Sleek Audio came up with a great idea when it thought of making modular in-ear headphones. By being able to change the bass ports, treble filters and cables, the same set of driver modules could be used to create a variety of different tones as well as choose between different lengths and types of cable or even a Kleer wireless module. This tech debuted with the SA6 we reviewed a couple of years ago and the modular cable concept was carried on with the more budget SA1. Now Sleek Audio is bolstering its lineup with the addition of a dual driver model, the SA7 and a revised version of the SA6, called the SA6-R.
Starting with the SA7, Sleek Audio has aimed to provide not just to quality audio but also top build quality. As such, the drivers are housed in milled aluminium cases that are flanked with carbon fibre panels. This isn't just painted on carbon fibre, either, this is the real stuff woven into the tightest weave you can buy - it's more usually put to task in military situations and the company even had to ask permission to use it. It's certainly overkill but its pretty cool nonetheless.
Sleek Audio has also changed the way the bass ports and treble filters are mounted. The latter are still rubber bungs of a sort that fit in the back, with them just being a different size and shape for this model, while the treble filters are still on the front but have changed from push-fit plastic to screw-on metal. The company also now has rubber tips similar to those of Klipsch and they're just as comfortable to wear, easy to insert, and impressive in their noise isolation - we listened to these in a bustling trade show hall and the noise isolation was enough to cut out almost all distraction.
So, how do they sound? Well, stonkingly good. The two drivers combine to create a very smooth sound that has incredible levels of bass that sounds at one with the rest of the frequencies and not forced likes on some. Listening to a dubstep track of some sort, the bass drum thumped like we've seldom heard on an in-ear headphone while the bass line was enough to rattle your skull. Admittedly this was due to the volume being up quite high (about 3/4 on an iPhone) but, due to the tuning of the 'phones, the high-end didn't become harsh at these volumes, like I personally find the Shure SE530s do.
Varying the genres a bit more, the SA7 never failed deliver a spacious, accurate, warm, and powerful sound that simply left us wanting more. As you'd expect, this performance does come at a price as the SA7s are set to cost £350, though this is still cheaper than many other really high-end IEMs. For this money you get the phones, a case, a cable which includes iPhone controls, and the various treble and bass ports for tweaking the sound to your desire.
Sleek Audio SA6-R
We didn't actually get a chance to try the SA6-R before needing to rush off to our next appointment but what we can tell you is these phones feature the same aluminium housing as the SA7s and use the same revised tuning ports but instead of carbon fibre side panels they have aluminium ones bolted on and they use the same single driver as in the original SA6. Not only is this a nice from the plastic housings of the original set in terms of looks and feel, the new housings also eek out even better performance from the same drivers.
The sides are finished in anodised black, the true likeness of which you can see in the centre driver of the ones in our picture - the two other units were the actual demo models that had a slightly different finish. These will ship with the same accessories as the SA7 and cost £200.