Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound E361-BM Earbuds

Author
Logan King
Posted
February 14, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic Sound E361 Series
Views
43883
Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound E361-BM Earbuds
The Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound E361-BM Earbuds provide great bass and good noise isolation, all combined with an ergonomic form factor and some really nifty bonus features.

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Intro

The days of full-sized cans has seemingly passed in the eyes of many, being replaced by half can setups and, more notably, the rapid proliferation of earbuds (also known as earphones). But what about the sound quality, noise isolation and bass advantages that full cans have traditionally boasted over other variations of headphones? In order to answer this question, Arctic Cooling, most known for their advances in PC cooling equipment, has created the Arctic Sound E361-BM, promising higher quality than what is provided by your typical pair of earbuds.

About Arctic Cooling

Quote

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists o­f international highly educated people with business, technical and communication skills. The attitude to work is based o­n Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING's core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction, copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/static_info.php?tid=ABOUT_US


Packaging

The front of the packaging shows off the unique shape of the earbuds, with the nice looking carrying case serving as a backdrop. The small window in the bottom corner shows off the inline microphone as well as the TRRS connector that the earbuds use. The packaging proudly boasts iPhone and PC capability as well as capability with "further mobile phones."

Package Front


The rear of the packaging is the standard specs and features list which is written in four languages. It mentions all of the included items as well as some of the info about the design of the earbuds. It also includes a chart detailing the performance of the earbuds in relation to the other models of headphones Arctic Cooling has.

Performance Chart


The chart is a particularly nice addition as it allows a nice baseline for comparison between other Arctic Cooling headphones, if you saw them in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. While all of this information is also helpfully contained on the Arctic Cooling website if you were shopping online, including such information on the packaging itself is a nice touch that many companies don't bother with anymore.

Another nice touch is the mention that an adapter may be required for use with older mobile phones made by Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung and Nokia that don't support TRS connections. While it is a bit disappointing that the adapter wasn't included, it is refreshing to see such a thing mentioned on the packaging itself rather than in passing in the product manual.

Specifications

Frequency response: 18Hz - 26,000Hz
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW
Output Power: 15 mW
Cable length: 1.3 meters (4 feet, 3 inches)

Of note here is the frequency response. While the range may not be particularly notable when it comes to most premium headphones, remember that these are earbuds so the standards are a bit different.

Package Contents

Inside the box there is the carrying case, the headphones themselves, and the two other sets of silicone caps (with the medium set already attached to the earbuds out of the box). Also included is the PC adapter that allows the use of the microphone, a small clip to keep the microphone against your shirt, an Arctic Cooling sticker, and a ten-language product manual.

Package Contents
Clip and Caps


Design

While the headphones themselves are what you would expect to be the most notable thing in the case design-wise, what actually stuck out the most was the carrying case which is officially called the ARCTIC In-Ear Case. It is a hard-bound clamshell design using a zipper for closure and appears to be covered in a Nylon weave. It proudly displays the Arctic Cooling logo in a center-mounted metal badge and the inside appears to be lined with a soft felt-like substance. For something that many consider a throwaway item, it doesn't look like Arctic Cooling spared any expense in its design. It far and away exceeds the typical plastic carrying case that comes with most earbuds.

Case Closeup
Case Open Closeup


The earbuds themselves have an interesting slanted design. The surrounds on the earphones look really nice with the brushed aluminum finish (as does the microphone, which has the same finish), and the speakers themselves have a nice wire mesh design when you remove the silicone caps. The earbuds are clearly labeled so there is no confusing the sides and they manage to look both sturdy, yet elegant, at the same time. The cord for the earbuds is about the perfect length, coming in at a little over 4 feet.

Headphones and Cord


The Arctic Cooling logo is also clearly visible on both the splitter and even the 3.5mm jack itself. All of the connectors are gold plated, which goes well with the black color. This design theme continues on to the included PC adapter, which also includes the Arctic Cooling logo. Another nifty touch is the design of the two TRS connectors on the adapter, which are both colored to match the PC System Design Guide color scheme for sound cards instead of using text labels.
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Testing Protocol

Remember that testing sound devices is a very subjective thing. Make sure you read reviews from many different sites to really gauge how something that deals with sound actually is. A sample size of one site is not enough to make an intelligent decision on which product to buy since there is no 'standard' way of testing something like a headset.

Ergonomics

So how do the Arctic Sound E361-BM earbuds stand up? Well, the first thing that needs to be taken into account is ergonomics. While no one likes headphones that don't quite fit, it is more of an inconvenience than a deal breaker. For earbuds, however, ergonomics are arguably the most important factor, eclipsing even sound quality. In that respect, the E361 series seeks to remedy this potential problem by including multple sets of silicone caps, similar to modern Bluetooth headsets. While the pre-attached set was fine enough for the testing purposes, the small and large pairs go a long way towards being comfortable to different people.

With that in mind, mention must obviously be made of the bent casing design. This is intended to allow the headphones to go deeper into your ear which likely increases the noise isolation as well as the sound quality. While this seems like it would be rather uncomfortable, it works surprisingly well. You never forget that the earbuds are in your ear, but they are much more comfortable than most other earbuds. After long periods of use (one hour and up), the most discomfort felt was an occasional itch.

Sound

When it comes to sound quality, it came as a pleasant surprise in how well the E361 held up in regards to some of the audio equipment used as a comparison. What is most notable is the range of bass that the earbuds had because bass isn't really something that is expected from earbuds. While this may be the result of the range promised by the specifications or if it is merely because of how deep into your ear they go, they were nevertheless quite impressive down low. In fact, while it isn't anything really detrimental, the E361 produces so much bass that you might end up clamoring for an equalizer to decrease it in some cases. That being said, the E361 handle highs and mediums just as well as it does bass.

One thing to note for PC use is that there is a constant buzz of static played through the headphones whenever plugged in. Multiple audio ports on multiple PCs were tried, as well as multiple configurations of the PC adapter cable, and this static didn't go away. While it isn't loud and it ceases when music is actually playing, it didn't seem to happen with any of the other devices the headphones were hooked up to, so it is something to keep in mind.

As far as the microphone is concerned, the audio quality should be decent enough for most uses. It isn't as good as a dedicated microphone, but there isn't any notable distortion and the microphone's location on the line is pretty optimal. As far as potential uses go, it would be the perfect thing to use for Skype and similar services.

Conclusion

The Arctic Sound E361-BM headset is a really great product. It has a stylish design, a very nice bonus in the form of the case, and would be a perfect companion for Skype messaging. They are fairly expensive with a $61 MSRP, but If you don't care about microphone functionality you can get the same design for about $10 less; and in either case the old adage of "you get what you pay for" certainly rings true in this case. While they are unlikely to convert audiophiles who have sworn off earbuds for full can designs, if you are on the fence about earbuds but worried about the traditional downsides they possess (bass, sound quality, noise isolation), than the Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound E361-BM headset should be enough for you to take the earbud plunge.



Thanks to Arctic Cooling for making this review possible.

Comments

images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3691lsp.jpg Headphones Closeup images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3692llu.jpg Case Closeup images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3693lef.jpg Case Open Closeup images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3694lm5.jpg Headphones and Cord images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3695li0.jpg Clip and Caps images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3696laf.jpg Package Contents images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3697l3p.jpg Package Front images/siteimages/upload/2010/02/10/3698lsf.jpg Performance Chart

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