What is the fastest way to gain recognition in a segment dominated by premium brands renowned for superlative products that are held in high regard? For newcomers, a common strategy would be to price products cheaply. However, this will be playing into the stereotype of “cheap can never be good”, which is unwise in marketing terms. Indeed, rarely will you find a product that is both cheap and good, especially when it comes to audio equipment. Not so with the Crossroads Sport Earphone Mylarone (based on the OVC TC20) it seems. This is a pair of in-ear-canal earphones which, if you bothered, will very likely be one of the most rewarding purchases you will have ever made.
Due to the technical nature of in-ear-canal earphones, there is not much in the way of build materials for product designers to flex their understanding of contemporary industrial design. Therefore, unlike your conventional earphones, in-ear-canal earphones are almost always basic looking, rarely decorated with flashy trimmings or penned with bold design cues such as those of Audio Technica products, for example. The Crossroads Mylarone conforms exactly to this design (or lack of) principle, packaged and sold to consumers around the world in its raw functional form.
Because of its unassuming form, it’s unlikely anyone will be expecting the Mylarone to sound amazing at first impression. This is not helped by the small paper packaging that it comes in. There really is nothing much from its plastic buds and packaging to suggest that you are actually looking at something with a high return on investment. Nevertheless, if you are like us who are not bothered by superficial packaging, then your persistent interest in the Crossroads Mylarone will soon pay dividends.
Before you soak up our comments however, we ask that you take a minute to clean your mind of the age-old consumer culture of price to quality ratio. Yes, you may have heard of people paying exorbitant sums for high-end earphones/headphones, but occasionally, that valued quality can be had very affordably.
Judging by its 3.5mm earphone jack, the Crossroads Mylarone was clearly designed with portable players in mind. Having broken in the earphones a few days earlier, the Mylarone was tested by spending a few hours listening to a myriad of digital tracks we were familiar with from a Creative Zen Micro player and a Pioneer CLD-704 Laserdisc player (Audio CD). The audio quality was very encouraging to say the least.
Without amplification or any modulation from DSPs, the general audio quality of the Mylarone is best described as bright. Compared to the Creative ZEN Aurvana that we happened to have at the time of testing, the Mylarone was audibly more dynamic and returned far less colorations. Strings and synthesizer effects, admittedly, sounded a tad harsh, reminding us somewhat of the vented GR-80 from Grado. Bottom end was a little muddy for our liking; we couldn’t help but feel it could have been tighter.
With a portable amplifier thrown into the mix, the Mylarone, rated at 16ohms impedance, immediately produced an audio quality of a different body (pun intended) altogether. We were treated to a stark improvement in response for mids and lows, with the overall quality sounding warmer, which is good news for listening for hours on end. Low frequencies sounded noticeably weightier while highs were not as shrill as before. It’s as if we were listening to a different pair of earphones. The pair of rubber eartips worked fairly well at keeping the earbuds in place and blocking out ambient noise.
Instead of beating around the bush to tell you how incredibly value for money the Crossroads Mylarone is, we’ll just put it to you plainly: it will make you rue ever buying earphones off the racks of electrical supermarts. Its blend of audio quality and value will make you realize how unwise you’ve been spending your money on audio gear. The best part however, is its low price of USD$32. Don’t just take our word for it though, go test it out and be the judge for yourself.