Sunday, 13 November 2016

Syllable D900 Mini Bluetooth Earphone Review by mark2410

Syllable D900 Mini Bluetooth Earphone Review by mark2410

Thanks to Syllable for the sample.

First Impressions:  When Syllable first contacted me I have to confess I had never heard of them but I’m always happy to look at new things because every company was brand new once and never heard of by anyone, even Sennheiser and Sony.  So I had a little look and I saw the D900 Mini’s and I went ooooooh!  Time passes and one comes through the door.  A super minimalist box, all natural unbleached card that once open, you get the little box thing where you charge the things.  Okay they look super, their own little cradle case thing that closes and is held shut magnetically.  Wait, okay so I just took off the tiny little plastic covers on the charging point connectors (I figure the first thing I should is charge the things) and things light up.  But nothings plugged in, ooooh the case cradle thing has a battery in it so you can charge the little buds on the go.  How cool is that!!!  Hmm what’s not cool is that QC passed sticker, how much do you want to bet that won’t be there for long.

So once they have been all plugged in for a while and so everything is charged up.  I start to pair things.  Okay it seems I started with the wrong side, you need the one that flashes blue and red, the other will flash blue and green.  Okay so that’s done and in the ears.  I’m not sure how I feel about there being no wire at all.  Nothing, not even an over ear hook to keep them in place.  I’m not gonna lie, I’m concerned about one of them coming off when I’m out.  Hmm.  In the ears and fit, hmm not perfect, time to swap tips.  They are all a bit different, is it me or do the smallest ones look like they sit the deepest?  Okay little ones in and we have a seal.  Music time.  Ooooh there is some bass there, god its big weighty thumping bass.  Not much in the way a delicate, hmmm this could be too much bass for me.  Thick and heavy, a bit slow.  I am not sure how I feel about it, yet I do find myself half dancing whilst I make coffee so it can’t be all that negative.  They feel weird with no cable at all anywhere.

Source:  Lumia 735 and Huawei P8.

Lows:  They are big, very big, VERY VERY big.  I’m not sure I love the bass presentation, it’s too heavy, too thick, too much weight and follow through.  It ploughs through your ears like a runaway freight train.  It just keeps on going and going and going.  So if you don’t want huge bass, these probably aren’t for you.  However for many that’s going to be exactly what they are looking for.  If these were a bog standard pair of wired earphones I’d be looking at their price and I wouldn’t be ecstatic about them.  However these aren’t normal earphones, not only do they not use a main wire they don’t even have a wire running between the earbuds.  So that must mean the Bluetooth radios, DAC, amp and batteries are duplicated.  Then you have the super cool case, cradle, battery pack thing tossed in.  You’re getting tech that would have been pretty unimaginable not that long ago. 

Quantity wise the bass here is huge, fat, and somewhat overblown.  It’s really dominant and heavy.  If you love bass and want to get you’re pounding beats on then great for you.  The quality level is mainstream, thumping, pounding bass cannon.

Mids:  They are not too bad.  They share some acoustic similarities with the bass in that they share a tonality.  These are warm, thick, creamy and rather heavy.  They can be quite melodic, things likening a great big dollop of heavy cream.  I would like to see a little more light and nuance but these are taking aim at a mainstream, basstastic and powerful sound.  Vocally these are tuned for violins but for the Now That’s What I Call Running series.  Clear plain and simple vocals.  For chart topping pop they vocally work fine.   It’s not like anyone has ever accused Kesha or the blonde girl that thinks she’s fat of having the voices of angels.  They are more than sufficient for the sorts of mainstream pop music they are likely to encounter.

Highs:  They are not particularly pronounced nor are they especially detailed.  These aren’t audiophile, listening to some grand symphony, these are for thumping raw power.  They are not subtle, their treble is relatively polite in its presentation, warmed and rounded to do away with any harshness.  Yeah I’m looking Gaga’s way on that issue.  A lot of mainstream pop music is really badly made and often people use really bad bit rates on it, the treble is the first to break up and go scratchy, the D900 Mini’s round and soften any abrasiveness.  Great for beat based music that is all about thumping bass lines and stupid amounts of acoustic power.

Quantity wise, the treble is clearly bringing up the rear, bass out in front, followed someway back by the mids and then the treble not far behind that.

Soundstage:  Well they have power down, no one can accuse these are sounding small and delicate but in terms of actual distance and whatnot, not so much.  Things aren’t far off, close in and on either side of your head.  Nothing fancy here.

Fit:  Well I did find that the best fit was with the little tips though I did find it rather strange.  I’m not keen on the inner ear guide things nor did I get why the small tips one was straight.  Still I didn’t really have any problems, a tiny bit fussy but mostly fine.

Comfort:  Fine.  The bass did get rather tiring being so abundant and powerful but the things weigh nothing.  If anything I was more concerned that they didn’t feel tight and thus more securely fitted.  I shook my head about and they never moved but it felt odd.

Microphonics:  Lol, none.

Cable:  None.  Not even joining the buds which I found most strange but I liked it.

Accessories:  You get a reasonable stash, the charger case thing I really liked, mostly.  Then a little baggy and 3 pairs of tips.  Oh and a micro USB charging cable.  You see that case thing, which btw the baggy, can’t fit it.  So the hard case.  It’s got its own battery to charge the buds, I loved that.  So clever, really a great idea.  What I didn’t love was that with the tips on, they seemed to just be long enough that the left bud wouldn’t quite stay on the charging cradle and make contact with the pins.  The first couple of times I went to pick them up to use and discovered they hadn’t charged.  So in the end I found it easier to just pull the rubber tips of when putting them back to charge.  Still the blue lights and stuff, the case thing looks great.

Phone Use.  These are meant for phone use and on making a call I was told I was a bit distant, no shock there, but otherwise it was fine.  So no complaints.

Build Quality:  Mostly good though I did spot that the mesh on the end of the stalk disappeared on the right bud.  I can’t say it made much difference so I wasn’t fussed.  Otherwise they seem all fine.  They are also sweat resistant so they should survive gym use pretty well.

Aesthetics:  They are interesting visually.  I can’t say they are the most amazing lookers ever but that whole zero wire thing, it’s really visually interesting.  It’s weird there being no wire at all and it certainly makes for an interesting visual statement.

Isolation:  A bit so so.  They are clearly rather open and so they didn’t isolate a ton.  Not something I’d be super happy using on a bus or god forbid a Tube commute or flight.  Though I suspect they really are made for use in a gym.  So you probably don’t need vast amounts of isolation.

Battery Life:  Well the case thing, you can charge them from that so on the go.  If you commute, run to work in the morn you can then charge them at work in their cradle thing.  Then they are ready for the way back.  You see the battery life on the buds themselves is quoted at two hours.  Given the size of the things I don’t think that’s unreasonable but just pointing out its not huge compared to more typical wire connected Bluetooth headsets.  Oh and the two hours seemed a fairly reasonably accurate assessment.

Value:  Amazon UK has them as having been £80 but now at £40.  80 id have been taken back by and I wouldn’t have been all that pleased.  Their sound quality makes compromises that compared to a wired earphone would leave me disappointed.  Now at £40 things change a lot.  Compared to wired they would be acoustically not all that but…. and it’s a huge but, these are not just “wireless” but completely and utterly wireless.  You might think that the wire running from one side of the other isn’t that big a deal and you’re right, it’s not but……. these feel soooooo different in use.  No wire flapping about at your chin or behind your neck, nothing, nothing at all.  It’s completely freeing in a peculiar way.  No you of course realise that means all the bits of electronics inside must be duplicated in each ear so that is naturally going to drive up the cost.  40 quid to me seems pretty reasonable.

Conclusion:  These are a curious product.  In the most raw acoustic terms you don’t get the best sounding things on earth you can find for £40.  It’s pretty easy to say so, but of course you can’t really compare them to normal earphones.  Hell I’m not sure you can really even lump them with more standard Bluetooth earphones either.  Every other Bluetooth earphones I’ve played with all have some method of connecting one side to the other.  Headphones can do it in the headband so it’s effectively hidden but earphones must run a wire and it’s very noticeable.  The wire stands out and while it’s not exactly a huge trauma it is noticeable.  These have doubled up on the bluetoothyness and connect the sides wirelessly.  Which is on paper, not a big deal right?  I mean that wire linking them isn’t a big deal, right?  Well when it’s gone these seem much more magically freeing. 

So that freeing sensation is pretty damn cool, it really is.  The trade-off is that they cost more to do and so you take a bit of a hit in the acoustic quality they offer for the same price as other things can.  Though they do offer a super bassy, heavy sound that is probably going to appeal well to their target demographic anyway.  Plus just how much detail do you really need to listen to the blond girl tell you she thinks she’s fat, her mother agrees but says it’s okay because boys like girls with fat asses.  Some great parenting that, really, super great.  These are about giving you a thunderous bass experience while you exhaust yourself at the gym and they perform well at that task.

So would I / should you buy one?  Me, hmm na probably not.  They are plain and simply too bass centric for me.  For you, well do you want massive bass, thumping huge bass?  Do you want no wires whatsoever to speak of?  If you’re answering yes to both those then these are meant for you.  There is something weirdly cool and appealing at having absolutely no wires, anywhere.  Hell you can even charge the damn things with no wires around!!!  So yeah you do make a bit of a compromise on the audio quality but you clearly gain something in return.  For your £40 they are the coolest and most freeing, basstastic gym earphones I’ve seen.

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