Another day, another pair of ear buds. Or is it? Scosche, a company generally associated with iOS accessories, has started to produce high end headphones. So high in fact, that they now sell a pair of earbuds for $249.99. And those earbuds are the REALM IEM856md.
For the sake of transparency I’m not bananas about high end ears buds. It’s my position that ear buds are a great example of the law of diminishing returns. If you’re not familiar with that phrase let me explain. The law of diminishing returns simply means that the more you invest the less you’ll get out of something. Take for instance some of the most high end cars on the market today. To hack .5 seconds off of a Ferrari’s 0-60 time you might have to invest $50,000 in parts. But to reduce, say a Honda’s 0-60, it may just be as simple as tossing on a set of new tires for a few hundred buck. Really the philosophy can be applied to any aspect of life. In the case of headphones, a pair of $30 ear buds will probably suffice for most listeners, while a pair of $250 ear buds cater to a select number of folks that take great pride in audio quality. With that said, these ear buds are not designed for those who watch a movie using their TV’s built-in speakers. Nope, they’re geared to towards the audio enthusiast who can can detect the slightest of nuances in audio playback.
Inside these ear buds are not one but two sets of drivers: a 10.7mm driver for bass and 6.3mm balanced armature driver for delivering what the company calls accurate high and mid frequencies. This explains the rather long, and protruding style of the earbuds. Unfortunately, this didn’t play nicely with my ear canals, which as I’ve discovered, are reasonably shallow. As a result, I was unable to wear these buds for a prolonged period of time without them following out of my ears or causing me some sort of discomfort. And despite Scosche including a variety of hypoallergenic silcone ear cushions, none could match my ear’s obscure canals. In fact, the ZipBuds (2nd gen) fit my ears better, and those cost vastly less. Which is a shame, because the IEM856mds sound damn good.
In terms of sonic performance the IEM856md do a stellar job of reproducing accurate high, mids and lows. Timbre is one of those words that I try not to casually toss around when reviewing audio products, but Scosche has nailed it in this department. The subtle lows that I’ve never taken notice of on select tracks that I’ve listened to many times before, were suddenly present and filled my heart with added warmth. However, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was missing out on some of the bass that the IEM856mds had to offer as a result of my shallow ear canals. After all, with earbuds the bass is only as good as the seal. So again, make sure that your ears are designed to work with these ear buds.
Scosche has thought beyond the earbud itself. The cord, which measures 4.3ft, is flat, and prevents tangling from occuring, even when I wrapped it up and stuff it inside the included Thermoform case – which by the way features a mesh pocket for toting around the extra earbud cushions. In addition to the gold plated 3.5mm jack and an inline remote, bestowed with the name tapLINE III. This latter feature allows you to control music playback, volume and administer calls.
At the end of the day Scosche’s IEM856md produce a sonic performance fit for a king of audio snobiety. But a king it must be since these buds costs $249.99 and will only work with select ear canals.
Bottom Line: Great sounding ear buds, but they’re not built for all folks and are darn pricey to boot.
- Great sounding buds that accurately produce the full spectrum of sound
- Flat cord prevents tangling
- In-line controls with a built-in mic
- Expensive; $249.99
- Uncomfortable if you have shallow ear canals
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."