Testing the highest-quality earphones from Daiso and the rest of Japan’s lowest-priced stores.

Something you’ll quickly notice browsing around Daiso, Japan’s favorite 100 yen shop chain is that they sell just about everything. It’s long been the first place we check first for basic houseware essentials like dishware, storage boxes, and the like, but in recent years Daiso has even been stepping up its electronics selection.

In particular, these days our ace reporter Mr. Sato has been hearing that Daiso has excellent-quality earphones, so he decided to investigate. During his shopping run, he also hit up a few of Daiso’s 100 yen store rivals to see what sort of earphones they offer, then brought them all back home to conduct a comparison of the budget-priced offerings against Apple’s much pricier EarPods.

▼ From left to right: earphones from 100 yen store chains Daiso, Three Coins, Can Do, and Seria

Before we get started, a quick clarification on price. The vast majority of the items sold at Daiso, Three Coins, Can Do, and Seria are priced at 100 yen (US$0.65), which is why they’re called “100 yen shops.” Some of their products, though, are more expensive, though still extremely affordable compared to their counterparts at non-100 yen stores. For this comparison, Mr. Sato wanted to focus on earphones available at 100 yen shops whose manufacturers boast about their superior sound quality, and so many of the ones he bought are more expensive than 100 yen, but still some of the cheapest earphones around.

● Daiso

Starting with the Daiso earphones, he actually bought two different pairs, both from the chain’s Hi-Res series. Visually, they’re very similar, with some slight differences in their metallic-colored accents. Both cost 550 yen and include an on/off button for the microphone function on the cord.

● Three Coins

Three Coins’ High-Quality Earphones are also priced at 550 yen. They offer treble, bass, and balance-focused models, and Mr. Sato opted for the bass one. You get three different sizes of ear pieces and a cord control with playback start/stop and volume control buttons.

● Can Do

Can Do’s High-Quality Dual Driver Earphones are a little cheaper, at 330 yen. They’ve got a unique two-speaker design, and a volume slider and on/off microphone button on the cord control.

● Seria

Finally Seria’s Stereo Earphones actually do cost just 100 yen (or 110 after sales tax). Though the official product name makes no claim about their sound quality, the package’s text does say “clear sound,” so that got it a spot in this comparison, despite its lack of any fancy design aesthetics or other bells and whistles.

▼ Daiso (ダイソー), Three Coins (スリコ), Can Do (キャンドゥ), and Seria (セリア)

For testing purposes, Mr. Sato selected the Tokyo-based Siena Wind Orchestra’s performance of the Rocky theme, because that’s just the sort of classy/quirky mixture that he himself embodies. To establish a baseline, he first listened to the piece using Apple’s EarPods.

With the EarPods, the sound is balanced, full, and clear, but, to Mr. Sato’s ears, lacking in character and uniqueness. So how would the other contenders do?

● Daiso Hi-Res 6071

Mr. Sato was impressed by the crisper sound these gave to the high notes, compared to the EarPods. He has to admit, though, that they’re sort of short on bass, giving the music a floaty feel. Rather than a pugilist pounding the pavement, listening to the Rocky theme had him imagining a younger, more playful Balboa who hasn’t quite found his footing just yet. Overall, though, Mr. Sato says the sound quality of the 6071 is better than the Apple EarPods’, so we’re off to a good start here.

● Daiso Hi-Res 7301

These are a marked improvement over even the 6071. The floaty feeling is gone, with great balance in quality across the sound range, and Mr. Sato likens it to a young-adult Rocky who’s just coming into his prime.

● Seria Stereo Earphones

Honestly Mr. Sato had only the lowest expectations for these, given their bottom-tier 110-yen price. They surprised him, though, by having none of the scratchy harshness he’d braced himself for. That said, there’s definitely a hazy, muffled aspect to the sound, sort of like the music is coming from the next room, or like you can hear Rocky shouting “Adrian!” from somewhere out on the street outside your window.

● Can Do High-Quality Dual Driver Earphones

Price wise, these are in the middle class of this comparison, and Mr. Sato feels that’s where they end up as far as quality too. The treble is nice and crisp, but overall there’s a sort of muffled feel. It’s like if someone in the next room over was listening to music, but with very nice speakers. These were also the least comfortable for Mr. Sato, as they tended to wiggle while he was wearing them and felt like they were about to fall out.

● Three Coins High-Quality Earphones

Now this is more like it! Three Coins’ earphones were just about on par with Daiso’s, just with a little more fuzziness to their sound. Mr. Sato thinks that may have been because he bought Three Coins’ bass-type earphones, and that the balance-type model might have improved the clarity of the sound.

So the title match here comes down to the Daiso Hi-Res 7301 versus the Three Coins High-Quality Earphones. To Mr. Sato, it’s sort of like pitting Rockey against Apollo Creed in Rocky II, a close fight, but one that, in the end, goes to the Daiso Hi-Res 7301. Yes, 550 yen does feel like a lot to pay at a 100 yen store, but compared to the 2,700 yen Apple EarPhones will usually run you, Daiso’s Hi-Res 7301 earphones are a bargain, especially when they sound better to boot.

Photos © SoraNews24
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