No doubt some of you will spring for these simply after hearing the name; but Fanny Wang is hoping their new bud-style Wang Buds earphones will conquer a territory they feel noone really owns yet: The earphone middle ground between the comfort, safety and simplicity of the iconic Apple buds, and the sound reproduction generally achieved by in-ear monitors — think really, really good Apple buds.
In-ear monitors — also known by the acronym IEM, or sometimes called canalphones — saw a surge in popularity over the last several years, with major and minor players alike releasing a wave of new models onto the market, filling almost every conceivable price point and use-case scenario. But it wasn’t always like that.
“Three or four years ago, everyone was rocking Apple’s white earbuds…three or four years ago, it was a sign of prosperity,” said Fanny Wang CEO Tim Hickman, when we talked with him over the phone about the launch. “What happened next in the earbud market was that the vast majority of the earbud market moved to in-ear models.” If you’ve ever listened to a set of Apples buds after trying something like, say, Etymotic’s hf2s, you’ll understand the obvious reason why: Apple’s buds simply can’t compete with the vastly superior sound quality of a good IEM. Of course, at $30 they shouldn’t be expected to, and there are still good reasons to buy them, said Hickman: Like most earbud type earphones, the Apple buds are safer (because they don’t block out as much sound) and more comfortable than IEMs in general.
Hickman added, “I think people are buying a shitload of those because it’s convenient; I mean, that’s what comes with the iPhone.”
So what makes the $80 Wang Buds worth springing for over Apple’s (or anyone else’s) buds? Two things: fit and sound — most notably, bass. Like the Urban Ear Medis buds, the Wangs have small silicone inserts to make them fit better; and Hickman says they’re designed to move tons of air, with dual drivers, including a big (for buds) 12mm driver to move lots of air for meaty bass.
“We have three times the amount of air sitting in front of the driver…and then we have a massive driver sitting in front of the ear.”
Of course, the proof is in the pudding (and we love pudding. Particularly banana); we’ll hold our applause (or not) until we actually sample the goods, when they become available sometime soon. But what do you think? do the Wangs look like a winner?