Today we are going to be taking a look at the Gigaset, a budget earphone that offers up a unique signature for the price bracket they play in.
While most earphones in the 15 USD price range focus on a fun v-shaped signature that works well for modern and pop music, the Gigaset takes a notably different approach putting their primary focus on the midrange and upper end.
I would like to thank Alta with Lightinthebox for providing the Gigaset in exchange for a fair and impartial review. I am not receiving any financial compensation for this review and all comments and views within are my honest opinions. They are not representative of Lightinthebox, Gigaset, or any other entity.
The Gigaset currently retails for 16.67 CAD on lightinthebox.com. You can check them out here.
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 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 I use for testing is pretty basic composing of an HTC One M8 cellphone, Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Plantronics Rig USB amp. An XDuoo X3 has recently been added to the crew and was used for the majority of my testing. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. When it comes to signature preference I tend to lean towards aggressive and energetic, 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 and Accessories:
The Gigaset takes a distinctive Xiaomi approach to their packaging, storing the earphone in a compact black plastic case. The smoked black lid is used as a viewing window to show off the housings. Inside the Gigaset is wrapped neatly in a silicone cutout that can double as a case, pending you are fine taking the time to wind them up for storage. While not quite pocketable, the plastic case is small enough to be tossed in a purse or bag. The eartips are found at the bottom of the case stuck on mounting posts that hold them securely in place.
The included eartips (s/m/l) are of nice quality, but the silicone used is very thin. Since they are well matched to the nozzle size and are easy to install and remove I have no worry they will tear, but I do suspect that they won’t provide enough pressure to seal in some ears, especially given this is a very shallow fit earphone.
Overall the packaging is very attractive and effective in drawing your attention. It certainly feels more expensive than it is. I also like that it is smaller than the case used by Xiaomi for their Piston series making it more usable for travel. The inclusion of a shirt clip would have been welcome, in addition to a basic instruction booklet advising what functions the inline remote has.
Build, Design, Comfort, Isolation:
The Gigaset features a 10 mm dynamic driver inlaid in a quite flat, half-earbud style design that sits shallowly in your outer ear. The outer half of the housing is bare aluminum with Gigaset branding unobtrusively printed on it. The inner half is plastic with a stubby nozzle protruding at a fairly relaxed angle. The bore size is pretty standard so the Gigaset was open for pairing with a wide variety of tips.
The Gigaset uses a flat cable. While not the best I’ve come across, it’s also far from being the worst. It’s the same width and thickness as the cable used on VJJB’s K2S, but is stiffer and less rubbery making it less flexible. While it held some initial bends and kinks from being packaged, those worked themselves out after a couple days and it seems memory is quite low. Microphonics (cable noise) are notably more intrusive than your average standard round cable, but it’s nowhere near as bad as on the Don Scorpio Bass Colour.
I often notice manufacturers don’t bother to add strain relief to flat cables for whatever reason, so I was pleased to see that the Gigaset’s cable was well-relieved from top-to-bottom. From the cleanly designed aluminum straight jack, through the very attractive remote, up into the housings, relief is only missing at the fairly basic y-split which is just a shaped piece of rubber.
Many of you will be pleased to note that the Gigaset has a chin slider. You will be even happier to know that it is a breakaway slider allowing you to detach then reattach it above the remote. Finally, an earphone with remote that features a fully usable chin slider.
I think the inline remote looks and feels outstanding. It’s probably my favorite of any I’ve used to be honest. The buttons are thin and sleek with the volume (track controls on Android) buttons situated side by side. The start/stop/call answer button is distinctly set above the others which is a welcome change from the norm. The Gigaset’s setup means I have yet to press the wrong button when controlling music through my HTC One M8.
Pending your ear works well with shallow fit earphones, comfort should be outstanding. The Gigaset has excellent fit and finish so there are no sharp edges. There are no oddities to their fairly straightforward and simple design. With the right sized tip, you pop them in and you’re good to go. Note that they are designed for cable-down wear. You can wear them cable up, but you’ll have to swap channels which isn’t ideal.
Isolation isn’t really their strong suit due to a combination of a very shallow fit and ventilation for the dynamic driver. I would put them in the “slightly below average” camp here. Things improved slightly with foam tips or Sony’s Islation Hybrids. Considering these tips cost almost as much as the earphone itself, probably not worth it.
Overall the Gigaset features a simple but attractive design. It’s free of garish colors and design motifs and as a result subtly blends in with it’s surroundings. I think they look very professional, aided by their fairly compact size and aluminum finish. Comfort is great, the cable is alright, and material fit and finish are excellent.
The Gigaset’s microphone works very well for calls. It did a good job mitigating the cable’s microphonics while walking around, allowing my voice to come through loud and clear to my callers. Background static was present, but did not interfere. The Gigaset’s mid-forward signature meant they were ideal for incoming calls. Voices cut through the noise of my surroundings and I never struggled to hear my callers.
Tips: The Gigaset’s stock tips are alright, but due to this earphones midforward, bass light signature, they’re not ideal. I found small bore tips took the uncomfortable edge of the occasionally shouty midrange and added some much needed warmth. I settled on large Sony Hybrids as my eartip of choice.
Amping: The Gigaset did not seem to benefit from amping, failing to scale much, if at all, with the different equipment tossed their way. They did benefit from a warmer source, however. The Topping NX1 I usually use for testing was too cold and exacerbated the issues I have with the Gigaset, so I decided not to use it opting only for the XDuoo X3 and HTC One M8.
The Gigaset does not sound like your typical budget earphone to me. I heard them as featuring a slightly thin upper end, an unusually forward midrange, with recessed, rolled off bass. They are very sensitive to the quality of material being fed through them resulting in most Youtube and Soundcloud material sounding grainy and full of flaws. Quality material begets quality sound with the Gigaset.
Treble is well-controlled and refreshingly accurate with great extension. It is forward and emphasized enough to come across as somewhat bright. While not as clean and smooth as you’ll find on more expensive sets, treble here is quite listenable and reasonably smooth with only a small amount of grain.
The Gigaset’s midrange is interesting. Their mids clearly dominate and are unnaturally forward pulling vocals, guitars, and other mid-focused sounds to the forefront. This threw me for a loop on many of my usual test tracks, such as those from Gramatik, since their balance was so off. Because of this imbalanced mid-forward signature, I found myself drifting towards new material, primarily vocal and acoustic tracks. This particular signature would be quite fun with some material, but the Gigaset pulls things so far forward they get uncomfortably shouty. At higher volumes than I normally listen, this leads to noticeable distortion.
Bass on the Gigaset is very, very underwhelming. My preferences lean towards dialed down mid-bass with boosted subbass. The Gigaset nails the reduced mid-bass, but has next to no sub-bass extension. The track Solli by Kavinsky starts of with a deep bass line that on the Gigaset you struggle to feel, let alone hear. The bass on these rolls off earlier than anything I’ve heard to date. What is there seems fairly quick and punchy, but it’s so downplayed it’s hardly worth spending time on. KZ’s ED3 Perfection seems like a bass cannon in comparison.
Clarity and detail retrieval on the Gigaset is surprisingly good for something in this price range. I was noticing minute details that other budget sets like the Xiaomi Piston 3.0 and Huawei AM12 would fail to pick up. Finger’s sliding over strings, light breathing, etc. Their soundstage is no larger than on those aforementioned sets, however. The boosted treble and recessed bass keeps things light and airy, but they never gave me the impression of an overabundance of space.
First impressions are great due to the attractive case and pleasant unpacking experience. The build quality is wonderful and their design clean and attractive. Comfort is quite good due to a ear-friendly shape and shallow fit.
The Gigaset is a decent earphone, but as a device primarily used for listening to music they fall short. Their unbalanced signature, shouty midrange, and lack of any sense of extension into sub-bass regions is what lets them down. They can be fun with the right tracks, but they aren’t a good all-rounder.
Where the Gigaset find it’s niche is as a headset. The sound signature works very well for calling, even in noisy areas and despite their limited isolation. The microphone picks up your voice well and does a solid job of cutting out background distractions. For a working professional that wants an inexpensive, attractive headset to keep with them for impromptu phone calls and the occasional bout of music listening, these would be a solid choice.
Thanks for reading!