This is a review of Syllable wired on-ear headphones: Syllable G04-201 Wired Game Headphones for iPhone 4 / 4S w/ Microphone - Red + Black
Before you start reading this review, scroll down to take a look at the pictures and then back up to my write up. You have to be living under the rock not to recognize these, and if you are still in doubt just look at what the doctor prescribed to use in the studio last year. So what does this mean? Well, if you were planning to spend $200 on a certain pair of studio wired on-ear headphones, now you can test drive it for 1/4 of the price without sacrificing build or sound quality. That is exactly a target audience for this product. As far as I can tell, these are nearly a carbon copy in terms of looks, and from a very reliable source who took another similar pair apart - have almost the same controls and drivers. For me, I wanted to give this pair of cans a fair run through the test mill and to share with you my opinion about it's performance rather then a comparison since I don't have the original ones.
From my previous experience of using on-ear headphones, these could go either way of being very comfortable or not. Just because you have soft foam "marshmallow" earpads, it doesn't mean it will fit you like a glove. Its a size, weight, bend radius of headband, and padding inside of headband that determines how comfortable these will fit. I found these to be very comfortable with a perfect fit and a balance of all the design details. Weighting at about 240g (256g with 2x AAA batteries), it's relatively light weight. In addition to soft earpads, the inner side of headband which sits on top of your head has the same soft padding, while the rest of the inner headband has a soft touch plastic material. Outer construction of the headband is a durable abs plastic which I found to be scratch proof. You will appreciate that especially when trying to take off battery cover which requires some nail work. The headband itself has a steel band inside to keep the shape and to give it a nice springy action without any pressure on your head. Headphones have a clever folding design to a minimum footprint which is comfortable when you are traveling. I do have to note that package includes a fake leather pouch, but you can always get a spare hard case for "these" headphones. Along with leather pouch, it also included airplane adapter, 1/4 adapter (to connect to an amp or pro mix board), a cleaning cloth, and set of minimal instructions. The folding latches are metal with a nice click-action, and headband adjustment also has a nice latch action. Everything is held together with over two dozen of external hex screws.
Now about controls and sound. These supposed to be active noise cancellation headphones which mean they sample outside noise source, invert it's waveform, and combine it together with a source to cancel it out. I can't comment about the "original" ones, but have read comments those were not as great. In case of Syllables, noise cancellation is noticeable by passive nature of covering your ears with sealed earpads, but active part of noise cancellation just adds some mild white noise hiss to mask it out, not much of an improvement. Just think of these as passive noise headphones. At the same time, in order to use these headphones you need to turn the power switch on, which activates both noise canceling and enables the sound. Syllables are just sticking to "original" design, either if you agree with it's logic or not. The power comes from 2x AAA batteries housed in one of the earcups. I can't comment yet on its longevity, but do keep in mind that after you done using headphones - don't forget to turn power switch off, otherwise batteries won't last for that long. Battery cover is not the easiest to take off, but it has two notches to push on with your nails, and I did appreciate scratch proof plastic material in this case. The same earcup with batteries also has 3.5mm connector. Having a replaceable chord is a fantastic idea since most of the times chord connection is the weakest point in the design. If it fails, you replace it. Plus, these headphones come with 2 sets of cables - a straight red cable without remote control, and a black cable with in-line remote that has mic and multifunction button. This particular remote design worked well with apple products, but on my Note 2 it sets the volume to 0. I assume this is apple specific remote (due to internal resistor selection). But since it's replaceable, there are other "original" cables with in-line remote that could work with Samsung devices. Typically multifunction button should work in these, but not volume controls. I also liked how earcup with a power switch had a button in the middle that muted a sound when you press and hold it. Very convenient when you are listening and someone wants to talk to you - you don't need to take headphones off or reach out to your phone or in-line remote. Just push that button and hold it to hear what's going on outside.
Regarding sound quality, I have a feeling it was also a very close to the "original" characteristic since I have seen inner guts of comparison between active filtering elements. Syllables have a very strong bass, and nice warm sound characteristics throughout entire frequency range, and a typical V-curve EQ setting (with enhanced lows and highs and deep cut in the middle). These are definitely not audiophile headphones, but neither does the "original" version. These are intended more for EDM and Rap/Hip-Hop music where you want to feel the bass (nice warm rounded bass sound without being too overpowering). Don't count on too much on mid frequency presence, but you can correct it with your own eq.
Overall, I was very impressed with a level of design details and the quality of material. The fit is very comfortable, something you can keep on for hours without fatigue, or wear around you neck for people to think from a distance you have "those" on. You do have to keep in mind Syllable have a cleverly designed upside down question mark, so the cat will be out of the bag after a close examination. Sound quality will be more then adequate for modern electronic dance music or hip-hop/rap music. In my opinion, all this is no different then what you will get with 2012 model of the "original" ones that still cost 4x more. Up to you to decide.
Here are the pictures.