Review: Sleek Audio SA-1

Our score: 4/5
Reviewed: February 9, 2010 11:00 PM
Published: February 9, 2010 11:00 PM
By Tristan François
Flushed with the success of its new concept for in-ear headphones with sound you can adjust on the fly, Sleek Audio is back with the new SA-1s, a more affordable option with just as much room for customisation.  Even better, they're made of wood!

Handling: wood and metal make for a classy, comfortable finish

The two most common materials in high-tech products are plastic and metal, with every imaginable variety of each used somewhere or other.  So, when Sleek decided to use wood in these new headphones, that was always going to get noticed: especially given the choice of rosewood, more commonly found in musical instruments.  It's not just an aesthetic choice, apparently, but also an acoustic one.  Associated with the aluminium trim, the wood looks very stylish, and gives the SA-1s a different feel to the SA-6s, which go for a more high-tech style.

There's a reasonable selection inside the packaging, with a case, six pairs of ear tips and two filters.  We were also impressed by the detachable cable.  Not only does it mean you can replace the cable if there is a problem with it, but it also makes the SA-1s compatible with the wireless kit that was launched concurrently with the SA-6s.

The headphones sit well in your ear and aren't like to prove a nuisance.  You could even pass them over the top of your ears.

Audio Quality: more basic filters, but still effective

The system of acoustic filtering found on the SA-6s has been simplified here.  There are now only two filters, one favouring treble and the other bass.  They're easy to install and screw into an aluminium mount, which is better than the support on the SA-6s.  Screwing them in is a piece of cake, but you need to be careful not to damage the screw thread.

We were impressed when we listened to the SA-1s.  The mid-range is spot on, with treble audible without been aggressive and bass that isn't left behind, even if we have heard better.  The whole thing sounds more neutral than some equivalent headphones.  Don't expect them to sounds as good as the SA-6s, Q-Jays or Audéo PFEs: it's nothing like that and still sounds like in-ear headphones with a membrane.  Adding the filters gives a more playful sound, which some listeners will be happy with.  

With a wide spectrum and good handling of space, the SA-1s give other in-ear headphones a run for their money.  You can find better headphones out there, but the rosewood SA-1s aren't half bad.
4/5 Sleek Audio SA-1 DigitalVersus 2010-02-10 00:00:00

Pros

  • Very well built with classy rosewood
  • Sound can be customised to your taste
  • Soft, even sound
  • Complete range of accessories

Cons

  • Extremes aren't always there

Conclusion

Rosewood makes a successful debut as a material for in-ear headphones. Although we weren't as impressed by the SA-1s as we were by the SA-6s, they're still very good and the ability to customise the sound yourself is a definite advantage.

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