GRUNDIG "No Noise" In-Ear headphones earphones review by JoTECH Guide
PORTABLE AUDIO Looking for a nice upgrade to your standard issue ear buds coming with your phone or mp3 player (are people still using those?) -- you should look a little further...

While circumaural, or "around-the-ear" headphones would my preferred type of listening apparatus at home or the office (aside from some proper speakers, that is), they can be a bit bulky to carry around. Never liked the idea of squishing my ears under a pair of Porta-Pro's either. So for portable use, in-ears are (at least for me) therefore the only practical solution.

JVC Air Cushion in-ear headphones
My old, well worn and torn pair of JVC Air Cushions. Here only with one "cushion" left, since the soft material started breaking up and eventually fell off the left earpiece. Still working just fine, nonetheless.
My current pair of JVC Air Cushions have been around for about a year now, and while they're still a great sounding pair of ear buds, they're literally starting to fall apart at this point. So ergo, I've been looking for a replacement within roughly the same price range around £10~15. While I have no problem spending tenfold or more for some serious hi-fi cans from the likes of Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic or AKG, I personally wouldn't spend more than 10-15 quid on a pair of in-ears, considering their feeble construction and consequently rather limited life span, which could stretch itself to perhaps year or two, at best.

Appearance can be deceiving...

Anyhow, amongst your standard cheap-o earphones available in assorted colours, a pair of Grundig's caught my eye with their stylish, refined looks. Kind of like their take on the Air Cushions', triangular shape, but in black plastic rather than a soft, elastic type of rubbery material.

Sony MDR-EX35LP earphones
Sony MDR-EX35LP - an earphone that "sucks" in a very good way.
Materials, Fit & Comfort

Much like my previous pairs of JVC's and Sony's, they are also equipped with rubber buds that go straight into the ear canal, rather than the standard earphones that just sit (or at least tries to, when they're not dangling around in your earlobe) right at the opening of it. So far so good!

But, unlike the JVC's as well as the Sony MDR-EX35LP I had before them, the buds on the Grundig don't fit as effectively. The Sony's especially, had a great suction effect, making their way into the ears practically by themselves as they approached the ear canal. There was no risk of them falling out, to say the least. Occasionally dropped my phone with the Sony buds in, and while most earphones would then fall out of the ears, by that massive stress from a phone falling to the ground, these earphones still sat firmly planted into the ears. Instead, the cable popped out of the headphone jack of the phone! Take a moment and just let that sink in - the earphones sat had a more secure fit into the ears, than into the jack of the audio device itself. I could literally hold the phone with my ears!

Stiff and ill-fitting

This is hardly the case with the Grundig 'phones. The buds fitting inside the ears are pretty stiff and very plasticky. Not nearly as elastic and flexible as my previous pairs, which means they don't provide the same kind of suction into the ear canal. Instead they simply sit there, without any traction or grip to speak of. While the soft triangular "cushions" on the JVC phones arguably added a slight bit of extra comfort, Grundig's version does literally nothing but blocking and getting in the way. The sharp, triangular plastic ornament (I can't honestly find any practical reason for it to be there) is a completely pointless design feature that does nothing, apart from getting in the way, and to chafe against the ear.

Sound Quality

(...Or lack thereof.) If cheap materials and a poor fit inside the ears wasn't enough to turn you away from these Grundigs, the sound quality of them is nowhere near its competition at this price point. Real boxy sounding with very low definition overall. Even the lowest entry level from Sony, Koss and the likes should give you a lot more clarity and better sound reproduction. I would seriously compare them to a pair of £1 earphones you can pick up on eBay, rather. Those usually come with a volume control as well.

Grundig - for no particular reason
Wysiwyg. No reason to make a fancy "unboxing" video on YouTube, really. With the earphones you'll get two extra pairs of "rubber" buds (more like plastic if you ask me), and an untidy cable with a standard 3.5 mm plug at the end.

The crappy earpieces that usually come bundled with portable mp3/media players, sound just as "good" as these, if not better, which says a lot.

Value

The Grundig in-ears goes by the misspelled name "No Noice" here in Sweden. Don't see that name anywhere on the product, however. They retail at 99 SEK (which roughly translates to £9.50 or $15). I picked them up for about 75 SEK (~10 bucks) online with a coupon, that gave me 25% off. At that low price point I'm still considering posting them back. They're simply that bad.

/theJo