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Phonak Audéo Perfect Fit Earphones PFE 111 review

Kat Orphanides
15 Jun 2010
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Phonak Audéo Perfect Fit Earphones PFE 111
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
119
inc VAT

Phonak's first entry into the consumer headphone market rivals the best out there, but they're expensive

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Phonak is best known for hearing aids, so we expected a lot from the Audéo PFE 111 headphones, the company's first venture into consumer audio. These sound-isolating earplug style headphones aren't as stylish as some rivals, but they're fantastically comfortable. We even fell asleep wearing them without discomfort, making them an ideal choice if you use audio recordings to lull yourself to sleep in noisy or unfamiliar environments.

The PFE 111s are designed to be worn looped over the back of your ears. They come with semi-flexible ear guides, which can be attached to the cables and hooked over your ears to hold the headphones securely in place and take pressure off the delicate leads.

Four sets of earphone tips are also supplied: three silicone sets in various sizes and one medium-sized pair of Comply foam tips. These are similar to the foam tips that come with Shure's SE range of headphones; the foam is compressed as you insert them and then expands to provide a near perfect seal to block out background noise.

These tips are less bulky than Shure's, and didn't feel like they formed such a complete seal. Nonetheless, they effectively blocked out all but the most intrusive noises. We like the listening experience and comfort of foam tips, but others prefer the slightly less isolating experience provided by the rubber tips. A greater range of Comply tips would be useful for those with larger or smaller ear canals, though.

The headphones also come with swappable audio filters that change the characteristics of the sound supplied by the wide band balanced armature drivers. There are two types of filter - the grey set that come already inserted provide a clean, flat sound, excellent for spoken word and the nuanced requirements of orchestral and chamber music. The black filters create a more typical headphone sound with emphatic bass tones. The bass doesn't drown out the treble or midrange but is phenomenally detailed.

Regardless of which filters we used, every note and lyric was reproduced with perfect precision and clarity, producing a genuinely beautiful listening experience. The headphones aren't massively loud, but that isn’t a problem when they’re located in such close proximity to your ear drum. Even in a noisy train carriage they provided all the sound we wanted with our iPod’s volume set some way below maximum.

The PFE 111 earphones are excellent, but expensive. They sound better than similarly priced headphones from Etymotic and match Shure's SE310 set, even delivering a slightly more detailed bass if you use the black filters. However, like the SE310s, they are firmly targeted at serious audio enthusiasts. If you're the sort of person who encodes everything as 320kbps MP3s or in lossless audio formats to avoid losing even the tiniest detail of the sound, then these headphones will give your music the performance it deserves.

That said, the majority of music enthusiasts will be perfectly happy with Shure's SE102 earphones, which cost half the price; while those who want the most tranquil possible listening environment should also consider Creative EP-3NCs.

Details

Price£119
Detailswww.audeoworld.com
Rating*****
AwardUltimate

Specifications

Typeearplugs
Driverclosed
Active noise-cancellingno
Power sourcenone
Sensitivity107dB
Frequency response5-17,000Hz
Impedence32 ohms
Plug type3.5mm stereo jack plug
Inline volumeNo
Weight14g
Cable length1.10m
Extrassoft carrying pouch, 1pairs of silicon ear tips, 1 pair Comply foam ear tips, cleaning tool, 6 audio filters, audio filter replacement tool

Buying Information

Price£119
Supplierhttp://www.themp3company.co.uk
Detailswww.audeoworld.com

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