These in-ear headphones are designed for the sporting person on your holiday gift list, since the addition of an over-the-ear flexible loop will help prevent the earphones from falling out when they're running or exercising. But they also include Able Planet's LINX Audio technology, which provides "full sound at safer lower levels", to help protect the user's ears a bit. In addition, the earphones feature "sound isolation tips" that block exterior sound for when a user is listening to their music or talking on the phone.
When connected to a phone, the headphones include a microphone on the earphone cable, allowing a user to take an incoming call. Sound quality is very good, and with the sound isolation it helps you hear your caller a lot better than when you're holding the phone up to your ear or using a Bluetooth headset. However, I wouldn't recommend wearing these when driving, so you'll still need a hands-free headset for those calls.
Sound quality was as good as I expected - I couldn't necessarily hear any "sound softening" that might protect my ears, but it wasn't so bad in that I needed to turn up the volume to negate any such effect. Other neat features - the button on the microphone that lets you answer and hang up calls could also be used to pause music, advance to the next song (double-click) or go back to the previous song (triple-click). The package also comes with a carrying case and three earbud sizes that let you find a comfortable in-ear fit. Technical features include a frequency response of 8Hz to 20kHz, and a 15/7mm neodymium magnet speaker.
The earphones are a bit on the pricey side, but are worth it if you're looking for a good pair of sport earphones that you will also be using a lot for phone calls, and you're concerned about good audio quality and not damaging your eardrums.
Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Keith Shaw