Ten... earphones for mobiles
Klipsch Image S4i
Klipsch's popular S4 range has been doing the rounds for several years and while the pair I looked at was the S4i for Apple devices, the company has recently introduced an S4a version for Android too.
The S4i headset has a stylish sporty design and while the cable doesn't appear the most durable, in use, contact noise proved minimal. Also, for some reason, it's less tangle-prone than other rubbery equivalents.
The remote is built slightly lower into the cable than most, so while the built-in controls are easier to manipulate, the microphone is further from the mouth and is more prone to pick up other sounds besides voice. For a close mic experience, you just change the way you wear them to the cable-over-ear style. However, this sits like a fiddly chinstrap you'd get on a helmet and, when moving around, it's all too easy to dislodge the earbuds from your lugholes.
In use on a train, I noticed how the headset proved to be an excellent noise isolator. The audio is respectable too, with clear mid-to-top frequencies and a smooth bass, although it could benefit from just a tad more oomph. Still, I've heard a lot worse and the S4s can deliver extremely high levels before distorting. While the RRP does put the S4s at quite a premium for what you get, shop around and you'll find them nearer the £50 mark, which is much more like it.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Klipsch
I first encountered MEEElectronics kit whne putting together the over-ear headphones roundup earlier this year and was somewhat underwhelmed. However, the SP51Ps certainly perform better than its bigger brethren and surpassed several notable brands in this roundup.
While the design is nothing to write home about, the SP51Ps are far from beyond basic fare for smartphone users. The laminated cable design is robust and even though it can knot easily, it is simple to untangle. The built-in control/mic combo is a one button jobbie that resides to the right of the cheek. Its cylinder shape is a fiddle to navigate, but it does a fantastic job when making calls, delivering clear speech with limited background noise.
The SP51Ps stay in place firmly, but the earbuds do create the caterpillar-munching effect upon insertion, suggesting that corners have been cut in places. They're also quite big and the cog on the end of each bullet-like chamber is slightly scratchy on the ears. Yet the cog is what these buds are all about, as three different types can be fitted each delivering a different tonal colouration. While the Phonak's - which I look at later in this roundup - use a fiddly filter system for a similar effect, the SP51Ps are much easier to switch. However, you need to take care when doing so, as these small parts are all too easy to lose.
The build is a little on the cheap side – which doesn't fill me with confidence in terms of longevity – but the output is commendable and the adjustable soundscape is a feature I'd like to see implemented in more headsets.
Reg Rating 70%
More info Advanced MP3 Players