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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Thursday, April 03, 2008
Sleek Audio SA6 Earphone

1. Inrtoduction

This has been, by far, the most difficult Earphone review for me to write. The difficulty is due to the complexity and the "coolness" of this particular product - the Sleek SA6. Imagine being able to custom tune your earphones. Too much treble? You can reduce it. Need more bass? Plug in a "bass port" and give more "oomph" to your music. These are fully customizable earphones with Treble Tubes and Bass Ports you swap in and out to "tailor" the sound to your taste. What more could a "gadget nut" really want?

Read on for my thoughts and a full review of the Sleek Audio SA6.

Sleek Audio started as a manufacturer of Hearing Aids - so they know the human ear. They also seem to know that no two ears are exactly alike - and they offer the user the ability to "shape" the sound to their liking. This is not an earphone for the faint of heart - there are tubes to pull out and push in, ports to pop in the back, cords to attach - in short, there is quite a bit for the user to do with these Earphones beyond just listening to music.

But ....I assure you, the more you put into creating your unique sound, the more you will get out of these technological wonders.

Here is the "official line" from the Sleek web site:

Why Sleek Audio

Sleek Audio is more than our name.

It defines our products. Sleek Audio means that you don’t have to sacrifice anything when it comes to your music. Sharp, precise sound can come out of a small, comfortable in-ear monitor.

Maintaining a small size and delivering incredible sound.

Beyond the beauty, our in-ear monitors are pushing the limits of sound technology and style. We decided to scrap the conventional thinking that more drivers or larger speakers are better, and we researched ways to accomplish the same broad frequency response while still delivering a product a fraction of the size of our competitors. The result: our unique VQ System. It’s true that our custom designed, single armature driver may cost us more than if we went with a dual or triple driver system, but sound, size, and quality would have been sacrificed, and your listening experience is more important than that.

The SA6, our premier in-ear monitors, not only sound great, but we also made them practical by introducing the first removable coaxial-cord setup, for a non-custom, in-ear monitor.

This setup allows you to swivel the cable and secure it behind your ear or wear it down as a traditional ear-bud.  Since the cord is removable, you can easily upgrade your SA6 for future developments, like wireless applications.  In addition to our passion for comfort and cutting-edge technology, our attention to detail can also be seen in our scratch-resistant polycarbonate case that protects your investment and shows off your good taste.

Technology

Acoustic performance is not something that can be simply measured in decibels--with in ear-monitors, it is also a perceived sensation

Insertion loss, or the amount of natural gain lost by inserting a device into the ear, has to be recreated with an in-ear monitor. How your monitor does this affects the performance. The resonant peak (the ear’s natural ability to amplify a certain frequency over all others) of one person’s ear canal may peak at 2k and another person at 3.5k. When you remove this natural peak by inserting something into the ear canal the sound changes differently depending on the person. The bottom line is that one device will not work perfectly for everyone. Enter the Variable Equalization (VQ) System.

We started by applying our knowledge of the acoustics of the ear.

The shape of the ear canal varies from person to person. The length and diameter of the ear canal changes the acoustics of the sound environment. For the same reason a bell rings at a certain tone based on its size and shape, the ear canal can increase or resonate certain tones (Resonant Frequency) more than others. This is why some people hear a tone as light and shimmery while others hear it as tinny and harsh.

The reason a loudspeaker may sound great in your living room and horrible in your garage is acoustics. The ear is not any different, and the environment varies for every person. The VQ System lets you make the necessary corrections easily.

Our multi-platform VQ System allows you to adjust our single balanced-armature driver to your personal taste.

Instead of adding multiple drivers and the necessary passive-crossovers which add color or distortion, we used a different approach. We started with a subminiature, ultra-wide band balanced single armature driver and developed the VQ System to acoustically alter the frequency response to personalize your music.

We designed the VQ System specifically for this incredible driver; because music is personal and the headphones should never get in the way.




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