These earphones are definitely clearer than my old Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71s. There isn’t as much "boom" to the bass, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking- it’s just that the bass is tight and well reproduced. Comparing the two side by side, the Shure’s are only a subjective 10-15% better- not really a reason to upgrade if you’ve already got a pair of Sony’s, but, if you are looking to get a replacement set of earphones for the ones that come with your iPod, get these.
I’ve gone through two pair of Sony MDR-EX7X earphones in 2 years. The cables are very, very thin and prone to breakage. My last set just looked pitiful. I had patched them in 4 places with Scotch tape. That’s $100 spent on earphones that have broken and are in the trash. The cable on the Shures are solid. There should be no breakage with these- and hopefully these will be my last pair for a while.
They passed the in-flight test with flying colors. I had to actually take out *both* buds in order to hear the flight attendant speaking to me. No engines, no screaming kids. If they can pass this test, they’ll block out sound anywhere.