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Headphones

XtremeMac FS1 High Definition

XtremeMac's FS1 High Definition Earphones are a more affordable alternative to Shure's E4cs.

XtremeMac FS1 High Definition Earphones

XtremeMac is a bit of a latecomer to the high-end earbud market, as Shure, Etymotics, and Ultimate Ears have all released several versions of their popular sound-isolating in-ear headphones. But don't discount XtremeMac's FS1 High Definition Earphones ($149.95). For starters, they're the product of an exclusive collaboration between iPod-accessories house XtremeMac and Future Sonics, a company that designs in-ear monitors for live musical acts. We tested the FS1s with a variety of music genres, from country and bluegrass to metal--even ambient. Each song sounded dynamic and crisp, with superb bass response.

The XtremeMac FS1s come with a variety of earbud fittings, since you need a proper seal and fit to get the best-quality sound and the most effective noise cancellation. In the box, XtremeMac includes a carrying case that can hold the headphones, the cord, and the provided fittings: rubber sleeves (three sizes), foam cups (two sizes), and plastic flanges (one set). We had the best sound experience with the smaller foam cups. Users should try on all the fittings to decide which one to use. The headphone cord measures about 43 inches, which is slightly longer than the cord for the headphones that come with the iPod.

As always with headphones, comfort is a huge issue. After testing the XtremeMac FS1s out for a week, we found that pairing the headphones with the foam cups gave us the most comfortable fit.

You should also consider the Shure E3c and Etymotics ER6 earbuds, which cost the same as the XtremeMac FS1s. All three provide stellar performance and will definitely add to your overall listening experience. But if you listen to music that's bass-heavy or low-end intense, the FS1s are the way to go.

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