We’re pretty big fans of music here at BGR, so we can become a little scrutinizing when it comes to the headsets we use on a daily basis. What we’re looking for is a headset that can deliver clear, clean and crisp sound at all volumes (there is nothing worse than getting garbled noise when you crank it up). Sure we have a few pairs laying around HQ that we’ve grown fond of but we can still check out some new ones from time to time, right? We’ve been testing out the Platinum i-Series and the Pro i-Series buds from iHarmonix over the past week or so and to be honest, we weren’t expecting much from these mid-range buds. You know what they say about judging a book by its cover though, so hit the jump for the skinny.
Let’s start out with the Platinum i-Series. The headset’s wires are designed nicely with a thickness and coating that keeps them from getting tangled — always a good feature when you’re stuffing them into a bag or pocket. They also have an in-line microphone with a button to send/end calls and to pause music. The build quality seems good enough for the unit to last as long as your phone or MP3 player will. Unlike the Pro i-Series, these come with three different rubber earbud sets so that ears of all sizes get the perfect fit. The sound quality is definitely impressive and beats most headsets we’ve tested in the same class and price range for sure. Bass is clear and heavy without getting distorted at higher levels and you almost feel like your chest should be getting rumbled by a subwoofer. Almost. Unlike similar headsets, the bass doesn’t take away from the mids or the treble however, so the balance is damn near perfect at low or high volumes. We came away very impressed.
Call quality on the Platinum i-Series is also very good for both the iPhone 3G and on the BlackBerry we tested them with. Although the caller can sound a little on the sharp side, it wasn’t that bad and it didn’t hurt our ears. For the most part, they sounded very natural and there was little to no background noise – even outdoors. Our friends on the other side of the line said we sounded crisp and clear, but a little distant at times. While they could understand and hear us perfectly they reported that we sometimes sounded like we were on speakerphone, albeit a really good one.
Next up is the Pro i-Series and we’re a little less excited about this particular model. The overall quality of the headset itself is just as good as the Platinum, but unfortunately it doesn’t perform as well as the Platinum when compared side-by-side. When compared to other headsets in the same price range, it is definitely above average but part of the problem is the earbud attachments. They come in large and slightly larger. The memory foam earbuds, which are like earplugs you roll and put into your ears, were difficult to place in the ear canal and were very uncomfortable. The rubber earbuds were much easier and more comfortable to wear, but weren’t a perfect fit. Because we had some difficulty getting these in our ears, sound quality suffered a bit without question.
When listening to the same songs with these headsets, we noticed that we had to turn up the volume a bit more to get the same effect as the Platinum series. However, once the volume started going up the sound started to become muddled. Of course, it probably isn’t best for your ears to listen to music that loud, but if you wanted to drown out outside noise so you can enjoy your music in a loud environment, it might sound a little distorted. Call quality is just as good as the Platinum series and has the same mic button, too. Actually, when listening to callers on the iPhone, they sounded a little better through the headsets than they did on the phone’s earpiece. Voices sounded natural and clear with little noise in the background and our friends said the same on their end.
So, are the iHarmonix earbuds worth it? At $59.95 for the Platinum and $39.95 for the Pro we definitely say yes for both — with the caveats that 1. your ears have to be the right size for the Pro i-Series to work out well and 2. you don’t need to get up near max volume, ever. For the money, it’s pretty tough to beat the Platinum i-Series and it’s definitely worth forking over the extra $20 over the Pro i-Series. The Platinum was just way more impressive — to the point where we think we’re going to keep them around for daily use.