Chord and Major Classical Earphones Review
A Brief Introduction:
We here at Classical Music Headphones love the fact that headphones makers are starting to pay attention to genres other than dubstep. Not that I we have anything against that genre, but the ‘bass arms race’ to compete with Beats Audio, while not over, appears to be finally cooling. At last, headphones manufacturers are starting to pay attention to fans of other genres.
An exemplary instance of this is Chord and Major‘s new line of earphones. Sedo Audio (the distributor for Chord and Major) sent me their classical tonal earphones to try out. The classical tonal earphones are actually one of three earphones put out by Chord and Major. The other two earphones: Rock Tonal and Jazz Tonal, are made of different materials to help bring out the best sounds of their respective musical genre.
The Classical Tonal earphones are constructed out of unique materials that give it a unique look and sound. First off, the box that the earphones come in is a pine box (pictured right). Why pine? According to the manufacturer, the pine material was chosen for its moisture absorption. The look is definitely classy, and a cut above the usual plastic shell (which you cut open with scissors and immediately throw away) that most headphones arrive in. It reminds me of people who have cigar boxes. It’s not big enough to hold actual cigars, but it definitely gives a touch of class to your office.
The earphones themselves are constructed out of rosewood to bring out more warmth in the sound. The earbuds are soft and fit into my ears with no problem. The earphones come with a half dozen different buds for different ear sizes, but the default size fit my ears just fine (I appear have generic white male ears).
The backs of the earphones are gold-plated, and feel heavier in your hand than your average buds. They have a neat little cable loop that protects the cable at common stress points. The rubberized material is a cut above conventional plastic cords, which tend to easily fray and tangle. Overall the presentation is classy. The rosewood/gold combination made the earphones look like something a CEO uses at his desk.
I liked the look and the feel of the earphones. The only downside? This is just my observation, but when I saw myself wearing the earphones, it kind of looked like I was wearing earrings. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just I’m not a bling-wearer, so it felt unusual for me.
Back to the pine box: these are earphones, as as such I took them out with my on my daily commute. I attached them to my Grid-It case and let them get bumped and tossed around.
The result after two weeks of punishment? No scratches, no scrapes at all. The gold is just as shiny as ever.
Classical music is a complex music genre for audio engineers to capture. A typical orchestra’s instruments span the range of human hearing. There’s high-end sounds (flutes), mid-range (vocals), and low-range (tuba, cello). So how did Chord and Major do?
What really surprised me about the earphones is how well they handled the low range (i.e. bass). I sampled lots of classical music, from symphonies to movie soundtracks to solo violin, and it handled them all pretty well. While they definitely have great warmth, they don’t have a very strong soundstage. All the distinct sounds come from the same place, as if listening to an orchestra from the middle of an amphitheatre.
But as an experiment I tried out some contemporary rock and dubstep. I would argue that they handle it just as well as classical. The music is warm and energetic. As someone who likes to mix up his music playlists (as well as watch movies on his tablet), this came as a welcome surprise.
Best Feature? Just the Right Amount of Noise-Isolation.
These are some of the most noise-isolating earphones around. Part of it is the earphones’ excellent volume, but I think that part of it has to do with the warm sound signature. If you’re at a busy cafe, or walking down the street, the ambient noise is reduced to barely audible. Which for me is actually ideal. When you’re walking down the street you don’t want to complete block out all noise (say, an oncoming bus headed your way).
This is the second best feature: the sensitivity of these earphones are great for portable devices. Whatever volume level you have your smartphone/tablet at for listening to earphones, you should take it down a couple notches when using the Chord and Major’s.
These earphones are a great example of specialization at work: if you make earphones that work amazingly well at one genre of music, it may come at the cost of other genres. A good example of this is the Beats headphones: the emphasis on bass (the low-end) means that they offer below par sound quality in other genres.
And frankly, it’s good to see audio manufacturers catering to listeners of these other genres.
The Classical Tonal Earphones were supplied to me by Sedo Audio for this review. However, the opinions stated here are my own.