Imaging and soundstaging through the Medis was more precise than through the Bagis, Paradigm Shift E1s, or Ultimate Ears UE200s. The soundstage width approached what I’m used to hearing from an open-back headphone, such as an AKG K-701. Although the Medis weren’t able to define edges or recreate depth as well as the full-size Sennheiser HD-600 headphones, the Medis did put the instruments in almost exactly the same locations in space.
Due, in part, to their high sensitivity and relatively large diaphragms for an earbud, dynamics, especially midrange dynamics, are quite lively. Bass dynamics are a function of fit—the more bass you have, the more lower frequency dynamics you’ll have as well. But unless you wear a skullcap that’s several sizes too small, I doubt you’ll ever get the amount of bass energy and contrast generated by the Velodyne vPulse or Paradigm Shift E1 earphones.
On Andrea Wittgens “Punchline” from In the Skyline [Trapdoor Music] the Medis do an excellent job retaining most of the air and upper frequency delicacy on the synthesizer “bells” at the beginning of the tune. Wittgen’s voice sounded slightly drier and lighter than absolutely neutral and the lower regions of her piano don’t have nearly as much weight as I would have liked. Decipherability was well above average for an earbud at this price, meaning that the intertwining piano and synthesizer lines remained distinct and easy to identify.
Listening to Ben Zander’s rendition of Mahler’s 4th Symphony on Telarc, I appreciated the Medis’ ability to remain unflustered even during the forte passages. I was especially impressed by how the Medis retained inner detail in the string section. All of the subtle shadings and inflections of Camila Tillings’ soprano soloist performance were retained. Yes, I would have preferred somewhat more push and impact from the tympani and string bass section, but the Medis’ surprisingly articulate midrange partially makes up for the lack of lower frequency information and drive.
B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel” from the classic release Live at the Regal [MCA] demonstrated the Medis’ imaging ability. B.B.’s voice came from dead center, the piano and drums were hard left, and Lucille and the horn section are hard right. The only other sounds in the center besides B.B.’s voice were the crowd walla and the electric bass. Through the Medis the crowd comments and applause were much more apparent than through the Paradigm Shift E1s or Velodyne vPulses. The Medis resolution and detail retention reminded me of the much more costly full-size AKG K-701 headphones.
Consider this product if:
• You need an earbud that has (almost) no noise isolation; the Medis lets you hear music while maintaining “situational awareness” of external sounds.
• You want an earbud precisely because it doesn’t protrude into your ear canal, but rather fits comfortably (and securely) in your outer ear.
• You prefer an earbud with excellent midrange clarity.
Look further if:
• You need an earbud with a multitude of fit options.
• You prefer an earbud with a big bottom end.
• You need an earbud the supplies active noise cancellation or high levels isolation (for better isolation, consider Urbanears' Bagis earphone).
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced earbuds and earphones)
• Tonal Balance: 8
• Frequency Extremes: 7(Bass)/8(Treble)
• Clarity: 8
• Dynamics: 8
• Comfort/Fit: 8
• Sensitivity: 9
• Value: 8
I do most of my exercising inside where I need an earphone that delivers as much isolation as possible. For my purposes the Medis are the wrong earphone. But if I ever needed an earphone to go for a run, jump on a bike, or take a long walk, the Medis would be the first earphone I’d grab on my way out the door.
Urbanears Medis Earbud/Headset
Drivers: 15.4mm, hand-assembled
Sensitivity: 115 dB
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20kHz
Cord: 47” (120 CM) cord
Plug: 3.5 mm iPod/Blackberry/HTC compatible tip
Warranty: one year
Price: $50 list, $42 street
011 +46 730 355543 (Stockholm, Sweden)