Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/05/headphones_ausio_chi_w_series/

Audio Chi W-series headphones

Virtuoso performance on the cheap

By Caleb Cox

Posted in Hardware, 5th October 2010 07:00 GMT

Review While not exactly a household name, Audio Chi has been making noises with its claims that its W-Series headphones can deliver quality audio yet remain in realms of affordability. Indeed, some things have to be seen heard to be believed. The W-series are lightweight, with a simple physical design. Accessories include a travel bag and a 2.5mm adaptor, handy for those with compatible mobile devices.

Audio Chi W-Series

Audio Chi's W4 heaphones

The W-series utilizes “Structural Acoustics Technology”, a phrase coined by Audio Chi to describe its approach to engineering. In effect this term describes certain the physical attributes – reinforcing drivers with a titanium coating to prevent distortion and adding a copper clad aluminium voice coil. Other features include gold plated connections and neodymium magnets. All good stuff and suggests Audio Chi hasn’t cut corners yet still keeps the cost down.

When worn though, the black W4s are not Mickey Mouse-ear clunky, so you shouldn’t get strange looks walking down the street. The compact design, now available in eight colousr schemes: from all black and all white to blue and white, gold or even pink, the range has colours to appeal to all sorts from fashion conscious teens to those preferring a lower profile.

The overall design is pretty basic; the padded leather-effect headband has quilted stitching that, up close, is a bit tatty in places. Extending from the clasp at each end of the headband, a sort of chrome-plated coat hanger wire arrangement clamps each driver. Pull this metal frame apart and the driver pops out, as the sprung metal ends just slot into a hole on either side of the driver housing. Be careful though, as it’s easy to scratch the plastic covering when putting them back again.

Audio Chi W-Series

The W10 model is one of the eight colour variations currently available

The cabling has a fibre weave coating, which makes it almost impossible to get the cable tangled. Attaching to a driver from 3.5mm jack port, the cable disconnects with a heavy tug, preventing damage. Although spiralling into little coils, I was pleased that the cable didn’t get knotted up once and saved countless minutes often spent picking apart the usual spaghetti of rubberised cabling.

Audio Chi W-Series

The W4s simply sit on the ears rather than cover them – Beyer DT100s they certainly are not. Yet the drivers can swivelled round for quite a snug fit which helps with noise isolation, which could be better, but not a major problem in low-key environments.

Audio Chi W-Series

Breaking sound barrier: low cost doesn't have to mean cheap sounding

Sonically, the W4s have good definition and separation. This is possibly an effect of the “Super-Aural Driver Positioning”, which as the name suggests, is designed to optimise the listening experience. According to Audio Chi, thought has gone into the driver placement to deliver a natural output that adds more depth to the sound. The company suggests it’s “three dimensional… just like being in a live performance”. While I wouldn’t go that far, there is a certain airiness to the response.

No doubt the top-end performance helps to enhance this spacious effect, yet the mid-range seems to lose some clarity with vocals, especially male ones that can sound a bit flat. The lower frequencies are vibrant, not too overwhelming and do the job, however, something is missing from the bottommost depths. This was especially noticeable when listening to Drum ’n’ Bass, where you really want to feel the low end. But then again, these are headphones and there will always be limitations with the bottom end performance.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

The mid-range could be better defined but overall, the sound quality is above average, especially for the price. While they don’t exactly deliver monastic noise isolation, for £50, the Audio Chi W-Series headphones represent good value for money and are definitely worth a listen. ®

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