Chord & Major 9’13 Classical Earphones Review, April 22, 2014
By Matthew Simpson, ClassicalMusicHeadphones.audio
A Brief Introduction:
We here at Classical Music Headphones love the fact that headphone makers are starting to pay attention to genres other than dubstep. Not that we have anything against that genre, but the ‘bass arms race’ to compete with Beats Audio, while not over, appears to be finally cooling. At last, headphones manufacturers are starting to pay attention to fans of other genres.
An exemplary instance of this is Chord & Major‘s new line of earphones. Sedo Audio (the distributor for Chord & Major) sent me their classical tonal earphones to try out. The classical tonal earphones are actually one of three earphones put out by Chord & Major. The other two earphones, Rock Tonal and Jazz Tonal, are made of different materials to help bring out the best sounds of their respective musical genre.
The Classical tonal earphones are constructed out of unique materials that give them a unique look and sound. First off, the box that the earphones come in is a pine box. Why pine? According to the manufacturer, the pine material was chosen for its moisture absorption. The look is definitely classy, and a cut above the usual plastic shell (which you cut open with scissors and immediately throw away) that most headphones arrive in. It reminds me of people who have cigar boxes. It’s not big enough to hold actual cigars, but it definitely gives a touch of class to your office.
The earphones themselves are constructed out of rosewood to bring out more warmth in the sound. The earbuds are soft and fit into my ears with no problem. The earphones come with six different buds for different ear sizes, but the default size fit my ears just fine (I appear have generic, white-male ears).
The backs of the earphones are gold-plated, and feel heavier in your hand than your average buds. They have a neat little cable loop that protects the cable at common stress points, and the rubberized material is a cut above conventional plastic cords, which tend to easily fray and tangle.
Since these are earphones, I took them out with me on my daily commute. I attached them to my Grid-It case and let them get bumped and tossed around. The result after two weeks of punishment? No scratches, no scrapes at all. The gold was just as shiny as ever.
Overall, the presentation is classy. The rosewood/gold combination made the earphones look like something a CEO uses at his desk.
Classical music is a complex music genre for audio engineers to capture, because a typical orchestra’s instruments span the range of human hearing. There’s high-end sounds (flutes), mid-range (vocals), and low-range (tuba, cello).
So how did Chord & Major do?
What really surprised me about the earphones is how well they handled the low range (i.e., bass). I sampled a lot of classical music—from symphonies to movie soundtracks to solo violin—and the headphones handled them all pretty well. All the distinct sounds come from the same place, as if listening to an orchestra from the middle of an amphitheater.
As an experiment, I tried out some contemporary rock and dubstep. I would argue that the headphones handled it just as well as classical. The music was warm and energetic. As someone who likes to mix up his music playlists (as well as watch movies on his tablet), this came as a welcome surprise.
Best Feature? Just the Right Amount of Noise-Isolation.
These are some of the most noise-isolating earphones around. Part of it is the earphones’ excellent volume, but I think that part of it has to do with the warm sound signature. If you’re at a busy cafe, or walking down the street, the ambient noise is reduced to barely audible. Which for me is actually ideal. When you’re walking down the street you don’t want to completely block out all noise (say, an oncoming bus headed your way).
This is the second best feature: the sensitivity of these earphones are great for portable devices. Whatever volume level you have your smartphone/tablet at for listening to earphones, you should take it down a couple notches when using the Chord & Major’s.
These earphones are a great example of specialization at work: if you make earphones that work amazingly well at one genre of music, it may come at the cost of other genres. But not Chord & Major earphones.