Deos' terrific-sounding $40 ear buds

Deos' in-ear headphones look fairly average, but sound pretty nice.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
The Deos headphones, with pink covers installed. Deos

I listen to a lot of products, trying to find above-average sounding ones to write about in this blog. So that means I hear a lot of awful-sounding gear, and as my readers know, the best stuff tends to be expensive. So when I find great-sounding, affordable products, like the Jolida JD301RC integrated amplifier and the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers I featured last weekend, I'm happy to give them enthusiastic reviews. The new Deos headphones go for just $40, and for that kind of money I think they sound pretty darn good.

I have to admit the Deos headphones didn't look terribly promising when I first took them out of the box. The black plastic earpieces were totally generic in design, though the headphones come with brightly colored Deos slip-on metal covers that jazz up the look.

Before I got to the Deos headphones, I listened to the ear buds that came with my iPod Classic. They're truly awful-sounding things; there's no bass and no highs, and Jakob Dylan's deep voice on his "Women and Country" album sounded like a tinny yelp. The Apple 'buds are comfy, and that's about the only nice thing I can say about them, other than they're "free."

The Deos totally transformed Dylan's sound, his deep tone was restored, and the album's soul-satisfying weight was back in full force. His tune "Lend a Hand" is accompanied by a New Orleans brass band, and the Deos gave the brass instruments their due, but the drums' cymbals lacked detail. I heard the same lack of high-frequency resolution on most recordings, but on the upside the Deos headphones did a fine job of hushing external noise on the New York subways. The headphones were also comfortable over long listening sessions.

The bassy balance was even more evident on Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest" album, and switching over to my Nox Audio Scout in-ear headphones ($80) brought more detail and life to the sound. It was easier to hear that the band's layered vocals are bathed in dense reverberation, but the Deos muddied the sound compared with what I heard from the Nox headphones. When I didn't compare the Deos to other headphones I enjoyed their sound, and they certainly never irritated or annoyed me. They were very easy to listen to for hours on end. The Deos headphones are compatible with iPhones and iPods, and have a built-in microphone.

The headphones are available now via the Deos Web site for $50 to raise money for Dance4Japan and Hands charities; otherwise they will retail for $40 at various retailers. Check the Web site for more information.