I am not much of an audiophile. When I grab headphones, it is usually to walk the dog or run on a treadmill, and for the last several years my headphone rotation has been between whichever pair of apple earbuds are lying around, and a pair of wraparound headphones I am pretty sure I paid $9.99 for…in 2008. So it has been quite the eye-opening experience testing the Eers PCS-150, a pair of high-end headphones with a special twist.
What makes the Eers so special is that these are no ordinary earbuds. Instead, you use a special kit called the SonoFit system to custom fit the buds to your ears. The Eers buds get snapped into what looks like traditional over the head type earphones, and you fit them into your ears until they make a nice seal. Then wait 4 minutes, and boom, earbuds that are custom fitted to your personal ear size and shape. Magic!
Here’s how Eers describes the process, if you are looking for the technical details:
SonoFit™ is the engineering innovation and delivery system at the heart of Sonomax Technologies Inc.
Sonomax® bundles more than twelve patented technologies into a disposable fitting system that delivers a customized earpiece designed to seamlessly interface with any number of application modules such as earphones, hearing protection devices, Bluetooth™ headsets, hearing aids and other in-ear products.
Up until now, custom fitting required weeks of laboratory work. SonoFitTM by Sonomax® takes just minutes and requires only 3 easy steps.
SonoFit™ consists of a patented modular earpiece, a pair of inflation pumps and a medical grade silicone compound, all bundled neatly into a disposable headband.
Prior to customization, the earpiece fits comfortably in the smallest ears yet is large enough to house the electronics for most in-ear applications.
Its inner core consists of a hard molded plastic shell encased by a soft silicone bladder. The fitting also provides proper earpiece orientation during the four minute customization process.
Once the Eers are fitted, you have an amazing and immersive listening experience. When I wore these while walking the dog, I found that outside sounds were significantly muffled. This was nice when we were walking along the main street in town and there was a great deal of traffic in the road. It felt like it was farther removed than just next to the sidewalk. This is great if you are on the sidewalk walking with a large dog, but I don’t recommend running while wearing these. They shut out way too much outside noise, above and beyond normal headphones, and that is a major safety issue. However, on a treadmill (especially in a gym where bad music is playing/other people are chattering away) these would be fantastic.
Sound quality on the Eers is mind-blowing. Everything sounded great, and I realized I could turn the volume down and still hear cleanly and easily. Also, the audio is so clear I was able to better understand lyrics and hear nuances to songs that my crappy $10.00 headphones didn’t capture. I don’t listen to much music with deep bass, but the few songs that came up with bass sounded wonderful. Pandora sounded great, as did locally stored music.
Where I had some minor sound issues were in phone conversations. I had to adjust the volume to hear better, and the person on the other end said I sounded very muffled at first. I adjusted the microphone closer to my throat, and that apparently improved the sound on their end. To be fair, it was a very windy day, so that probably contributed to the issues, but an easy fix would be to run the headphone wire under your jacket or shirt, thus securing the mike closer to your throat. If the wire is loose, the mike isn’t as close and you get the muffled effect.
My favorite, absolute favorite part of the Eers is definitely their fit. Not only is it personalized to my ears, but once they are in, they are in until I actively remove them. The buds have a hook that fits around your ears, and it works perfectly as a fail safe if the headphone cord gets yanked while they are in your ears. As I said, I wore these while walking my dog. It is nearly impossible to wear headphones while walking a 100lb Labrador and not get tangled in them at some point. I blame the squirrels that love to taunt my dog regularly. In any case, no amount of yanking, tangling or pulling dislodged the Eers. At all. The worst that happened was the tight sound proof seal would come loose, but not enough to alter the sound quality or move the earbuds out of my ear. Amazing. This is another reason why the Eers are a great treadmill choice, since an errant arm wave won’t suddenly stop the music in the middle of a hard workout.
I really love the Eers, but there are two drawbacks. One, these seal your ears with in-ear buds. Right in the Eers manual they warn you if you have ear problems to be careful with the fitting process, since you need to be careful about creating a tight seal. Also, they warn to be careful during takeoff and landing on an airplane, and recommend keeping them in a bit looser, so there’s no seal. This is to avoid pressure buildup that can lead to unpleasant things like perforated eardrums. Having experienced one of these (due to a sinus infection, not earbuds) I can tell you that it’s not fun and you don’t want one. However, despite a history of ear issues and earaches, I have experienced no ear related issues from using the Eers, so just keep the warnings in mind if you find yourself in pressure changing situations.
The second drawback is more universal. And I am ashamed to admit, Sarah pointed it out to me, and it didn’t even cross my mind until she did. See, I was super excited to show her how the fitting process worked, and now cool it was that this system created custom fitted earbuds. Her first response: “Wow, those look cool. But all that packaging was just for these tiny little earbuds?” And you know what? She’s right. The system is great. But it is a ton of packing material and plastic that has to get thrown out after 10 minutes of use, and it feels very wasteful. I know the over the head fitting system is necessary to achieve a custom fit, but the box is huge. It would not look as fancy, but a much smaller recyclable plastic package would still deliver everything, but significantly reduce the overall waste footprint of the product.
If you are a fan of earbud-style headphones, and want a high quality listening experience, the Eers PCS-150 is a home run. The fit is amazing, comfortable, and stable, and the sound quality is fantastic. Just please, be safe and don’t wear them in an area where you need to be 100% aware of your surroundings, as they will definitely envelope you in your own little musical world!
MSRP: $199.99 from Eers
What I liked: Sound quality is fantastic; fit is customized easily; in-line microphone makes it easy to take calls while enjoying music; buds don’t budge when pulled, tugged, or tangled; durable and attractive carrying case included
What Needs Improvement: Wasteful amount of packaging for the final product