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iPod Accessory Reviews: earbud headphones

Flamingo Music Earphones

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Reviewed August, 2008 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent

The six species of flamingo found in the modern world are famous for standing on one-leg, eating shrimp, and having oddly shaped beaks. These characteristics are also related to music earphones, because… well, actually, I have no idea why, but Cell Point’s latest pair of earphones is indeed called the Flamingo Music. The Flamingo earphones provide audio output of strong quality, but their own most famous “trait” is probably Cell Point’s unique “EarClick” system of headphone design. Your overall reaction to the earphones will probably depend ultimately on how you feel about wearing, and listening to, this unusual style of design.

Flamingo Mobile headphones

Bird-Brained

The Flamingo does consist of two earbuds whose cables join and plug into a standard headphone jack, but that is pretty much the only part of their design that is similar to other earbuds on the market. The 32-inch cable (with each earbud connected via an additional 14-inch cable) is shielded and features what Cell Point calls a “sports-grade finish.” In other words, rather than having the standard plastic feel found in the cables of most earbuds, the cables of the Flamingo have a fabric-like cover, available in four colors, that makes them look almost more like the cords you might find attached to a jacket or backpack than electronic cables. This covering gives the earphones a unique appearance that is aesthetically pleasing (and may also come in handy if the cables become entangled with other headsets or wires), as well as improving the durability of the cables, although it doesn’t otherwise have an effect on the day-to-day operation of the earphones.

However, the most important design innovation on the Flamingo is, of course, what Cell Point calls the EarClick system. What this means is that the Flamingo earbuds are larger than most other earbuds, with a large rubberized ridge at the top edge and an enlarged ear pad incorporated into the speaker at the bottom edge. The result is that the speakers are held in place a few millimeters away from your ear, which can be safer than regular earphones because it has a lower risk of damaging your hearing or getting stuck inside your ear canal (don’t ask!). The speakers themselves have a 9 mm neodymium driver with a frequency response range rating of 12 Hz – 22kHz.

Flamingo Mobile headphones

Flamingo Sing

In our tests, we were pleased with the quality of the sound generated by the Flamingo. Some of its features felt a little imbalanced, but overall, the Flamingo’s audio works well for many different types of music and recordings. Here are the specifics:

Bass: Possibly due to their increased size, the Flamingo has strong bass output. It works well with music that is bass-intensive, such as most hip-hop and rap. 4.5/5.0

Treble: The Flamingo’s treble output is also strong, but it is not as strong as the bass output, and as a result some treble tones can become slightly overshadowed by the bass. 4.0/5.0

Clarity: The clarity of the Flamingo’s output is strong enough for you to be able to hear all the details of your music and understand spoken dialog easily, but by earbud standards, the clarity is still only a modest improvement over the average. 4.0/5.0

Flamingo Mobile headphones

Volume: Since the Flamingo’s speakers aren’t as close to your ears, this of course means that they won’t provide any isolation effect to decrease background noise, and that the volume of the audio that reaches your ears will also be slightly diminished. However, I was actually quite impressed by the relatively wide range of volumes the Flamingo was still able to reach under the circumstances, and in fact the Flamingos can still be quite loud if you’re simply bent on blowing out your eardrums. 4.0/5.0

The EarClick system for keeping the speaker away from your ear is a clever idea with potential health benefits, and it also has the additional advantage that makes your music sound almost like surround-sound, as if it were coming at you from all directions. However, I have to say that, for me at least, EarClick just didn’t work out well in the long run. I found that the Flamingo has to exert increased pressure on the outer parts of my ears, since that is how it holds the speaker in place. Although it is still a light amount of pressure that certainly wasn’t painful, I found this arrangement to be noticeably less comfortable than the standard earbud design. Still, I like the idea of the speaker being held away from your ear slightly, and I think anyone who isn’t bothered by the light pressure issue will probably find the Flamingo to be very comfortable.

Flamingo Mobile headphones

At Least It Isn’t Called “Ostrich”

No matter how great a pair of earphones may be, the fact is that you can’t take advantage of any of its capabilities if you are simply not willing to wear them. The bottom line in this case is that, if possible, I recommend that potential buyers of the Cell Point Flamingo earbuds find a store or other location to try them on for at least a few minutes. For anyone who doesn’t like the way the EarClick system feels, the Flamingo is probably not the right choice. However, for people who aren’t bothered by that, the more positive aspects of EarClick, along with the Flamingo’s strong output quality overall, will make these users happy enough to… I don’t know, stand on one leg?

Pros: EarClick is handy for increasing safety or simulating surround sound; strong bass.

Cons: EarClick system can cause discomfort for some users; treble is not quite as good as the bass.

Company: CellPoint

Price: $59.99

 

Specs:

* 24K gold-plated 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo plug optimized for cell phone, iPhone, iPod and mp3
* 12-gauge shielded cable with sports-grade finish
* 32" cable plug in to y-connector 14" earphone cables
* Built-in easy controls
* Volume control: In-line tactile response slider (optional)
* Total weight: 0.78 ounce (22 g)
* Warranty: 1 year, plug to ear-buds
* Frequency response: 12Hz - 22kHz
* Driver: 9mm neodynmium rare earth magnet

 

 

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