There are so many great options out there in the under $20 earphone market that it’s easy to forget how truly bad a cheap earphone can sound. Case in point: the iHip Deep Advanced Sound Design Earphone, assuming that’s the model name. It’s what’s on the box, along with the $5 price tag from Big Lots. Now, I normally don’t look to Big Lots for quality sound but I was in a pinch, stuck on a long, boring job where I forgot to bring one of my many pair of earphones. I had low expectations but I figured for 5 bucks I could at least listen to some podcasts. Well, they worked well enough to pass coherent audio but other than that, these things are utter shit.
First of all, the build quality is as cheap as it gets. The cord is a flimsy, shiny kind of plastic. The cans are a cheap metal, painted black with the thinnest black rubber tips. The overall feeling is like something you’d get out of a box of cereal. Sound quality is the worst I’ve ever heard. Tinny, distant, attenuated, no bass at all and very little mids. Vocals sound like they’re behind a wall of pillows. The best thing I can say about them is there’s some degree of separation between instruments and there’s at least some stereo imaging. The sound on these is so shitty it’s actually nerve wracking, it’s the kind of thing we should be using in Guantanamo to get information out of captured terrorists. It sounds like the speaker on a 1970’s portable black and white television, played through a mid-90s flip phone, amplified by a paper cone.
However, the question remains: Are they worth the $5? Compared to some of the decent options available on Aliexpress and Amazon for under $10? Hell no. But if you’re in a pinch, where the option is 8 hours of silence while doing a mind numbing task, then I have to say yes, they’re worth buying. Just do yourself a favor and set fire to them at the end of the day. Your ears and sanity are at stake.