Specter Audio Efitz Sports Headphones REVIEW
Much of my broad taste in music originated with my parents and our trips from San Diego to Texas. Over the past 35 years, I have observed the change from tape to compact disc and then to digital. When it comes to portable listening, we have come a long way from the large and bulky over-ear style cans of the past. Now we have over-ear, on-ear and in-ear devices. Each has pros and cons for music quality, bass quality, fullness, staging, portability, and comfort. I have found that I jump back and forth between over-ear and in-ear and hardly ever use on-ear as the sound proves to be weaker specifically in the bass.
I do not understand the Efitz name. It reminds me of “F it,” which did get a little chuckle from my wife when I told her I was reviewing the device. It arrives in a black 4″x4″ square 2 1/4″ deep box with EFITZ in gold font. The back of the packaging details the features of the earphones: answer/make phone calls, noise cancellation, song selection with tapping the earphone, Bluetooth, voice control through the headphones, IP7 water resistance and 10-hour playtime. Within the packaging, you will find the earphones resting in form-cut foam. Beneath this is a bag of accessory tips (large/medium/small closed ear tips and medium and small semi-closed ear tips) and a short USB A to USB micro cable and an instruction manual. I chose the closed small tips as they felt the most comfortable in my ears. To power on the device, hold the central button for 3 seconds. A female voice will alert “power on.” Navigate to Settings on your smart device and choose Efitz from the list. The same female voice will alert “phone 1 connected.” Place the device into the canal, loop the ear hook over the ear and enjoy.
There is an inline controller located 4 1/2″ from the right earbud. This is reasonable well placed and works well to control your phone. There are 3 buttons +/-/o, which will adjust the volume up or down for short presses and change the song forward or backward with long presses. I find this configuration to be the most enjoyable. When the short press changes the track and the long press changes the volume, I find it difficult to have fine control over the volume. The middle button will allow you to pause and resume, answer a call or end a call. There is a microphone just adjacent to the “-” button. Similar to other devices, the microphone seems to work pretty well in closed areas but seems to pick up on ambient sounds: road noise, the wind, animal noises. The listed HD microphone did fair better than other devices I have tested. My wife even noted that this was more enjoyable than she expected. Additionally, Siri functionality proved to be very responsive.
The battery is listed as chargeable in 2 hours and will provide up to 10-hour battery life. The range of the device was roughly 30feet and on par with most Bluetooth devices. I had some minor connection issues, similar to most of the Bluetooth headphones I have tested. This was enhanced with ambient tech and with placing even a single wall between myself and my iPhone 7 plus. I found that the charging time was just at 2 hours but with continual use of audible listening to books, I was able to get 8 hours of play before hearing the low battery warning and finally shutting off the device. I did not test the 5.5 hours listed talk time as I do not like to talk on the phone with this type of a device, nor does my wife.
There are two main reasons to care about a pair of headphones. Do not misunderstand, there are multiple reasons involved in an ultimate decision, but two decisions seem to be gateway choices. The first reason is comfort. If the headphones hurt, if they cause fatigue, if they have a low desirability for use, they are not worth any price. I appreciate companies that include extra tips and think about comfort. For an in-ear system, comfort and fit prove to be much more important than for over-ear systems. You can find some kits that are mono-flange, dual-flange, triple flange, foam, plastic, silicone etc. The Efitz headphones provide a large bag of options, unfortunately, they are all single flange and really feel similar. I did ultimately choose the closed small tip, as listed.
The headphones are not terribly heavy but suffer from similar weaknesses of other wired devices. Namely, you must overcome the plight of the cord hitting you with movement. With the appropriate fit tips, you will notice that there is not that much wiggle with movement. The over ear hooks secure the headphones from pulling out of the ear. Honestly, the headphones are well weighted and you will likely note even notice the in-line controller. I was able to run on my treadmill and play baseball catch with my son, without losing good fit. If you add head turning and side to side movements, the headphones will likely fall out. Additionally, they are not specifically designed for swimming. They are listed as IP7 water resistant and thus showering, sweat and 1 meter of submersion for 30 minutes should cause no harm. To test this, I did have them in the shower and I left them in a shallow buck of water for 10 minutes. The sound worked just as good. Make sure that the charging port is closed on the side of the controller.
The second gateway requirement is the sound. They have to fit well and they need to sound good. Additional bells and whistles are appreciated but matter nil if the speakers are weak. One of the first gauntlets that each device must pass through is the audiocheck.net test file. I start with the Low-Frequency Range test (10–200 Hz). Humans should be able to hear from 20Hz- 20Khz. Using the test file, I was able to hear sound at 30Hz but there was an abnormal high-pitched whining that was audible at all levels. I have not had this experience with other devices, but I do not base all judgment on a single test. Also, I did all audio checks prior to any water testing.
Step 2 as the high-frequency range test. I typically can hear at 15KHz, which is better than most adults my age. Using the headphones I was able to hear sound at 16KHz. The high pitched whining was not audible on this test. The third test that I used is the stereo perception and localization test “The Real thing.” If you have not experienced this, it is a really neat staging/true sound demonstration. You will think someone is literally knocking beside you and behind you. You can use the Left/Right stereo sound test to prove that the device is stereo.
With the technical testing over, I turn to my favorite review songs. If you have read many of my reviews, you will know that I like to use the same songs to test all of my headphones. This lets me compare similarities across the speaker units. The Eagles “Hotel California,” Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen “Somebody to Love” Billy Joel “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel and Meat Loaf “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” are some of my favorite test tracks. To test the bass I have tended to use Dark Knight Joker Theme “Why So Serious,” from 3–4 minutes and really any of the Gladiator Soundtrack. For a great sense of the bass, play Star Wars Attack of the Clones opening Sequence and listen to the rumble of the spaceship. To test the instrumental quality and fullness I use Robinhood Prince of Thieves Soundtrack, the Far and Away and Braveheart Soundtracks. I found that the higher range was good, the midrange was good but the bass had some issues with high pitched whining in the background. This is not noticeable with multiple frequencies but is noticeable with bass heavy/bass localized sounds.
The headphones are comfortable and the variety of tips prove to be a very rewarding feature. The best feature is really the noise canceling properties of the headphones and water resistance. I think the perk for these headphones is for gym/training and for semi-aquatic sports as well. The high pitched whining at lower frequencies was a little annoying, but not a deal breaker. To prove the quality of the sound reduction, turn on your TV and then put your headphones into the ear canals. You will struggle to hear the sound from the outside world. I had some mild connection issues at around 28–30 feet and beyond 20 feet if there was a wall. This is about on par with many other devices. The design is likely going to be a love it/hate it relationship. I thought initially I would dislike the shape but ultimately loved it. I do wish that there was a case for all of the tips/device.
Definitely, give these earphones a look if you are looking for a reasonable pair of gym earphones. I would rate them overall at 4/5 stars.
Originally published at macsources.com on April 13, 2017.