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Shootouts

Shootout: The best totally wireless earbuds compared

By Marcus Wong - 10 Sep 2017

Samsung Gear IconX


 

Samsung Gear IconX

Samsung’s answer to Apple's AirPods, the Gear IconX is a stylish, modern looking set of wireless earbuds that also function as a fitness tracker. Like the Jabra Elite Sport, it comes with an accelerometer and a heart rate sensor for tracking your activities, however these features only work on Android, so iOS users will only be able to use these for listening to music.

One thing the Gear IconX offers that none of the others do is 4GB of onboard storage (listed as less than 3.5GB usable) that you can use it to store music tracks in MP3, M4A, AAC, WAV and WMA v9. This means that you can use the earphones without your phone, albeit without app support, which can be tricky as the headphones use only touch controls. Going through a playlist with some 40 songs in it without visual support? Not easy.

Still, that would be the recommended way to go for audio, as streaming audio from your phone gives you a mere 1.6 hours of playtime! That’s hardly enough to get you to the gym and back, much less through a full workout. The fact that the earphones activate automatically once the case is opened also means that you could quite easily arrive at the gym only to find out that the batteries of your earphones are flat.

You'll want to take extra care to ensure the cover stays closed.

When it comes to audio quality, it's really a tale of two modes. Streaming audio from your phone gives you tinny audio with performance tilted towards the high trebles. For example, listening to Heaven by John Legend via streaming leaves you with only the vocals; the piano accompaniment is muted at best and you can barely hear the other backing instruments.

Take the time to transfer the audio files to the internal storage twice (the same song has to be on both earbuds to play), and the mids and lows are somewhat restored, only the mids are unnecessarily boosted on playback. For example, on Adele’s Melt my Heart to Stone, her vocals are presented so forward that it completely overwhelms the backing instruments. The headphones do perform reasonably well on faster moving dance tracks, but overall the excessively bright sound signature means we’d stay away from pieces that have high mids and trebles.

Audio Performance Summary
MP3 Testing Score
Hotel California - The Eagles 6.0
Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead 6.0
Elements of Life - Tiesto 6.0
Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele 6.0
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