My testing experience suggests that the results obtained can be attributed with a certain degree of probability to other models in each price category (although there are always exceptions and different perception of sound by each individual person). I hope this article will help you decide when to overpay and when it is better to save.
So, the following participants took part in the experiment: Ritmix RH-010 for , ceramic Harper HV-801 for , sports Monster iSport Victory for 70$ and premium Astell&Kern Layla II for 2240$.
These headphones and similar ones from various Chinese brands can always be found in large supermarkets or online stores at prices ranging from 50 to . Indeed, the money is small, but is it possible to enjoy music in such headphones is a big question. It’s like a lottery. The fact is that no one will check the headphones for such a price in production in China for workmanship, the main thing is volumes. As a result, problems are immediately detected in half of the products in the batch: a non-working earpiece, strong creaking and other “joys”.
We were lucky, the purchased «ears» were not defective.
Ritmix RH-010 is sold in a plastic blister with a minimal design, and inside, in addition to headphones, two more spare ear pads of different sizes are waiting for us.
The design is simple: a round speaker cabinet, from which a wire comes out through a cylindrical tube. In-channel fasteners are located without offset. The earphones are made of plastic, they are light, but they do not sit very securely in the ear and constantly strive to fall out. Soundproofing is average. The cable consists of two braided wires connected together and bifurcates at a certain point, going to the right and left drivers. The plug is straight and without gilding.
The build quality is very poor. With careful operation, such headphones last for a maximum of three months, the average life is a month. After that, the wire near the plug is usually frayed, or one of the headphones simply stops working. In other words, with this approach, headphones will cost from 500 to 10$ per year.
Well, what about the sound? Theoretically, it is, but here it can be called music with great effort: no depth and sound of individual instruments, constant wheezing and crackling. The composition rolls into an inexpressive noise, occasionally interrupted by fragments of the vocalist’s words. Bass is weak, high frequencies are sometimes not audible at all.
So, if you are the enemy of your ears or you urgently need to listen to some kind of recording, and there is nothing better at hand, then Ritmix RH-010 can be used. But I categorically do not advise choosing them as the main headphones, especially with this quality of workmanship.
Verdict: the sound is bad, the design is inexpressive, the comfort is average, the quality is disgusting, the price is low. Not worth buying.
How to choose
Today, the offered range of products is so wide that users have a question: how to make the right choice, because it is quite difficult to understand the numerous models from different manufacturers. To choose the best option, you need to have a general idea of the various criteria for selecting headphones.
Ear pad type
The material of these additional devices has different density and affects the comfort of using the main products, they are supplied with different diameters and shapes. Made of foam, silicone or soft plastic:
- the first option is considered the most convenient, because it quickly adapts to the individual sizes of the user’s ear canal, but they quickly fail, it is impossible to clean them of earwax, only replacement is required;
- silicone is comfortable, elastic, perfectly cleaned and can be used for quite a long time;
- nozzles made of soft plastic are less comfortable in their design, because they are stiffer, but durable.
For some users, the structure of the ear canal is such that the third type of lining does not hold well in it.
The connecting cable of the headphones must be long enough for comfortable use, be strong and at the same time elastic. Manufacturers usually use round wire or the flat version, which is considered more convenient because it is less tangled, twists easily, and slips less on clothing.
When buying, do not hesitate to make a thorough inspection, especially pay attention to the quality of the body materials, if it is plastic, then without burrs. In more expensive models, composite materials or metal are used, the assembly must be strong, and the plastic is glued without gaps.
We have already talked about the technical characteristics, so we skip them, just draw the attention of consumers to the level of possible distortion, which grows in proportion to the mass of the speaker itself. Smaller products are less sensitive to distortion of any kind — in-ear devices have a fairly light weight, so the sound quality will be good.
Before choosing a model, you need to read a review on it on the Internet or familiarize yourself with testing for all the main parameters, as a rule, such a test is easy to find for almost any model on special sites.
Why, out of a huge number of headphones in this price category, did my choice fall on Harper? The answer is simple: traditionally low price coupled with good sound quality. The HV-801 is seductive with a ceramic body and neodymium drivers, which avoids the rattle associated with some plastic models and improves sound quality.
Headphones are sold in a compact cardboard box, the contents of which are packed in transparent plastic. It doesn’t look too rich, but you can’t call it wretched either. On the reverse side are all the features of the gadget. The kit comes with a case, additional silicone nozzles, a clip and instructions in Russian.
The body of the headphones, made of glossy ceramics, has a cylindrical shape with rounded ends. On the side there is a small recess with a hole through which air is taken. The inserts themselves are located at an angle to the body.
On the other hand, a cable comes out, protected from rubbing with a piece of rubber. The wire has a round thin section and a complex structure. The audio signal is transmitted using shielded wires made of oxygen-free copper. The copper conductors are covered with a black braid, on top of which there is a spiral weaving of a strong thread. All this is enclosed in a soft transparent polymer. This design looks stylish, holds up well to tearing, and even reduces tangling.
The 1.2 meter cable ends with a gold-plated straight plug. On the wire of the left earpiece is a playback control with a microphone.
HV-801 turned out to be quite heavy and felt in the ears, in addition, ceramics cool the ear a little. The soundproofing here, though not 100%, is very good: the noise of the metro at a low volume of music will be heard, but the sounds of the city are almost completely blocked by the ear pads. When walking, the headphones are stably held inside the channel, but as soon as you start running, they immediately strive to fall out.
I was very pleased with the neodymium magnets: the sound is really good quality, without interference, noise and rattles, even with below average recording quality. Maybe not crystal clear, but dynamic and driving.
The entire frequency range is well worked out: the basses are deep, the vocals at mid frequencies are heard clearly, and at high frequencies the sound is sonorous and biting. It is difficult to verify the sound of each instrument here, but still the sound does not merge into a single stream. The only thing I missed a little was the volume: the sound seems a bit flat.
Harper HV-801 are very good headphones, especially for the price. Sound quality, good sound isolation, and they look great. There are no assembly requirements either. This is an excellent choice for those who want to get high-quality sound at a budget price ().
Verdict: the sound is good, the design is interesting, the convenience is average, the quality is average, the price is average. You need to buy if you need good sound at a low price.
> Construction type: overhead (on-ear) Headphones are superimposed on the ear, which ensures the compactness of the whole design
> Construction type: full size (over-ear) Headphones completely fit the ear, so they are larger in size than overhead ones. The sound stage is also more voluminous compared to overhead ones.
> Type of acoustic design: closed The sound stage of the headphones is isolated, the headphones do not allow external noise to pass through, resulting in warm and rich sounds
> Type of acoustic design: open Headphones pass sounds both external and internal, sound isolation is relatively weak. Open-back headphones reproduce transparent, realistic sound
> Input sensitivity Measured in decibels, the sound pressure level of a signal with a power of 1 milliwatt. The higher the value, the louder the volume
> Impedance Frequency dependent AC resistance determines sound quality and maximum volume level
> Emitter Loudspeaker built into the earcup, consisting of a magnet, a moving coil, a membrane and a housing
Monster iSport Victory
Headphones should not only play music well, but also be comfortable. Now remember how often in-ear headphones began to leave their rightful place, as soon as you move from step to run. But what if you are actively involved in sports and want to listen to music at the same time?
Special sports headphones can save the situation, a prominent representative of which is the Monster iSport line. It includes several models, but since we limited ourselves to wired in-ear «ears», the choice fell on Victory.
The packaging is a folding case, inside which are the headphones themselves, fixed in plastic, a soft carrying bag, a manual in Russian, as well as a set of spare ear pads and silicone hooks. These hooks around the speaker are a hallmark of the Victory. This technology is called SportClip: soft tips are inserted into the recess of the auricle and provide a secure fit in addition to the traditional intracanal. The ear pads are also not as simple as it seems. They are made with OmniTrip technology, which allows them to conform to the shape of the ear canal.
Thanks to the use of these two chips, the headphones will not arbitrarily leave the ear during any somersaults. In addition, they provide such good sound insulation that even the rumble of the subway ceases to be captured. At first it seems even a little strange, but you quickly get used to the good.
With the help of spare tips, you can customize the Victory to fit your ears. The earbuds are lightweight (25 g) and ergonomically shaped, so you won’t experience any discomfort while wearing them.
Two more nice features of these headphones are waterproofing and antibacterial coating. Therefore, even with active sweating, the “ears” are not in danger, and if you get them dirty, then the gadget can be safely rinsed in running water.
Tangled wires? This is also not about Victory: a flat section gets confused much less than a round one. The wires are shielded to protect against magnetic interference. The 3.5mm plug is also nice, with an L-shape for durability, and a gold-plated finish to improve audio transmission.
In order not to have to pull out the phone when there is an incoming call or switching tracks, a control panel with a built-in microphone is located on the wire, which allows you to receive a call, control playback and volume.
So, in terms of operation, Victory is a clear leader, but what about the sound?
Each earpiece has one emitter. They work out well the entire frequency range from 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the bass is most pronounced here. The sound is quite clear, there are no distortions and parasitic wheezing. Although it will be quite difficult to isolate the sound of any individual instrument here, the overall composition looks nice.
You can catch the difference between Monster iSport Victory and professional headphones only when listening to music in uncompressed format. Complete noise isolation ensures that there are no extraneous sounds in your favorite music. I especially liked the way heavy and dance music sounds in them. The volume margin is decent: 50% volume is enough for most songs.
Headphones look unusual, stylish and sporty. The quality of the assembly and materials is excellent — after a long time of use, there were no problems or damage.
If you lead an active lifestyle, go in for sports, love comfort and good music and at the same time MP3 quality is enough for you, then Monster iSport Victory will be an excellent choice, although not too cheap: the price is about 70$.
Verdict: the sound is good, the design is sporty, comfortable, the quality is high, the price is high. You need to buy if you like to listen to music while playing sports.
Rating TOP-10 best models
|TOP 5 best wireless vacuum headphones|
|one||Xiaomi Redmi AirDots (Mi True Wireless Earbuds Basic)||1 000 ₽|
|2||Honor AM61||1 500 ₽|
|3||Samsung Galaxy Buds||6 000 ₽|
|four||Apple AirPods Pro||16 000 ₽|
|5||Sony WI-C400||2 000 ₽|
|TOP 5 best wired vacuum headphones|
|one||Sony MDR-XB50AP||1 000 ₽|
|2||Sennheiser IE4||4 000 ₽|
|3||Sony MDR-EX650||3 000 ₽|
|four||JBL C100SI||500 ₽|
|5||Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro HD||2 000 ₽|
Astell&Kern Layla II
Named after a composition by Eric Clapton, the Layla headphones are the flagship model in the Sirens line from renowned music engineer Jerry Harvey, who is best known for in-ear headphones. In our hands was the second reincarnation of this model, where inside each earphone there are 12 armature drivers with a four-way crossover.
Of course, it is difficult to imagine that such a device can be cheap (the price fluctuates around 2300$). And to enjoy all the delights of these headphones, you need a good Hi-Fi player that costs no less (we used the Astell & Kern AK320 model of the same brand for our experiments). Let’s see what we get for that kind of money?
Picking up a box with Layla II, you immediately understand that there is a premium device inside: large dimensions, high-quality cardboard and illustrations, everything inside is packed in foam rubber. The bundle did not let us down either: the headphones themselves, two detachable cables (with 3.5 and 2.5 mm plugs), five pairs of spare ear pads, a cleaning brush, a screwdriver for bass control and a cool metal and carbon box for carrying.
The first thing you notice: the dimensions and weight of Layla II are much larger than other in-ear headphones. But, remembering how much is inside the speakers, you immediately put up with it. To my surprise, they are quite comfortable to wear. It’s all about the special temples that are hung on the auricles, distributing the weight over them. They bend easily, have a memory effect and slightly rub the skin, but Layla II is clearly not felt weightless. Headphones are securely held in place and can fall out randomly only with a strong run.
The body of Layla II, made from a single piece of titanium, has a complex teardrop shape. Logos printed on the carbon insert. As already noted, 12 speakers are located inside: four for the lower, middle and upper frequencies. They cover the frequency range from 10 Hz to 23 kHz.
Three output channels are made of stainless steel. FreqPhase waveguide technology corrects the timing and phase of the drivers, providing each driver with a signal within 0.01 milliseconds to ensure sounds reach the eardrum at exactly the right moment.
The medium length cable consists of twisted braided wires. It came out quite tough, but it will take a lot of effort to tear or fray it. Even if you succeed, you will not have to buy new headphones, but only this cable — this is the main advantage of removable parts. It ends with a straight gold-plated plug.
There is no microphone and playback controls on the cable, but there is a special remote control, for which we need a complete screwdriver. The fact is that Layla II are reinforcing headphones and the sound they reproduce will not be to the liking of every music lover, because the basses with this design are traditionally weak. This remote control allows you to boost the low frequencies from 0 to 10 dB, making the sound more comfortable for more users.
To connect the cable to the headphones, you need to connect four headphone plugs with holes in the thickening of the wire, and then fix the structure with a special nut.
Trying different ear pads, you can change the degree of sound insulation — from medium to almost complete. Also among the complete nozzles there are those that remember the shape of the ear canal for greater comfort of use.
Well, and, probably, the main question: how does the bundle “player — headphones” sound for 5000$? Contrary to expectations, the sound could not take me to heaven from bliss.
The test started with MP3 songs. All the shortcomings of the recording were heard in the ears: wheezing, squeaks and other rubbish, which is usually cut off by other headphones.
Fairly judging that Layla II was created for lossless audio, I switched to the FLAC format. Here I was waiting for the opposite picture: the sound was perfectly clear. If you listened, you could hear each instrument, analyze the work or vocals of each musician. But another problem arose: there is no sense of integrity. And if in the case of classical compositions this effect is almost imperceptible, then when listening to rock music, the drive is greatly lost, and the instruments sound, as it were, a little apart from each other. In addition, even with the bass controls turned to the maximum, the latter are clearly not enough for heavy compositions.
Headphones were too good for my ears, accustomed to dynamic drivers. But, unfortunately, this is the specificity of all reinforcing monitors.
Layla II — headphones designed for a very limited circle of people. These are audiophiles who like the sound of armature transducers and are willing to spend half a million on portable audio, or people who are professionally involved in music, including sound engineers. For them, Layla II will be just the perfect choice, meeting expectations one hundred percent, and as a bonus, high quality workmanship and premium materials await them.
Verdict: the sound is great (for a rebar), the design is premium, the comfort is average, the quality is very high, the price is too high. You need to buy if you can’t live without good music.
Xiaomi Airdots Pro
The best Xiaomi headphones with microphone and noise reduction. The design of vacuum headphones and a case allows you to use the gadget for a long time.
Moisture-resistant coating protects earplugs from moisture and rain.
However, vacuum Xiaomi Airdots Pro are not designed for use in the pool, if a large amount of moisture gets in, it is recommended to dry the device.
Support for AAC, SBC codecs is included. Includes touch control on each of the headphones, built-in microphone for negotiation.
A cable with a Type-c connector is included, several pairs of interchangeable ear pads and a case for transportation and charging. The claimed time of wireless operation from one full charge is 3.5 hours.
The box is made of white plastic, which is prone to dirt, imprints, but is quickly cleaned with a damp cloth.
|Gadget type||headphones with microphone|
|Type of headphones||vacuum plugs|
|Moisture resistant coating||Yes|
|Frequency range||20-20000 Hz|
|The weight||11.6 g|
|Membrane diameter||7 mm|
|Charge and power indicator||Light-emitting diode|
|Profile support||A2DP, AVRCP, Hands Free, Headset|
|Wireless range||10 m|
|Duration of operation||3.5 h|
|Boxing time||10 h|
|Charging period||1 hour|
|Answer and hang up functions||Yes|
Pros of Airdots Pro:
- assembly of parts;
- secure fit of wireless earplugs in the ear canal;
- charging takes place via USB Type-c;
- stable connection with the phone;
- moisture resistant coating IPX4;
- noise suppression.
Cons of Airdots Pro:
- bulky case and large speaker sizes;
- insufficient management;
- the charge indicator is not informative;
- there is no proprietary application;
- mid frequencies;
- Voice notifications are only in Chinese.