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article imageReview: Inateck's wooden earphones offer high-quality sound for low cost

By James Walker     May 15, 2016 in Technology
Inateck has two new premium earphone sets for style-conscious audiophiles, the metal-and-wood BH1101 and the all-wood BH1105. Both models are a cut above typical earphones, offering clear, refined sound and a lightweight design at a reasonable price.
Introduction: Unboxing
The £40 ($40) BH1101 "Aries" and £30 ($20) BH1105 are two similar but closely related products. Both are wired in-ear headphones that focus on delivering a high-quality audio experience. They fit comfortably in the ear and produce high quality sound for enjoyable listening to a range of media.
The Aries is based around a noise isolating design and a high-definition dynamic sound driver. Its earphone tips are finished in aluminium and wood, creating a high-quality premium finish that reminds you you're wearing earphones with something more to offer than a typical set.
The BH1105 eschews the metal of the BH1101 for an attractive and minimalist all-wooden finish that adds resonance and clarity to sound. The light-coloured wood is noticeable when the earphones are being worn and is smooth against the ear. Both sets of earphones are premium products, although the BH1101 is positioned slightly above the BH1105.
Accessories supplied with the Inateck BH1101
Accessories supplied with the Inateck BH1101
Inateck
This becomes evident when comparing the two sets. The Aries is the more feature complete of the pair, including an inline microphone and multifunction audio and call control button. Whereas the BH1105 comes packaged in a small box, accompanied by only a set of earbud tips, the Aries includes Inateck's more modern box art and a complete accessory set.
You'll find the usual selection of earbud options, a clothing clip to keep the earphone cable against your body and an airplane adapter. The latter item lets you connect the earphones to the entertainment systems on airlines. There's also a protective pouch to store your earphones in when not in use.
The package feels much more complete than the barebones approach used for the BH1105. Thankfully, beyond the box, both products feel as high-quality as their pricing would suggest. The BH1105's sound quality doesn’t suffer from its lack of accessories, although the absence of a carry pouch for the entirely wooden set is a little strange.
Design & Features
The Aries has the more premium design. Its aluminium ear-tips are cool to the touch and feel durable, making the headphones robust to regular use. The inclusion of wood alongside the aluminium creates a very high-quality finish with an attractive dark glow.
Inateck BH1101
Inateck BH1101
Inateck
The cable is made of braided PU aluminium foil. It is easy to untangle, flexible and strong. A length adjuster is included, letting you choose where the cable splits into the left and right components to suit your height. The 3.5mm connector is sheathed in more aluminium, keeping it protected against bending and stretching. The entire product feels very high quality and built to last.
The all-wooden BH1105 also has a high-quality construction, albeit without all the bells and whistles of the slightly more expensive BH1101. There is no cable adjuster and the cable itself is built from a simple rubber material in place of the Aries' braided aluminium.
Inateck BH1105
Inateck BH1105
Inateck
However, both the Aries and the BH1105 are very lightweight and remain comfortable to wear during prolonged listening sessions. The soft tips sit snugly in the ear and don't slip or gradually ease their way out.
Noise leakage is kept to a minimum as the tips wrap completely around the tiny speaker drivers beneath them. These are earphones you can wear comfortably for hours, whether you prefer the wooden or metallic finish.
Sound quality
Sound quality from both earphones is impressive. Starting with the Aries, music is measured and refined and speech is clear. Inateck has based the headset on a 9.2mm driver with an unusually high 40-ohm impedance and a frequency response of 10-20,000Hz for high-powered audio.
Bass is noticeable, the mid-range is clear and detailed and trebles ring out above other notes. The output does seem to favour higher tones though, sometimes masking lower bass notes. This effect is particularly noticeable in complex classical pieces, emphasising strings above all else. Although stronger bass output would have been welcome, the Aries performs well overall, delivering measured sound that is enjoyable to listen to.
Inateck BH1101
Inateck BH1101
Inateck
The sound produced by the BH1105 is similarly respectable. The lower-priced product has a more typical impedance of 17-ohms and an almost identical frequency response of 20-20,000Hz.
Audio is crisp and clear, free from background hissing and muffled tones. Like with the BH1101, the earphones really excel at higher frequencies in the mid and treble ranges. Bass can feel a little suppressed at times, lost amid the higher notes, but generally the sound quality is fitting for a product of this design calibre.
Conclusion
Inateck's BH1101 Aries and BH1105 are two high-quality sets of earphones that have attractive designs and strong sound quality for a respectable price. The Aries is the superior of the two, featuring a premium and robust metal and wood design and clear and measured sound, but some may prefer the simplicity that the completely wooden finish of the BH1105 affords.
Both will offer you a listening experience to suit their price, whether you prefer wood alone or in combination with aluminium. The BH1101's higher quality was evident when comparing them both side-by-side but the BH1105 is a capable set of earphones in its own right. The lack of any accessories for the cleaner-looking product is a little disappointing though, even if it does make up for its shortcomings with its consistently strong output.
Inateck BH1105
Inateck BH1105
Inateck
Neither product has much in the way of competition for design or sound quality at this price. Some alternatives to consider include the highly-rated Brainwavz Delta, around $25, and the $30 AKG Y20U. These don't look as good as Inateck's offerings though, opting for simpler housing styles in the place of Inateck's sophisticated wood and metal.
The Inateck BH1101 and BH1105 can be bought from Amazon in major markets worldwide. The higher-spec BH1101 has a recommended retail price of $39.99 USD (£39.99). The BH1105 is priced a little lower, at $19.99 (£29.99). A promotion at the time of writing reduces the price to $15.99 (£17.99) and $9.99 (£9.99) respectively for each product, making these earphones an even better value buy.
Verdict: Inateck BH1101 "Aries"
A high-quality, lightweight headset with an attractive, robustly built design for a respectable price.
Verdict: Inateck BH1105
Clear, measured sound and a lightweight, minimalistic design with a distinctive wooden finish that provides a premium feel.
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