Moshi earphones, like the Vortex Pro, tend to deliver quality audio in an affordable package—and look good doing it. The Moshi Keramo is no exception—this $119.95 (direct) pair of in-canal earphones deliver crisp, articulate audio with decent, if not overwhelming, bass response. Their shiny ceramic contour is alluring, and the earphones ship with a solid array of accessories. Bass lovers seeking booming low-end: This pair isn’t for you. If you’re interested in a flatter response, however, the Keramo delivers affordable, distortion-free audio.
Like the other Moshi earphones we’ve tested, the Keramo is well-designed, with a modern look. The earpieces are ceramic, with a high-gloss, metallic-black contour that’s eye-catching, while the black cable is cloth-bound and is a little more resistant to tangling than the average pair. Each ear tip is semi-transparent, but dark, and the base is either white (for the left earpiece) or red (for the right).
The Keramo ships with a total of six pairs of ear tips in various sizes—about twice as many as what you might expect in this price range. And you also get a snazzy, semi-open felt-covered snap-shut case that includes a winding loop for the cable and molded compartments for the earpieces.
The cable includes an inline microphone and remote control for mobile devices. Call clarity is about what you’d expect. You and your call partner will understand each other clearly—or, if you don’t, it won’t be the fault of the Keramo’s mic.
Interestingly, Moshi offers a “burn-in” tool app, claiming the tones and frequencies it plays will help you more quickly get the Keramo’s drivers into tip-top performance condition, which ostensibly improves their overall performance. However, when we downloaded the app, it was unable to complete the burn-in process because the app could not access the Internet, despite the iPhone having a full Wi-Fi signal and loading websites without issue before and after these error messages appeared. Presumably, Moshi can address this bug for future users, but we were unable to test the app.
On tracks with deep bass, the Keramo fares well, reproducing sub-bass content, like the deep synth drum hits in The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” with power and definition. At top volumes, it doesn’t suffer from any distortion on these or other frequencies. This is probably not a pair for bass lovers craving seriously boosted low-end, but if your tastes are more on the balanced side of the equation, Moshi does a good job of providing enough low-end end push and plenty of high-frequency presence to keep things clear.
On Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” vocals receive a nice high-mid edge that helps them stay clear and defined in a mix that can, on overly bass-boosted headphones, sometimes sound muddy. The drumming in the background, on bass-heavy pairs, often sounds thunderous and competes with the vocals for your attention, but here, it’s the opposite: They could use a bit more power in the low frequencies.
This tells us that much of the bass presence on the Keramo is focused on the lows and low-mids, but less so on subwoofer-realm frequencies. The headphones that tend to boost these too much are the pairs that make the drums on “Drover” sound overly thunderous, but the Keramo’s near-avoidance of the sub-bass realm makes things sound occasionally weak.
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” allows the bass response of the Keramo to be a larger part of the story. Here, the low-mid sustain of the kick drum loop has a nice oomph to it, while the underlying sub-bass synth hits are delivered with more gusto than the drums are on the Bill Callahan track. It’s still not an intense low-end presence, so bass lovers are advised to look elsewhere. But the overall mix, while retaining high-mid clarity on vocals and the attack of the drum loop, does feel more full and intense in the lower frequencies on this track.
On classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” the high-mids and highs once again steal the show. Higher register strings and brass get the bulk of your attention, while lower register strings have a decent amount of low frequency presence, but could use a bit more body to them. The same is true of the big drum hits at the end of this track—it’s better to err on the side of a more natural tone, which the Keramo does, but the hits could definitely use a bit more low-frequency presence, perhaps a hint more of sub-bass response.
If you’re looking for bigger bass in this general price range, the Jays t-Jays Three brings a heavier low-end response and crisp—if occasionally too bright—highs, while the TDK EB950 is another excellent bass-lover’s option for the same price as the Keramo. If you don’t need gobs of bass, but would like something a bit better rounded—and can spend a bit more—the Harman Kardon AE is a solid choice, while the Shure SE215 remains a winner in this range, thanks not only to its well-balanced response, but its detachable cable, and under-$100 price. The Moshi Keramo is a distortion-free, crisp, clear earphone pair that’s certainly a worthy competitor, it just exists in a very crowded field.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc