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Published on December 15th, 2010 | by Heather


Sleek Audio’s SA1s Good Wired, Great Wireless

There is no short­age of head­phones on the mar­ket and we have had our pre­ferred picks as well as ones we would choose to leave be­hind on a sub­way seat. Sleek Au­dio has pre­vi­ous­ly com­mand­ed our at­ten­tion at CES, and we’ve re­cent­ly been lis­ten­ing to the Sleek Au­dio SA1 High-Fi­deli­ty Siam Rose­wood Ear­phones.

The most read­i­ly ap­par­ent as­pect of these par­tic­u­lar head­phones is that they do not look cheap- there is no lack­lus­ter plas­tic in a bright, neon col­or, and the qual­i­ty of man­u­fac­tur­ing is ob­vi­ous. Re­al wood (Siam rose­wood) and met­al com­plete the look that says that you are an adult and not a tween. We’ve seen oth­ers in this class- Mon­ster’s Tur­bine Pro Golds, for in­stance al­so wooed us with their good looks, and our most re­cent­ly re­viewed pair lack looks but make it up with sound.

In­deed, looks can be de­ceiv­ing. But, to our re­lief, for un­der a hun­dred dol­lars, the SA1 pro­vid­ed us with an ul­ti­mate lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence wor­thy of a more ex­pen­sive ear­phone. In fact, when paired with the wire­less mod­ule which we’ll dis­cuss short­ly, these are some of the best wire­less per­son­al au­dio gear that we’ve tried. Ac­cord­ing to the Sleek De­sign web­site, dam­aged ca­bles are the num­ber one re­pair prob­lem among in-ear mon­i­tors. Sleek Au­dio’s patent­ed in­ter­change­able ca­ble de­sign al­lows you to re­place the ca­ble and a one year war­ran­ty is in­clud­ed.

The SA1 ear­phones are equipped with the Vari­able Equal­iza­tion Sys­tem (VQ) which is fea­tured on an­oth­er of Sleek De­signs ear­phones, the SA6 (though they work a bit dif­fer­ent­ly). We were able to tune the ear­phones with two tre­ble port op­tions that work mere­ly by screw­ing in­to the ear­phone. We could ad­just the fre­quen­cy re­sponse so it was fine tuned to our lis­ten­ing pref­er­ences in each of our ear­phones- in­de­pen­dent­ly if we wished, and change­able based on what we were lis­ten­ing to. The 6 mm driv­er in the ear­phones is small­er than some, but meant that it fit more eas­i­ly in small­er ear canals, and that bass wasn’t over­pow­er­ing (over­all, we found it a bit un­der­pow­ered com­pared to some, warmer and less jar­ring).

Prob­a­bly the best part about the ear­phones was the de­tach­able ca­ble and W-1 Wire­less Hy­brid Sys­tem that al­lows you to choose whether or not to go wire­less- es­pe­cial­ly since the ca­bles them­selves were the weak­est link here, fair­ly in­ex­pen­sive-feel­ing and not cloth-wrapped. The CD qual­i­ty 16-bit wire­less sys­tem from Kleer is a nifty ad­di­tion that el­e­vates these above many oth­er sim­i­lar­ly-priced sib­ling- it will set you back a bit of ex­tra dough, and means that you’ll have to wor­ry about bat­ter­ies though. The Wire­less mod­ule of­fers 60 feet of range, 10 or so hours of bat­tery life, and is loss­less- mean­ing that au­dio­philes can ap­pre­ci­ate their FLAC files with­out any of the dis­tor­tion from lousy com­pres­sion. Non-au­dio­phile lis­ten­ers might find the wire­less mod­ule a bit heavy, but for those who find Blue­tooth mu­sic flat or ar­ti­fi­cial, this is a great way to go. One nifty ad­di­tion is that mul­ti­ple peo­ple can lis­ten to one stream- we didn’t get a chance to test it, but up to four lis­ten­ers can tune in to a sin­gle source.

Sleek Au­dio men­tioned on their web­site that in­ter­change­able, col­ored ca­bles were com­ing avail­able in 2010. With 2010 run­ning out of days, we will see what the New Year brings. One of our biggest frus­tra­tions that have be­come abun­dant­ly clear with many ear­phones is the ear tips. As some­one with rel­a­tive­ly small ears it is dif­fi­cult to find a com­fort­able fit that doesn’t fall out of my ear. Six pairs are in­clud­ed and we found the per­fect size and fit. This was mu­sic to our ears.

We were able to find them on­line from Ama­zon for $80 as well as the wire­less mod­ule for $110 though we must note that they were out of stock of the head­phones at press time.

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About the Author

Heather Millward is a contributor to the website as well as a stay-at-home wife (not by choice). She has lived in Iowa, San Francisco, and most recently, Arizona. Her goal is to travel, write a book, and quit killing Zombies as she has become quite obsessed with "Call of Duty" and might need an intervention. She enjoys food, wine, reading, and the return of Arrested Development. Heather considers herself to be a fashionista and though she didn't end up at FIDM as originally planned, she considers Trina Turk, Tory Burch, Burberry, and Chanel to be among her favorites. After she wins the powerball jackpot, she has planned a lengthy shopping trip to Neiman Marcus. Though she graduated from a University with the mascot of a Peacock and has never worked in Public Administration, she has done her fair share of sales and advertising.

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