Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Elephone Whisper Noise Cancelling Earphone Review by mark2410

Elephone Whisper Noise Cancelling Earphone Review by mark2410

Thanks to GearBest for the sample.

First Impressions:  Well that’s rather a funky box.  With clear plastic endows down either side, showing off the buds themselves and the noise cancelling / battery thingy bit.  It is a bit awkward to get into and to get the things out of it but with that done we have, the buds, 2 more pars of tips, a Velcro cable wrap thing and a USB to 3.5mm adapter.  Eh, why?  Oh, duh, the active noise cancelling bit needs power to do its thing so that’s how you charge it.  Oh hang on a second.  Their website says “More convenient with direct charge.  Models support direct charge:Mate 8, Mate S, P8, Mate 7,Honor 7, Honor 6 Plus, more models will be supported later. Other brand smartphone can be connected with USB directly to charge.”  So if I mentally translate that to English, some phones will charge / power them from their own headphone socket.  Curious that they don’t list their own phones but I do have a Huawei P8 in front of me.  Winning!  So guess what phones going to get used lots here?

In the ears, hmm, yeah they aim to be worn down but swapping the ears round up works fine.  Oh well they sit very shallow so I’ll need the big tips.  Oh, well that’s unusual.  The stalk where the tips go isn’t circular, it’s a very distinct oval.  Hmm does that mean Comply’s won’t like going on?  Well I’ll just try the big silicones for the moment.  Music comes on and they are rather good.  They sound very open and spacious.  They are clearly rather open and unsealed which is one benefit to being noise cancelling over noise isolating.  You don’t need things to be sealed which as we all know from the DUNU Titan range, that can allow for a massive audio quality boost if you don’t have to worry about being in a sealed enclosure.  Ohh lordy, that’s some meaty bass in there.  I’m not overly surprised but it’s strange being so open for an IEM.  I’m just not used to seeing it every day.  Burn in time.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, Huawei P8 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear. 

Lows:  Lol, oh my god. These things are a touch basstastic.  Madonna’ “Mother and Father” the bass line comes exploding out of nowhere and is like some gargantuan beast.  Wow, seriously dominating and very, very forceful, god it’s vast.  Weirdly it’s not centred on the mid/bass zone but into the more middling bass ranges.  The deepest lows are rather significant too.  It does trail off a little rapidly at the deep end, being open it has to.  Still, that wallop on the middleing bass is seriously powerful.  So much follow through, it just keeps on going, limitless power behind it.  I’m finding it both absurdly giddy and yet my head is telling me it’s too much.  I know it is, it really is, it’s just silly play time raaaarrrrrrr bass.  Yet I find myself finding it so damn fun.  Weeeeeeeeee!!!!  Raaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!  Welcome to crazy town.

Okay so trying to be more grown up about this.  Yeah these super bassy and its all in a rather significant hump.  Audiophile brain says no, no this is all wrong.  I know it’s wrong.  Yet omg its wooooo crazy town, wooooooooo!!!!!

Is it because they are open backed that this quantity of stupid bass isn’t making me feel oppressed and sinus killing as other super bassy things do?  I do think so.

Mids:  They are pretty good.  Now they aren’t taking centre stage anytime because the bass is completely in control but with that absence of mid/bass dominance the mids are rather more distinct than is common such bass centric stuff.  Mids are a little bit warmed tonally and they aren’t the most explicit in the detail either.  Very vocal heavy stuff from the like of Tori and Norah sound pretty good, not great but I’m happy with them.  Really what these are meant for is poptastic chart topping party time.  The enthusiasm that these have in the bass want to drive the show and have a sense of pace and rhythm.  Tori and Norah are just too slow and laid back.  These want a little spark of energy to liven up everything.  They need speed to kick that bass alive and the mids, well, they are just coming along for the ride.

So quantity wise they are clearly behind the bass and maybe a touch ahead of the treble.  The quality is perfectly fine.  There is a bit of thickness and for something so open it hasn’t gobs of air.  Still it’s perfect for pop tunes.

Highs:  With it being so open I thought it would have an airiness, that upper end delicacy but it doesn’t especially.  The detail is fairly good and the treble tonally is mostly in the lower treble and middling treble ranges.  It feels a little exact and dampened.  However I did note that with a more powerful amp and a bit brighter amp, the treble rather opened up.  Back on the P8 it was a bit more subdued and lacked a little something.  Not bad or anything just a little less enthusiastic.  Hmm yeah they fine but I’m just not feeling it.  I want to plug them back into the big amp.

So quantity wise they are mostly coming in third place only a little bit behind the mids and they are reasonable but nothing special.  Detail levels are fine.  I feel much of their potential may be going to noise cancelling or maybe it’s down to their being a bit hissy.  They are able to go stupid loud with incredible ease so maybe that’s it.

Soundstage:  For being rather open they aren’t super-duper vast but they are easily spacious sounding for their price. That open backing allows for a big sound. Which is a bit strange with the vast bass but interesting.

Fit:  Great actually.  I thought at first they might be a little problematic but no, they are shallow fitting so I went with the big tips and then it was great, worn up or down.

Comfort:  Well physically they were great but all that mountain of bass did eventually get rather tiring on my ears, fun but relentless.  After a couple hours my ears were beginning to really feel it and the volume would just get turned lower and the most bassy of tracks skipped.

Aesthetics:  I really like them.  I’m always a sucker for metal, especially this gun metal colour.  I can’t speak for all but they look rather good to me and so does the noise cancelling box / Y splitter.  They look rather classy and civilised.  They also come in a strikingly vibrant blue colour.  It looks interesting but soooooooo attention grabbing I’m not sure if I would love that, it’s certainly eye catching though.

Microphonics:  Worn down I got quite a bit.  Worn up not so much but the inclusion of a chin slider would have been helpful. Seem’s a silly omission to me.  Naturally being open there was no occlusion foot fall thumping generated.

Phone Use:  So I plugged them into my N5 and made a call.  The recipient didn’t seem to even notice I was on a headset.  That is a rarity and thus I would say that placed these rather high up on working great as a phone headset.  Maybe that’s the NC tech doing something special?  No idea but whatever they do it apparently works great.

Isolation:  very little.  These are highly open so isolate hardly any.

Noise Cancelling:  So in general I prefer isolation to noise cancelling.  Isolation blocks everything, noise cancelling works by creating an inverse wave form to an external sound to effective cancel it out.  Now that’s harder to do with complex wave patterns.  From the manual I can also see that the nose cancelling operates from circa 0Hz to 4000Hz.  However if you look them up on the Elephone website you’ll see they provide a frequency response curve and it varies rather a bit.  This is the nature of noise cancelling tech.  In use though, well the thing I noticed most effectively is the elimination of fan noise.  You see my desktop computer, for reasons, is pretty loud.  One fan in particular makes a very noticeable noise and when I have the Whispers in my ears, NC turned off I can hear it clearly.  If I turn it on….. the fan disappears.  It runs at pretty much a constant pitch and the NC works perfectly on it.  I don’t fly often but engine noise is more or less the same thing.  It is perfectly suited to the abilities of NC technology.  Yet other sounds it does less well on.

Amped/Unamped:  Well they rather did do better when amped.  Most noticeably in the treble but they are so sensitive and easily driven they don’t need power on the whole. Indeed these I feel are rather intended to be used with a phone driving them.  Hence the microphone on them.

Cable:  It’s good.  Nothing super special, nice texture, bit rubbery feeling.  The jack is nice too and the battery / noise cancelling bits all being integrated into the Y splitter is a good move.

Build Quality:  Everything seems rather nice.  Bar the cable lots of it is metal, the back of the buds are plastic but the face plate is metal and the mic, jack and Y splitter are all metal clad.

Accessories:  Well you get a moderate bundle.  The 3 pairs of tips is common, then you get the USB to 3.5mm adapter so you can charge up the NC battery.  I am a little disappointed to see no little case so I would suggest if you want them to live long, get one.  Things stuffed into pockets tend to get crushed and killed.

Value:  Well.  As just a pair of earphones then $60 or about £47 seems pretty reasonable.  Their sound quality is pretty decent and they are a nice shape in the ear.  The draw though is the Nose Cancelling tech.  If you want that, then these are really cheap.  Noise cancelling stuff tends to be much more expensively priced.  (Cough, Bose, cough.)  Then these seem like wild bargains.  Plus they do sound pretty good too.

Conclusion:  So, these are strange things.  I like their looks a lot and I really like the buds shape. They are super-duper comfy in my ears.  Plus they sit so shallow and are so open there is no air compression nor acoustic occlusion effect going on.  They are really nice.   The things they don’t isolate at all of course binge so open but they don’t need to because they have Noise Cancelling.  Thing is NC isn’t perfect and while for certain things, constant droning sounds like a PC fan for aircraft engine they do great.  For random noise it’s rather less so.  I’d love a quick trip to London to test them on the Tube and see how they do there.  If you can’t stand the feeling of being cut off from the world like isolators do then these may be perfect for you.

Acoustically, they are rather good.  Waaaaaaaay over bassy fun cannons but while that got ear tiring I still kept finding them really entertaining.  The bass, vast and unending but because it’s not in a sealed chamber it just didn’t oppress my ear drums like a sealed earphone would have.  I’m not normally keen on bass of this vastness due to the pressure it exerts but these didn’t have that effect.  Thus they could turn their hand to just about anything and I didn’t yearn for the bass to go away.  This is what you can do if you are open backed.  Its acoustically really super fun.

So would I / should you buy one?  Me, maybe.  It’s a lot of bass and while it’s not killing my ears it’s not my favourite style. They are super comfy though and the NC stuff is interesting.  If I had a really long flight ahead of me I’m pretty sure these would make it into my carry-on bag.  Mind you so would an Ety just in case.  For you?  Well if you are someone that has problems with sealing your ears, I know some people find it extremely disconcerting and thus can’t use almost any IEM’s.  These being open backed don’t have that effect so they might be perfect?  If that’s you then these would be well worth the cash to give a go.  As NC tech goes it works well and these are metaphorically, cheap as chips.  (It’s a UK colloquialism.)  So with the fact their sound quality is really rather decent too there isn’t any reason not to grab a set.  It is a very nice first offering from a brand that I hope to see many more from in the future.

Edited by mark2410 - Today at 7:44 pm

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