Reviews: Audio

Excellent sound quality when used with mobile music device

Between these two from Pioneer, the cheaper SE-CH5T (left) sounds impressive for earphones at its price point. The wider frequency range of the SE-CH9T produces clearer high notes and more overall detail. .
Between these two from Pioneer, the cheaper SE-CH5T (left) sounds impressive for earphones at its price point. The wider frequency range of the SE-CH9T produces clearer high notes and more overall detail. .PHOTOS: PIONEER

Audio brand Pioneer's latest in-ear monitors are perfect for the enthusiasts who listen to music from their mobile phone or iPod, such as through a music streaming service or from mp3 files.

The SE-CH5T and SE-CH9T earphones are tailored for mobile use, and produce excellent sound quality when paired with a mobile music device.

Best of all, they are both reasonably priced for the sound quality they put out. The cheaper SE-CH5T costs $88 while its pricier sibling will set you back $169.

Both earphones have the same over-ear design, along with sturdy-feeling braided cable.

One difference between the two earphones is the wider frequency range of the SE-CH9T, which thus produces clearer high notes and more overall detail.

The more expensive option also comes with detachable MMCX connectors, which allow you to replace just the cable should it get damaged rather than buying a new pair of earphones.

For most consumers, it's hard to go wrong with the cheaper SE-CH5T, as it sounds impressive for earphones at its price point.

There is a distinct warmness to them. The earphones have a nice bassy sound signature that's not too overpowering or imposing, making them suitable for a wide range of popular mainstream genres from rock to electronic dance music.

  • TECH SPECS
    SE-CH5T/SE-CH9T

    PRICE: $88/$169

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 9.7mm/same

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 8Hz - 45kHz/5Hz - 50kHz

    WEIGHT: 7g (without cable)/same

    RATING: CH5T - CH9T

    FEATURES: 4/5 - 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5 - 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5 - 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5 - 4/5

    OVERALL: 5/5 - 4/5

The bass is tight, although it is not as resounding or emphatic as it could be. The highs on the SE-CH5T also tend to be a little muffled and less detailed than its more expensive counterpart, but are nevertheless still clear enough so they never sound dull or weak.

Those getting the SE-CH9T can expect greater clarity, detail and better treble performance. But the differences are subtle, so those who readily identify themselves as being content with generally good sound quality should just opt for the cheaper one.

The SE-CH9T's general sound quality is much clearer and not as warm, which will suit those who prefer a cleaner, more accurate sound reproduction.

The bass is tighter and more fleshed out as well, but the main improvements are in the higher notes. Treble notes are clearer and stand out more, giving songs a more balanced feel.

Both earphones will sound great powered from a mobile device, and can get pretty loud for their size when the volume is cranked up.

Sound isolation is similar as well, as they both fit quite snugly in the ears and don't allow for much leakage. I found the smaller SE-CH5T more comfortable, as they are able to fit better in my ears.

•Verdict: Both earphones are great budget choices for the casual everyday music lover. The cheaper SE-CH5T pushes out sound quality that is above its price point, while those who want slightly more detail, clarity and shimmering peaks should opt for the SE-CH9T.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Excellent sound quality when used with mobile music device'. Print Edition | Subscribe