...and as I STILL don't feel like I'm completely doing these earphones justice, here's a genre-by-genre, song-by-song run-down of what sounds good and what doesn't:
Cypress Hill - Everybody Must Get Stoned (Temples Of Boom)
- Punchy kick, crisp hats (a little harsh), clear vocals, reasonable bassline (pretty good for a canalphone), and I can actually hear the tape hiss from the recording quite (unless this was ripped from vinyl, but something I never noticed before).
De La Soul - The Bizness (Stakes Is High)
- Punchy kick, bass drops are solid, vocals and snare are a little harsh, but generally clear and crisp. The single driver performs quite well due to the sparse nature of the song.
Missy Elliot - Pass That Dutch (Respect Me)
- A little harsh and a bit muddy... Not really the earphones fault. This is standard big club fare. The only thing I've heard that can properly handle this track is my twin 15" cabs. Performs very well considering. Still manages to get a lot of punch to the bass.
Meshuggah - War (Rare Trax)
- Things get a bit messy here. This is a VERY busy track. I was surprised at the fact that the extremely fast double kick still maintained a little bit of punch during some parts, but otherwise it's just all a bit much. This is a track for big speakers and multiple drivers.
Slayer - Death's Hand (Diabolus in Musica)
- This wasn't a pleasant experience. As soon as the vocals started I was in for a rough ride. It's not a masterpiece of modern mixing, but it certainly highlights where these 'phones fall short. I've heard a lot worse though.
Metallica - One (...And Justice For All)
- This song ranged from good to great. The slower, quieter sections of the song sounded great. Everything was very crisp, and the sustain from the reverb sounded beautiful. The kick was solid and powerful. Things went from great to good in the heavier sections where the pronounched mids made the guitars, drums, and vocals a little abrasive, and the wide frequency range took some of the punch away from the kicks.
Prometheus - The Logic Of The Polyphonic (Corridor of Mirrors)
- This is a fantastic, well-layered psy-trance track. I started off listening through the VSonic's thinking "WOW" but that slowly progressed to "OW". Very solid, punchy bass, which can be clouded by everything else going on in the track. As the layers build, it becomes a little overwhelming. This music is really designed for a very large system, but I still can't help feeling everything sounded a bit worse than it should have. Even with the 2K and 8K bands dropped by 6dB things were still a bit much for these little 'phones.
Chemical Brothers - Galvanise (Push The Button)
- Again, a little harsh (especially the middle-eastern strings in the beginning), but I was pleasantly surprised by how the bass boomed through the many other layers of this track. The little hidden blips, beeps, and buzzes shone through the mix. It really brought out some good qualities of this track.
Photek - The Sever Samurai (Form and Function) -
Thise track sounded GREAT. I was really impressed by how well the drivers handled the deep bass, even during busier parts of the song. The detail in the more forgiving parts of the song sounded great. Nothing sounded harsh. In fact, I've noticed Drum'n'Bass is handled pretty well all round.
Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne Es-Dur Op. 9 Nr. 2 (VA - Träumerei - Die schönsten romantischen Klavier)
- I expected this to do well, but was disappointed. The piano lacked the necessary sparkle, and was a little bit abrasive. High notes are far too piercing.
Miles Davis - Directions I (The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions)
- This song had its highs and lows. At times I was left with a smile, and at others a pained cringe. The 'phones handle the speed and variety in the track well from the quieter fills to the busy solos. The trumpet can be a very sharp instrument though, and this is made worse by an emphasis on the mid-region.
Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy (Hard Again)
- This is a classic blues track, and it sounded really great on the R02-Pro's. It really brought out the grittiness of the track, which gives the song a great deal of character. I loved this from start to finish.
Overall, everything came through crisp and clear, and bass was deep and punchy, but I keep coming back to the harsh sounding mids. I think from this write-up I've come to understand why it troubles me as much as it does. You can't escape it! If 'phones sound a little too boomy, or lack clarity you sort of forget about it. For example, I was using a very cheap pair of canalphones given to me at work to use for audio-accompanied learning tools. They had no bass, and no highs, but I found despite the initial disgust at the sound, I forgot about the shortcomings. However, these 'phones manage the full range of frequencies very well, so when a sound suddenly jumps out and causes you discomfort you take are jolted out of the pleasant listening experience. If only the iPod had a custom EQ, I could just drop out those mids...
Overall, I found deeper, slower, non-club.gansta hip-hop, as well as drum'n'bass and blues performed very well. I was a little disappointed by the Jazz and Classical. Metal and Dance/Trance had both pro's and con's. The soundscape was vast and detailed, but I still can't get past those cutting mids.
All this said, I very much doubt you'll get a better pair of 'phones for this price.
As a comparison to the MetroFi's, going be the frequency charts alone, I would guess the problems I had would be a lot worse due to deficiencies surrounding the mids (and I believe the VSonic chart to be fairly accurate). I tried a few of these songs through the CX300's and the VSonic blows them out of the water.
Anyway, this is just my opinion of the sound compared to what I consider "perfect".
Hope this helps. I think I'll stop reviewing and just go back to listening now