Sound One, a Hong Kong-based company, recently launched a pair of budget wireless earphones called the SP-6. Although, it isn't a household name in India YET, the company has been selling budget headphones and speakers for a while now through online channels.
The SP-6 is designed for active use, which would typically include gyming, running, or any sort of sports activity. At Rs. 1,999, they are quite affordable too as far as Bluetooth earphones go but are they really worth it? Let's find out.
The packaging of the SP-6 is very interesting as it resembles a hip-flask, it's just a bit taller and without a nozzle on the top. The compartment that houses the earphone slides out from the top, which also has several different ear tips and a Micro-USB cable for charging.
You get four sets of ear tips of which three sets are single flange in different sizes while the fourth is a bi-flange ear tip. The earphones are built entirely of plastic and have a sporty look, which seems appealing. However, upon closer inspection we felt that the build quality as well as the fit and finish could've been better. The rubberised cable connecting both the earbuds feels durable, however after using it for a few weeks, the cable that connects to the left earphone got a bit loose on our unit.
The earbuds are designed to slip into your ear canal when you wear them and to help it secure it in place; you get an oversized wing tip which slides outwards so you can adjust it according to the shape of your ear. The right earbud has three buttons for controlling your music, along with a Micro-USB port, a microphone, and a multi-coloured LED to assist when pairing the phone.
In terms of specifications, the Sound One SP-6 supports Bluetooth 4.1, a theoretical range of 10 meters and promises up to 6 hours of battery life. According to Sound One, the earbuds are sweat resistant too and are IPX4 rated. However, earphones that can supposedly withstand splashes of water and rain, the rubber cover for the Micro-USB port is extremely flimsy and doesn't like it would last too long. The company also hasn't mentioned any details about the size of the drivers or the supported frequency range.
At first, It can be tricky to get a comfortable fit with the Sound One SP-6, but once you have the wing tip adjusted to the right level, the fit is pretty snug. They don't move about even when you run, which is good. We didn't like the texture of the rubber cable as it tends to stick to the skin on your neck, which in return tugs on the earbuds when you turn your head. The effect is worse when you're sweating, and it can be very annoying.
To avoid this, Sound One has provided a rubber loop attached to the chord which lets you secure it closer to the back of your head, so it doesn't dangle on your neck. The media control buttons feel a bit fiddly but the tactile response is decent and it's easy to reach with your fingers when you're on the move. The buttons that let you skip or go to the previous track can also be used to adjust the volume if you long press them.
We tested the SP-6 primarily with a HTC 10, among other devices. The pairing process is pretty straight forward as you hold down the power button till the LED flashes red and blue. The earphones also have a voice prompt that tells you when they are powered on or off, when it's connected to a device, or when the battery is running low. When streaming audio, we noticed the right side was always a bit louder than the left which made music sound a bit off-balance. At first we figured it was due to an improper seal from the ear tips but after trying all of them, we couldn't seem to fix it.
Audio quality from the drivers is strictly average with the bass getting boomy even at moderate volumes. This is very noticeable in Zero 7's Red Blue and Green, where the bass envelopes the finer nuances in the song. In vocal tracks like Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb, instrument separation isn't very distinct and the overall sound stage is closed off. Mid-range frequencies feel flat and treble is often swallowed up by the other notes. Upbeat tracks like Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra sound a bit better but the frequencies still lack good definition, which makes for a very dull sonic signature.
We also tested the SP-6 with videos streamed from Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. Audio quality is decent but the lower frequencies often overpower the rest and due to the lack of good instrument separation. Action sequences in movies can sound a bit jarring. We also had a poor experience with phone calls through the headset. The voice of the caller would keep cutting in and out and the person on the other end wasn't able to hear us clearly all the time. Battery life is decent as we managed to get around 5-6 hours of continuous use.
The Sound One SP-6 might be inexpensive but this comes at the cost of audio quality and the build. The funky design looks good and they fit snugly in your ears, but the fit and finish of the plastics is quite average. We also didn't like the volume imbalance between the two earbuds, which gets really annoying. Audio quality is below average too with the bass often overpowering the other frequencies and overall dull sonic signature.
We feel it's ok to give this one a miss and put in a bit more money for something like the Brainwavs Blu-200.
Price (MRP): Rs. 1,999
Ratings (Out of 5)