Quality in-ear earphones for gamers?
Usually, when a gamer is considering a new set of headphones, the first thing that pops to mind are not in-ear earphones. But if you hate the weight and clumsiness of the usual headphones, or just cannot find a model that fits your melon, the in-ear option becomes more and more viable. We got the chance to try out the Phonak Audéo Perfect Fit Earphones (PFE) 012 model which is the “baby sister” model of their earlier PFE 112 model. The previous model was praised by many reviewers, so we were very hopeful of the new, more affordable version.
Design and Features
The Audéo PFE 012 earphones arrive in a relatively simple package including only a couple of tiny manuals in different languages, a small bag of three sets of silicone ear tips (sizes S, M and L). The earpieces are pre-fitted with two green Perfect Bass audio filters. If you want foam tips, silicone ear guides or other type of audio filters, you will have to order them separately. However, since the inclusion of these items would have certainly increased the price, it is great to have the option of not paying for them in the basic set.
The overall construction of the earphones is very nice and sleek. The cable is guided away from the ear, so that it will not scratch against your ears as you move and cause unwanted sounds. The cable itself is nicely thick, but not too much so, and has a rubbery coating. The silicone ear tips are extremely comfortable – much more so than any other ear tips that I have tried in the past. Using the biggest choice, the earphones fitted very snugly into my ears and stayed in place even when I was moving around – but still remained comfortable after hours of use. Where many other earphones in the past have made my ears hurt after only an hour or so, there was no hint of this during the entire test period with the PFE 012's.
Sound pressure level 107 dB SPL/mW, 1 kHz
Impedance 32 Ohm, 1 kHz
Frequency range 5 Hz – 17 kHz
Cord length 3.9 ft / 120 cm
Weight 0.5 oz / 14 g
Connector Gold-plated 1/8-inch / 3.5 mm jack
Music and gaming use
The Phonak Audéo PFE 012's proved excellent in both gaming and music use. The silicone earpieces muffle the sounds from the surroundings in a satisfying way, letting you enjoy the music that you are listening to or game that you are playing. Still, they don't deafen you completely and you will still be able to respond alertly when you are called to join the family at the dinner table.
As a fan of classical music I need to be able to hear both loud and subtle instruments and I must say that these earphones really made this possible. The soundscape is very impressive and the bass is nicely emphasised. The emphasis is not overbearing (so teens may not like it), but very subtle and balanced. However, I did not have a chance to try the earphones with the optional grey and black filters to experience and review the differences that different filters may bring. Suffice it to say that these are truly excellent in-ear earphones if you are looking to listen to music with them.
Using in-ear earphones when gaming is quite different from listening to music, however. When you forgo the circumaural headphones, you immediately settle on not having surround-sounds. Still, even though you will be listening to your games in 2.0 only, we must say that the Audéo 012's performance was very satisfying. Much depends on the kinds of games that you play, and what sort of soundscape and background music they offer, but we can definitely state that the Audéo 012's made the sounds clearer and more satisfying than your average earphones might.
We’ve rated the Phonak Audéo PFE 012 in a variety of categories on a scale of 1 to 10.
Design and Build Quality: 9.0/10
Sound Quality: 9.0/10
Our score: 9.0/10
Overall, the Phonak Audéo PFE 012 is an impressive product and well worth the price, if you are likely to use them to listen to music on any kind of device. The fantastic sound quality will make you reconsider your conception of what music is. If you are only looking for a set to use while gaming and do not care about portability, you might want to consider surround sound headphones instead of in-ear earphones. Personally, I wound up using PFE 012's on all occasions and my conventional headphones were left gathering dust on the shelf by my computer.