Puro Sound Labs IEM100: Solid Audio Quality For The Price
Give Beats by Dre a little credit. Why? Because it helped raise awareness in how quality headphones and earbuds should sound. Unfortunately, the Beats headphones are not those touting outstanding audio quality. They're just a pretty shell of audio cans that made consumers more conscious about spending $300 for true high quality headphones and earbuds. Sometimes, you don't have to spend as much as $300 for a great audio listening experience. You can actually spend as little $30 for a pretty good experience. The folks at Puro Sound Labs sent me a set of in-ear monitors (IEMs) to prove just that. Let's take a look at the Puro IEM100's.
The IEM100's are not your typical earbuds found in your new smartphone box nor the Walmart electronics department. These IEM's are simply designed with a slight curvature to fit your ear canal properly. Both buds are marked with the Puro logo as well as a "left, right" designation.
Puro Sound Labs packed these 'buds with tech aligned with its mission in "fighting the growing epidemic in noise induced hearing loss." The elegant design of the IEM100's is matched with a hearing protection lock to keep all audio at 85 decibels or lower. This is done with a slider on a locking mechanism that increases or decreases the volume. The locking mechanism is lightweight and sits comfortably on your chest while you're connected to your audio device.
These IEMs look great and aid in preventing hearing loss, but how do they sound? I was unable to get a frequency graph from Puro Sound Labs to reference, but the IEM's are just that - audio MONITORS. Audio monitors are used in multimedia by musicians and digital audio editors to analyze sound. Audio monitors have to be tuned to balance the different elements of sound being analyzed. Unlike some headphones or earbuds that are bass-heavy or treble-heavy. In the case of the IEM100's, the treble is as clear as one would expect earbud treble to be. The mid-levels and bass are evident when listening to these IEMs. The bass isn't intense, but it's noticeable just enough.
Initially, I was apprehensive on the sound quality produced by the IEM100's. I didn't think they were loud enough, but that shouldn't be held against Puro. That's the point of them. I also thought the audio was a little tinny in quality to be considered monitors. This was not Puro's fault as I was listening to lower quality audio files. Silly me. I clearly fit into the class of consumers that listen to headphone audio too loudly. Hearing loss in middle aged adults is a growing concern. It's even more of a concern in today's teens. Just think back to the last time you saw a teenager with headphones on. Now think about the fact that you heard their music playing just as clearly as they heard it. Puro Sound Labs aims to provide quality headphones and earbuds with minimal hearing damage.
I went back to some of my favorite high fidelity audio files for another listening test over a few days. This clearly made the difference in performance. When trying out audio, I like to enjoy theatrical scores and other classical music as it's normally mixed better than most mainstream music heard today. Having a higher quality lossless audio file that's been mixed properly allows your ears to hear all three levels of audio. The IEM100's were able to produce all of the voices in John Williams's "The Scavenger." The proper fit of the rubber tips on these monitors allowed me to block a majority of the ambient noise around me and immerse myself into the tracks I played.
Would I Use The IEM100's For Audio Monitoring?
No. I will not. As great as the quality sounds, I can't say that it's the better audio monitor my ears have heard. Would I use these IEMs to enjoy audio in leisure or as I work on my writing? Definitely! I'm listening to them as I write this review. These are good enough to enjoy music on any device. Audiophiles will definitely put a digital analog converter and lossless audio in place, but average consumers will be wildly surprised at the audio quality these pack. Professional audio editors will enjoy the comfort and passive noise cancelling these IEMs offer, but the may not be keen on the 85 decibel limit. Personally, when I'm editing audio, I tend to crank the gains to ensure I'm hearing all elements of the track needing editing. The highs, lows and mids are definitely audible on the IEM100's, but the gain just may be too low for an editor's tastes. At least, they were for me. Couple this quality with the fact that you won't be allowed to blow your eardrums due to the volume being locked at 85 decibels or lower and you have a great value at $29.99. See other products from Puro Sound Labs on its product page.