Review: Samsung Level Wireless In-Ear Headphones

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While I’m not much of a tech guy, there are certain travel gadgets I can’t live without. Among those are both in-ear and over-ear headphones. For me they serve two different purposes:

  • I generally find over-ear headphones to have better sound quality and be more comfortable, and typically use them on planes
  • I still value having in-ear headphones for the ability to use them when traveling but not on a plane, like in a lounge, at the gym, when walking around a city, etc.

Over the past couple of years I’ve upgraded my headphones to wireless ones, given the changes that Apple has made to the iPhone.

My go to over-ear headphones are the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones. I’ve reviewed these headphones, and love them. They’re pricey, but given how much I use them, I’d like to think I get good value out of them.

Last month I reviewed my latest Bose headphones, which are the in-ear Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones. These retail for $149 and aren’t noise canceling, though they work exactly as I had hoped. The sound quality is excellent, the battery life is good, they’re easy to use, and they’re super compact.

However, $150 for a pair of in-ear headphones that aren’t even noise canceling is pricey, so I decided to also get a cheaper pair of headphones to be able to compare the two.

Tiffany mentioned that one of her family members recently got the Samsung Level Wireless In-Ear Headphones and was happy with them, so I picked up a pair of those for $35. According to Amazon the normal price is $100 and they’re on sale for $35. However, that sale has been going on for quite a while, so I suspect this is just a marketing technique at this point.

So, how were headphones that were less than a quarter of the price of my Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones? Better than I was expecting, but personally they still wouldn’t be my pick.

Let’s start with the aspects of the headphones I like. The battery life is excellent, around the same as on my Bose headphones (they both advertise 9-10 hours of battery life, and that sounds about right to me). Much like the Bose headphones, these can easily be recharged with the included micro-USB plug.

I like how the two earbuds are magnetic and automatically attach to one another when the headphones are just sitting around, which prevents them getting tangled.

The sound quality is quite good given how reasonably priced they are, though there’s a noticeable difference in the sound quality between these headphones and the Bose ones.

The way I see it, there are three downsides to these headphones. The first is that they’re not nearly as compact as the Bose headphones. I can easily put the Bose headphones in my pocket, and when they’re in my bag you barely know they’re there. The Samsung headphones have the “U” shaped collar, so they’ll take up more room in your bag. They’re not huge or anything, but as someone who thinks very carefully about every little thing I put in my bag, the difference is noticeable.

The second thing is that the volume doesn’t go very loud. I’m a bit surprised by this. Maybe I’m just starting to lose some hearing, but even when turned to the highest possible volume setting, it’s not as loud as I’d usually listen to music or watch a show on my iPad.

The third thing I don’t like is something that’s very much personal preference. It’s the same reason I didn’t buy the Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphones. I hate the “U” shaped collar that goes around your neck. I thought I wouldn’t like it based on looking at it, and after trying it I found it to be every bit as unpleasant as I was expecting.

I know I’m a little weird about this, but I hate feeling restrained in any way. I don’t like wearing watches, jewelry, etc. It’s not like this collar thing chokes me, or anything, but you constantly feel it there, and that’s not a great feeling when running on a treadmill. At least for me.

Also, while the “collar” stays in place when you’re just sitting, I found it moved a bit when running, and adjusted it every few minutes.

Bottom line

For $35 the Samsung Level Wireless In-Ear Headphones are excellent, and I’d recommend them if you’re not as weird as me when it comes to the “collar” that goes around your neck.

The Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones are more than four times the price, so I can’t say for everyone that it’s worth the premium. However, personally I use these headphones a lot, so paying an extra ~$115 to get headphones that are super compact, have superior sound quality, and don’t feel like they restrain me, is totally worth it.

Your mileage may vary, though…

Anyone feel the same as me about the “collars” on these headphones, or is it just me?

Comments

  1. The moving/jumping free email newsletter ad in the lower right screen is incredibly irritating and distracting. I like what you have to say, but this steers me elsewhere.

  2. I agree with the “dog collar” as I call it with the Bose noise-cancelling. It’s the reason I bought the same ones you have, and I love them. I haven’t thought of buying anything other than Bose for a very long time.

    Also, I’m guessing the first article you did yielded a lot of click-thrus and commissions, hence another article with lots of links to Amazon for everyone’s buying pleasure. I didn’t buy thru your link, but I hope you make lots of money on this latest article too!

  3. IMO if you’re an Apple guy you should get a pair of BeatsX. Like the AirPods, it has an Apple A1 chip that syncs perfectly and connects instantly with Apple products, but doesn’t look dorky as hell. Decent sound quality, 8 hours of battery life and nice and compact. Have had mine for a few months and I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re $149 like the Bose but definitely worth it.

  4. If you think the Bose beat in ear buds for sound quality, listen to one of the high end Shure in ear headphones. SE425s list for $299 and SE535s list for $499, SE846 for $999. I gave up my Bose for the equivalent of the SE425s (they were SCL-4s back then) and they blow away the Bose in sound quality. Drawback is that the noise reduction (which is sound isolation, technically dfferent (http://blog.shure.com/noise-cancellation-or-sound-isolation-whats-the-difference/) are they need to be playing music to be effective in reducing the sound.

    However, you can sleep with them on a side sleeper, so I vastly prefer them on overnight flights.

  5. I pre-ordered the X phone and looking to buy a wireless earbuds, funny how your article released the day right after the pre order of X phone. What I’ve read so far is the compability of beatsX and cheaper than Apple earbuds. I’m not a fan of beats so I’m still looking. I have a pair of bose QC25 on the ears and their sports ear phones, love both, so I’m tempting to get their wireless

  6. Also for the headphones, you should try out SONY MDR1000x, I have both the QC-35s and these Sony ones, and trust me these are way better, though Bose is slightly more comfortable.

  7. For in-ear headphones I use SE535 ltd, they are great. For over-ear headphones, I have-not found a pair that suits my ears well. I use MW60 a lot lately. They are great in terms of sound quality, but I get `migraines` if I keep using it more than one hour.

  8. I tried QC30 and didn’t like the collar. But the biggest disadvantage of QC30 is that once the battery dies, you can’t use them at all. I got QC20 instead and couldn’t be happier. They’re light and in-ear so I can sleep wearing them. Noice reduction is great. They also sit snugly so they block the noise even when turned off. Battery life is the same 8-10 hours but if the battery dies, I can still use them to listen to the music.

  9. Favorite, in-ear, noise cancelling headphones? I have a pair that are okay and were expensive but I’d like to hear others’ experiences. I don’t care for the Bose over ear because they seem heavy/bulky for me (small head) but I want the option on a plane to use noise-cancelling to better hear the music or movie dialogue.

  10. Honestly, I can’t use wireless IEMs unless they have a collar. The kinds with the wires always end up dragging on my neck no matter how I tie them up. Maybe it’s just my skin or my sweat that makes them drag so much but they always fall out. Neckbuds are the only thing that work for me. To each their own, I guess.

  11. For an all-purpose set of earphones, I found that the Shure SE215 Wireless are the way to go. Decent enough sound; good battery life; bluetooth, although you can switch out the cable for one that plugs into IFE systems if needed; and since they’re designed for musicians, they can handle a little bit of sweat etc. during a workout (although I wouldn’t make them my primary workout pair, it’s enough to prevent having to pack a second pair of earbuds when I want to exercise when traveling). And they are inexpensive enough that if I leave them on the plane, it’s not a devastating loss.

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