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Topic: Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303) (Read 6376 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • Martel
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Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303)
My brother recently bought a SGS4 phone and tossed the bundled headset (HS3303) into a drawer. So I thought I would give it a try. Before that, I had been using Sennheiser IE4 as my portable headphones (for commuting etc.) and I thought the headphone was adequate for the price.

After trying the HS3303, my impression is that it beats most headphones under $100 I've heard so far (IE4, HD238, PX 100, Porta Pro and whatnot). It has clear treble (though not too rough/aggressive), and it has only mildly inflated base (most stuff under $100 is annoyingly bassy). The tonal balance is very good (neutral). The stereo image is subjectively better/wider than on IE4.

So I decided to buy my own unit. I was quite shocked when I found out the OEM version of the headphone (lacks retail packaging and comes with just one set of tips) cost as little as $5. Immediately bought it and put the IE4 tips on it (100% compatible) since the bundled ones were too narrow.

Anyone else tried these? I'm still not sure whether they're so good or it's just my ears getting old.

The headphone has its downsides, though. It uses 2 drivers with a crossover - the housing is considerably larger than IE4 (a bit annoying) and the headphone is about 12 db quieter than IE4. Both drivers are vented - the 2 holes in the housing result in somewhat worse isolation compared to IE4 (still OK for subway). The cables are flat and quite stiff and tend to move the earpieces out of one's ear. And it only comes in white (say what?!!).
IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;

  • AndyH-ha
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Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303)
Reply #1
Not long after reading the post, a person to who I was speaking on the phone was in the process of submitting an order to Amazon. I asked if she might do a search and place put a pair of the Samsung earphones on her order.

She found something that claimed to be OEM Samsung phones for the Galaxy S4. She wasn't personally interested so I just agreed to accept the order without seeing the web page or comparing it with what turns out to be a fair number of other retailers offering the same or some similar earphones.

The order took almost two weeks to arrive. It package had an import document attached; it came from Hong Kong. It also wasn't exactly what the ad specified: tangle free flat cord, but the cord seems quite sturdy and supple enough. Its price was $2.50 plus $2.99 shipping.

I've been using inexpensive in-ear phones for years, first on cassette players, in recent year on a couple of mp3 players. I've purchased some that were a total bust for either of two reasons. Some were so poorly balanced that all the sound seems to come from one side. Some had a peculiar distortion that made voices difficult to understand.

Others were adequate for my purposes, spoken audio. I listen to lectures, readings, audio books. They mainly sounded from deficient with music, but I never wanted to listen to music with them anyway. These Samsung phones immediately sounded much better to me, so I tested them with music.

I used a number of reference recordings from CD, covering about a dozen types of music. The overwhelming majority of my selections were acoustic, some with vocals which provided individual voices, and many with individual instrument parts. I plugged the phones into my Solo headphone amplifier which is fed by an M-Audio Audiophile 2496.

Everything sounded very good. I don't know any way to do ABX testing but I did a fair amount of switching between these and my HD600 phones. If I concentrated on the music rather than the obvious differences in the feel of large headphones vs these in-ear types, there was virtually no difference in the sound, and I did not find any deficiencies in the Samsungs.

Again, I know of no way to do ABX tests, but I have middle of the line Grado phones and some fairly expensive Sony headphones. Although all of these are good, to my hearing, they all differ from the HD600s more than do these earbuds.

I ordered three more pairs as backups. Interestingly, this order matched the web page ad more closely, the cords have a flat rather than a round cross section. The retailer's name was the same as for the first order but the origin address was in Maryland, not Hong Kong, and under the name was a statement about it being a family business.

These second order phones were packaged differently than the first ones, the port that feeds the ear looks different, and the soft plastic rubber bulbs that seal then into the ear are made of a different plastic. Also, they came with three sizes of bulbs, to fit different sized ear openings, while the first pair had no spares. Fortunately, the bulbs on the first pair fit me quite well.

I did not do such extensive testing with the second order but I did listen to many of the same recordings, just more for enjoyment rather than critical evaluation. These seem to sound a tiny bit different than the first pair, but they still sound very good. I could not say if there is a real audio difference or there seems to be a difference because of expectation based on either the some what difference appearance, or the fact that the different material bulbs feel a little different in the ears.  Mostly I couldn't say that I really experienced any difference in sound at all. They are quite good enough to fully enjoy music, so I think the order was well justified.

  • Martel
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Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303)
Reply #2
I bought 3 more pairs. I noticed that the my brother's headset was made in Vietnam and has code CY on the split section of the cable. The 3 pairs were made in China and have YB code.

The Nam part is noticeably heavier/fuller sounding than the China part (more/deeper bass). One of the China parts also seems to have a slight left-right (phase?) imbalance. I don't have all 3 of them at the moment so I'm going to check whether this applies universally as soon as I have them all together.

The sound can be substantially tweaked by using different tips. The Sennheiser IE 4 tips are fairly neutral/light while Philips SHE3590 tips make the sound rather heavy.

Putting a piece of tape over the outer vent holes also changes the sound a bit, making it subjectively tighter (tames the bass and also has (IMO positive) impact on stereo image).

It's very hard to make observations/comparisons which are easily reproduced as I usually don't manage to insert the headphone exactly the same on each trial. This is much worse than with conventional headphones.
IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;

  • Martel
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Samsung Galaxy S4 headset (HS3303)
Reply #3
So I have compared all the pairs and it seems there's audible variability not only between different batches/countries of origin but also within the same batch (there's unlikely to be much QC for $2.50 a piece - likely no QC checks at all).

Below is a summary of my findings, done without any modifications and using Samsung middle size tips (which only comes with the "full version", OEM has the smallest only which is too narrow for me):

OEM China YB (no 1) - thin sounding (a bit too much for my taste), L/R balance OK
OEM China YB (no 2) - less thin than the first but there is a disturbing L/R imbalance or phase shift - can't get the "center" to sound "in the middle", I'm likely throwing this pair away
OEM China YB (no 3) - about right tonal balance with a bit too sharp treble, L/R balance OK
OEM China CY - less sharp treble and substantially more base than the above (above my taste), a slight but tolerable L/R imbalance
SGS4 bundled Vietnam CY - sharper treble (close to China YB 3), tiny bit less bass than China CY but still above my taste, L/R balance OK

China YB 3 is definitely the best, the Vietnam CY is not too far behind, though. All of the headphones are enjoyable except China YB 2, which likely suffers from a manufacturing defect. Compared to other headphones I own or owned, China YB 3 easily beats IE 4, PX100, Porta Pro, HD 238, HD 668B and HD 518 in the tonal balance department (most of those headphones have way too much bass, HD 668B also has a bit too much treble in addition). The soundstage, positioning and separation of instruments is not directly comparable to full size headphones for some reason, the feeling of IEM is simply different (if I had a choice, I would rather use traditional headphones). The detail pick-up is almost as good as HD 215, which is the only headphone I consider unbeaten by HS3303.

Note that I had to swap the tips (I only have one pair) and re-plug the headphones into the player and my ears. This made swift A/B comparison impossible so the results may be affected by my audio memory fading and/or different insertion of the tips into my ears. The last pair in the list has been used (and abused in the gym) for several months while the others are basically brand new (I'm not sure whether or how this affects the sound).

I have never compared multiple pieces of the same headphone before and it leaves me wondering whether there is such audible variability among normal (non-OEM, off-the-shelf) headphones as well.

All of the above are my subjective personal observations which need not translate to other people.
  • Last Edit: 01 February, 2014, 09:54:58 AM by Martel
IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;