iPhone Software 3.0 Is Finally Here

After waiting forever for the cool features such as copy-and-paste, Spotlight Search, and so much more, it’s finally here. Apple has released software version 3.0 for the iPhones which open up some cool new features. You can read “How To Use The Best 40 Features of iPhone 3.0” by ismashphone.com to get an idea of all the new features and how to use them. Definitely worth upgrading. Unfortunately not everything is supported by AT&T here in the US such as teethering where you can connect you iPhone to your laptop and access the web, but there are still a lot of features we can take advantage of in the meantime. I’m updating my iPhone 3G as we speak.

Shure E2C-N, premium ear buds: An In Depth Review

The set of ear buds that you receive packaged with the Apple iPhone leaves things to be desired for sounds quality and comfort. So not long after getting the iPhone, I began looking for a great pair of ear buds; something that produced clear, crisp, and natural highs and mids and good solid deep lows. I’ve read quite a number of reviews on the Shure and they seem to be a popular choice.

It’s not easy to find good ear buds that also work with the iPhone because of the recessed headphone jack. Unfortunately the Shure E2C-N are not “iPhone compatible”. You can use the Shure with the iPhone, but the ear bud jack has to be inserted a certain way. This makes it a pain-in-the-ass to use because if you accidentally touch the jack, you lose sound because the contacts lose connection. To fix this, you have to strip off some of the excess plastic covering around the jack.

Build Quality

shure-e2c-n-apple-iphoneI purchased the Shure E2C-N at an AT&T store for $99. The first thing I noticed about the Shure E2C-N is how well built these ear buds are. The wires are twice as thick as the stock iPhone ear buds. Even the Shure drivers are almost twice as big as the Apple’s! From feel alone, you can definitely tell where some of the $99 goes towards.

While the wires are nice and hefty, they are a bit on the long side. I’m 5 feet 8 inches and I wear my iPhone at my belt and I found I had to put a good 2 inches of wire into my pocket to keep it from dangling in front of me. Many people would agree that the Apple ear buds are just about perfect length, just long enough to keep the wire from dangling everywhere.

Another major drawback with the E2C-N is the lack of a hands free microphone that comes standard with the Apple iPhone ear buds. Some people may not use the hands free, but I find it incredible convenient when I’m listening to music and someone calls; I can take the call and then go back to listening to my music, all without taking off my ear buds.

Comfort and Fit

If you have never worn in-ear ear buds before (I never had), it takes a bit getting used to. The idea of sticking some plastic and rubber deep into your ear canal is a bit unnerving. But to truly effective and “sound-isolating”, it has to tightly close off the ear canal so that nothing interferes with the sound and you hearing it.

shure-e2c-n-apple-iphone.jpgPutting the Shure EC2-N on isn’t as quick or easy as the stock Apple ear buds; you don’t just stick it in the opening of your ear. The Shure goes on a specific way; first the inner ear tube and then the driver follows behind to create an additional seal. I highly recommend that you use the smallest available foam coverings on the ear tube first, as in most cases you’ll find it is the optimal fit.

Long term wear is definitely very uncomfortable. I found I was getting headaches because the Shure was putting pressure on my inner ear and it made it very difficult to enjoy the music. I also noticed a higher level of ear wax buildup when wearing the Shures.

Another thing worth mentioning is something that has been brought up numerous of times: the rubbing sound. Because the wires are thick and the ear buds provide such a high level of sound isolation, when you walk or run the wires rubbing against your shirt cause a vibration sound that can get quite annoying quite quickly. There is no real way to remedy this problem other than to minimize the wires from rubbing against your clothes. This is the same idea behind using two Styrofoam cups tied together with a string end to end. When you pull it tight and talk into one Styrofoam cup, the other person with the other Styrofoam can hear you.

One last quip I have about the ear bud jacks is the way the jack is shaped: L shaped rather than straight. It may not bother many people, but it does bother me.

Sound Quality

The Shure E2C-N sound amazing. The mids and highs sound lifelike, but the lows leave something to be desired. I tried adjusting bass boost on the iPhone’s EQ but that didn’t help much. The sound isolation works very, very well. I commuteshure-e2c-n-apple-iphone2.jpg via BART (underground subway) and the echo sound of the train flying through the subway tunnels makes it difficult to concentrate. With the Shure E2C-N, outside noises are “canceled” by at least 40%. Keep in mind that sound isolating is completely different from noise cancellation. Noise cancellation technology uses software to block unwanted sounds and in some cases, introduce additional “artifacts”, such as buzzing, to your music.

The Shure E2C-N are great if you primarily listen to vocal, acoustic, or classical music. You’ll be sorely disappointed if you listen to rock and rap with these ear buds.

Recommendation

Are the Shure E2C-N worth it? Yes and no, it depends. The sound quality is great but lacking in bass. It isolates a lot of outside noises but is very uncomfortable to wear for short of long periods of time. The build quality is excellent, but the ear bud jack doesn’t fit correctly with the iPhone, but will work great with the iPods.

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