I tried these $99 wired earbuds and they're perfect for audiophiles

 EarFun EH100 wired in-ears being worn by reviewer.
EarFun EH100 wired in-ears being worn by reviewer.

As one of the best wireless earbuds, I love Apple's AirPods Pro 2 for their serviceability, be it flawless “Hey Siri” voice activation, instant connectivity to iOS/MacOS devices, or simple audio personalization. I can also acknowledge something that some other critics won’t: their impressive audio quality, which is highlighted by an extended soundstage wider and more articulate than previous AirPods releases.

But every now and then, I place Apple’s long-stem buds back in their smart charging case and pull out a pair of audiophile wired earbuds to bask in a more refined listening experience. Something that easily plugs in to my MacBook Pro’s aux port and fulfills my music listening needs. My current go-to pair of wired earbuds just happens to be the EarFun EH100 — $99 from the EarFun store.

EarFun EH100: $99 @ EarFun
EarFun's EH100 in-ear monitors leave Apple's AirPods in the dust. They feature dual dynamic drivers for bass and midranges, with a custom balanced armature (BA) driver for high frequencies, as well as swappable tuning nozzles, each designed to vary the sound signature.
Price check: $99 @ AmazonView Deal

These wired in-ears pump out fine audio that blow Apple’s soundstage away.

These in-ear monitors come equipped with powerful specs that pump out some of the finest audio and blow Apple’s soundstage out of the water. I anticipated better sonic presentation, but not at an audiophile level, especially for $99. Nonetheless, that’s what arrived at my door, and I’m completely grateful for the audio upgrade, which has filled my audio appetite in many ways and persuaded me to stick with wired earbuds until the next best true wireless creation comes along. Here’s why.

EarFun EH100: Dynamic sound design

EarFun EH100 with DAC plugged into a MacBook
EarFun EH100 with DAC plugged into a MacBook

The EH100 house exceptional audio specs underneath a zinalium alloy shell that provides extreme durability and gives the buds a more lavish appearance than their low price suggests. EarFun’s triple driver hybrid architecture consists of a 10mm bio-diaphragm and 6.8mm liquid crystal diaphragm dynamic coils that expose more detail in music tracks. Throw in a custom balanced armature driver for extended high frequency detail and Hi-Res Audio certification to deliver every detail in recordings, and you have the makings of a bargain audiophile model.

After multiple listens trying out many of the best music streaming services, I am convinced that the EH100 are a far greater audio solution than the AirPods in lots of ways. Bass was stronger, but not excessive, giving just enough room to fully consume mids and highs, alongside impactful lows. The monstrous bongo drum break on Nas’ “Made You Look” pounded my eardrums with veracity, and never distorted the soundstage. Other upbeat tracks like the Jonas Brothers’ “Waffle House” featured articulate vocals and pleasant reverb, courtesy of the vibrant electric piano keys. All these effects were diminished on the AirPods Pro 2.

I am convinced that the EarFun EH100 are a far greater audio solution than the AirPods in lots of ways.

These buds claim a frequency range that reaches up to 40kHz. That's way beyond the realms of human hearing, but nevertheless I picked up on notes and nuances that would normally go unnoticed on the AirPods and some of the best wireless headphones.

Apple Music now offers three tiers of high-quality audio: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). The big issue is that no AirPods model supports lossless streaming. Wired headphones and a portable DAC are required to enjoy this feature. Well, EarFun launched a partnering $99 DAC (the UA100) that increases fidelity when paired with the EH100 or other wired earbuds. Purchasing both EarFun products comes out cheaper than the AirPods Pro 2 at full price ($249) and gives you true lossless sound on Apple Music.

EarFun EH100: Tuning nozzles to customize sound

EarFun E100 close up worn by reviewer connected to a smart phone
EarFun E100 close up worn by reviewer connected to a smart phone

Wired earbuds don’t come with control apps that support sound customization tools such as EQs, presets, and spatial audio. However, IEMs like the EH100 come bundled with swappable tuning nozzles, each designed to vary the sound signature.

The ambient nozzle accentuates sub- and mid-bass, bringing more oomph to the low end. Sound has more punch to it on contemporary tracks and blends well with other frequencies. Reverb comes on stronger without compromising other elements or vocals. More importantly, the nozzle gives bass a more natural presence, which can often sound artificial or heavily compressed when toying with EQs or presets.

As terrific as the ambient nozzle performed, I preferred the balanced nozzle since it stabilized frequency range. A nice mix of impactful lows, crisp mids, and smooth treble channeled through the drivers. This level of tuning complements most music genres, which was relieving since it didn’t require manually adjusting the EQ to achieve the proper sound signature for every track.

The AirPods Pro 2 are well engineered, and spatial audio is a game-changer that creates a more immersive listening environment, though Apple’s buds lack the EH100’s imaging and resolution.

EarFun EH100: Zero latency

AirPods operate superbly across all Apple devices: iPad, iPhone, Mac/MacBook, and even the iPod Touch. It’s rare to encounter any latency when listening to music wirelessly. That same performance doesn’t carry over to Android or Windows devices.

Wired connections don’t require additional steps (e.g., encoding/decoding transmission) or compression, and deliver the sound exactly as it was intended to be heard. Therefore, you’re getting lag-less audio that produces more data over Bluetooth.

The EH100 played music and movies without a hitch. There was a noticeable boost in playback compared to the AirPods; the EH100 instantly played and transitioned between tracks, and sound quality was superior to the AirPods in every way.

EarFun EH100: Are wires still better than wireless?

EarFun EH100 earbuds with eartips removed on a wooden table
EarFun EH100 earbuds with eartips removed on a wooden table

Wireless earbuds are favorable because of their practicality. These tiny cordless in-ears come bundled with a compact charging case and are a convenient everyday carry item. You never have to worry about getting them tangled or snag them on an object. Features are bountiful on many of the latest releases. Sound is both adequate and customizable, depending on the model, and pricing is competitive.

Meanwhile, wired earbuds deliver a far more accurate sound with uncompressed audio signals as well as a more dependable connection and zero battery-life issues. They’re just as affordable and portable. Compatibility is wider too; you can use them with any media device supporting an aux or USB-C port.

I’m still compelled to run with the AirPods Pro 2 on an average day because of their seamless performance with Apple devices, many of which I own and rely on for work. However, the Earbuds EH100 are my new go-to when I want prime sound. The low MSRP also make them widely appealing for bargain consumers wanting audiophile-grade buds on a budget.

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