Syllable D900S – “I R Cyberman”

Greetings!

Today we are going to be taking a look at something a little different, the Syllable D900S.

The D900S is a pair of fully wireless in-ear earphones and a revision of Syllable’s original version, the D900. In the 14+ hours I’ve put into them over the last week, I’ve found them to offer up a unique and pleasant experience, but not without some incident. If you are looking for a solid pair of Bluetooth earphones, the D900S may be worth your time.

Disclaimer:

The D900S was provided courtesy of George from GearBest in exchange for a fair and impartial review. I do not receive any financial compensation and the D900S remains property of Gearbest. All thoughts within this review are my own and are not reflective of GearBest or Syllable. Thank you George for the opportunity to review the D900S.

Purchasing:

The D900S is currently available for purchase through GearBest. Just follow this link to check it out;

http://www.gearbest.com/sports-fitness-headphones/pp_345581.html

Their current price is listed at 102.38 USD. Promotion code LHSY drops the price to 60.49 USD which I think is quite fair.

A Little About Me:

Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread (over at Head-fi.org) and being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own reviews. Fast forward a couple years and I’ve had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, and Meze. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done.

The gear used for testing is pretty basic composing of an HTC One M8 cellphone and my old Samsung Nexus S. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. When it comes to earphone preferences I tend to leans towards aggressive and bassy, but I try not to limit myself to one signature only. I also tend to listen at lower than average volumes.

Enough preamble. Let us dive into the good stuff shall we?

Packaging, Features, Charging, and Accessories:

The D900S comes in what I think is pretty nice packaging. The front contains an image of a fine young gentleman immersed in sound, along with some logos and branding. The rear contains an image of the D900S and it’s charging station, outlining a few key features. Overall nice to look at, though the translations could use some work.

Open the very solid cardboard box and you’re greeted by the D900S tucked safely inside their charging station. The station is bordered by two simple cardboard cutouts that hold it in place. The remainder of the box is occupied by another smaller box containing the instruction manual and remaining accessories.

The D900S comes with the smaller of the two provided dual-flange tips installed. The larger pair is tucked away in a resealable plastic bag along with the tether used to link the two buds together. Also included is a micro-usb charging cable and a simple velvet-textured pouch.

Underneath it all lies a quick start guide outlining the most basic steps needed to get going; how to turn on the D900S, pair it to your device, engage stereo sound, and basic troubleshooting.

This is a fairly feature-rich product; Bluetooth 4.0, APTX, IPX4 water resistance, fully-wireless, wireless charging station, 4 hours play time with 25-30 minutes charge time (2 hours using the charging station), and more. The list is lengthily though they don’t offer up media controls beyond starting and stopping music.

As a special note, I must mention that the instruction manual needs some work. It DOES NOT make clear that the 20-30 minute charge is achieved only when the case is plugged in via the included USB. I was getting maybe two hours of use and was wondering what was up. Only when I went to Syllable’s primary website did I realize that the case alone charges in two hours (troubleshooting recommends three hours charge time if the headset dies during use). Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, they hit their 4 hours play time claim with ease.

Build, Design, and Comfort:

Syllable touts the D900S as “Comfortable, like wearing nothing. They fit your ear stably and light in weight.” I certainly found them light and pretty comfortable, but they never disappeared and were not quite as stable as I was hoping. I found myself fiddling with them non-stop trying to regain a good seal. There was also a fair bit of driver flex in the right bud. Crinkling can get pretty tiresome after adjusting them for the umpteenth time and I’m afraid it might damage the driver eventually.

The all-plastic design is very-lightweight, something I was concerned about given they are a fairly large earphone. While light, the plastic used also looks low-rent; I levy this criticism primarily at the buttons on the earpieces themselves. The colors look washed out and a little off. The white-ish outline houses blue LEDs and looks nice when lit, but otherwise they look a little cheap. The buttons also rattle around, most notable in the left-earpiece where even a slight tilt of the head is enough to cause the button to shift. On the other hand, they do look cool when on and in use as every once in a while the outline will glow a nice shade of blue.

The large housing tapers down into a very slim nozzle that can accommodate a wide variety of tips if the stock ones aren’t working for you. I tried a number of options, but ended up going back to the smaller of the two provided. The included tips do not seal outside noise out overly well, but they did offer me the best sound and comfort which I find more important than isolation.

Overall the design is nicely thought out and the buttons on the housings easy to locate and press. With some minor tweaks to ergonomics, such as shaping them more like a a typical outer ear, these would be very stable and comfortable.

Connection Quality:

While for the most part the D900S provided a stable Bluetooth connection, it did stumble here and there.

Pairing was as easy as could be expected for a fully wireless device;

1. turn on your device’s Bluetooth and search for available connections

2. on the D900S, hold down the button on the right earpiece until it was cycling between red and blue

3. locate the D900S on your device and select it

4. adding in stereo sound was as simple as turning on the left earpiece by holding down the button

Once connected, I found that for the first few minutes the left earpiece would fade in and out as it gained and lost connection. After a few rounds of this it would be stable for around an hour or so of listening before it would fade in and out again for another few cycles. I also had the left ear piece break connection with the right once, but this ended up resolving itself. Annoying but manageable.

Also annoying was that if I placed my phone in my left pants pocket the right ear piece would routinely lose connection, forcing me to move the phone to my right pocket where the connection would remain stable. As a lefty this was a royal pain because the right bud in the primary. Even after a week of non-stop use I can’t get used to leaving my phone in my right pocket. Connection would also suffer if I set the phone on my left on my desk, forcing me to set it in front of me, or to the right. Maybe I’m being picky…

Range is listed as 10 meters. In an uninterrupted straight line, yes, that seems about right. Start adding in obstructions, such as a thin wall or corner and expect that to start reducing pretty rapidly. If you are one to connect to a device and leave it broadcasting from a central location while you walk around, you may be a little disappointed.

Call Quality:

Overall my experiences with calls was positive, but again with a few caveats.

Answering and hanging up calls worked fine. A quick press to answer and a quick press to hang up. Perfect.

Callers found me clear and easy to understand, but quiet. Raising my voice a bit resolved that issue. Occasionally they would ask me to repeat myself, stating it sounded like they were speaking to someone at a drive-through. Waiting a moment before speaking again seemed to be the only way around this.

I was very impressed with the D900S’ ability to filter out external noise. Here they performed beyond my wildest expectations. To simulate walking around in high winds, I sat about two feet in front of a fan on full blast. My caller didn’t have a clue. No wind noise at all regardless of the angle it was hitting me at. WHAT?! Now that’s pretty damn impressive.

Sound Quality:

So far my experience with the D900S has been pretty hit and miss. Luckily, they output an enjoyably warm, v-shaped sound, albeit lacking a bit in detail and clarity. Still they sounded much better than I expected when I had a good seal.

Treble extends pretty well and overall is very inoffensive. It can be harsh at the high volumes the D900S achieves, but you really shouldn’t be listening at those volumes anyway. Mids are clear and natural and have good presence despite being set slightly behind the rest of the signature. I especially like how female vocals are presented, such as on Massive Attack’s Teardrop. Elizabeth Fraser sounds lovely. Bass comes along slow and steady, presenting itself in a very robust manner. On first listen with one of SubSil3nt’s drum and bass mixes, I was taken aback by their low end and just how prominent it was. Despite this there is little interference with the mids. The D900S doesn’t offer up basshead quantities of bass, but it’s far more than neutral and well controlled.

The D900S does not image well, or much at all really. This was a bit of a disappointment especially with Infected Mushroom tracks which usually have an unusual amount of depth and space for electronic music. You get left, right, and centre with little indication that there is anything between these three spaces. At least the D900S sounds spacious and avoids congestion; like across between an earbud and earphone actually.

Overall the D900S treats your ears to a well-tuned, warm and bassy sound that should please most users not looking for tons of detail.

13

Overall Thoughts:

Despite minor annoyances here and there, the D900S remains a solid product. It is by no means perfect, but it’s also far from bad.

The portable charging station is an awesome feature and probably my favorite thing about them. Getting six charges out of it is awesome. At around four hours of listening per charge, you can easily take them traveling for a weekend and leave any cables at home. Since they’re pretty compact, they make for a great traveling companion. Drop them in the provided carrying pouch and toss them in your bag or pocket and you’re good to go for the day. Improved isolation would be nice, but I suppose it’s safer to not be deaf to what’s going on around you.

There are a couple items on my wishlist for the next revision or successor, the first and most important being to further improve connection quality. It’s not horrible by any means, but it would be nice to have to worry less about where your device is in relation to the right earpiece. Next up is to slightly alter ergonomics. Updating the housing to be a little narrower and less bulbous would go a long way towards improving fit and stability. Comfort is already great and they would probably disappear in your ears if they would more consistently seal well.

I like the D900S. It sounds good, it has character, and it’s unique. Plus, you look like a Cyberman with them sticking out of your head. You really can’t go wrong.

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

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