I’ve never actually considered getting Bluetooth headphones until recently, when the idea of using Bluetooth on the move suddenly got really appealing. Given that my phone was pretty hefty in the battery department (at least, on my usage), running out of power was not really an issue. So I got searching, and my eyes kept landing on the Pendulumic Stance S1+.
It seemed that the general consensus on these headphones was that they were great, particularly for the price. At CES 2015, Sennheiser released wireless versions of their lovely Momentum line, and while they looked like a brilliant idea, the price was pegged at…US$500. Given that the Stance S1+ were cheaper by $300, and most other competitors were priced higher, it was a no brainer.
I didn’t actually expect to buy it so soon though. It was only because Jaben was running a small offer that I jumped on it. A quick audition didn’t just confirm the reviews of the headphones so far. They pretty much blew me away. Well, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but keeping in mind the price tag, the sound was ridiculously good. And the freedom of having no wires convinced me to pay up right then and there.
The build quality of the headphones were pretty good, and they felt nice and solid in the hands. The sliders to select the power modes and the audio modes could be more robust, but I can’t complain. The accessories were adequate, and I do like their presentation. It has a bit of a retro look about it, but that’s up my alley. With the simple, intuitive, volume/selection knob, I felt right at home putting them on my head.
The range for these is decent, at about 6-7 meters with a direct line of sight before it starts to get choppy. With my phone in my pocket, there are occasions when the signal drops a little, but it’s not enough to detract from music enjoyment. And the comfort is great, except for the usual trouble of hot ears in Singapore’s weather. That, and the earpads could stand to be a little deeper and larger; my ears brush the driver, and they aren’t the biggest pair around.
But sound is where the Stance S1+ truly excels. In comparison with my HP50, it has a thinner sound, with less bass (but still north of neutral) and more recessed mids giving an airier presentation to me. The treble stands out more than the HP50, likely because of the less intimate presentation of the midrange that brings out the treble. But the treble is not fatiguing, and the Stance S1+ is far from bright or harsh. It’s V-shaped signature is mild and provides a smooth and enjoyable listen. The HP50 is still better technically. No surprise, given their respective price tags, but the S1+ gave a decent fight.
The only major issue I see with the Stance S1+ is isolation. InnerFidelity touched on this in a review of Bluetooth headphones, but I only really felt the problem when I used it for my commute to school. The isolation is ridiculously poor, with every outside noise just about audible. I had to turn up my music, which doesn’t drown out outside noise until it’s at an unbearable volume. In a way, it’s good because I can actually keep track of my surroundings. But it’s difficult to enjoy the music at times. I would definitely recommend Pendulumic adding noise cancelling to their next model. Or just work on the isolation.
But despite the major issue of being poor for travel, I can’t help but feel that it’s a pretty good purchase. It has a great sound for its price and convenience, and hell, it’s designed by a Singaporean. Anything to feel proud about my own country, eh?