By Don Lindich
Week 48, 2017
Q. Can you recommend high quality wired earphones for listening to music? They will be used with my phone so I need a mic, and I am willing to pay what is necessary to get great sound.
-J.W., Santa Clara, CA
A. How about excellent high-end earphones that are not only affordable, but generate a substantial charitable donation when you buy them? If that is not perfect for the holiday season, I don’t know what is!
Cambridge Audio is a high-end audio manufacturer based in London, not to be confused with the well-known American audio company Cambridge SoundWorks. Britain is known for high-quality Hi-Fi equipment in the same way people associate Switzerland with premium watches, and the company features the tagline, “Great British Sound” as part of their brand identity. American audiophiles in-the-know are familiar with the brand, but not so much the general public as Cambridge Audio does not market as aggressively as mass-market brands and largely works through specialty retailers. They go about their business in a very classy, understated way, which is very British in itself, I would say. Every Cambridge Audio product I have tried has sounded wonderful, and while their equipment is not cheap, it is not unobtainable either and represents fine value at the asking prices. At least one of my friends bought a Cambridge Audio amplifier after hearing a demo unit I was reviewing, and next week I will be featuring their Aeromax 6 speakers in an article about speakers that create a holographic 3-D soundstage.
The Cambridge Audio SE1 wired earphones were created as part of a 2016 fundraising effort in Britain. The campaign was so successful and the earphones so good, that popular demand led to the program being relaunched to benefit the world over.
The SE1 earphones are made of aircraft-quality aluminum, wired with premium copper wire and use an expensive beryllium driver to create the sound. Beryllium is lighter than aluminum and more rigid than titanium, enabling the drivers to reproduce sound more accurately than other materials. Premium Comply foam as well as conventional vinyl ear tips are provided to create a perfect fit. The sound itself is refined, smooth and warm with crisply rendered detail, altogether a pleasure with any kind of music.
The theming and packaging of the earphones is a treat, too. They are delivered in an attractive round container that features a map of London, complete with the coordinates for Cambridge Audio’s headquarters. The name SE1 comes from their postal code, and the price was set at 68 British pounds, for the year of their founding, 1968. That converts to approximately $84.99 in United States dollars.
For every SE1 earphones sold, 50% of the proceeds go to Music Unites, a charity that supports music education for at-risk students in the United States and around the world. Your purchase will enrich the lives of countless children and teenagers and help create future generations of great musicians.
Great earphones from a high-end manufacturer at a very attractive price, clever theming and packaging and half the proceeds going to charity. As I said before, classy! You can feel good when you buy these earphones not only for their quality and the musical enjoyment they bring, but knowing you supported a good cause and a good company with their heart in the right place.
Cambridge Audio SE1 earphones are only available manufacturer-direct at Cambridge Audio’s USA website, found at cambridgeaudio.com or tinyurl.com/cambridge-se1. Learn more about Music Unites at musicunites.org.