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Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303), Unbeatable performace vs. price?
Martel
post Nov 28 2013, 21:15
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My brother recently bought a SGS4 phone and tossed the bundled headset (HS3303) into a drawer. So I thought I would give it a try. Before that, I had been using Sennheiser IE4 as my portable headphones (for commuting etc.) and I thought the headphone was adequate for the price.

After trying the HS3303, my impression is that it beats most headphones under $100 I've heard so far (IE4, HD238, PX 100, Porta Pro and whatnot). It has clear treble (though not too rough/aggressive), and it has only mildly inflated base (most stuff under $100 is annoyingly bassy). The tonal balance is very good (neutral). The stereo image is subjectively better/wider than on IE4.

So I decided to buy my own unit. I was quite shocked when I found out the OEM version of the headphone (lacks retail packaging and comes with just one set of tips) cost as little as $5. Immediately bought it and put the IE4 tips on it (100% compatible) since the bundled ones were too narrow.

Anyone else tried these? I'm still not sure whether they're so good or it's just my ears getting old.

The headphone has its downsides, though. It uses 2 drivers with a crossover - the housing is considerably larger than IE4 (a bit annoying) and the headphone is about 12 db quieter than IE4. Both drivers are vented - the 2 holes in the housing result in somewhat worse isolation compared to IE4 (still OK for subway). The cables are flat and quite stiff and tend to move the earpieces out of one's ear. And it only comes in white (say what?!!).


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IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;
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Martel
post Feb 1 2014, 15:52
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Group: Members
Posts: 553
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From: Czech Rep.
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So I have compared all the pairs and it seems there's audible variability not only between different batches/countries of origin but also within the same batch (there's unlikely to be much QC for $2.50 a piece - likely no QC checks at all).

Below is a summary of my findings, done without any modifications and using Samsung middle size tips (which only comes with the "full version", OEM has the smallest only which is too narrow for me):

OEM China YB (no 1) - thin sounding (a bit too much for my taste), L/R balance OK
OEM China YB (no 2) - less thin than the first but there is a disturbing L/R imbalance or phase shift - can't get the "center" to sound "in the middle", I'm likely throwing this pair away
OEM China YB (no 3) - about right tonal balance with a bit too sharp treble, L/R balance OK
OEM China CY - less sharp treble and substantially more base than the above (above my taste), a slight but tolerable L/R imbalance
SGS4 bundled Vietnam CY - sharper treble (close to China YB 3), tiny bit less bass than China CY but still above my taste, L/R balance OK

China YB 3 is definitely the best, the Vietnam CY is not too far behind, though. All of the headphones are enjoyable except China YB 2, which likely suffers from a manufacturing defect. Compared to other headphones I own or owned, China YB 3 easily beats IE 4, PX100, Porta Pro, HD 238, HD 668B and HD 518 in the tonal balance department (most of those headphones have way too much bass, HD 668B also has a bit too much treble in addition). The soundstage, positioning and separation of instruments is not directly comparable to full size headphones for some reason, the feeling of IEM is simply different (if I had a choice, I would rather use traditional headphones). The detail pick-up is almost as good as HD 215, which is the only headphone I consider unbeaten by HS3303.

Note that I had to swap the tips (I only have one pair) and re-plug the headphones into the player and my ears. This made swift A/B comparison impossible so the results may be affected by my audio memory fading and/or different insertion of the tips into my ears. The last pair in the list has been used (and abused in the gym) for several months while the others are basically brand new (I'm not sure whether or how this affects the sound).

I have never compared multiple pieces of the same headphone before and it leaves me wondering whether there is such audible variability among normal (non-OEM, off-the-shelf) headphones as well.

All of the above are my subjective personal observations which need not translate to other people.

This post has been edited by Martel: Feb 1 2014, 15:54


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IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;
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