When it comes to listening to music using headphones, on-ear or over-ear cans are my thing. I’m not a fan of earbuds. They never seem to fit quite right and always feel as though they’re on the verge of falling out. I don’t like contact lenses either, so maybe it boils down to just an aversion against poking stuff directly at sensory organs. Anyway, Puro Sound Labs asked if I would try out their new IEM-500 In-Ear Monitors–earbuds, in other words. Puro is the company behind the excellent BT2200 Bluetooth headphones I reviewed earlier this year, and, based on how good those were, I figured that if anyone is going to make a pair of earbuds I like, it’s these guys.
Out of the box, they are very attractive, with the knurled metal adding a very premium look. In fact, they look pretty good in the box as well, nestled snugly in laser cut foam.
Puro IEM-500 In-Ear Monitors Key Specs:
• Phase optimized, dual dynamic drivers in each channel (5.8 mm Titanium tweeter and 8 mm woofer)
• Ambient noise attenuation 94% at 1 kHz
• 106 dB output
• Dynamic range 20Hz – 20kHZ with <1% THD
• Aluminum and high quality plastic construction
• TPE cable to eliminate noise when brushing against clothing
• Inline microphone with one-button remote (iOS and Android compatible)
• Includes protective sock and 5 pairs of silicon ear tips in varying sizes
Puro claims these earbuds deliver studio grade sound. A big part of that is proprietary phase optimized, dual dynamic driver technology delivering solid bass response that doesn’t overpower vocals and force the listener to crank up the volume. Puro also points out the seal is critical and that the IEM-500 earbuds fit perfectly enough to block out background noise. Combined with Puro’s signature Balanced Response curve, the result is “in-ear headphones that deliver studio-quality sound in a small package, are comfortable to wear, and look really cool.”
These aren’t cheap earbuds (they go for nearly $200), so the Puro IEM-500’s had better live up to their billing.
They definitely look the part, so check appearance off the list. I have a hard time getting most earbuds to fit comfortably, but with five different sizes of silicon ear tips to choose from, I did find a combination that provided a decent seal. It wasn’t perfect, but I have never been able to get earbuds to fit perfectly, so I’m one of those worst case scenario users. Once the buds were in place, the sound was definitely impressive. My best explanation for it is refined. It was crystal clear, never tinny, and audio was delivered across the full spectrum without highs or lows dominating–listening to music was a pleasure. I’ve come to appreciate a bit of a bass boost, so I used the equalizer to push it up in the mix a bit (Puro even has its own iOS and Android EQ app). My fiddling messed up the whole “neutral sound” premise, but I was happy.
As for the noise attenuation, the earbuds did a respectable job of blocking out background noise. With just a slight bit of pressure on the earbuds, the seal was perfect, and, even sitting outside with heavy machinery working on the road out front, the noise didn’t intrude on my listening.
I’m still not sold on the whole earbud thing, but if you prefer your music in your ear rather than over or on it, I suspect you’ll be very happy with the Puro IEM-500 In-Ear Monitors.
Disclosure: Puro provided a pair of IEM-500 earbuds for this review.