A new contender in the high-end earphone market has entered the ring: Sony's MDR-EX700 sound-isolating earphones (also known as the MDR-EX700LP). These slick black beasts have waltzed up the earphone warpath, shaking their £200 fists at Shure, Ultimate Ears, Etymotic and Denon, and they're on sale now.
Lightweight but sturdy cabling accompanies less conventional-looking earpieces. Compared to many earphones, the EX700's boast larger, circular enclosures. But their design is surprisingly unintrusive and a range of seven differently sized silicon tips ensure a snug fit in the ear canal without exerting too much pressure in the process.
And they're reasonable isolators, too. Okay, they don't block out noise as well as Shure's thick foam or Etymotic's triple-flanged approach, but they're well above average. iPhone users will be further pleased to hear they're also compatible with their phone's annoying recessed headphone socket.
One of the most interesting features of the EX700s is their claimed frequency response range of 4Hz-28,000Hz. To put this into context, Shure's flagships respond between 18-19,000Hz, s between 20-16,000Hz and Denon's deeply powerful s between 12-24,000Hz. Though many, many variables -- such as driver abilities, the seal in the ear canal and quality of recording -- make these figures purely promotional material unless proved to us otherwise.