Earphones have become a part of all of our gadget lives. Most of our gear comes with earphones that are mediocre at best. Third party replacement options can be overwhelming with prices ranging from tens of dollars to thousands. I enjoy great sounding audio, but cannot justify spending over $100 on earphones that will be tossed in my gear bag and used everywhere. Arctic Cooling has entered the sub $100 market with a complete lineup of Arctic Sound earphones. I was provided with the E361 and E352 models, and the E352 review will be coming soon.
The E361 earphones are noise isolating in-ear buds that sport an aluminum chassis and large coil drivers to provide an affordable audio solution.
Find out how they stack up after the break…
The E361 I have been reviewing is white and also comes in black. As shown on the images, the earphones are attractive. The main chassis is silver with the back a frosted white/silver color. The silicone ear caps are a light gray which complement the color scheme. The cord is white with a gold connector and silver microphone button. As an iPhone and Apple In-Ear user, the styling is familiar and pleasing. The black version has a frosted black coloring on the back of the chassis with black cords.
The Arctic In-Ear case is provided with the E361. I have tried the bags, winders, triangular Apple box, etc… and have not found a case solution I like. I will say that the Arctic case is one of the better solutions I have tried. The case is actually quite small and zips shut. On the inside is a cone which holds the headphones on the inside and the cord wrapped around the outside. It is easy and quick to use and does not curl the cord like other options do. This addition is a nice touch.
Three sizes of silicone caps are included with the E361 earphones. As with most offerings, the medium caps come already installed and are the size that best fit my ear canal. The silicone caps are soft which allow for a comfortable fit and assist in minimizing outside noise while enhancing the bass response. The Apple In-Ears are my first set that was truly comfortable and I found the E361s to be of similar comfort. Often times, my ears will get fatigued after an hour of use, but I did not experience a fatigue factor. The earphones were quite comfortable.
No matter how stylish or comfortable earphones are, nothing matters if the sound is awful. Most audiophiles will agree that no sub $100 earphone can provide a great audio experience. I love audio equipment but do not necessarily agree with that thought. Listening to MP3s while on the go does not warrant a audiophile type experience. The E361s pleasantly surprised me. Most earphones have either no bass or they have so much it washes out the rest of the music. I found them to have a nice balance of highs and lows and just enough mid-range to keep the voices crisp. I tested the earphones with rock, metal, country and rap on my iPhone with the EQ set to Rock. The rock and country sounded really good with crisp highs and just the right amount of deep lows. The rap and R&B had a nice balance of lows that did not rattle my head, but were warm while keeping the lyrics and highs balanced. Audio podcasts came out warm and clear. The Gear Diary podcast sounded fantastic on these! Overall, I would give these earphones an good to excellent rating on sound. For the price point, they are some of the better sounding options.
All of my regularly used earphones have a microphone since I only listen on my iPhone right now. The E361s include a microphone located on the left ear cord. The microphone does include a button which utilizes some of the iPhone capability. Calls may be toggled with the button and I found the response to be accurate and fast. While using as an iPod, click to pause or play and double click to advance to the next track commands all work. The only thing absent is volume buttons. While volume is not a must have for everyone, I have come to enjoy the option on my Apple earphones. The package also includes an adapter to be able to use the earphones in a laptop with microphone capability.
While taking calls, voices were loud and clear. I was impressed with the sound quality over a cell connection. I never had any trouble having my conversation heard on the other end. The microphone did a nice job of picking up my voice in the natural placement. I never had to hold the microphone closer to my mouth for the other party to hear me. The first time I called my wife on them she actually could not tell I was talking through the earphones.
The Arctic Cooling E361s provide great sound quality at a very low price. The included extras of a microphone and carrying case and laptop adapter make them well worth the $60.95 retail price. The price allows for these to be used as an everyday carry earphone in a gear bag with nice sound without the worry of a huge investment. Visit Arctic Cooling’s website for more details and other great products.
What I like: Great sound for an affordable price which includes a microphone, carrying case and laptop adapter.
What could use improvement: I would really like to see a volume button that works with my iPhone. That addition could make these a competitor for the Apple In-Ear phones.