Review: ARCTIC SOUND E351 and E352

Well-balanced sound, comfortable fit, and pleasing look. (March 26th, 2010)

Earphones with well-balanced sound, comfortable fit, and pleasing look from Arctic Cooling. Two models tested, one with built-in microphone.

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Product Manufacturer: Arctic Cooling

Price: $42.20 - $69.95 US

The Good

  • Clear well-balanced sound.
    Reasonable price for E351.
    Comfortable fit.
    Included case.

The Bad

  • Difficult packaging.
    Flimsy cable splitter.
    No markings for left and right.
    Microphone picks up outside noise.
    Thumps when you walk or run.

Switzerland-based Arctic Cooling, known for its thermal cooling solutions for personal computer systems, has diversified its peripheral offerings with earphones for the iPhone and iPod. Orien Colmer tested the Arctic Sound E351-WM with microphone and Ilene Hoffman worked with the Arctic Sound E352 earphones.

Arctic Sound E351

The Arctic Sound E351-WM earphones with well-balanced sound, built-in microphone, and comfortable fit, are a great replacement for low-end ear-buds without breaking the bank.

earphones

White E351 Earphones

The E351-WM includes a stylish carrying case, a cable splitter, and three sizes of silicone caps. The caps fit very comfortably and do an excellent job of reducing the noise in the room so you can focus on your music or your phone calls.

The carrying case feels solid, closes tightly, and looks nice. It is nylon on the outside with a softer material inside. Glued into the middle of a case is a split rubber circle designed to wrap the cord around. In both of the cases, the cord wrap was secured off center, which indicates lack of care in assembly. In only one case did it impede the wrapping of the cord.

earphone-case

Earphone Case

Although the packaging looks nice, the plastic intended to hold the headphones in place for display becomes a problem when you try to remove the headphones from the box. The plastic is crimped very tightly against the headphone cable, right next to the earpiece. You can damage the headphones unless you are careful to not pull too hard when trying to remove them.

earphone box

Boxed Product

Once you safely remove the E351-WM from the package, it performs very well with a variety of music styles and is very crisp compared to the Apple iPhone earbuds. The highs and midrange, while not as sharp as you might get with pair of full-size headphones, are well rounded and clear. The bass is quite present without being overpowering. The built-in microphone, on the other hand, is only on par with the Apple ear buds. While functional, is a bit too noisy and picks up a fair amount of unintended background sound.

In spite of the sound quality, a few things have room for improvement on the E351-WM. A surprising oversight is the lack of any kind of indicator for left and right. Although there is plenty of room for it on the earpiece housing, there is no visual indicator to show you which earpiece goes into which ear.

earphone black

Arctic Sound Black E351

The included cable splitter assists you if you want to use the headphones on a device that is not made to support an in-line microphone, such as your average PC desktop. The cable splitter feels flimsy. If you plug the headphones directly into an unsupported device, it may sound like the headphones have a short in them because not all of the right surface of the jack can make contact. Instead, you can plug directly into the splitter that has two jacks on the other side to separate out the microphone line from the headphone line. Unfortunately, there is no label other than color-coding to help you determine which one is for the sound and which one is for the mic. The splitter itself has a noticeably smaller cable than the headphones, which makes it feel flimsy. Connecting with it is awkward at best.

The Arctic Sound E351-WM has a retail price $42.20 which is an attractive price for the quality of sound, in spite of it's flaws. If you are looking for something that sounds better than your iPhone ear buds but can still be used to make phone calls, this might be the perfect set for you.

Arctic Sound E352

The Arctic Sound E352 earphones include three sets of silicone caps, a wire clip, and the round carrying case, but do not include a microphone or the adapter, which is available separately for $4.95. They suffer from the same packaging problems as the Arctic Sound E351 also. The ear bud cord is rather thin, so as noted above, be careful when removing the cord from the tight packaging.

These earbuds include a wooden chassis instead of the milled aluminum used in the Arctic Sound E351 earbuds. While I expected a nice wood look, I was surprised that they look liked plastic. I also noticed some tiny cosmetic dings and scratches on the chassis and the metal ring around them. While this doesn't affect the sound, it indicates that quality may vary from earbud to earbud.

earphone wood

Arctic Sound E352 Earphones

The bass response rating listed on the site is not as high as in the Arctic Sound E351, but I found it pleasing, warm, and not overpowering. The highs and midrange in a variety of music was clear and I experienced none of the mushy midrange sound, so common in other sound products. I have many birds that like to sing by my stoop, and these blocked that noise nicely, along with the sound of my computer and hard drive fans. I find I'm able to concentrate on my work better.

I've had trouble with other noise isolating earbuds and got headaches, but had no negative effects with the Arctic Sound E352 earbuds. They are comfortable, and easy to forget they're in place. These earbuds also do not have markings for the right and left channel. When walking or jogging there's an audible thump that's radiated up through the wires, which is annoying, therefore, I don't recommend them for joggers or walkers. Even though they've received a 3.5 star rating, due to the thumping and the $69.95 price tag, I do like the sound and comfort of these earphones.

Specifications

Arctic Sound E351
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz -24k Hz
  • Price: 48,95 / US$ 69.95
Arctic Sound E352
  • Frequency response: 18 Hz -22k Hz
  • Price: 28,90 / US$ 42.20
Both Products
  • Driver coils: 10mm / 9mm
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB/mW
  • Output power: 15 mW
  • Cable: 1.3 m with 3.5mm stereo plug
  • Weight: 5g
  • Warranty: 2 year

by Orien Colmer and ilene Hoffman


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