Disclaimer: Longtime ortofon dealer Musica Acoustics, asked me to do a photo-shoot right after the ortofon e-Q8 was introduced. I did, and got the e-Q8 to boot!
At first, I was unsure that in my hands was anything but a white e-Q7. Everything, including the chassis, case, tips, and filters is nearly identical.
Seriously, I was thinking: didn’t I review this thing before? And yes, I suppose I have. The e-Q8, which shares the e-Q7’s contours, is one of the classiest earphones out there. There are few better legacies to hang the hat on.
Ortofon are wise to not fix what ain’t broke.
Sharing the same shape, tooling, and accessories cuts down on investment costs. And it helps to establish a brand look and feel, which eschews audiophile geek for comfort and class. These are good things. The e-Q8 feels great in the ear, captures the eye, and looks fab hanging out of a suit pocket. It is a design that deserves a second lease.
That said, it is too familiar. Using the exact same body that was used four years ago is lazy.
The bad news starts off with the textile-clad cable, which is microphonic, and tangles. It is slightly thicker than the e-Q7’s is, and more supple. But it still goes thwack! in your ears when it brushes something. The textile sleeve is strong and resistant to knotting, but the floppy rubber that juts out after the y-split is neither.
Like the e-Q7, the 8 lacks a neck cinch to keep the cable from flapping out of the ears or catching on wayward pieces of clothes. To get on with it, I twist the two ends tightly below my chin. It makes me look like a dweeb, but then again, I’m used to it.
Ortofon need to ditch the textile. The e-Q5 cable is better in every single way.
The recycled chassis is awesome. Its long, hard rubber stress reliefs help steady the earphone when inserting and removing from the ear. The long, narrow body comfortably fits even the most stuffy of ears. And the ortofon ear pieces? I’ve sworn by them for years. The first thing I do when I get a new earphone is take off its ear pieces and replace it with something ortofon.
Why? They are are soft and supple. They smooth and comfortable in the inner ear. They last a long time and are easy to clean. Unfortunately, finding a pair is difficult, and can be expensive. I buy a new set of three ear pieces for around 30$ every time I hit up e-earphone in Akihabara, and probably will until they go out of stock.
The other benefit to the ortofon pieces is that, unlike some ear pieces, they exert minimal influence on sound. No stuffy wuffy, no flighty heighties, nothing. What hits your eardrums is as pure as it can be.
My wife, who is the litmus test for earphone comfort, who thought Dita Audio’s excellent earphones hurt, finds the e-Q8 über-comfortable. And so do I.
Beside the slightly thicker/stronger textile cable, the e-Q8 sports a new L-shaped plug. I think this is a great idea. When stuffed in pockets and purses, an L-shaped plug puts less stress on your player, and on the headphone jack.
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