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Published on December 15th, 2010 | by Greg

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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.

We were able to find them on­line from Ama­zon for $80 as well as the wire­less mod­ule for $110 though we must note that they were out of stock of the head­phones at press time.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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