There’s been an influx of smaller headphone brands from overseas into the U.S., many of which aim to offer decent headphones at an ultra-affordable price. The latest of these is SmartOmi, which is here with the SmartOmi Sole wireless headphones.
Of course, just because they’re cheap, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re worth buying. Should you fork out the $34 to buy the headphones? We put them to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about the SmartOmi Sole headphones is their design, and they don’t look all that bad. The design is a Beats PowerBeats3 copy-cat, feature an over-ear hook aimed at keeping the headphones in place while you do things like run. Whether or not they’ll actually do that is another question.
The build of the headphones is largely metal, which is pretty nice — and a little surprising given the headphones’ price point. Part-way down the right side of the cable, you’ll find a standard three-button remote — with volume up, volume down, and a central multi-use button.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones themselves, along with a total of three ear tips, a microUSB charging cable, and a cable clip. We would have liked to get a little carry case.
In general, the headphones don’t look bad. They’re a little cheaply built despite the use of metal, which is frustrating, but given their price point that isn’t much of a surprise.
The headphones leave a little to be desired when it comes to comfort, but they’re not terrible. For starters, the in-ear unit is a little large, which makes them a bit sore after long listening periods, and also means that they didn’t stay in as easily as we would have liked. That’s a problem for those that want to use the headphones for things like running or going to the gym.
Still, for the price, the SmartOmi Sole headphones aren’t all that bad. Don’t expect them to perfectly stay in while running, and you may want to experiment with the different ear tips, but they’re not bad.
While design and comfort are important enough, sound quality is the most important thing to consider. We were extremely surprised with the sound quality on offer here — it’s far better than you would expect at this price. Not mind-blowing — but great for the price.
The lows are relatively powerful and deep, and while they’re boosted enough to introduce some muddiness into the mix, that muddiness wasn’t overbearing by any means. In general, kick drums cut through a mix quite well, while bass guitars and synths were smooth and flowing.
Part of the muddiness has to do with the warmth in the low-mids, which carry the tradition of the lows of being a little too boosted in some slightly weird frequency ranges, but again, it’s not overbearing at all. The high-mids are relatively well-tuned too.
Often, cheaper headphones sacrifice audio quality in the high-end, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Cymbals were relatively crips and clear, while vocals had enough sibilance to be nice and cutting.
The stereo separation on the headphones didn’t break any records by any means, and the headphones did introduce a little distortion, but overall it wasn’t bad at all.
The headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 4.1, and as such you’ll get a standard range of 10 meters or 33 feet. According to SmartOmi, they’ll offer up to 10 hours of listening time, and while we didn’t quite hit that amount, we did get pretty close. That’s not bad for headphones like this.
We were very ready to dismiss the SmartOmi Sole headphones as another failed attempt at offering ultra low-cost headphones in the U.S. — but on the contrary found that they had a lot to offer. Sure, the design wasn’t all that unique, they aren’t the best-built headphones ever, and they’re not overly comfortable. But for the price, these headphones could offer among the best sound quality we’ve heard. That’s not to say you won’t get better if you spend more — you will. But if you have $40 to spend on a pair of in-ear headphones, they’re a decent choice.
They would be our go-to — but for one slightly better option: the Monster Clarity HD headphones, which come in at $40 and scored 7.7 in our review.
Of course, there are other options in different scenarios. The JLab Audio Gravity Neckband scored even better at a similar price, but their neckband form-factor may dissuade some. If you’re fine with going wired, then the JBL E15 headphones may be the best choice for you.
Thanks to their excellent value for money, we’ve awarded the SmartOmi Sole headphones the Headphone Review Bronze Medal.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||Unknown||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||10 hours|
|Maximum input power
||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.1||Cable length||N/A|