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Moshi Keramo in-ear headphones review: Polished look, polished sound

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Moshi is probably better known for its stylish iPhone and iPad cases, but it also makes several different models of earphones with intriguing designs -- and names. The midrange Keramo model, which retails for $120, features sculpted ceramic earpieces that are not only eye-catching but feel more substantial than your typical in-ear headphones. And while their sound isn't exceptional for their price class, it's quite good, though their flatter sound profile probably won't appeal to you if you're looking for a more bass-heavy earphone.

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7.2

Moshi Keramo in-ear headphones

The Good

The polished ceramic finish of the <b>Moshi Keramo</b> in-ear headphones looks sleek and cool. The earphones deliver good, clean sound, come with a nice carrying case, and have an inline remote/mic for making cell phone calls.

The Bad

The bass may not quite be punchy enough for bass lovers.

The Bottom Line

The Moshi Keramo earphones offer good, detailed sound and an eye-catching design for a fairly reasonable price.

Design and features
The earpieces themselves have a glazed finish to them and they look like polished onyx. They're a little bigger and slightly weightier than some earpieces, but they fit comfortably and securely in my ears. The build quality seems good.

The Moshi Keramos feature ceramic earpieces. Sarah Tew/CNET

The cord isn't particularly thick but it is covered in cloth, which makes it less prone to tangling up -- or at least it's easier to untangle.

The earphones have a cloth-covered cord. Sarah Tew/CNET

An Apple-friendly inline remote/microphone is onboard for making calls, and the earphones come with a stylish case that holds each earpiece in its own little protective compartment. Like other earphones, this model comes with a few different-size silicone eartips. I went with the largest size to get a tight seal, which is imperative for achieving maximum bass out output.

The case is pretty swanky. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance
When I first put the Keramos in my ears I'd come from listening to a few pairs of full-size, over-the-ear headphones, as well as the bass-heavy V-Moda Remix Remote earphones, so the bass initially seemed a little slim. But as I played through my array of test tracks, I warmed up to their sound.

The inline remote/mic has a polished finish to match the earpieces. Sarah Tew/CNET

They have clean, very detailed sound, with good stereo separation. They're a touch bright (the treble has an ever-so-slight harsh edge) but overall they have a flat, balanced profile and work well with a variety of music. However, they just don't produce big, thumping bass, so they're going to be less desirable to folks who listen to a lot of hip-hop and techno.

For instance, on Swedish House Mafia's track "Don't You Worry Child," the lead vocalist's voice really jumps out at you -- he's very immediate and clear. But when the bass line kicks in, it feels a bit restrained. It's there, but lacks the big punch.

In short, if you if you like clean, detailed, and fairly accurate headphones, the Keramos should appeal to you. But bass lovers will probably be a little disappointed.

Case closed. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
I liked Moshi's Keramo in-ear headphones, though they're clearly not for everybody. They have a stylish, polished look, their ceramic design seems quite sturdy, and they're pretty fairly priced at $120 (they'd be a deal at $99, however). They also come with a nice carrying case and an inline remote and microphone for making cell phone calls.

For in-ear headphones they're pretty comfortable, though I think that due to their slightly larger size they'd fit folks with bigger ears a little better.

While I've said that bass lovers may be disappointed, that doesn't mean the Moshi Keramo headphones lack bass. It's just so many headphones and earphones these days boost the bass, so listeners have gotten used to bigger, boomier bass. The Keramos, in contrast, have a flatter profile and it's their detail, not their bass, that's more likely to jump out at you.

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7.2

Moshi Keramo in-ear headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7