In case your portable audio budget doesn’t quite stretch to the heights of Shure’s new $1,999 KSE1200, here’s a more attainable alternative: the $33 Tunai Drum. These earphones surfaced on my horizon courtesy of a Kickstarter campaign that had them going for as cheap as $9 for the earliest backers. I was curious to hear how much headphone one gets for such minimal cost. It turns out that the Drum give you a hell of a lot — lots of bass, lots of fun, and very little to complain about.
These days, most people have multiple pairs of headphones and earphones. Some are fancier than others — we can differ in our preferences — but as a general rule, everyone needs a disposable pair that they can toss in their bag without a protective case or much care. This is the role that the Tunai Drum are ready to step into. They’re made out of simple, generic plastics, which makes them featherlight and quite durable. They also don’t exhibit any obvious branding and come in a choice of highlight colors.
The wire is vehemently resistant to tangling and kinks, and each earpiece feels rigid and durable. I’ve not been particularly kind to these earphones in the three weeks I’ve had them for testing, and they’ve endured tumbling around inside my backpack without a scratch or a blemish. The spot at which the cable attaches to the earphones isn’t protected by any sort of strain relief, and could thus be a potential point of failure, but I doubt that will be a problem without some truly awful calamity befalling these earphones.
The light weight of the Drum makes them easy to fit and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I like the silicone tips provided in the box, and I expect most people will find a good fit with them. The wire doesn’t weigh these earphones down at all, making for a hassle-free experience of using and wearing them. I might have liked to see a volume control integrated rather than just the play / pause button and microphone, but in the current age of needing a dongle for most phones, a proper remote control probably would have been incompatible with a bunch of devices anyway. The only real downside to the Drum’s design is that they do leak out sound when I turn my music up, more so than a solid metal enclosure might allow.
If I sound especially forgiving about the Drum’s few deficiencies, that’s because I am. These earphones do the one thing I advocate all headphones should: they emphasize the bass. Their sound is sweet and enjoyable, easy to get into right away and also easy to disregard when you need to focus on something else. Mind you, it’s nothing groundbreaking or hi-fi (despite the Hi-Res Audio certification that Tunai touts for the Drum), as that bass can feel bloated and imprecise at times. The tuning of these earphones also pushes back the mids, which deadens vocals and makes the sound feel veiled. There’s not a huge deal of treble extension, though there’s enough to provide some high-end excitement to contrast the bass.
In genre terms, don’t bother with these if you’re a classical or jazz music enthusiast, but feel free to buy half a dozen if your preferences lie closer to hip-hop, EDM, or distorted rock guitar.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.