Earbuds with earpiece made for an active lifestyle. (October 25th, 2011)
These colorful earbuds come with three sizes of earbud pads and will stay in place through roughhousing, dancing, running, and other activities that would send other in-ear headsets flying.
Product Manufacturer: Empire Brands, Inc.-Wicked Audio
Price: $14.99 US
- Excellent, full range sound.
- Good vocals, instrumentation.
- Very comfortable around the ear design.
- Stays in place while active.
- Flimsy wire.
- Marginal reinforcement at base.
- Slightly heavy on treble.
The Empire Brands Wicked Audio line targets their headphones to those with an active lifestyle. If you need earbuds made to stay in, no matter whether you're skating, skiing, or racing, their Wicked Helix line is a good fit. I tested Model WI-2000, which are in-ear headsets with around-the-ear anchors. I've tried around the ear headsets before and could not stand them due to stiffness and rubbing on my ears. These were none of that, they are easily put on, very comfortable, come with three sizes of earbud pads, and will stay in place through roughhousing, dancing, running, and other activities that would send other in-ear headsets flying.
The headphones are rated for 103 dB and can put out loud sound, with reasonable base from a 10mm driver. They err slightly towards the treble side of the register, which is disconcerting at very high volumes, but these headsets get loud enough to be disconcerting in general - I wouldn't recommend full volume if you value your hearing, but at medium volume they really fill the soundscape with good performance on each section of the audible spectrum. They are rated for 20-20000 Hz and deliver good sound across the full range in my listening experience. Rock, trance, pop, and instrumentals played back dynamically.
A good test of the full register is the song "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo," from Bélla Fleck & The Flecktones. This instrumental song has crisp highs in the guitar and cymbals, deep, rumbling base, plus nice midranges in the keyboard and guitar. Vocals were strong in loud, driving rock and softer pop, both higher range female vocals and lower registers on male vocals. Shirley Manson and Leonard Cohen both sounded excellent. The Wicked Helix earphones deliver excellent overall sound, especially for its price.
The build construction of the headset is a bit more hit and miss. The headsets are lightweight, rugged, and comfortable. The 4-foot cord, on the other hand, is extremely thin, which brings into question how it will hold up over time, especially at the plug, which is slightly reinforced but not as much as I'd like. The thin wiring is even more puzzling when you reflect on the design goal of delivering earphones that can handle an active lifestyle. Yes, they will stay on your head as you jog, skate, chase the soccer ball, go deep on the elliptical machine, but will the wiring survive that kind of activity over time? I didn't have problems in testing, but I can't imagine being lucky for long in an active setting. Fortunately the price is low enough to offset the skimpy wiring, because replacing them once in a while won't set you back much.
The earphones come in three-color varieties, black and white, magenta and yellow (which the Editor thinks are rather ugly), or blue and orange.
I'm sold on the comfort and performance of the Wicked Helix. I would have rated this headset with more stars if they had more robust cabling. The low price offsets the questionable build quality, so I'm rating them 4 Stars.
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor