One of the big problems with buying headphones, or any audio device for that matter, is while there are any number of good quality products to be had, they all have their own sound that defines them. Klipsch and Koss products are known for their bassy thump, Bose and Sennheiser for their warmth, while Shure and Etymotic Research tend to sacrifice low-end for pin-point accuracy that gives them a light and airy sound. All are good in their own right and if you try them all you'll eventually find one that you prefer.
Unfortunately, few people have the chance to try everything before they buy so decisions have to be made based on past experience, hearsay, and reading reviews like this one. However, no matter how much you try and second guess the sound of a product, it's nearly impossible to get a true sense of how it will feel.
It's this conundrum that has, at least in part, led to Sleek Audio's decision to create the SA6 customisable earphones. By using a combination of replacement parts, the user can tweak the sound to their desired timbre. If you want more bass you can replace the bass ports with more responsive ones or if you're always striving for more treble you can also swap out the treble ports to get that extra bit of spark.
As with so many so called innovations though, on paper the idea sounds great but it's in the execution that things can fall apart. So, without further ado, let's see if Sleek Audio, which started off as a hearing-aid manufacturer, has revolutionised the earphone industry or just created another soon to be has been.
Just before I look at the earphones themselves, I want to call Sleek Audio out on its choice of company name. If you're trying to enter such a highly competitive market as high-end audio, where there's undeniably a large amount of caché attached to good looks and equally good names as there is about the actual products, you've surely got to be aware that Sleek Audio is going to be passed off as sounding a bit cheesy.
This is all the more pertinent considering the type of product Sleek Audio are debuting on the market with - as soon as a sceptic such as myself hears the words customisable we're instantly put in mind of two things; compromise and dodgy gaming peripherals. Of course, this has little bearing on our final decision but I do hope someone at Sleek Audio realises the potential stumbling block it's set for itself.
While first impressions on paper of the SA6s is somewhat mixed, in the flesh things are rather more positive. Everything comes well packaged and there are seemingly plenty of accessories to accompany the phones themselves. You get a neat carrying case, spare silicone tips, a cleaning tool, a set of replacement treble and bass ports, and as the system is also modular, an extension cable. Unfortunately, when you delve a little deeper you find that actually, as well as there being a few complete omissions, some of the accessories are a little under par.