It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is putting out headphones these days, and far be it for Radio Shack to be left out in the cold. The electronics retailer is turning out a line of earphones sporting the brand name Auvio. The line includes a handful of models that range from the very cheap ($15) to the top-of-the-line In-Ear Armature headphones featured here. This set goes for a still-affordable $80, though it's practically impossible to recommend them over the comparatively priced. The Auvio In-Ear headphones just don't stack up in terms of sound quality, though we do appreciate the foam eartips and comfortable fit.
The Auvio In-Ear headphones are fairly standard in design--nothing about the look of the 'buds stands out, though that could be a positive for some. The earpieces are slightly tapered so they resemble miniature cupcakes with angled, oversize candles sticking out of the top for the sound ports. Onto these you can attach one of the six sets of eartips that come in the package. We definitely appreciate the fact that three of these arein various sizes. The compressible material tends to offer the most secure and comfortable fit as well as block out the most outside noise. In fact, passive sound isolation is perhaps the only area where the Auvio 'buds have the Image S4s beat.
Descending from the Auvio earpieces, which are available in two color options (black or blue)--is a black cord that measures 4 feet and terminates in a gold-plated straight plug. The cable is a bit of a mixed bag, actually. Although the longer bottom segment is impressively thick and flexible, the upper section is thin and the area that attaches to the 'buds seems weak. Only time will tell how these may hold up in the long run. On the plus side, there's a slider at the Y to help prevent tangles when the earphones are not in use, and the package includes a nice travel pouch with two compartments.
Sadly, our praise of the Auvio In-Ear Armature headphones ends there. Sound quality is just not up to snuff. While music playback isn't terrible, it's not on par with what we've come to expect in this price range. Namely, clarity is not great, with nearly all rock and other fast-paced songs suffering the most. Sounds tend to get mushed together in any tracks that have a lot of complexity--they come across sounding like a messy cacophony. We also noticed that some songs had a slightly muffled quality to them, and bass response was very mushy in most cases. And in fact, bass was not quite as deep as we'd like overall.
We can't say we're not disappointed with the Auvio In-Ear headphones--we always have high hopes for earphones in this price range, which is a bit of a sweet spot. Unfortunately, there's nothing here to set them above or even near the Image S4. The only upshot of the Auvios is the superior noise isolating capability.