With companies such as Sennheiser, Beats and Bose staking their claim in the headphone market, it’s hard being a small fish in the proverbial audio pond, leaving the smaller fish in the distance wondering what can be done to actually make a good enough name for themselves to be regarded as highly as those companies mentioned before. I’m all for newer companies entering the market, producing stellar products for half the price point of some of the more well-known companies out there and showing that it’s not so much about quantity than it is about quality. Ghostek are a company attempting to do this, proving that not only can a product be stylish, it can be just as pretty on the internal hardware and sound production also – without breaking the bank.
Ghostek are a company that are well-established in the mobile accessory market. They make excellent protective cases which is their ‘forte’, if you will, when it comes to their portfolio. But not many people know that the Ghostek company make so much more than cases. Headphones are a market that the New York based company is moving into next, and they have done for some months now. They have products in their arsenal spanning from over-the-ear headphones, to the type I am going to be reviewing today: earbuds.
Mobile Fun kindly sent me the Turbine Earbuds free for the purpose of review. Will the Turbines thrust its way through the competition? Let’s find out.
What’s In The Box
In terms of the box’s design, it’s very similar to a lot of packaging produced on the market for this type of accessory. The box in itself is very informative, including the features of the headphones and what you will get out of them and a very prominent image of the product itself on the front. Upon opening the box, you’re presented with, of course, the headphones themselves inside a carrying case. Within said carrying case, you’re provided with a plethora of spares as well as options for replacement tip styles if you so wish. These replacements include either gel tips, or flange tips if the provided gel tips aren’t to your suiting. As standard, the headphones are pre-installed with the gel tips. Replacing the tips are just as easy to replace as any standard earbud on the market.
One thing that really surprised me, and to a certain extent impressed me about the unboxing experience is how the product is presented. It’s not the flashiest way of presenting a product in the world, but it does its job exceptionally well as the earbuds speak for themselves and not the way the packaging is presented. This isn’t to say that the packaging itself is poorly presented, but Ghostek got the right amount of ratio between presentation and packaging in a minimalistic way.
Look and Feel
To succeed in such a saturated market like headphones, you need something unique to set you apart from the competition to stay afloat. This can either be done via the internals and let the quality of the audio speak the volumes it needs to blast them into success. Or you can give the headphones themselves a certain aesthetic to give it a little personality as well as backing it up in the quality of the audio.
For the Turbine Earbuds, Ghostek took the route of aesthetics to make the earbuds stand out from the shrouded company of others around them, which is something I can heavily get behind if done right.
The look at the Turbine Earbuds are astonishingly beautiful, exhuming a certain amount of personality as soon as they present themselves in the box. The earbuds themselves hold quite a bit of weight to them, which is to be thanked by the smoothed-out glossed metal frame. With the word Turbine, you think of an engine associated to an aircraft of some sort – and Ghostek were well aware of this when designing the product. On the earbuds themselves, there’s a 2mm recess on the back of each earbud, with a ‘turbine’ effect embossed inside the little recess with a gold finish to really set it apart from everyone around it. Moving to the side of the earbuds, there’s a 1mm gold ring going all the way round each earbud. The finish for the rest of the buds are a glossy black, matching and putting emphasis on the gorgeous looking gold finish for the turbine effect and the ring. For a finishing touch, there’s also a little ‘Ghostek’ trademark logo on the left-hand side of each bud.
The design used on the cable is something I see rarely on any type of audio product, and again solidifies that Ghostek wanted to try a different approach than the conventional type of earbuds out there. As most audio products do nowadays with a cable, its casing consists of a silicon outer coating. But it’s not the coating I was so shocked by, it was the effect used inside the silicon coating that caught my eye instantly. The effect used is something that can only be described as, if you’re a gamer, as a Crysis-esque effect. Almost carbon-fibre in its design, with a shape taking the look of what can be closely resembled as a DNA strand with that pattern consistently appearing along the full length of the wire. It’s certainly something that caught my eye for design and impressed me tenfold.
It’s worth noting that the Ghostek Turbine Earbuds have media controls residing on the left-hand earbud. One slight disappointment from my perspective is that there’s no volume control, and just the simple implementation of a play/pause and a skip track button. It would have been nice to have some sort of volume control, but it’s not the end of the world.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a self-professed audiophobe and do not have the equipment to test these headphones to their capabilities. I am providing an honest review from a consumer perspective.
The audio quality coming from the Turbine Earbuds are among the best I have heard from an earbud of this price range. It would be unfair, and pose a slight disadvantage to the Turbine’s if I compared them to a top-end Beats earbud or a Sennheiser for that matter, but in the same vein it also poses a massive advantage for them. I do not own a pair of Beats earbuds, but I did compare the audio quality of the Turbines to the Sennheiser CX 300 II’s, which are in a similar price bracket and have a proven track record to be the best earbud out there. I can honestly say the Turbines trounced all over the Sennheisers in terms of bass re-production and in the mids and lows. The only time the Turbines struggled was in situations where a lot of different a varying tones were going on at the same time. Now this doesn’t mean that the Turbines are the only earbud to suffer from this type of audio, as a lot of other earbuds, including headphones suffer from this problem. It’s in a rare circumstance that you would experience this issue, but it’s worth noting that the Turbines suffer from this also.
One of the first tests I performed with these earbuds is if there’s any kind of distortion when used at the highest possible volume – and while it does diminish the quality to a minuscule degree when at its highest, it was perfectly listenable and the bass reproduction was just as good as it was at an average volume. Of course when using just the one earbud in this situation, any high-end earbud would also suffer from loss of quality. Using both earbuds produced clear, concise and buttery smooth audio quality even at its highest volume.
Another test I performed during my extended review time with the product is going for a walk while wearing the earbuds. This sounds like a slightly ‘off’ test to perform, but one thing I notice when using in-earbuds is that when walking and listening to music, you notice a slight interruption when you take a step that is highly noticeable if you listen at a lower volume. It doesn’t necessarily diminish the quality of the audio output, but it does become a minor annoyance when you can almost hear your footsteps with the vibrations running through the cables. I was impressed that the Turbines doesn’t suffer from such an issue, unless you listen at such a volume where you can’t hear the audio properly anyway.
To sum up, the Ghostek Turbines Earbuds have exceptional audio quality, being in direct competition and even beating some highly regarded earbuds out there at the moment. Perfect bass reproduction, lack of degraded audio quality as the volume increases, and exceptional lows and mids. Insanely impressive for a product of such little value.
As I said at the start of this review, it’s hard to really get a grasp on such a saturated market like headphones when you’re a slightly newer company starting out in this large market space.
Ghostek took a chance, bolstering a beautifully designed earbud and backing it up with supremely amazing audio quality that will make even the higher-priced earbuds tremble in their boots. From the presentation to the product, to the audio reproduction the Turbines blare out; these earbuds are among the best I have tested and you should take a chance on Ghostek and buy these earbuds for the minuscule price they are asking for them. Sure, they aren’t Audio Technica quality of sound, but the USP of these products isn’t to blow you away with cutting edge technology. It’s to provide decent audio quality and not to be too intrusive in its design.
Thank you to Mobile Fun for sending out these earbuds for review.