Musical Fidelity EB33 Review. The EB33 are affordable HiFi audiophile earphones that are available at an affordable price. Their design is bold and versatile. They work well with iPhone, Andoird, and all other portable devices.
In the so-called post Beats headphone boom, consumers have been made consciously aware that their source matters just as much as the headphones themselves.
This cleaver marketing has led to an exponential growth in the portable headphone market, and as such the real contenders, including British Hi-Fi manufacturer Musical Fidelity, have been given an opportunity to show what a pair of ‘premium’ consumer ear/headphones should really sound like.
Having previously been blown away with the brilliance of Musical Fidelity’s EB-50 earphones, and the recent addition of the MF-100 headphones, we were excited to see how the Hi-Fi specialists new street-wise entry level earphones, the EB-33’s, would perform despite their industrial persona.
Released at the same time as the award winning MF-100 headphones, the EB-33’s have spent a great deal of time with us. During this time we have found that they have recalibrated our expectations from a pair of sub £80.00 earphones.
Arriving in an almost identical package as their bigger brother, the EB-33 package is seemingly Applesque design that is simplistic and structurally effective. Unfortunately this package is exceptionally tough to get in to and does require some perseverance.
Concealed within the box you will locate a lovely velvet Musical Fidelity side-branded money-purse alongside that should be used to store your earphones when not in use. As expected you are treated to nine replaceable single-flange black silicone earbuds in S, M, and L. We were pleased to see that these earbuds are of a good standard, and not infuriatingly ‘lightweight’.
The general consensus of the EB-33 package is that it is refined, and simplistic. Perhaps the package could have been bettered if the box wasn’t such a nightmare to open, and included a smaller XS earbud; the small isn’t quite small enough.
Build Quality and Design:
It is safe to say that the EB-33’s are built like a tank. The 3.5mm jack, Y splitter, and the inline single switch microphone housings are encased in a seamless full metal jacket, as is the driver housing. The cable is thick and substantial enough to survive a hell of a lot of use and abuse.
Musical Fidelity report that the EB-33’s have been designed from the ground up. In fact they have significantly invested in new equipment just to produce the EB-33’s so they can function well and have a great finish. Regardless of this information we can comfortably report that the EB-33’s are built to a very high standard and leave almost all of their competition dead in the water. Although if they added an in-line volume control this would have given them the spit and polish.
Musical fidelity have settled for a black rubberised flat-line cable which is practical and on paper ‘tangle-proof’, but the design lacks modesty and the cable still does have a habit of tangling… and staying tangled because the finish is extraordinarily grippy – great if you are an active user of earphones, bad if you store them in your pockets. However, the reason for why we think that they lack modesty is that after the cable has separated, Musical Fidelity have half colour coded it red (for the right earphone) and blue (for the right earphone). Although this design implementation is practical for those who never know which earphone goes where, it just feels visually wrong and immediately leads us to stereotype this pair of earphones as an inferior product.
What is great about the EB-33’s is the angular design that curves naturally to the outer ear. Based on similar principles to CIEM’s, this design protocol feels exceptionally comfortable, natural, and allows the sound produced by the drivers to be delivered closer to the eardrum. Thanks to this we have found the EB-33’s to be very comfortable even for extended periods of listening. As mentioned before, we would have preferred the inclusion of smaller sized earbuds to cater for those who have small ears or ear canals, because we did experience some issues with the buds falling out of our ears. Nevertheless, they are extremely comfortable.
Unfortunately we have to leave a final thought with regards to the design of the EB-33’s. There is a strong feeling that these earbuds just look like a sovereign ring; reminiscent of an early 2000 trend. Here at HQ we are left questioning what is the purpose of this loud, protrusive, and darn right offensive lump of metal? Granted, the drivers used within the EB-33’s are larger than most other competitors, but the extra metal disk actively makes us not want to wear them in public.
EB33 Sound Quality:
Now we return to a more positive outlook. For such a low price the EB-33’s sound great. Musical Fidelity have produced a fine pair of earphones that sound rich and full without the sibilant tone that has been associated with their bigger brother, the EB-50’s. The plus side is that when they are operational and placed in the ear there is little internal and external sound leakage, so you can consciously relax as you turn the music up on the bus.
Using whopping 13.5mm drivers, they deliver a great deal of depth to any recording with an explosive transient response; trust us, it really is good. Each instrument seems to place well across the stereo field, and we have found that the EB-33’s compliment every genre of music that we could throw at them.
Usually for a product at this price-point you would expect a slightly brittle sound, or exhibit a quality that we like to call ‘happy EQ’ing’ (bold overstated bass, recessed mids, and tinny highs), yet we feel that the EB-33’s have a detailed playful full-bodied vibe that goes against the typical grain. They are certainly a product that would fit well with audiophiles, and equally work well for the average consumer.
Having spent a great deal of time listening to the EB-33’s we have loved their smooth effortless dynamic presentation of sound, and appreciate their transient versatility. Whether you are an electronic junkie, or classical aficionado, we highly recommend the EB-33’s as a platform for sheer aural pleasure.
In terms of the package, and sonic superiority we cannot get enough of the EB-33’s. However, we have huge reservations about the aesthetics. For this reason we reluctantly award the Musical Fidelity EB-33’s with a four out of five rating.