A little while back, we posted a review of the SteelSeries Free Touchscreen Gaming Controls. Today, we're taking a look at another product offering from SteelSeries, this time geared more toward the audiophiles in the audience. It's the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro Headset and these little buds mean some serious business.
As the name implies, the Flux In-Ear Pro Headset is a marked step up from the much cheaper Flux In-Ear Headset. The most visible difference comes in the unique design, offsetting the earbud portion from the cord. They say that this balanced armature provides you with more accurate drivers, allowing you to "experience a new dimension to your sound."
The Pro Box Contents
Compatible with mobile devices, PC and Mac computers, the Flux In-Ear Headset features a flat no-tangle cable. It looks and feels more like a rubber ribbon than it does an audio cable. There is an in-line mic and remote on there, so you can answer your phone calls, as well as listen to your tunes.
You'll also notice that the box contains a good deal of accessories to accompany the headset itself. Silicone ear tips are included in three different sizes to accommodate ears of different sizes, plus they've thrown in a pair of Comply memory foam ear tips. In my testing, I personally preferred the Comply tips, as the memory foam conforms to the inner contours of your ear canal far better. Also in the box, you'll find a soft carrying case, ear guides, and a couple of adapter cables.
Adapting to Your Situation
Your smartphone (or other similar mobile device) has a combination 3.5mm stereo mini jack. This is meant for both your headphones and your microphone. However, this is different from a regular 3.5mm jack that's for headphones only, as you would find on many conventional notebook and desktop computers, among other products.
Allowing you to use the Flux In-Ear Pro Headset under both sets of circumstances, you'll find that there is a breakaway cable portion at the end. One cable end has the combination 3.5mm stereo mini plug; the other cable end has the splitter for the headphone and microphone connectors. I found this to be very useful, especially when switching between different devices.
Comfort and Fit
It does take a little fiddling to get just the right fit and it can feel a little awkward to find the directional orientation of the silver part of the earpiece, but once you get it, the ear tips really stay in place. This is further added by the ear loops, which are slotted to fit the existing cable, giving an over-the-ear like design.
Overall, this made for the most comfortable and stable experience, but the nature of expanding memory foam lends itself to a different set of concerns. My ear canals could get a little sore or fatigued after a while and the snugger fit sometimes led to a bit of an in-ear itch. At that point, I'd have to remove the ear tip, deal with the itch, and then mess with getting the ear piece back in place.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that you'll generally get a fuller and richer experience with full headphones than you will with an in-ear design, but I was actually quite impressed with what the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro Headset was able to accomplish. It was best through a "powered" headset jack, but even the non-powered variety (as you'd find on an iPod) offered great sound quality.
The sound profile really is rich and complete. There was enough bass there to satisfy genres of music that are more bass-heavy, but the mid-range and highs were also admirably addressed for rock and whatever else I threw at it. I used this headset for music, movies and games and it more than adequately did the job.
There is no active noise cancellation here, but the tight seal created by the Comply foam tips and the great sound fidelity created by the balanced armature technology really allow you to immerse yourself in the music. I could still hear the slight hum of the aircraft during a recent trans-continental flight, but it was definitely muted.
MEGATechie Positive Earful or MEGATechie State of Flux?
Yes, it is absolutely true that you can find some cheaper earphones out there that seemingly accomplish the same goal as these. Many cell phone headsets can also function as regular music-oriented headphones too. That being said, the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro Headset is easily near the top of its class, offering fantastic sound fidelity for just about any kind of scenario. Whether you're listening to your favorite tunes, watching a movie or playing a game, your aural experience will be top-notch.
The thicker flat cable can be a little more cumbersome to pack away in the slightly too small carrying case, but it really doesn't get tangled (except for the regular-cabled end closer to the ear pieces). The removable ear loops are a convenient touch and the Comply memory foam tips are worth a premium on their own. If you're looking for a more premium experience and can afford the $130 street price, the Flux In-Ear Pro Headset is a solid choice that does the SteelSeries name proud.