Audio Reviews: Vortex Pro Earphones & Wicked Audio X-Ray Yankee Zulu

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Wicked Audio X-Ray Yankee Zulu Headphones

After this review, I may hang up the audio headphone/earphone reviews for a while as I’m running out of adjectives for the products and many of them are so similar. In my last article, I reviewed Urbanears, V-Modo Crossfade LP2, and Scosche Ear Monitors and previously covered products from PureGear and Soul.

The top of the line products are the Soul and the V-Modo Crossfade headphones. They’ll cost at least $200 to start and sometimes more, depending on what model you want. I love my Crossfades but I’d never recommend those for kids because of the high price.

But along with being hard on headphones, my kids are picky about earphones and just don’t like the feel of them in their ears. So far, out of everything I’ve reviewed, I’d recommend the Urbanears and the Wicked Audio X-Ray Zulu headphones pictured above. The reasons for this are durability and price. The Urbanears are going strong after about six months, which is a record for my youngest daughter. My youngest son thinks his new X-Ray Yankee Zulu heaphones are “cool” and comfortable. A Google search yielded prices in the $20-$30 range, making it an excellent buy for the sound quality.

The Urbanears will run about $60, so they’re more expensive than the Wicked Audio products but the Urbanears have a nylon cord, whereas the Wicked Audio cord is a basic plastic-type cover around the wires. I find those tend to break more easily so it would be worth the extra amount for the Urbanears.

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Vortex Pro earphones

The Vortex Pro earphones, made for the iPod, iPhone, iPad, are not something I’ll give to my kids either. Priced at $150, they are designed for audiophiles rather than for the daily wear and tear younger children impose on their stuff.

The makers of the Vortex Pro, Moshi Audio, advertise them as having “ultra high definition XR9 drivers with extended range (10 Hz-22kHz /-10dB@1kHz)” and have what Moshi calls a “RigidBody steel alloy construction.” The earphones also have a braided cable and a microphone. I’d say this is on the same level of my Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, priced at $79 in the Apple store.

The Vortex Pro is a stylish product and comes with three different sizes of silicone ear tips as well as a set of memory-foam ear tips to customize fit. The package also includes a custom silicone carrying case for easy storage and retrieval.

As I’m the cost-conscious one in the household, the question I always ask myself after I receive a review copy is “Would I pay for these or are they only fun because I received them for review?”

The Vortex Pro carrying case.

In this case, spending more for the Vortex Pro depends on how well-developed your music ear is. There is a difference in sound quality. The Vortex Pro is superior to the PureGear, Apple, and about the same level as the Scosche in-ear monitors. I like the carrying case that prevents wires from tangling, a problem I have with the Apple product. Those wires are forever becoming tangled, especially if I take it to the gym. The Vortex Pro product is much easier to transport.

I did have one nitpick with the Vortex Pro after working out at the YMCA. Because the earbuds are sturdy and encased in steel alloy, they’re a bit heavy. When I used the elliptical machines, the earbuds stayed in place but they started to slide a bit when I started running on the treadmill. Runners might want to stay with something lighter.

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