iClever combines comfortable earphones with quality sound and a good variety of ear tip accessories.
As a father of 3, a full-time physician, a Cub Scout Den Leader, and a husband, there is limited free time left over at the end of the day. With what time I have left, I must often split my attention between those hobbies I really enjoy. I love movies, music, video games and I love to read. Luckily, I can do many of the activities with my iPhone 6s Plus and soon with my 7 plus in Jet Black. Unfortunately, my wife and children are in bed relatively early and this means that the house needs to remain quiet. So, I turn to headphones for personal sound. The style depends on the activity, the location and the length I will be using them. Each of the in-ear (intra-aural), on-ear (supra-aural), over-ear (circumaural) have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, there are two basic requirements that must be present in a pair of my headphones. They must be comfortable and they must have good sound.
I have had the pleasure of reviewing multiple offerings from the iClever line from Hisgadget. Their gear seems to be quite good, but their product packaging seems to be rather limited. Unfortunately, this is not going to inspire someone to pick up the item, to impulse buy or to compare it to the prettier boxes on the shelves. The iClever Bluetooth Headphones V4.1 Noise Canceling Sports Earphones are no different. They are shipped in a plain cardboard box measuring 5 1/8″ long by 5 1/4″ wide by 1 1/2″ tall. The cover of the packaging has a metallic red logo entitled “iClever” and an SKU number (sticker) along the top right. Otherwise, the cover is devoid of logos, images, and details. It is solely a cardboard box/container. Other than the typical product logos no a white sticker with SKU and some limited product details, on the back of the box, the packaging is nothing more than a box.
Lifting the lid off of the box, you will see another layer of cardboard, which divides the box into 2 compartments. In one of the compartments, you will see the device and in the other you will see the accessories: 4 3/4″ flat Micro USB to USB A connector (6 5/8″ total length), instruction manual and 2 pairs of ear retention hooks, 3 pairs of semi-closed earbud tips (double flange), and 2 pairs of closed earbud tips (single flange). The inclusion of the accessories is a big deal, as this allows a universal fit to the device. I prefer the softer tips, I prefer the double flange to the single flange. The tips that came installed on the device were the preference for me and I have not experienced any fatigue so far. For anyone who wears in-ear style earphones, you are clearly aware of the need for a comfortable pair of ear tips. This factor alone is often enough to determine whether you will give the headset a chance.
The device comes with a plethora of features. The instruction manual details the BT 4.1 with APT-X codex for increased sound. Not only do you get this sound boost, you will get the HFP, A2DP, HSP, AVRCP profiles as well. In total, you have improved battery life, improved sound, reliable range, and controllability. Using the most common Bluetooth profiles does provide the end user with a better experience. The operating distance is a standard 10m, 30 feet and is subject to the typical interference features. The device takes 2 hours to charge, which I have tested and know to be true. The manual states that the battery will last you about 5 hours of usage and 155Hr of standby time. It is recommended to charge the device before using it. I charged it for 2 hours and was able to enjoy 5.5 hours of audible before the voice prompt announced the battery was low and the LED flashed Red. On the side of the controller (located below the right ear module) is the charging port. The LED will remain solid red while charging, and then will change to blue when done. This visual cue is very helpful and alerts you to the status of your device.
The manual does a great job at detailing the specifics of the pairing, charging and overall use. Press the multi-function-button (MFB) on the controller for 2 seconds and you will hear a female voice note “power on, connecting.” Navigate to settings on your phone/device and then choose Bluetooth. From there you will want to choose IC-BTH06. If the voice cueing is not satisfactory, the LED cues are also helpful. Red/Blue LED will flash alternatively while in pairing mode. You will then hear “Your headset is connected.” With quality Bluetooth profile, ease of connecting, acceptable battery life, I was excited to get into the sound and comfort testing.
The device has a 25″ cord between the 2 ear pieces and weighs a remarkable 12.7g (0.4 ounces). The right ear piece has 3 inches of cord from the ear piece to the 1.5″ long by 3/8″ wide controller box. The controller has 3 buttons: +, MFB and -. These buttons have good end feel and are responsive. I am often concerned about in-ear systems that have the controller dangling beneath one of the ears. I tend to find that the added weight pulls downward while you exercise. This often causes you to stop your activity, to reinsert the device into the ear and then to restart. I did not have any of these issues with the iClever headset. Jumping, jogging, running, and just about any other home/gym activity (except for swimming) should be doable with this headset. I found that the hooks helped to retain the devices in the ear. I also found that there was not extra downward pressure placed onto the lower portion of my ear canal. This was reassuring, as this can become painful with time.
When listening to music short pressing the +/- will increase/decrease sound and pressing the MFB button will play/pause the song. Long pressing the +/- will advance/return tracks. If a call comes in you will hear ringing and you can answer the call by short pressing the MFB button or you can long press the button to reject the call. The microUSB port is on the side of the controller, the microphone is also on the controller. One of the major limitations of all of the headsets I have utilized so far is the microphone. They all seem to pick up ambient sounds and leave the person on the other end of the phone conversation hearing somewhat muffled voices. My wife noted that this was actually a better than many of the others that I have tested previously.
One of my first tests with this headset was to listen to my audible book while mowing the yard on my Simplicity mower. I was pleased with the clarity and with the decibel reduction from the mower sounds. I tend to wear an outer layer of ear protection too, which made the sound of the device even better. When it comes to the overall sound, I was more than pleased. To be able to compare devices, I tend to use the same regimen of songs. Johnny Cash had a great deep tone as did Josh Turner’s Long Black Train. Dark Knight Joker Theme “Why So Serious” sounded beautiful from 3-4 minutes with some amazing sub-bass sounds. Additionally, the opening sequence to Star Wars Attack of the Clones, as the ship flies by, will give you yet another feel of the bass. Using a few instrumental tracks from the Braveheart soundtrack showed the treble and blending properties of the headset very well. The sound is clearly stereo as you get the alternating lines in Bohemian Rhapsody. Using audiocheck.net, I was able to hear between 20-30 Hz on the bass end and up to 15Khz (hearing of people can go up to 20kHz). The full range sweep test shows that the sound remains in the middle and has relatively good tolerance in the driver’s frequency response. This seems to remain neutral throughout the frequencies. They are appropriately wired for left/right and labeled correctly. The sound is strong and clear.
For a truly interesting experience, play the binaural test from audiocheck. This will make you jump if you are not ready. Repeat the test with one of the devices out of your ear. This test causes each of the ears to hear the sound as it was originally captured. The knocking noise sounds real and I found myself doing a double take. I had a high expectation for this device from iClever, based on previous tech reviews. This device is water resistant, sweat resistant at IPX4 and ensures comfort with the plethora of ear tips and wings. Pairing was quick and secure and the range proved to be the industry standard.
I would rate the device at 4/5 stars as the look and feel are quite good, the sound quality is strong and the fit is comfortable. I can compare these to similar brands, some markedly more expensive. The differences tend to be in comfort, strength of driver, strength of noise canceling technology. The truth about these headphones is they work, they are comfortable, they pair easily with your device and they last 5-6 hours on a 2-hour charge. I find that many people expect more out of a product than it is able to provide. I am pleased that the company chose BT 4.1 profile and that they included all of the accessories, ear tips etc. I wish that the iClever line would work on the packaging. This makes the product feel unfinished. However, this is a review of the actual device, which has proven to meet or exceed all of my tests. If you look at the specs of many of the “top” end headphones, they will beat out many of the middle ground tech. However, at what price does this noticeably change? I do not have an answer for this question to his point. For the price, this set provides a balance of light weight, comfortable earphones with a good sound. If you are looking for a set of speakers that will work for you, while you are stationary or on the move, definitely at least consider these headphones.
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