Able Planet recently sent me a pair of their Clear Harmony SI1100 sport earphones featuring their LINX AUDIO technology to test out. These are in-ear earphones with a twist, they have rubber hooks or arms that rotate into place behind your ears to keep the earbuds in place. If you've ever worn plain in-ear cans, you'll know they eventually wiggle out no matter how tightly or far in you shove them, especially if you're doing something active.
The SI1100 come with a hard carrying case, and 3 sets of rubber earbuds of varying sizes. It's important to pick the ones that fit best, because in-ear headphones can be either too tight and uncomfortable or fall out easily. I thought it had a great fit and while it felt fairly firm and snug when I first put them in, I quickly forgot they were in there. The flexible rubber arms really did a great job of keeping the earphones in place. They are a a bit cumbersome to put on – rotate the arm out, stick the earbud in your ear, then rotate the arm behind your ear. So no, not as quick as say iPhone earphones, but why am I even comparing those to these?! Like anything else, I got used to putting them on after a while. They were much easier to take off – just pull them straight out; the flexible arms makes this easy.
So what about the sound? I found some of my music that feels like it swirls in my head with good headphones (try out some Jean-Michel Jarre – I really like Equinoxe and Oxygene), and the SI1000 showed really great separation. One thing that I'm not a fan of, despite it being a popular trend, is an ‘extra' bass response. The SI1000 doesn't fall into the category exactly, but at lower volumes, the frequency response does skew to the bass. At higher volumes – loud enough to block or mute out a lot of external sounds, but not ear-bleeding levels, I thought the frequency response was nicely balanced and the sound was pretty clean.
These are not meant to be noise-canceling, so don't buy it with that in mind, but it does a much better job of sound isolation than standard earphones, especially with the earbuds already angled for optimum ear insertion.
One feature that I did not test extensively, but that just worked was the iPhone/iPad volume control and mic embedded in one of the headphone. The buttons are fairly small, so you may find them a bit tough to use. But this could be useful if you use these while exercising and don't want to take them out in order to talk to someone.
While at $80, it may be seen as a bit pricey, if you're into and can appreciate good fidelity in your music, you should be buying headphones around that price. Headphones/earphones really do fall into the category of ‘you get what you pay for', and sure there are outliers, but you'll more than likely get quality commensurate with what you spend for them.
(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)