Published on December 15th, 2010 | by Greg0
Sleek Audio’s SA1s Good Wired, Great Wireless
There is no shortage of headphones on the market and we have had our preferred picks as well as ones we would choose to leave behind on a subway seat. Sleek Audio has previously commanded our attention at CES, and we’ve recently been listening to the Sleek Audio SA1 High-Fidelity Siam Rosewood Earphones.
The most readily apparent aspect of these particular headphones is that they do not look cheap- there is no lackluster plastic in a bright, neon color, and the quality of manufacturing is obvious. Real wood (Siam rosewood) and metal complete the look that says that you are an adult and not a tween. We’ve seen others in this class- Monster’s Turbine Pro Golds, for instance also wooed us with their good looks, and our most recently reviewed pair lack looks but make it up with sound.
Indeed, looks can be deceiving. But, to our relief, for under a hundred dollars, the SA1 provided us with an ultimate listening experience worthy of a more expensive earphone. In fact, when paired with the wireless module which we’ll discuss shortly, these are some of the best wireless personal audio gear that we’ve tried. According to the Sleek Design website, damaged cables are the number one repair problem among in-ear monitors. Sleek Audio’s patented interchangeable cable design allows you to replace the cable and a one year warranty is included.
The SA1 earphones are equipped with the Variable Equalization System (VQ) which is featured on another of Sleek Designs earphones, the SA6 (though they work a bit differently). We were able to tune the earphones with two treble port options that work merely by screwing into the earphone. We could adjust the frequency response so it was fine tuned to our listening preferences in each of our earphones- independently if we wished, and changeable based on what we were listening to. The 6 mm driver in the earphones is smaller than some, but meant that it fit more easily in smaller ear canals, and that bass wasn’t overpowering (overall, we found it a bit underpowered compared to some, warmer and less jarring).
Probably the best part about the earphones was the detachable cable and W-1 Wireless Hybrid System that allows you to choose whether or not to go wireless- especially since the cables themselves were the weakest link here, fairly inexpensive-feeling and not cloth-wrapped. The CD quality 16-bit wireless system from Kleer is a nifty addition that elevates these above many other similarly-priced sibling- it will set you back a bit of extra dough, and means that you’ll have to worry about batteries though. The Wireless module offers 60 feet of range, 10 or so hours of battery life, and is lossless- meaning that audiophiles can appreciate their FLAC files without any of the distortion from lousy compression. Non-audiophile listeners might find the wireless module a bit heavy, but for those who find Bluetooth music flat or artificial, this is a great way to go. One nifty addition is that multiple people can listen to one stream- we didn’t get a chance to test it, but up to four listeners can tune in to a single source.
Sleek Audio mentioned on their website that interchangeable, colored cables were coming available in 2010. With 2010 running out of days, we will see what the New Year brings. One of our biggest frustrations that have become abundantly clear with many earphones is the ear tips. As someone with relatively small ears it is difficult to find a comfortable fit that doesn’t fall out of my ear. Six pairs are included and we found the perfect size and fit. This was music to our ears.