The audio world is known for dubious claims about the marginal value of esoteric materials. But the new fashion, ceramic earbuds, seems to have substance. Based on listening to a few models here at the IFA Berlin tech show, I could discern the much-touted "neutral" audio quality. It doesn't make the high notes too tinny or the bass mushy or booming.
A range of music from an iPhone — from Pink Martini's "Anna" to Led Zeppelin's " Battle of Evermore" to Mastodon's "Blasteroid" — sounded freakishly real. I felt more there, perhaps, than if I had actually been there.
What I couldn't discern was a big difference between two new sets: the $899 Sennheiser IE 800 and the $120 Moshi Keramo. Moshi does brag about having an asymmetrical ceramic housing to reduce echoes. (It also provides a mic for phone calls.) All I can verify is that it sounded really good. For it's part, Sennheiser claims a much larger frequency range. Once again, it sounded great.
I don't want to do Sennheiser a disservice by basing criticism on my ignorant ears. I’m not a musician, with a very fine-tuned sense of tone and pitch. Someone like that might hear more in the IE 800 (due out this month) and find it worth the expense.
But for a casual listener, who maybe hasn't even heard of ceramic headphones, Moshi's Keramo (due in October) would probably make them very happy.