I recently reviewed the awesome RunPhones from Sandberg; earphones fitted into a sweat band so you can listen to music while you work out and keep your forehead dry at the same time. They for me, are one of the best fitness accessories available on the market. The main alternative to the RunPhones are bluetooth headphones, they have their own benefits and flaws compared, but you do have a wider selection to choose from. The ones I’m reviewing today are the Solememo S530’s; retailing for £17.99 on Amazon they boast many great features such as HD quality 3D stereo sound, single to double ear switch, dual batteries for longer use and being made from sweat prevention materials. But will they perform as well as the RunPhones did when it comes to fitness activities, and how impressive are they when it comes to using them while gaming?
Upon first impressions I wasn’t best pleased. Usually I get an order through from Amazon Prime and it’s perfect upon arrival, but for the first time I was shocked at what I saw. The outer packaging was battered and bruised to say the least, then upon opening it I was left with a battered box. Now I wouldn’t usually mark down the headset on this area because this could easily be a delivery driver’s fault, or maybe someone in the distribution centre. But when you open a box and the bits aren’t in correctly you can tell this is either a) a used bit of kit or b) a very unprofessional job at packaging. Luckily there was no damage to the actual product, but how that was the case did go through my mind as it looked like someone had held it hostage and was trying to beat a confession out of it.
The S530’s once out of the box did look a lot better; the description on Amazon says they are made from a “fine piano baking surface processing, good cavity sealing performance, effectively prevents sweat during sports and fog, etc”. Other than the prevents sweating during sports I have no idea what the hell the rest of it really means so I’ll just say it as I see it. They were made of a durable hard plastic which came in a lovely gloss black and thankfully looked a lot more professional than the packaging they were stuffed in to. Although fashionability was clearly thought of, I did question the position of the earpiece as it looked a little strange and I was unsure if it would be comfortable to wear. Fortunately comfort was not an issue, ear buds of different sizes were included in the package so you could select a size that you feel wouldn’t cause any, or at least minimal, irritation.
You then had the flexible rubber hooks over the ears, not entirely uncomfortable but these looked a little more cheaply made than the actual main bit of kit. Unfortunately they reflected the cheap appearance as they didn’t really do the required job, falling out of the slot you put them in on the earpieces a couple of times. On one occasion when I gave it to my brother to trial to get a second opinion, he was using them driving a mower at work and they fell out, he wasn’t even moving, it was just the vibrations of the mower that somehow caused them to dislodge. Now the problem that happened here was because he was moving when it fell out, he was unable to locate where it had dropped, he may even have ran over it. This would have been a major problem with many bluetooth sports headsets like this as both earpieces are normally connected together. The day was saved though thanks to one of the S530’s better features.
That feature was the ability to switch from a double to single headset, thanks to being easily detachable by removing the wire that connects them. That means the S350’s despite being an ear hook down, were still pretty useful. They could be used for listening to music or game audio although without the 3D stereo sound, or it could be used as a bluetooth headset thanks to the inbuilt mic. However it then renders one piece pretty useless as you’d have to wedge it into your ear to use it and pushing it in too far can cause damage to your ear and possibly your hearing.
When it came to connecting the Solememo S530 to my devices it was a simple and easy process. All you do is hold on the power button and if looking at it, you’ll see a small flashing light which mean it is in pairing mode; once connected the light becomes solid. If you’re connecting whilst wearing the S530 then you’ll hear a beep followed by a voice saying “Power On”, then “Pairing” and finally “Connected”. Turning off works in the same way, hold the button and you’ll see the light switch off or hear a beep and the words “Power Off”, but remember if you hear “Disconnected” then the earphones are still on and whatever you were using is no longer connected. I must admit the voice was a nice little touch, as you don’t usually get much more than a beep to inform you that bluetooth earphones have been switched on or off.
Using the earphones is just as easy as connecting the device. All the buttons are located on the right earpiece; on the side you have the power button to switch on/off and to pair devices, then a button next to that used for pausing and resuming whatever it is you’re listening to and to answer phone calls when connected to your mobile. On top of the earpiece there are two more small buttons; give these a slight press and it allows you to adjust the volume to suit you, then if you hold them in they’ll switch between tracks. It’s simple enough to pick up and dependent on your device you can also use voice prompts and voice message, so it may have been the mic or my phone but not all voice features seemed to work with my OnePlus One.
It was quite good how both earpieces had their own batteries which helped provide 6 hours of music, 6.5 hours of hands free ca time or up to 240 hours of standby time. Now when passing this to my brother to use for work it actually lasted all day when listening to music which was about 7 hours when you take into account he turned it off for lunch. To charge both pieces is easy and thanks to the dual charger which comes with the S530 you can charge them from the same port and it only takes approximately 3 hours for a full charge. And once again there is an audible message which warns of “Low Battery” which again is a nice feature Solememo have added.
As for the sound quality they aren’t anything special, it was much better when using both ear pieces when the 3D stereo effect actually worked, but once the ear hook was lost it wasn’t as impressive. They also lacked any bass and often sound became poor quality at high volume (although my phones audio fx equalizer allowed the quality to remain bearable at higher volumes, but not all devices have this). Music played with no real delay which you sometimes get with bluetooth devices, and this was also the case when switching to calls. It was done pretty much instantly unlike some devices which take a few seconds to connect, and it was good to be told that my voice could be heard loud and clear when I used the mic. When playing games on my phone it did seem to break up a little bit, however it was pretty much maxing out my phones CPU by running XCOM Enemy Within so that may be an issue with my phone rather than the earpieces. In fact when connected to my laptop the S530 had no issue streaming the audio whatsoever. However if using for gaming on a PC I’d recommend a specialist headset, these are more for Smartphones and Tablets.
Overall I was a little let down by these. Firstly the packaging was terrible and looked like the box had been opened before. Then when being used the ear hooks came out and we lost one, meaning we were pretty much down to just having a single bluetooth headset. The audio quality was certainly not the best I’d ever experienced, although it was improved by using the apps that came with my phone which won’t be available to all people who buy the S530. The positives though were that it looked quite stylish, I did like the fact it had audible notifications to let you know what it was you were doing, and it was clever how you could switch from a two piece set to a single earpiece, which in the end came in very handy. If the audio quality was improved and the ear hooks more secure, then this would have easily scored a ⅘ but due to the poor quality it doesn’t deserve such a high rating as there is much work needed to be done in my opinion.
The Tech Specs
- Product weight: 18g
- Bluetooth Solutions: CSR8635
- Transmission Distance: 10m
- Battery Capacity: 120mAh
- Talk Time: 6.5 hrs
- Music Time: 6 hrs
- Standby Time: 240h
- Charging Time: 3hrs
- 1x SOLEMEMO S530 earphones
- 2x Extra ear plugs
- 2x Ear hooks (L/R)
- 1x Dual interface micro USB charging cable
- 1x Connect cable
- 1x User manual
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.