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Another day, another pair of earbuds. 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 another pair of high-quality headphones, you might be interested in the Yamaha EPH-M200 review or the Panasonic open-ear bone conduction headphones, too. Or take a look at the best earbuds for an even wider selection.
For the sake of transparency, I’m not bananas about high-end ears buds. It’s my position that earbuds 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 bucks. Really the philosophy can be applied to any aspect of life. In the case of headphones, a pair of $30 earbuds will probably suffice for most listeners, while a pair of $250 earbuds cater to a select number of folks that take great pride in audio quality. With that said, these earbuds are not designed for those who watch a movie using their TV’s built-in speakers. Nope, they’re geared towards the audio enthusiast who can detect the slightest of nuances in audio playback.
Related: For great sound and build quality, check out our Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless review.
Inside these earbuds are not one but two sets of drivers: a 10.7mm driver for bass and a 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 time without them following out of my ears or causing me some sort of discomfort. And despite Scosche including a variety of hypoallergenic silicone 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. This is a shame, because the IEM856mds sound damn good.
Related: If you like these earbuds, also check out our RHA T20 in-ear headphones review.
In terms of sonic performance, the IEM856md does 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 earbuds buds.
Scosche has thought beyond the earbud itself. The cord, which measures 4.3ft, is flat and prevents tangling from occurring, which is much like the Jays A-Jays four earbuds. 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, a gold-plated plated 3.5mm jack and an inline remote, are bestowed with tapLINE III. This latter feature allows you to control music playback, volume, and administer calls.
At the end of, the day Scosche’s IEproducesproduce a sonic performance fit for a king of audio snobbery. But a king it must be since these buds cost $249.99, much more than the dB Logic EP 100 earbud, and will only work with select ear canals.
Bottom Line: Great-sounding earbuds, but they’re not built for all folks and are darn pricey to boot.