I thought this would make a nice followup thread to the thread I created a few years back when I bought my first Mac, as I've now purchased a pair of Bose MEI2i in ear headphones. Unlike the Mac purchase though this is not the start of a new relationship, this is a one time only thing.
I've been looking for a pair of IEMs that fit me well, literally for YEARS. I've been through probably 20 different pair of IEMs at this point costing thousands of dollars all together. I've tried everything short of the really expensive ($1000) custom IEMs. For my intended use as a daily driver that kind of money is just too much for a headphone that is likely to get tossed around or stepped on at some point. In my search I've found several headphones that sound great, but ultimately just weren't comfortable enough for extended wear.
I have two issues working against me: My ears are small and my ear canals are also pretty shallow with my eardrum closer to the surface than typical. So this rules out any IEM with a large housing and any IEM that has a long skinny tube that goes into the ear canal. Unfortunately, almost everything in the market has one of those two characteristics, something like an RHA has a nice shallow piece for the canal but a larger housing and something like the Etymotics have a nice small housing but a long canal tube. I've even tried the custom tips for the Etys and they weren't all that comfortable either, not to mention the quality issues I had with both my pair of Etys. Strangely, the Apple EarPods are the closest thing I've found to a comfortable IEM, but even their housing is too big and after an hour or so they hurt my ears and of course their sound isn't all that great.
So I was in Best Buy today and browsing through the headphone section when i saw the Bose display, and as I was instinctively walking past it something caught my eye. They had these little IEMs on display but there was this funky little white piece attached to the housing. The housing itself still looked too large for my ear but I was curious what the white piece was so did some quick research and came across info on how these things fit. They don't really go INTO your ears, they sorta rest in your ears the same way the EarPods do and don't actually insert much into the canal. The white piece is actually a piece of soft silicone or rubber that is shaped to match the ear and is what keeps them in place.
I decided to pick up a pair and see how well they fit me, and they're the most comfortable IEMs I've ever worn, by a significant margin. They just sit right in my ear, and after 3 hours this evening I have zero issues with comfort, I'm using the medium sized ear pieces. I cannot overstate how comfortable these things are to me right out of the box. There are some tradeoffs for the comfort though. They achieve that by not inserting fully into the ear which creates less of a sealed environment than other IEMs. This means they don't isolate quite as well and while I actually prefer this, they wouldn't be great on an airplane. There is a noise canceling version of this phone called the QC20 though that supposedly has great isolation and, from what I can tell, fits the same way. The other tradeoff is sound quality, but not as bad as you'd think.
The sound on these is actually pretty good, better than I imagined it would be, but these aren't what I'd call a true Hi-Fi product. The high end is a bit rolled off and the bass can be a bit much if you don't get the proper fit in your ear, but other than that the sound is pretty good. They have a pretty balanced sound, though a tilt towards the warmer side of things. The stereo image is surprisingly good as well, above average for what I've found in most IEMs near this price range. Ultimately these are on par with other most other $100 IEMs but don't sound as good as the best of those, I'd say they have average sound for the price range they're in.
I won't be using these at home where I've obviously got much better sounding gear, but for on the go and in the office at work they'll work just fine. I run these on an iPod Classic with the treble booster EQ preset (yeah I know EQ is for the devil) playing 256k files (I know, I know...). I've no delusions that these are a great sounding IEM, but I'm pretty damn pleased with the portable rig now, and the extreme comfort I get is well worth the small sacrifice in sound quality.
I won't be rushing out to buy more Bose gear, but these were a surprisingly good find.