Sonic Clarity, Superb Service
What started as a hunt for the "best" in-ear headphones ended with a pair of Martin Logan Mikros 70s. I realize "best" is subjective, so let me clarify what leads me to make such claim. FYI I have owned the M70s for about half a year.
1) Ease of use: stick them in the ear and it stays. Used them while running and even at the gym doing sit-ups with no problems whatsoever. In fact, it's so comfortable and "natural", that coupled with its noise cancelling feature, there's no urge to take it off when I'm not listening to any music. The B&W C5s, on the other hand, felt like an ear stretching torture device by the end of the ride home.
2) Noise cancelling: far superior than anything from Klipsch S4i to BW C5s that I've tried. ML advertises 33db cancelling - I don't doubt that; I used to use ear plugs on the train commute to work, now I use my M70s interchangeably. 'nuff said.
3) Sound: somewhat surprisingly, the sound was noticeably crisper, light and vibrant after call it a 50hr "burn-in" period which I've always held a bit of scepticism in. But wow! Classical, Jazz, and pretty much any music in the Alto and Tenor range sound heavenly. The stretch of a bow, the reverberation of the sound across a large space - truly as if you're actually right next to the sound. What many other reviewers before me have noted, and I as well, is that these headphones bring out what seems like the "true" intent of the song, not artificially amping up an already amped up bass, or add frills to high notes so they "sparkle" etc. I say true in the sense that the sound from all songs seem to become more "mellow" and if I were to compare it to steak, "buttery soft" as opposed to "lots of spices on cardboard". In fact, I find myself trying to listen to as many soundtracks as I can to hear how they "would sound like with the Martin Logans".
Since I find the value of a review is most value-added when comparing to another device, I'll bring in the B&W C5s. Mind you I had an unfortunate experience with the B&Ws in that one speaker completely died within 2 days of purchase, prompting a permanent return. Ignoring the manufacturing quality of the headphones, the sound itself was a little on the overbearing side. It could be that I got used to the Martin Logan's, but the soft buttery sound I was used to from most of my songs sounded harsh and noisy with the B&W C5s. I note the sensitivity is higher with the B&Ws, but with less noise cancelling than the M70s, the same perceived volume of sound (when high enough to overrule outside noise) means the strong bass for some pop songs feels like they'll give me a migraine if I let it. This doesn't mean the M70s don't have bass mind you, with some Coldplay songs, and even Bon Jovi, there is enough clarity to hear a timpani being struck or the exact length of time a drumbeat lasts.
What prompted me to write this review however, is the superb service I received from a representative, Scott, on a concern I had. Not sure if it was the alternating between devices (iPhone, MacBook, PC) or the constant use of the headphones, but I started noticing the right speaker of the headphones sounding a little softer than the left, throwing the sound balance off and distorting the music. The strange thing is this doesn't even happen all the time ... but after a few back and forths, Scott was patient and supportive and suggested several alternatives to try. It's been a while since I've talked to someone so helpful, responsive and patient and I must say my "Martin Logan Experience" is a whole lot better with such great service standing behind their products. A definite recommend for anyone who wants to try a "higher tier" of music.