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#1 7/25/09 1:38 PM

Daniel Levy's Avatar
Daniel Levy United States
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When it comes to portable audio, consumer clamor centers around three main devices: the ever popular headband based headphones (especially amongst audiophiles), this millennium’s mainstream earbuds (as made, unfortunately, popular by the iPod), or in-ear monitors. However, most consumers, with the exception of today's bargain-hunting audiophiles, know next to nothing about the fourth alternative - the clip-on headphone. You'll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of these "fourth alternative" headphones, especially in retail stores. And, besides the many audio communities on the internet, the day a clip-on headphone, even a classic such as the Koss KSC-75, makes it onto a mainstream gadget toplist is, indeed, a rare one. Unfortunately, this means that many people looking at portable audio solutions completely miss out. Clip-on headphones offer the similar, large, soundstage and placement security of their headband-clad counterparts, while also having the portability of in-ear monitors or earbuds. Hopefully, Yuin (pronounced yu-yin), an upcoming audio manufacturer, will be able to put the spotlight on the clip-on headphone with their G2A.

Features/Specifications:

• 110dB Sensitivity
• 20Hz to 20kHz Freqency
• 60 Ohms Electrical Impedance
• 500mV Maximum Input Voltage
• 30 Day Replacement and 90 Day Refund
Price: $49.00, Only @ Head-Direct (Free Fiio E3 Amp Included – PayPal Supported)

Packaging:

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Unlike most clip-on headphones, the G2A comes nicely packaged within a decorative two-piece cardboard container; the container used is small and easy to open, however, it is only secured via two pieces of clear tape on either side of the box. Without the tape, the package cannot remain fully close with both the headphones and included accessories inside. For storage purposes, as long as only the headphones remain inside, the container can be reused. Yuin may want to revise their packaging to instead consist of one box that folds open, allowing for a more secure and professional container.

This product is the G2A, a revision of the G2, but, the artwork on the container clearly says, "G2", and not "G2A". Also, where the product name is stated on the front and sides, it is evident that Yuin merely placed a sticker for the letter "A". I suggest that once quantities of the current packaging dwindle, Yuin should rework their packaging. They may also want to print the device specifications on the back of the container.

Labeling anomalies aside, the packaging is excellent at keeping the product secure during shipping, as the clip-on Headphones are set into a foam material for protection, also, the packaging is both accessible and somewhat stylish.

Inside the Packaging:

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After you've carefully peeled off the tape, inside of the packaging, you will find a small bag containing replacement ear cushions (these are made of fabric, but, for exercise purposes, rubber-based cushions may be useful), and a miniscule tissue-paper type manual / warranty card. The text in the “manual” is in both decent English and Chinese, and, while mostly pointless, the manual contains specifications and information that may be useful, such as methods of cleaning and storing the headphones safely.

The overall package is simple and straight forward, and I would only suggest the inclusion of a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter (for studio usage), an extension cable, and possibly a headband. However, if you order via Head-Direct, you will receive a free “Fiio E3 portable headphone amplifier”, which does somewhat spruce up the package.

The G2A Itself:

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The Yuin G-series clip-on headphones are, clearly, some of the most elegant looking on the market, and seem solid, yet extremely lightweight. The tops of the headphones are made entirely out of brushed aluminum, and not merely cheap painted plastic. However, the brushed aluminum is not scratch resistant – so, if you are planning on using these headphones for heavy activities, such as running through the park, or weight lifting, and are concerned about damaging the finish, you may want to also pickup a cheaper pair of clip-on headphones such as the Koss KSC-75, and use the G2A’s only for less intensive activities, like in a studio, running on a treadmill, or for other, more casual, instances. You will also, on the top, find that the product name, even if slightly incorrect, is engraved and inked, which should prevent the product name from rubbing off.

The center of the top of the headphones, and the actual clip column are, however, not of the high-quality brushed aluminum seen on the rest of the top, but of a rather cheap feeling and looking plastic. But, the clip column’s plastic is thick enough to prevent any damage. Though, it may have been better to use a scratch-resistant rubberized plastic to also prevent cosmetic damage. Thankfully, each clip can be easily removed from the clip columns. And, the column is somewhat rounded, which allows the clips to both tilt and slightly rotate, making them fit essentially all ears. Having the clips removable, makes my suggestion of including an optional headband for home usage extremely valid – although, with some searching you may be able to find a headband for a few dollars that can fit the Yuin (Yu-Yin) G2A’s column, as most headphones use a similar column design.

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The clips themselves are a translucent smoke grey and feature the manufacturer's name printed in a clean white font. Each stereo indicator is embossed towards the middle of each clip and is incredibly hard to see in all but the best light - I would recommend that Yuin, improve this by printing, instead of embossing, the indicator next to the manufacturer's name. The clips, like the columns, are entirely made out of plastic, this results in the shaft seeming to be overly flexible, and, as such, I would, also, advise Yuin, in future revisions, to make the connecting shaft metal. However, even in its current state, you’d pretty much have to try to snap the clips for any damage to take place, and I’m not exactly sure why you’d want to do that; so, unless you frequently get angry at your headphones, you shouldn’t worry about any serious damage occurring.

The actual driver is safely attached to both the top aluminum, and a sturdy plastic bracket, and, unlike with some headphones out on the market, the driver is covered with a thin felt layer; this is useful for preventing user damage without dampening or muddying the sound. Inside of the headphones, in the space between the plastic bracket and aluminum top, is a set of fine, and rather sharp plastic teeth going around the entire circumference (roughly 5.5 inches, with a diameter of 1.75 inches); the teeth, while not sharp enough to actually harm someone using the headphones (unless you are, again, purposely trying), allow the cushions to securely attach to the drivers, without any chance of them accidentally slipping off. When each cushion is securely attached, the sharp teeth are completely invisible, as they secure into the inner layer of each cushion.

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The cables are somewhat thin, similar to what you would expect for medium-level earbuds or lower level clip-ons like the Koss KSC-75 headphones. Thankfully though, the cables are shielded in rubber, instead of the fabric wrapping that is becoming more popular. This means that when exercising, or moving around, you won’t hear your cables rubbing against things, or other ambient noises, while listening to music. Although, you won’t get that annoying static, the thin rubber cabling does mean that you will find yourself fighting with tangles from time to time. However, the headphones are very well designed (with some miniscule exceptions), and should be compatible with any user or setup – I am impressed with Yuin’s work on the G-series clip-on headphones.

Installation / Usage:

While installation is indeed as obvious as you would think it would be for a pair of headphones, I figured that it would be beneficial to keep this section to discuss handling, usage, and feel of the Yuin G2As.

The headphones easily clip on to any size ears, without any hassle; to clip them on, you merely (selecting the proper stereo driver), align the rounded bottom of the clip to the highest point of your ear, then, you slide the driver backwards until the plastic shaft hits the point that you started at. With the cushions on, they fit extremely snug, but do, as with most clip-on headphones, have a decent amount of sound leak. You may also find it difficult to use these with glasses on, but in most cases this should be manageable. The clips ensure that, unlike with ear buds, these won’t slip or fallout of your ears during activity; and, the cable is decently spaced out and distanced, providing adequate length for computer, studio, pocket, or shirt clip-on attachment.

Testing:

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The Sandisk Sansa Clip 8GB was used for testing – it features some of the best audio quality in a digital audio player, and is used by many portable audiophiles.

High volume (default setting) on the Clip is equivalent to the min / max levels on most digital audio players; high volume versus normal volume, only indicate the total amount of volume selectable. The testing applies to most genres, except maybe extremely soft or heavy music - the results should generally be true.

What these results indicate is that, there is a lack of both user and outside isolation, so, at higher volume levels, people near you will be able to easily hear your music, and, unless you are playing at high levels, you will be able to hear outside noise. This is both good, and bad; if you're clumsy or inattentive, it is definitely a positive, as in outdoor settings you will be aware of your surroundings. Also, at higher volume levels the drivers aren't as painfully close as those of earbuds, which means less hearing damage (if you find it necessary to play music at maximum levels for over 20 minutes).

In terms of actual sound quality, the G2A headphones sound precise and well-represented:

Bass (lows): Slightly lacking in punch for bass oriented genres, but very accurate and useful for lighter genres
Mid-range: Mostly neutral
Treble (highs): Strong, and well-represented - bright, and a little harsh / digital sounding / analytical, but precise; nothing is lost or muddied

And, in comparison to other, similar, headphones, they do very well (with the exception of isolation), they are; in all facets, painfully better than the Zune Premium Earbuds ($30), except for overall depth, extremely better than the clip-on KSC-75s ($12), substantially better than the Sony MDR-Q68LW clip-ons ($20), much better than the headband-based iGrado’s ($49), slightly lesser than the earbud ER6is ($75), their isolating abilities are helpful, and lesser than clip-on Audio-Technica ATH-EW9s (137), as these have a warmer sound that is still as precise as that of the G2A's.

Verdict:

Reasonably priced, elegantly styled, and fantastic sounding - if you're in the market for a new pair of headphones, and are willing to try the "fourth alternative", I highly recommend the Yuin G2As from Head-Direct. Unless, you're a bass-head planning on only using these in libraries, consider these your next audio purchase.

Positives:
Elegant design
Priced reasonably
Great, precise, audio

Neutral Ground:
Slightly harsh
Aluminum is prone to scratching

Negatives:
Hardly any outside isolation
Cabling should have been of a better gauge

Thanks go to Head-Direct for the opportunity to take a look at these incredible headphones, and for being so patient!

 
 
 

7/25/09 1:38 PM

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