These in-ears are highly portable and hardly comfortable.
In-ears are light and portable, and it helps greatly when there’s a carrying case to stow the potential rat’s nest of tangled cables inside. As another plus, the case can fit into a large pocket, meaning its size won’t really be a big concern.
In the short term, in-ear headphones are typically quite uncomfortable for most people, as you’re essentially jamming plastic and neodymium into your ear canal, which was never meant for anything to go inside of it. Consequently, the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550A isn’t exactly comfortable, but to its credit, it doesn’t exactly dig into any part of your ear to an unreasonable degree.
Aside from changing sleeve sizes, there really isn’t much you can do to customize your Sound Clarity SI550As. Given that they’re in-ears, they really weren’t going to be very prominent on your head anyways. You’re not likely to need or want to use these in-ears with a home hi-fi audio setup with a 1/4th inch plug, so the Sound Clarity SI550A’s 1/8th inch plug should more than fit your needs.
The SI550As are just average performers, and they don't isolate as well as we would have liked.
While the frequency response does trail off in the high end, the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550A maintains a relatively even frequency response with few if any erratic shifts that will be audible to the user. Despite its somewhat less than ideal highs, the bass emphasis is notable, which will provide your inner ear with slightly increased ability to hear high frequencies, but not much. Not bad, Able Planet.
There is also a very minimal amount of distortion, overall it’s not something you’re likely to hear, as it never strays into the range where it would be audible. The tracking response of the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550As is even, despite a few minor blemishes: you will not notice either side of your headphones louder than the other.
In-ears typically attenuate a good amount of sound, the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550As offer a little less isolation than some of the other entry-level in-ears we’ve tested. Still, they block out a much wider range of frequencies from the world outside than just about any other non-noise canceling on or over-ears, so these are a better bet if you want to only hear your music.
Entry-level headphones are almost always a mixed bag, and while the same is true for the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550A, overall it isn’t half bad.
Entry-level headphones are almost always a mixed bag, and while the same is true for the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550A, overall it isn’t half bad. Though the highs are relatively underemphasized, the variance isn’t egregious compared to the rest of the frequency response: they just stray out of our ideal limits. Beyond that, inaudible distortion and tracking issues mean the headphones will sound good for the entry-level consumer.
That being said, the isolation and leakage on these headphones were a little disappointing compared to other in-ears. They still attenuate a lot better than most over-ears and on-ears, but not well compared to most in-ear headphones. It’s a little frustrating, but something most people can live with.
If you’re looking for a good pair of entry-level in-ear headphones, you could do a lot worse than the Able Planet Sound Clarity SI550As. They’re not the best, but they get the job done, and overall they are appropriately priced for how they function. If you think that their performance points and price are good for you, head to the store to see if you can try a pair on.
While there was nothing terrible or overly impressive about Able Planet's entry-levels phones, we did notice some oddity concerning their ability to attenuate sound. Typically, in-ears do a good job at naturally blocking outside noise, but the SI550As weren't as good at it as we expected them to be.
In-ears are usually great natural isolators. Let's take a look at what happened.
Isolation refers to how well a pair of headphones blocks out outside noise. This is important in protecting your hearing (either against the terrors of city life, or against raising your own music to heinous volumes to block those terrors out) as well as maintaining the right clarity during audio playback. In-ears almost always do a decent job of this—after all, they fill your entire ear canals.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with the SI550As. Between 100Hz and 1000Hz, they block out 10 dB of sound or less. This isn't a very good result. While they block a little more of the high end sounds above 1000Hz, they never block more than 28 or 29 dB, and begin to fall off again around 4kHz. There's really not much isolation happening here, and it's perhaps the biggest drawback to these Able Planets.
Fair frequency response, but a bit bass-heavy.
Despite the roughly 10dB bass emphasis, the frequency response only has one major flaw, and that's an underemphasis in the high end. Due to the bass emphasis, low sounds like drums and low synth notes will sound anywhere from twice to four times as loud as higher guitar or piano notes.
More data, just less important.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
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