The fine folks over at SteelSeries sent us a pair of their Flux In-Ear headphones for review. The SteelSeries products have been available for gamers on other platforms, but the Flux headset is aimed at mobile audiophiles. Apple includes a pair of their iconic earbuds with almost every iOS device (why not iPad?) and they offer a good all around experience. The big questions is, how does the Flux In-Ear Pro compare to the stock buds? Let’s take a look.
The first thing I noticed when removing the headset from the box was the thick flat cable that held it together. It is advertised as an anti-tangle measure, and it certainly works. Over the last two weeks I’ve used the Flux headset, I have enjoyed the time saved in not having to untangle them. The cable is flexible enough to conform to comfortable positions to fit your needs, and feels hearty enough to use in rough conditions.
Near the end of the cable there is a break-away attachment that can be swapped with an included adapter for use with PCs. This is an excellent design choice and gives the Flux headset appeal beyond mobile devices. There is a microphone/button built into the cable for making and controlling calls, music, etc. The audio quality from the mic was well received by those I called during testing.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of in-ear headsets. The seal that is created by the in-ear speakers makes me uncomfortable and turns me away from headsets like the Flux. Surprisingly, the included foam ear tips made the experience much better than previous in-ear headsets I’ve used. The tips comes in different sizes and it should be easy to find a size that works for you.
The only noticeable flaw I’ve found in the build of the Flux headset is the large plastic fitting on the audio jack. I use my iPhone without a case (it just looks and feels better) and when I lay my phone down on a table with the Flux plugged in, my phone doesn’t sit flush on the table. The large plastic end piece would probably fit nicely on a phone with a case, but my case-less phone is left rocking back and forth when I try to use it without picking it up. I realize that this may be a rare inconvenience, but it’s worth noting for those that like to rock a naked phone.
The Flux headset has fantastic sound. Making calls, playing games, and listening to high quality music tracks (downloaded and streaming) sounded fantastic. One thing to keep in mind is that the in-ear speaker needs to be placed correctly in your ears to get the best sound. In every test I was pleasantly surprised with the performance.
I’ve had the chance to test a wide variety of headsets, and I can say that the SteelSeries Flux bests Beats by Dre, Skullcandy, and a score of other mobile audio competitors. The big issue with a lot of in-ear headsets is the bass quality. The Flux headset brings the bass and doesn’t overdo it like the Beats headsets. The audio experience is well-rounded, which is just the way it should be with a headset made for mobile.
If you’re looking for a heartier and feature rich headset than the standard earbuds, then the SteelSeries Flux is a headset worthy of your investment. The price is listed at $129.99 on the SteelSeries site. This is easy sell if you consider that these can also be used for PC/Mac gaming with the included adapter.
Score: 4 out of 4
Pros: High quality well-rounded audio that sounds great with games, music, and phone calls.
Cons: Large plastic piece near the jack (small inconvenience for causeless phones)
Bottom line: steelseries offers a high quality experience for mobile audiophiles, the Flux In-Ear Pro should be on your radar.