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Review: Duobuds Earphones

Posted on: 6th May, 2013 in Reviews No Comments

duobuds review by whatweblog.com

Sometimes you have a song you want to share with a friend, or only one device to watch a movie on. You can either buy a splitter, that will create two headphone plugs out of one, or you buy one set of Duobuds and let your friend plug his headphones into yours.

The Duobuds come in 2 styles: MATES, for him, and BFF, for her. Each of the styles has 3 different color schemes, but the main colors are black (MATES) and white (BFF). As we mentioned in a previous article, we were very excited about the idea, but could not tell if all the statements were true. That’s where Duobuds jumped in and sent us 2 sets of earphones to try it out.

Content and build quality

The Duobuds come in a simple packaging made of paper and plastic. As soon as you open the package, you feel the quality is pretty good. The main cable is wrapped in rope, while the plastic of the earbuds seems very sturdy. The earphones come with 3 different size earbuds, so there should be a fit for everyone’s ears. At one point the main cable splits in two smaller cables that run to the earbuds. These cables are made of a plastic that seems to end up in a knot quite easily. I think it would be better if those smaller cables were also covered with rope.

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One thing I liked very much was the fact that the buds are put a bit crooked on the earphones, this makes it easier to find the right position in your ear. As with most in-ears, the Duobuds shut off most sound from the outside world, making them less suitable to use in traffic. When you are at home, school or in public transport, the amount of sealing it creates is absolutely perfect. This also means that the sound leakage is very low, even on high volumes barely any sound leaves the headphones.

Sound

The most important of headphones is of course the sound. We have chosen three songs with which we test audio equipment. Those three song cover three very different styles and genres, which makes them perfect for testing.

When listening to I Love London I directly notice that the high tones and voices are very clear. The bass is very full and does not overrule the rest of the song, like with some headphones. Even though the song does not contain that many vocals, they are still very audible over the heavy bass that these earphones create. I’m actually very impressed how it can keep the balance between low and high tones, without losing the “fullness” of the sound.

I chose Astor Piazolla’s Oblivion because I wanted to include a classical song and Oblivion is one of my favorites. With classical pieces it’s very important you hear all the parts, from the violins to the double bass and from the piccolo to the trombones. Most in-ear earphones have trouble playing all instruments, because they are mainly focussed on a younger age-group and therefore have more bass than treble. In classical music, the balance is very important and I must say that the Duobuds come out of this test very well! The violins, so the high tones, could’ve been a bit more clear, but if really needed you can always fiddle with your equalizer to create the exact sound you want.

Paul Simon’s Homeless is a good song for testing, as it is a completely acoustic song, which creates the perfect opportunity to test how the Duobuds work with voices. The song is quite old, so the quality is not perfect, but I am just ignoring the slight hiss on the background. As soon as the song starts, you can clearly hear how the Duobuds work with voices. They are clear, very easily to understand and comforting to listen to. It’s the same as with Oblivion though, the high tones could’ve been a bit more clear. The main vocal line, the one Paul Simon sings, disappears a bit as soon as multiple voices jump in. I am not sure if this is the age of the track, or if it’s the earphones, so I won’t let it count in my conclusion.

For all three songs the following applies: you can easily turn up the volume to almost unbearable, the sound does not distort and it’s still comfortable to listen to (unless you turn the volume too high up of course). I think, especially in the case of Oblivion and Homeless, the high volume actually has a positive effect on the sound quality. The higher notes and voices seem to come out more on a higher volume.

Plug it in!

Sound might be the most important part of headphones, but in the case of Duobuds there is another piece of technology that deserves our attention: the extra plug. As you can see in the images you can stack headphones. You can choose to stack multiple Duobuds, or just one pair of Duobuds and other headphones. I had the trouble with splitters that the sound volume would lower to about half of what it was with one headphone, so I was a bit skeptical to this function in the Duobuds.

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I first tried it out with my sound system, a Bose Companion 5, where I could clearly hear the audio volume drop as soon as I would plug in another set of Duobuds. When I plugged in my Sony headphones, the volume went down even more. It was just a slight drop, but clearly audible. Because this was the result of plugging it into a powered system, I was afraid that an iPhone would not be able to hold a steady volume, but to my surprise it held it better than the Bose system! There was barely any volume loss, not even with 3 headphones, which totally convinced me that the Duobuds have something unique that just works.

The “double plug” is not the only function that Duobuds put on their earphones: you can actually click the earphones together in a LEGO-kind of style and in that way hang them around your neck, without something dangling and swinging from side to side. A small addition that makes a big difference.

Any negatives?

Well, yes. One problem all in-ears have is that they are so close to your ear drum that creates the possibility for all vibrations in the cable to go to your ears. See it as one of those telephones you would create as a kid with two cans and a rope: the sound vibrations would travel through the cable to the other can, where your friend could hear them. The same happens with in-ears, although a bit less clear. As soon as the cable touches something, like your jacket, it creates this muffled sound that you’ll hear through your music. This is something that happens with all in-ears, so it won’t influence the conclusion too much.

Another small thing that annoyed me was the size of the earbuds that are included. You get three different sizes, but even the biggest one was a bit too small for my ears. As a result, they would not close off environmental sound all the time, because the slightest movement created an opening for sound to enter. I guess it’s because the earphones are created with younger people in mind, but it might be a good idea for Duobuds to add another size for people with bigger ears.

Conclusion

The Duobuds surprised me very much! At first I was a bit skeptical because of all the properties they claimed the Duobuds would possess, but after testing them in different situations and with different genres of music, I can only say these earphones are good. Especially if you are in the market for new headphones and find yourself sharing your music often, the Duobuds are a very good choice.

You can own a pair of Duobuds for $ 39.95, but since they do not have a distributor in Europe yet, you’ll have to pay $ 17.20 in shipping costs. Prices are in Australian dollars, which means they cost about € 45.88 including sending. Duobuds is talking with a German company to set up distribution in Europe, so if you want to save a bit on shipping costs, you’ll have to wait a while.

Score

  • Sound quality – 90%
  • Comfort – 70%
  • Build quality – 80%
  • Overall Average – 80%

Summary: The earphones do the job when it comes to serving good audio to your ears, but the most important function of the DuoBuds, the extra plug, make these headphones a must-buy for people who often share their headphones!

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