Pioneer SE-CL331-H review

The Pioneer SE-CL331-H headphones are probably the most basic of the headphones in this group test. The only concession to the extra requirements of athletes is a small nubbin on the rear side of the earpiece that helps to keep them in place.

They look and feel quite cheap – but then again, they are quite cheap. One nice touch is a red accent on the right hand unit (other than that they are entirely white)
to help you instantly know which is which.

You get a good range of ear tips: four different sizes. The fit was perfectly comfortable but not especially secure; we were mostly fine during our work-out, but light to moderate pressure on the cable causes the earbuds to pop out. Even if this doesn’t happen, there’s a constant nagging feeling that it might.

Sound quality was basic, as we expected from the price tag, but by no means unpleasant. Our disco track showed up a lack of bass power – there was a bit of a percussive kick, but this was experienced around the back of the head, rather than deep in the gut like with the best offerings in this category. And the bass was quite tinny and harsh, especially when we pushed them to high volumes.

They look and sound pretty basic, but they are among the cheapest of the test. There’s no on-cable remote either

Pop was more manageable – as tends to be the case with lower-end headphones – although both drums and vocals felt somewhat artificial. But the overall sound here was warmer. Jazz was a nice surprise: brass reproduction was rich and warm.

Finally, sound leakage was pleasingly minimal.

OUR VERDICT

Cheap and cheerful, the Pioneers offer basic sound quality that’s good enough for pop but falls a little short on the bass-heavy numbers so many of us favour for exercise. And while the fit was pretty good, they’re less secure than the headphones that use more elaborate methods – neckbands or around-ear clips – to keep the earbuds snug.

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