Testing & Results
I kept things simple for testing. My PC and ZTE Warp Elite smart phone were the primary hardware for my tests and evaluations. The software used for testing included audiocheck.net and Passmark’s SoundCheck.
For everyday use, I listened to a variety of music, movies, and shows on Netflix. No sound testing would be complete without some video games thrown into the mix as well. I played Dragon Age: Inquisition, Ark: Survival Evolved, and Skyrim, just to name a few.
I also compared the S25 Mobile Elite Gaming Earphones to my JVC Gumy Plus earphones, and my Corsair Void Surround headset. When it came to the audio analysis using audiocheck.net and SoundCheck, I ran all three through the same tests.
Motherboard: MSI 870 G45
System Memory: GSkill Ares 8GB @ 1600MHz CL8
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 965 @ 3.8GHz
Audio: VIA VT1828S
Video: XFX Radeon R9 390
Disk Drive 1: Samsung EVO 850 500GB SSD SATA 3
Disk Drive 2: WD Black 750GB SATA 2
Optical Drive: HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GSA-H30L SATA
Enclosure: Silverstone PS11-W
PSU: EVGA Supernova G2 850W
Monitor: Acer X223w 1680×1050
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
First, I’ll talk about the general listening performance while testing the S25 Mobile Elite Gaming Earphones. While listening to music, the S25 had a nice balance to them. The bass was not overwhelming while the mids and highs maintained a clear and precise sound. The JVC Gumy’s on the other hand sounded a bit shrill in the mids and highs, while the bass was responsive, but not as precise as the S25. The Corsair with it’s larger drivers had no problem with deep bass and clean mids and highs.
The overall balance and sound field was tight with both earphones. Only the Corsair headset gave a sense of a wider sound field. Sound could still be localized to the left or right, as well as dead center on all 3 headsets.
Using the S25 for phone calls on my ZTE Warp Elite sounded clear and concise. The S25’s mic seemed to not be as sensitive as the JVC’s mic. Friends that I talked to said they could notice a difference in volume between the two earphones. The Corsair headset with it’s larger boom mic had the best clarity, although, I was told it also sounded a bit tinny.
After doing some voice recording with SoundCheck, I played back the files to confirm what people had told me. The S25 had the most neutral sound, but slightly lower volume. The JVC Gumy had good volume, but lost some bass in the voice. Corsair had good overall sound quality with minimal noise, but sounded tinny.
Moving on to some games and movies on my PC. I watched shows on Netflix and replayed the same sections of shows and movies to get a consistent comparison.
The S25 sound quality was the same with musical content. Voices remained clear even during high action scenes with intense music and sound effects. JVC Gumy’s were slightly less balanced with slightly shrill mids and highs cutting in during high volume scenes. The Corsair Surrounds were well behaved and handled the high volume scenes the best. But given the bigger drivers in the Corsair headset, this was expected.
Gaming was pretty much the same as watching shows or movies. Dialogue was crisp and clear. Music and sound effects were the same. Skyrim’s epic music is some of my all-time favorites. I played several sections over by loading saved games, then switching headsets and earphones for testing.
Lastly, I tested each headset/Earphones with audiocheck.net and Passmark’s SoundCheck. The tests on audiocheck start off with an audio sweep from 10Hz to 200Hz, with a voice overlay conveying what frequency the sweep is at. The results were nearly identical from the S25, JVC, and Corsair headset. I could start hearing the bass right around 20Hz on all 3 headsets. The sound stayed even and consistent all the way up to 200Hz.
The next audio sweep goes from 22KHz down to 8KHz. All 3 headsets are capable of going as high as 20KHz, but I could not hear anything until 15 to 16KHz, and all the way down to 8KHz. I’m sure this is just a limitation of my hearing since I’m over 40 years old. In any event, all 3 headsets sounded roughly the same in volume without any noticeable peaks or dives during the frequency sweep.
With the spectral flatness test, we want to see just how even the sound is from low to high frequency without any noticeable shift in volume. The S25 sounded even from low to high frequency without any noticeable spikes in volume. On the other hand, the JVC Gumy had a bit of a spike in the higher frequency range, which correlates my findings with them sounding slightly shrill in the mid and high range. And the Corsair headset was flat and even just like the S25 earphones.
Next is the dynamic range test. This test determines the ratio between the loudest signal you can hear and the quietest. With the S25 earphones, I was able to make out clearly down to -48dBFS. After that, I could hear sound at -54dBFS, but it wasn’t clear enough for me to understand. The JVC earphones did not achieve the same dynamic range as the S25 did. I was able to hear down to -42dBFS clearly, and could hear -48dBFS, but it was not understandable. The Corsair headset was even worse. I could clearly hear down to -30dBFS and barely hear -36dBFS, but without understanding.
The bass shaker test is fun. It does a sweep of low frequencies to see if the headset/earphones rattle or buzz from the enclosure vibrating. The results were the same for all 3, none of them exhibited buzzing or rattling.
Driver matching ensures that each driver will respond the same with any given frequency. Matched drivers sound will stay central during the frequency sweep without any deviation to the right or left. Again, the results for all 3 headsets were the same. Consistent focus of sound in the center without any noticeable deviation.
The wiring test simply makes sure that your headset/earphones are wired with the correct polarity. I’m happy to report that all 3 headsets are wired correctly.
Finally we have the binaural test. Binaural recordings are done with two microphones to imitate our own hearing. The test sample consists of someone knocking on a wooden door on the right side, then the left side. Oddly enough, this quick audio sample sounds more ‘surround’ than actual Dolby 7.1 audio to me.
The S25 Earphones sounded the most realistic to me. When the test started, the knocking sound on the right side made me flinch a little as it sounded as if someone really was knocking on a door right next to me. Then the knocking on the left side sounded a bit more distant and to the rear. The JVC earphones had the volume of the S25, but didn’t quite sound as realistic. The directional queues were there, but just didn’t sound as real. And the Corsair headset just didn’t have the same impact as the earphones. I guess this has more to do with the headset sitting outside of the ear canal rather than inside like the earphones.
Testing with SoundCheck was not quite as scientific, but more of a feel. It was mainly useful for recording voice samples with the various mics to compare how good they sounded. I went over the mic sound quality early, so I won’t bore you with it again.
There was some other interesting tests, including a 3D audio clip. The test had sliders to widen the sound field while the sound circled around a center point. This effect had similar results on all 3 headsets. The sound never really seemed to circle around, so much as ping-pong back and forth between the right and left channels. I never got a sense of the sound being in front of me or behind me.
Another audio test had various sound effects, including chorus, echo, reverb, etc. etc. The audio fx test played the same loop of music, so each effect could be applied and the results were consistent. Each of the headsets were clearly able to make out the effects when they were activated. The sound quality was the same as they were when just listening to music with the same characteristics as noted before.