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Unsound Design

I'm not a fan of earbuds. The darn things never fit snuggly inside my ears, even when I'm sitting perfectly still. Maybe my ear holes are grotesquely misshapen. I don't know. But what I do know is that Shure Inc.'s new SE530PTH earphones, in some ways, give earbuds a good name.

Not only do the company's sleek, reflective metallic buds look stylish, but they also stay inside your ears, even with a moderate range of movement. This has to do with the -rubber-tipped earphones that wedge inside the ear canal, rather than resting on the outer ear like Apple's signature -white earbuds.

Still, these earphones weren't made for walking--or running or jumping for that matter. Like most earbuds, excessive movement jostles them out of place. Besides comfort, the real appeal of the SE530PTH earphones is their superior sound quality. Amped with three speakers in each earpiece, you can hear every strum and tap the artist intended. And thanks to the superior bass quality, you can actually feel Keith Moon's foot pedal beating your brain when you listen to "Baba O'Riley."

The earbuds also boast sound isolation capabilities. Rather than canceling out exterior sound using additional technology, which can taint audio quality, the earphones plug the ear canal, naturally blocking most background noise.

There's also an additional feature called Push-To-Hear Control (PTH). With the flick of a switch, this technology allows users to muffle music and hear the outside world. But because it takes the same effort to pause a portable audio device, the feature doesn't add much.

The other problem with the PTH function is that it is connected to the earphone's cord extension. Measuring in at 3 feet, the cord extension is frustratingly long. But without the extension, the standard cord only measures 18 inches, not nearly enough to stretch from pant pocket to ear.

In all the SE530PTH earphones provide stellar audio quality. But with an unnecessarily long cord and the need for frequent readjustment, they aren't worth the $499.99 asking price.

Technology Editor

Keith Ecker

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