Following Basshunters gratuitous product placement of Icemat’s headsets, everyone has been talking about them. To make sure that its not just all hype I was kindly sent an Icemat Siberia In:Ear headset.
The original Icemat was launched in 2000, targeted at one of the most demanding consumer groups in the world: gamers. Since then Icemat has expanded the portfolio and today offers a wide range of products. Everything is created by people who demand as much from the visual design as they do from the performance of the final product.
30 – 24.000 Hz
SPL@1kHz, 1V rms:
1.0 m + 1.8 m = 2.8 m / 9 ft.
80 – 15.000 Hz
Sensitivity (1V/P@1 kHz):
I was sent the In:Ear’s in the full retail packaging that really shows off the product from day one. The package looks like it was chiseled from a glacier (in a good way) and has the distinctive Icemat logo placed at the top.
The product is on display in the clear window below, showing the earbuds and the clip-on mic. The earbuds are made of white plastic, with frosted silicon ear sleaves. The mic is also made of white shiny plastic, giving the product a very ipod-esque look.
Included in the package, are a pair of ribbed (for want of a better word) ear sleeves, two pairs of standard ear sleeves, an extension cable, the ear buds, the clip-on mic and a small Icemat bag to store your headset when not in use.
This headset was obviously aimed at laptop users due to the small size of the product, and the fact that Icemat have provided the user with a small carry bag. This will be of special interest to anyone who uses IP telephony on the move; where a standard headset simply wouldn’t be practical.
Everything about the headset is really tactile; like the bendy rubber earbuds and smooth plastic surrounds. The look and the feel of the product makes me actually look forward to using them.
Having a spy at the specs and comparing to the SteelSound 5H v2, shows us that the frequency response is a little tighter meaning that the speakers of the In:Ears should be less able to deal with varying sounds. However, the In:Ears are just that, in your ear, as opposed to the headset design of the SteelSound 5H v2 which changes the sound outputted. This also should mean that the bass is worse, we will have to see…
The headset absolutely oozes class, and mainly because of the simple things that Icemat have decided to include. For example, the wire splitter for the earbuds is small, well designed and has a tiny little Icemat logo. This is definitely not a headset you would be ashamed to wear in public.
The extension cable is useful for connecting the In:Ear’s to your computer. The length of the earbuds wire on its own is on par with headphones that you would use with your MP3 player for example. The extension allows you to connect the mic to your computer as well. You don’t have to use the extension wire, so if you have audio I/O ports on your keyboard for example, you can cut down on cable clutter.
To test the unit, I played a lot of different genre music to try out the headphones range. The headset was being powered by the Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty soundcard, meaning the sound output is of a high quality giving the In:Ears their chance to shine.
Plugging the headset into my ears was a little uncomfortable as I was using the ribbed ear sleeves. I’m used to using my Sony Erricson earbuds which aren’t ribbed. Thankfully, Icemat have thought of people like me, and I put on the standard ear sleeves which were much better. The ear buds are a tight fit, and might be a little too big for some, but most of the people who tried these on said that they were comfortable.
The first test was the bass killing Black Sun Empire – Arrakis that shows the true capability of the bass reproduction. After setting the volume to 90%, and clicking play, I managed to get the bass amplification to around 70%, which is unheard of for PC headsets. Also bare in mind that 90% volume is at a level that will destroy your hearing after about 10 minutes, the earbuds have definitely performed well.
After mopping up the blood from my bleeding ears as a result of test 1, I played some less intense music. I decided on ATB – Cabana Moon. The bass reproduction is excellent, however the high end sounds are a little over amplified at some points. A quick fiddle with the EQ soon sorted out this problem.
Test three was a bit of dance music courtesy of Darude – Sandstorm. Bass and treble were perfect and I can’t fault the In:Ears at any point. At higher volumes, the treble merges into one tinny painful sound rather than distorting. Baring in mind, that I’m talking the absolute max that you PC can output at, I doubt any real world usage would ever match this volume.
Test four was Linkin Park/Jay Z – Numb Encore which sounded great although the high end sounds were sort of murky and weren’t recreated perfectly. Turning off my previous EQ choice sorted this out. The high sounds are a little screechy at high volumes, but that’s not a problem; just crank down the volume a couple of notches.
Test five was game play. After setting the bass to 65%, I turned off the lights, and started up Battlefield 2142. I have to say that the In:Ears have ruined my gameplay; I just find myself shooting anything just to hear (and feel) the ear shaking bass. These earbuds are completely immersive as they cut out all environmental noise, making you concentrate on your game, not the stuff going on around you.
Test six saw me use the In:Ear’s as a direct replacement of the earbuds I normally use with my phone. Thanks to the ability to just use the earbuds and not include the mic, this makes the In:Ear’s a direct competitor of any other headphones. The bass was much better than the Sony Erricson in-ear headphones. Overall, the Siberia headset beats the Sony Erricson headphones hands down.
Test seven was IP telephony with Skype. After chatting for a few hours, the person I called couldn’t fault the mic pickup. The mic can capture your voice even if you have to attached to the back of your shirt (why you would do this is beyond me, but it does show the high sensitivity of the mic). The mic unfortunately doesn’t have a foam top to it, which means that any airflow causes noise. Your breathing isn’t going to be a problem as you don’t normally breathe straight down onto your chest – which is where the mic is normally clipped. However, a fan or air conditioning could cause a problem. The high sensitivity coupled with the lack of a foam top, means that the In:Ear’s are highly susceptible to air movement. That said, if you set up the mic in the right place, you won’t have a problem.
On the side of the mic is a little on/off switch which is useful when you want to mute your mic, without resorting to the volume control on your PC. The mic can be rotated so you can point it wherever is best for sound pick-up.
Due to the earbuds cutting out external sound, you talk louder than you normally would. This could be a problem if you are on a train chatting to someone over Skype and you’re shouting the conversation. As the mic clips on, you normally forget about it if you leave your computer, meaning that you can walk off and you find yourself connected to your PC. I personally find chatting with this headset a little disconcerting as I think that just because I can’t hear people around me, they can’t hear me.
If you are a bass junkie, like small stuff, wanna look cool, use IP telephony and often travel then you can’t fault the Siberia In:Ear headset. Minor issues with the mic wind interferance and sometimes too immersive sound brings down its score slightly, but that me being picky.
|Looks great||Mic not great at dealing with air flow|
|Nice and tactile|