Recently I reviewed a pair of in-ear headphones that both cost only $12 and were Hi-Res Audio certified. And they were very good.
I found them on Amazon from a company called Dodocool, and having been so impressed with them I went back to see if there were any others. And there are, like this $25 pair of slightly better-equipped sports headphones.
And it's pretty much the same story as before.
What is Hi Res Audio?
From Sony, the pioneer of Hi Res Audio:
The image above is a good way to see the benefits of Hi Res Audio. More sample points produce a wave form closer to that of the original recording. As such, you get more detail in the audio files, which in turn means they're much larger.
Having the Hi Res Audio badge doesn't automatically make a set of headphones better, though, as What Hi-Fi explains:
- Certificate: Hi-Res Audio, FCC, CE, RoHS
- Mylar thickness: Titanium diaphragm 6μ
- Driver diameter: 9 mm (dynamic)
- Impedance: 16 Ohms @ 1 kHz
- Output S.P.L: 100±4dB @ 1kHz with 126mVrms input
- Frequency response: 10 Hz ~ 45,000 Hz
- Noise isolation: -23 dB of ambient stage noise
- Microphone sensitivity: -42±4dB @ 1kHz Vs=2.0 V
Are they any good?
In all the marketing jargon you'll see exactly that, jargon, but the truth is fairly simple. Compared to the last set of headphones I reviewed from this company, the bass is a little heavier (which I don't like myself) but the overall experience is better.
Ignoring the Hi-Res Audio label, they sound very good with a very clear, fairly well-balanced and punchy sound. The bass isn't that heavy, and as with the last pair, they really shine when listening to lossless audio files and streams from Tidal.
Not only is the sound quality exceptional for something so cheap, they're very comfortable and do a very good job isolating background noise. With these being marketed as sports headphones, you get a little wing on each earbud to hook it into the inside of your ear. There are three different sized buds included helping you get the best fit possible.
The build quality is also a step up from the cheaper pair, too. These are still entirely plastic, but they're leagues better made. The plastic feels less cheap and the biggest complaint of the others, the thin, nasty wire, isn't here. Instead, you get a flat cable that while not totally tangle-free, doesn't do a bad job at staying in some order when you shove them in a pocket or the neat carbon fiber effect case that comes with them.
The bottom line
Like the last pair of Dodocool headphones I've tried, these have left me very impressed. Especially considering the price. I have much more expensive in-ear headphones that don't sound any better than these, and they are less comfortable.
Using in-ear headphones is always a compromise. Hardware alone dictates you just won't get the same sound as you would from a proper set of headphones. The Hi-Res Audio badge here is a bit of a gimmick, but their performance is not. These have earned a spot in my pocket when I leave the house, and if you're looking for something inexpensive, they might do the same for you.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine