This week I took a critical listen to two relatively high-end in ear monitors from Utah-based RBH Sound and England’s Bowers & Wilkins, both well known residential and commercial speaker manufacturers.
RBH Sound claims the EP1 earphones deliver “a wide sound stage free from outside noise and interruptions”. While I found the passive noise cancellation especially good once the earphones were properly inserted, the soundstage was far from expansive. The EP1s sport aluminum housings, a gold connector jack, and a not so tangle-free cloth cord. A sturdy protective carrying pouch with a cord clip, a set of Comply foam tips, and silicone cushions complete the package. The $149 dollar EP1s don’t feature a microphone or function controls but RBH Sound’s EP2 will offer those options — for $30 dollars more.
Just like their over-the-ear headphone cousins P3, P5 and P7, the C5 earphones from Bowers & Wilkins are sleek and stylish with a unique and modern design. They feature a proprietary cushioned loop that is designed to rest securely in the inner ridge of your ear instead of wrapping around the ear but I could never get a proper fit.
The C5s feature a tungsten design and a Micro Porous Filter, essentially hundreds of microscopic steel balls that act as a sonic diffuser to open up the sound and improve the listening experience. I found the tiny ball bearings did neither. The sound stage remained fairly closed but more open than that of the EP1s. The Bowers & Wilkins $179 dollar earphones have a microphone with basic function controls for music and calls, replacement silicone tips in various sizes (no foam cushions) and a small padded carrying case.