Last week I brought you guys the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear headset, along with the FREE touchscreen gaming controls. This week I bring you the cream of the crop for ear bud/headsets offered by SteelSeries, the Flux In-Ear Pro headset.
Though the name states that these are indeed the Pro ones, these ear buds are very different from the standard Flux In-Ears. Let’s get this review for these SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro’s going.
The front of the box keeps the black and orange theme that SteelSeries has been rolling with lately. There’s a shot of the headset front and center, giving no room for misinterpretation on what you’re buying. At the bottom there is a couple features listed.
- Balanced Armature Driver Technology
- In-Line Microphone & Controls
- Music & Gaming For Mobile, PC & MAC
Turning to the back gives us a more in-depth breakdown of the specifications of the Flux In-Ear Pros.
- Frequency - 15Hz – 22KHz
- Impedance - 26 Ohm
- Sensitivity – 105dB@1KHz
- Length - 1.2m
- Type - Flat/Round
- Connector – 4 pole 3.5mm/2 x3 pole 3.5mm
- Mic Pattern – Omni-directional
- Frequency - 100Hz – 10KHz
- Impedance - <2.2KOhm
- Sensitivity – -38dB@1KHz
Below that is SteelSeries’ product rundown on the headset. Moving over to the other side of the back gives us connectors available to us, which is the standard L-shaped bracket for your portable devices, along with the included 2x 3.5mm for hooking up to your PC or MAC, to give you access to both the mic and ear buds.
Opening up the box and sliding out the other box, shows us that inside is a really nice padded carrying case, like the carrying bag included with the Flux In-Ear’s, except much nicer.
Underneath the quite thick Quick Start Guide (for a headset) is some additional paperwork: SteelSeries sticker, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Information, Information on the memory foam ear tips, and another FREE gaming product brochure. (make that three I have now)
In one of the plastic bags is the small and large ear tips, along with the memory foam ear tips, and ear-guides. The regular ear tips are identical to those included with the Flux In-Ear headset, while the memory foam and ear-guides are exclusive to this headset.
Here is the additional breakaway end included with the Flux In-Ear Pro headset. The headset utilizes Micro-USB, so just unplug the included L-shaped single 3.5mm, and replace it with this dual cable if you wish to use the mic and headset with your PC.
Flux In-Ear Pro
Here’s an additional look at the carrying case used for the Flux In-Ear Pro headset. It’s got a durable cloth finish that should withstand the elements fine, although I wouldn’t recommend losing it in the snow for a day, or something silly like that.. (I totally didn’t do that)
From this angle, you can see that the cable to each ear bud is rounded, not flat, that’s only once you get the section where the ear bud cables link together. On the outside of each ear bud is a bit of metal finish to accent the all-black finish of each ear bud.
It’s from this angle that you can see that the ear buds have an L-shape to them. This is done because these ear buds are made to wrap around the ear and install from the top. This design is not an aesthetic thing. Utilizing this method leads to a better seal, which in turn gives us better sonic accuracy, since no audio leaks out. In case you can’t figure out which ear bud is for each ear, they are labeled very clearly with an L or R on the inside there.
Part way down the left ear bud cable is the microphone. Here there is a little block, making it easily distinguishable. Simply click the button visible in the picture to answer or end calls, as well as pause or play music.
Right towards the end of the cable is the breakaway section. As said previously, it uses a micro-USB system, so just plug and play here. The seal is nice and strong, so that it never accidently comes unplugged.
Pulling these out of the package, I could tell they were extremely high quality. Sure, SteelSeries doesn’t make low quality products, but these feel like they’re in a league of their own.
I was super curious to try out the memory foam tips, so after making sure that the standard tips did indeed fit comfortably, I popped them off and threw on the memory foam tips. An installation note, please don’t be afraid to use a bit of strength to push these tips on. They have to stretch on, and that won’t happen if you don’t exert a bit of effort.
Once the tips were in place, I inserted the ear buds into my ears using their included instructions, which is to roll the tip, much like an ear plug, wrap the cable around the ear, and then pull lightly back and out on the ear and insert the ear bud. This system worked really well and gave me an excellent seal.
I did find out over time though, that simply pulling out on the ear, and putting in the ear bud, then twisting it into place works as well. The seal is still really good, without the need to roll the tips… The seal is so good in fact that I was able to drum utilizing these memory foam tips on the Flux In-Ear Pros.
As I just said, I was able to drum using this headset, so that did factor into my testing. I’m not going to go into individual grades with these, instead rolling with a flat 1-10 scale for each track.
SteelSeries claimed recently that they feel the new technology utilized for the drivers (Balanced Armature Technology) in the Flux In-Ear Pro’s can compete with headsets costing up to twice as much as these, let’s find out if they’re full of hot air, or really have a game-changer on their hands.
What is Balanced Armature Technology?
Most headsets including all other headsets made by SteelSeries are made with what is called a dynamic driver. This is simply the speaker inside the headset that moves air to create sound.
The balanced armature driver requires no external air to produce sound. This means the driver can be made to be very small and it also means that it can be tuned very precisely. With this precise tuning the driver can recreate sound with an extreme level of accuracy providing an amazing audio experience in a very compact, comfortable design.
Excision & Downlink – Existence VIP - 8.5/10
The dub step is clear and sharp, with the bass lacking that low-end punch, something that I wouldn’t expect from ear buds in the first place. The mids and highs are both sharp, with excellent clarity, as well as the low-end.
As I Lay Dying – Awakened - 9.5/10
Moving away from music that require serious low-end punch results in a nearly perfect experience. Everything is extremely sharp and clear, as with the dubby step above. The only way this could’ve sounded any better was if they were playing in my testing room.
Fear Factory – The Industrialist – 10/10
Sharp, clear, with just enough low-end thump to bring the synthesized drums to life. This album has never sounded better than it did with the SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro’s.
This track is brilliant with the Flux In-Ear Pros. My only gripe was that the sound field muddied so slightly when there was a ton going on during the track.. A forgivable flaw for any headset with a symphonic track.
Microphone Clarity Quality – 10/10
Not a single issue to be had here. The microphone is crisp and clear whether using it for PC gaming or making phone calls. The background noise is cut out quite well, and it picks up the voice better in the wind than its’ cheaper counterpart.
Build Quality – 10/10
I’ve been using these for jogging, drumming, walking, sitting around.. No matter the usage, these things are more durable than a good pair of steel-toe boots. The flat cable doesn’t get hung up on anything, and the seal of the ear tips causes to fit super well, without them ever falling out. (Period)
Far Cry 3 – 8/10
Sound quality wise, Far Cry 3 sounds great, but the sound field does seem to close in around you at times, an effect of them being in-ear devices, instead of around the ear… These would definitely make great ear-buds for gaming if that’s the route you wish to take, but be aware that, though the sound quality is fine, the sound field will always feel smaller thanks to the design.
Noise Cancelling Quality – 10/10
I’ve used these almost daily for drumming on my DDrum Dominion Ash drum set, and have found these to cancel noise much better than your standard pair of ear plugs. They dull out background frequencies at all levels, making almost as if the volume in life has just been turned down, not altered individually.. It’s hard to explain. The drums sound identical to how they would without the ear buds, just a lot quieter.
I was so intrigued by this headset when it was announced, so you can imagine my excitement when SteelSeries contacted me about reviewing a pair. What I received was a headset that far exceeded my already lofty expectations.
Whether you want to talk about build-quality, sound-quality, or the quality of the memory foam tips.. The answer you’ll receive will be identical, ‘unmatched’.
Obviously the noise cancelling of the standard tips is not nearly as impressive as that of the memory foams, but they still work well enough for daily usage, though I wouldn’t recommend drumming with them.
Running the cables around the ear starts to feel natural after one or two uses, and does indeed lead to a better seal than using these like standard ear buds. Note, these do work that way, if you prefer that method, but it’s not recommended.
Just note that there is a cable slider to pinch the individual ear bud cables together, so that the cable stays wrapped around the ear. Sadly this slider stops at the microphone on the left cable, which leads to there still being just a tiny bit too much slack left, so the cable will fall off the ear at times.
SteelSeries includes little rubber guides for your ears, if this becomes too much of a nuisance, but I never found the need to use them beyond testing, where they work perfectly.
My biggest gripe with these is that they point out every flaw with lower quality tracks, such as MP3′s.. Using this with my iPod for drumming was brilliant, but you can hear the differences in quality for tracks thanks to the quality reproduction by these drivers.
It almost feels as if a Gold Award in this scenario is actually an insult to this headset.. The quality is amazing and unmatched in my testing experience.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Amazing Sound Quality
- Nice Tight Seal In The Ear Canal
- Strong Durable Build Quality
- Memory Foam Tips Cut Out Background Noise Amazingly
- Priced High, But Worth Every Penny ($129.99)
- The Cables Sometimes Fall Off The Ear….(Grasping At Straws Here People)
I cannot recommend this headset enough people. You can purchase one here, and I highly recommend you do.