Audio forms an integral part of our life — we all listen to music, watch movies, and binge on TV shows on our smartphones for hours at a time. However, it tends to be the most ignored part of the multimedia experience. People tend to to pair their expensive smartphones with either any old (and mediocre) pair of earphones, or the ones that come in the box. There is a misconception that good earphones cost a lot — which is simply not true. There are many earphones out there which punch above their weight and deliver exceptional audio quality for not much money. Here are our picks for the best earphones under Rs. 2,000 which offer a great blend of audio quality, comfort, and features.
Fiio F1 and Fiio F3
From being a relatively unknown Chinese brand a few years ago, Fiio has rapidly become a force to be reckoned with in the audiophile world. The Fiio F1 and Fiio F3 are the cheapest earphones in Fiio’s famed line-up and come with a three-button remote with mic, three pairs of silicone ear tips, and a carrying case. Out of the two, the Fiio F1 have a more neutral sound signature with punchy lows, crisp highs, and fairly respectable mids. The Fiio F3 on the other have a V-shaped signature with more emphasis on bass and highs. They are geared more towards popular genres like pop, R&B, and Bollywood.
The Fiio F3 are available at Rs. 1,590 and the Fiio F1 retail at Rs. 1,190. Both can be purchased from Fiio’s official website as well as other online retailers such as Headphone Zone.
SoundMagic ES 18S
The cheapest earphones in the list, the SoundMagic ES18S are a stellar option for those on a very tight budget. They are the perfect upgrade from the terrible earphones that come bundled with most smartphones.
At just Rs 800, the ES 18S come with a single button remote with mic, a tangle-free cord, decent build quality, and extremely respectable sound quality. The sound signature definitely skews towards the lows and the highs — but the mids are quite respectable and the bass is punchy but not overblown. They are available via Amazon India.
RHA MA 390
Simply put, the RHA MA 390 are one of the best budget earphones in the market. Not only do they sound absolutely incredible for their price, they also look and feel premium thanks to their solid aluminium construction and tangle-free braided cable. Unlike many bass-heavy budget offerings, the MA 390 have a fairly neutral sound signature with expressive mids and crisp highs. This doesn’t mean bass is lacking — the lows are punchy enough to appease most bass lovers, but thankfully the rest of the frequencies aren’t drowned out.
The MA 390 also have a single button remote with microphone for playback control and handsfree calling. They ship with a wide variety of silicon ear tips, a shirt clip, and a carrying pouch — they are available online at Rs 1,999.
The SoundMagic E10 C are critically acclaimed and for good reason — they are extremely comfortable, sound crisp, clear, and detailed and have a three-button remote with mic which is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. The fact that the earpieces are made out of metal is just icing on the cake.
However, the sound signature is not neutral — bass can be a bit too dominant for some — and the cable quality is a letdown. The SoundMagic E10C are available for around Rs 1,600 online and come with a carrying case, a shirt clip, and six varieties of silicon ear tips.
Sennheiser CX 1.00
With a street price of around Rs 1,700, the Sennhesier CX 1.00 have the best price to performance ratio in the German company’s earphone line-up. Just like the Fiio F3, they have a V-shaped sound signature with emphasis on bass and treble. With punchy and controlled lows, the CX 1.00 are a great buy for bass lovers on a budget.
The Sennheiser CX 1.00 come with 4 sizes of silicone ear tips, a 1.2mm symmetrical cable, and a right angled headphone jack. They are tuned towards mainstream genres like pop, R&B, EDM, and Bollywood. Those looking for neutral sounding earphones will be better served by the likes of the Fiio F1 and RHA MA 390 as the Sennheiser CX 1.00 tend to suppress the mids a little bit.
Sennheiser CX 1.00 are available via Amazon.
1More Piston Classic
In a relatively short space of time, 1More audio’s budget friendly in-ear earphones have captured the attention of audiophiles all over the world. Known primarily for its critically acclaimed Triple Driver earphones, the company has more affordable offerings in their line-up as well that offer exceptional value for money.
With a kevlar fibre cable, a three-button remote with mic, and earpieces made out of aluminium, the 1More Piston Classic punch above their weight when it comes to design and durability. They come with three sizes of silicon ear tips and a nifty carrying case.
The Piston Classics are great for bass lovers as they tend to emphasise the lows and highs at the expense of the mids — which are decent but ever so slightly recessed. The earphones are available for around Rs 1,500 online.
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