Headphones and Earphones
- Written by Robert Kozel
- Published on 30 August 2012
Introduction to the Paradigm SHIFT E3m In-Ear Headphones (Earbuds)
It was almost impossible to not notice the abundance of headphone products being shown at CES 2012 this past January. It seemed that everyone had a solution for enjoying personal audio devices from large, multi-colored over-the-ear and on-ear headphones to in-ear headphones and earbuds. Paradigm was showing their E-series in-ear headphones (earbuds) marketed under the Paradigm SHIFT™ brand which focuses on portable audio. Paradigm is well respected for their speaker designs and they have voiced the E-series to match the sound quality of their speakers. The E1 earbuds are voice matched to Paradigm's Monitor Series speakers. The E2m earbuds are voice matched to Paradigm's Studio Series speakers. The E3m earbuds, which I'll be covering in this review, are voice matched to Paradigm's high-end Signature Series speakers.
PARADIGM SHIFT E3M IN-EAR HEADPHONES (EARBUDS) SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: In-Ear Headphones (Earphones, Earbuds)
- Driver: One (in each earbud) 8-mm super-neodymium
- MFR: 8 Hz - 19 kHz
- Sensitivity: 105 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 18 Ohms
- Cable: 47.24" Tangle-resistant Cord
- Size of Bud: 3.5 mm
- MSRP: $129.99 USD
- Paradigm SHIFT
- Secrets Tags: Paradigm, Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones
Design of the Paradigm SHIFT E3m In-Ear Headphones (Earbuds)
The E3m earbuds come in a zippered travel-case with three sets of ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes to fit your ears. The E3m also come with an in-line microphone and push-button control that can be used to control your music player or answer calls, depending on the device you're connected to. The E3m come in a black or white finish with silver accents. Each of the earbuds is crafted from a single piece of CNC precision-machined aluminum.
The E3m cords are covered in a braided material, which helps minimize tangles. While I did manage to tangle the cords occasionally, they were thankfully pretty easy to disentangle. I listened to the E3m earbuds in a variety of settings including the local sandwich shop and my office. I had no problem hearing the music playing through the earbuds, and I was definitely not distracted by conversations and other noise around me. I took the E3m earbuds on a long hike one afternoon and was really delighted with how fast the time went. It was a lot of fun to enjoy the great outdoors, get some exercise, and listen to some awesome music along the way. I was very pleased that the E3m stayed in place and were pretty comfortable during extended wearing.
The sound from the E3m earbuds is outstanding, with exceptional clarity and a laid-back quality that makes them really addictive to listen to. The E3m aren't overly bright and I appreciated how much incredible detail I could hear in the music. It was really easy to make out individual instruments and subtle nuances in voices. The bass response was deep but not so much as to take away from the enjoyment of the music.
I only ran into one minor problem with the earbuds during my testing. After a couple of weeks of use, the small plastic cover on the 3.5 mm stereo-plug pulled off the connector leaving the earbuds still connected to my iPad. While not a big deal and something that can easily be fixed with some super glue, I would have liked to see the cover stay attached to the stereo plug.
As with all earphones, it is really easy to make these earbuds play very loudly; make sure you turn down the volume so you don't damage your hearing. They can also make hearing external sounds much more difficult, so make sure you don't use them anywhere where you need to be paying attention to your surroundings.
The bench test results are shown below.
At 20 Hz, there was less than 1.5% THD+N with an output of 90 dB.
At 1 kHz, THD+N was 0.39%.
IMD was only 0.02% which helps explain the detail in the sound.
The measured frequency response indicates a roll-off of the high frequencies which is a good thing since the high frequencies cause the most damage when headphones are played at excessive volumes.
A Rating Scale is shown below, where Five Red Dots = Excellent, Four Red Dots = Good, Three
Red Dots = Fair, Two Red Dots = Mediocre, and One Red Dot = Lousy.
For $129.99, the E3m offer excellent audio performance and let you enjoy the sound of the Paradigm Signature Series speakers anywhere you go.