Q: Can you recommend high-quality wired earphones for listening to music? They will be used with my phone, so I need a mic. I am willing to pay what is necessary to get great sound.
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). American audiophiles in-the-know are familiar with the brand, but it is not common information among the general public because Cambridge Audio does not market as aggressively as mass-market brands and largely works through specialty retailers.
Every Cambridge Audio product I have tried has sounded wonderful, and while their equipment is not cheap, it is not unobtainable, either, and it represents fine value at the asking prices. 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 Music Unites, a charity that supports music education for at-risk students around the world.
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. Premium Comply foam as well as conventional vinyl ear tips are provided to create a comfortable fit. The sound is refined, smooth and warm with crisply rendered detail.
The theming and packaging of the earphones is impressive, 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 $85 in U.S. dollars. For every set of earphones sold, 50 percent of the proceeds goes to Music Unites.
Cambridge Audio SE1 earphones are available only 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.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.