Decibullz Contour Headphones Review
Custom ear molds at a bargain
The Insides That Count
The Decibullz Contour (MSRP: $59.99) are great buds for their price—especially once you consider the bargain of custom fitted ear molds. Our lab revealed that they aren’t a one-trick pony either. Thanks to a frequency response that’s incredibly close to an equal-loudness contour, near nonexistent distortion, and great isolation thanks to the molds, you get some serious bang for your buck.The one area they could be improved is in channel tracking as there’s a slight emphasis on the right channel that’s definitely noticeable.
When it comes to reproducing frequencies across the audible spectrum the Contours produced a curve that lines up almost exactly with an equal-loudness contour, or ELC. An ELC emphasizes certain frequencies so the entire spectrum can be heard equally as well by the human ear. This is typically shown in the sub-bass and bass frequencies, which receive a substantial boost because humans can’t hear those frequencies as well as midtone and treble frequencies.
The isolation test measures how well a pair of headphones are able to block outside noise. While in-ear headphones typically perform well in this category—as they usually block most of the ear canal—the Contours have an extra advantage thanks to the custom thermoplastic molds.
The Contours—and the custom molds—drop the relative volume of bass and most midrange frequencies until they’re about half as loud as normal. If you have to deal with the loud noises of trains or buses on your daily commute, something like this is going to be a game changer. Each time I took the subway to and from work I was surprised at just how much the rumbling sounds were cut down while still leaving enough sound for me to be aware of my surroundings.
Once the ambient frequencies get close to 800Hz there’s another sharp drop in the relative volume down to a quarter and then an 1/8 as loud at 2kHz. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter a lot of these sounds in your day-to-day, if you do, they’ll be so quiet that you probably won’t even notice them.
Our distortion test measures the amount of unwanted noise—like clipped notes or fuzzy, crackling sounds—while listening to a pair of headphones. Now, we expected the Contours to have exceptionally good isolation thanks to the custom molding. What we didn’t expect was for them to also have essentially nonexistent distortion as well.
Let me contextualize this. Our threshold of what we consider audible is anything that’s 3% or above. Anything more should, theoretically, be audible to the majority of people. But, the Contours don’t even get near that. For nearly the entire audible spectrum they stay pretty close to 1/5 of a percent. Even audiophiles with extremely sensitive hearing are unlikely to hear any unwanted sounds in their music.
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