For true music buffs, there’s no comprehension needed on why we like the ‘I can walk miles if I have music on my ears with me’ page on Facebook. It does seem like a good enough example of how important music is for the connected lot. Couple it with a pair of good earphones and the music listening experience is definitely not an average one. Released early this year, the Creative EP-3NC headphones pretty much walked that path with clear intentions at alluring travelers. Its noise cancellation competence of up to 90% was another much talked about feature. Seating itself on our desks for a review, a ‘simple quiet, extended mileage’ is the slogan we noticed instantly for these earphones. Read on to know our verdict on whether or not, the EP-3NC earphones stick to the tagline given to them.
We’d be modest if we said we hate rambling about how we love manufacturers who bundle their gizmos in nifty packages. It’s Creative after all and the box housing the earphones and its accompaniments couldn’t have been more self-explanatory. It exhibited three Premium Comfortable Eartips, an included AAA battery and a soft pouch. Well, that’s pretty much what we laid hands on when we ripped open the box. Only there wasn’t a case in place and instead we found a dual adapter that didn’t have any mention on the carton. This was rounded off by a limited warranty and a user guide.
Don’t believe the inscription on the box which says the EP-3NC earphones sport a slim profile. It’s quite the opposite with a thick cable featuring a bulky control dongle holding the in-ear phones. The clip attached to the dongle though sleek doesn’t do much in making it less of an eye-sore. It was without a doubt much weighty than we would have liked it to be, pulling down on any piece of clothing it’s attached to. On either flat face of the dongle are the Creative logo and the clip correspondingly. The top edge holds the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) power on/off button to switch between active and passive noise cancellation modes, an LED light and the Monitor mute button.
We thought starting our musical journey by listening to Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down from our mobile phone playlist wasn’t a bad idea. Putting on the ANC switch sure had us oblivious to our surroundings as we hit the traffic-packed roads. And boy did we feel like superman or what! The ANC feature clung tightly to its moniker as it enhanced the audio experience by lowering the ambient noise for clear sound even when listening with the volume set to a minimum. We don’t need to mention how great this option is for audiophiles who disdain blasting volumes in crowded places. With ANC turned off, the in-ear design enabled the earphones to passively isolate noise, leaving out the need of a battery. Yes, there’s no need of worrying about running out of power as you are still ensured about being paired with your music.
As for the integrated monitor button, it’s a very thoughtful inclusion on Creative’s part enabling us to be all ears to conversations in the environment without really having to take off the earphones. While some may agree that taking off the earphones instead is a much easier option, lest you want to eaves drop on pesky colleagues and their conversations. It’s more like a temporary mute button that helps you still stay connected to your music without any hassles. Customization options of the earphones extend to replaceable silicone eartips in 3 sizes namely S, M and L. The soft in-ear fabrication of the earphones certainly inclines towards comfortable and even after four hours of continuous usage, we weren’t really left with any malaise.
Moreover, coupling the Creative EP-3NC earphones with the right eartip, the M sized one to be precise helped us in more ways than one. While adding to the comfort factor, it also kept noise leakage to a minimum. What’s more, we didn’t really have to bother about pushing the earphones deep into the ear canal. A simple nudge after plugging them did the needful. If you’re looking for complete noise isolation, we’d suggest you get the right eartip in place as it could do wonders to your music listening experience. Well, we did realize early on that anything that doesn’t involve someone screaming their guts out straight at us will not be picked up this accessory.
Creative also painstakingly packs in an airplane double adapter with the EP-3NC so that you don’t miss out on in-flight entertainment. While we didn’t really have the opportunity to take these headphones to town, we tried some simple connectivity options. On hooking the adapter to our phone we got a headphones and music stand option. Choose either and it says you need to use the phone microphone. Flip through the user guide and it claims you should be able to simply hook up the 3.5mm jack to the airplane adaptor and plug it into the in-flight console on the seat/armrest for entertainment on the go. Depending on the environment and change in air pressure, get ready for a slight tingling sensation with noise cancelling active. It wasn’t however as bad as some other noise cancellation devices.
In terms of performance, the Creative EP-3NC are a notch above many as far as noise cancellation is concerned. The noise cancelling prowess of the earphones sure overpowers its overall functionality. While we had no complaints about the punchy bass when enjoying our favorite tunes from the pop and peppy genre, we couldn’t really say the same about soul-stirring vocals that needed detailing in the mid and higher ranges. We needn’t bring up how much detail resolution and warmth to sound is appreciated when employing earphones for longer periods.
Here’s the technical jargon for those who need to know their Creative EP-3NC inside out. 9mm Neodymium drivers keep audio in place with the frequency response ranging between 6Hz and 23kHz. With ANC on and off, the impedance reads at 33ohm and 16ohm respectively. As for the sensitivity offered by the earphones at 1kHz, it amounts to 104dB/mW and 102dB/mW in the corresponding modes. Connectivity to plethora of devices shouldn’t be a problem courtesy the 3.5mm plug which is gold plated adding to its durability as well. The attached cord measures around 1.3m OFC. We would have liked the cord to be more tangle-free and a cloth-braided cable wouldn’t have hurt. Also the cord is a wee bit thicker than preferred only adding to the distress; should we say its inflexibility too left a bad taste in our mouth. With a single AAA alkaline battery, the earphones assure about 100 hours of audio.
It’s definitely the advanced noise cancellation capabilities of the Creative EP-3NC that had us yearning for more.
The earphones were quite a complete packaging with almost everything you need right in the box.
The dongle definitely wasn’t something we were smiling about. Its missing volume control buttons despite the added bulk had us perturbed.
Sadly enough, the earphones were a bit low on audio warmth too.
The Creative EP-3NC earphones do after all function well for what they’re intended, noise cancellation to be precise. Not all audio enthusiasts may be seen inclined towards the rich bass delivered though as it could overwhelm the other details particularly if you spend time listening to more from the orchestral space. It would ultimately depend on how you weigh noise cancellation over music performance. With a number of in-ear phones offering a pretty good noise cancellation function anyway, you may want to be left hearing enhanced audio. If mere isolation doesn’t help you in shutting out from your external environs, you could consider picking up these earphones at a price of Rs. 5,999 which we think is a bit pricey for earphones. We scream out an 8.5 out of 10 score for these Creative earphones.