity is a very impressive 116dB (+-3dB) at 1kHz, which is ideal for portables and results in plenty of volume, something that should please straphangers who find themselves in a car packed with school kids heading uptown for a field trip (not that I’m speaking from experience).
The low, 32-ohm impedance doesn’t allow for the most detailed sound, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for with a headphone for portables. That said, the CS40S was not lacking clarity or dimension and made everything sound big and dazzling. Headphones that rest on the ear don’t produce a large soundstage, but the CS40S have a nice open sound that belies their design.
The CS40S headphones have a 3.5mm plug and a durable medium-duty four-foot cable. They come in nine colors, including all black and all white, and feature EarPollution’s very cool and distinctive logo on each earpiece. The headband is fully adjustable to create a snug and secure fit, and the AeroFoam ear cushions and light weight make these phones very comfortable even for extended periods of use. Plus, the CS40S fold up to fit neatly in your bag. Given their sound, comfort, good fit and great looks, not to mention their low price, the CS40S are highly recommended for anyone that needs an excellent set of phones for their daily commute, or home or office.
If you want to take your listening experience to an even deeper level, check out iFrogz’s Mogul DJ-style headphones. With its larger earpieces, padded headband and thick Aeofoam ear cushions, the Mogul is some serious headwear, and it performs every bit as good as it looks. It has a 50mm driver to deliver bass that’s clear, detailed and distortion-free.
Frequency response goes off the charts, from 10Hz to 30kHz, and while you can’t hear frequencies at those extreme ends, the extended range contributes to harmonic richness and clarity. Like the CS40S, the Mogul has 116db sensitivity and 32 ohms impedance to deliver plenty of volume, as well as AeroFoam ear cushions, a fully adjustable headband, four-foot cable with 3.5mm plug, and foldable design.
The earpieces also have spring-loaded rotational hinges to make for a superior fit. The Mogul is available in three designs: blue/red, Snow Machine (white) and Stealth (black). And at $69.99, they look and sound like a much more expensive headphone.
CS40S, $39.99; Mogul, $69.99 For more information, visit iFrogz.com.