Audio

Creative Flex is all about that bass

For $59, you get a pair of simple closed-ear headphones that fold inwards into a rather compact package. While the foam padding on the headband adds little to comfort, the leather cups work surprisingly well.
For $59, you get a pair of simple closed-ear headphones that fold inwards into a rather compact package. While the foam padding on the headband adds little to comfort, the leather cups work surprisingly well.PHOTO: CREATIVE

Entry-level model is cheap and light, but tries to impress with so much bass that it sounds boomy

The Creative Flex is the audio company's latest pair of entry-level headphones, and the combination of its price, design and sound quality all fall neatly into that category.

The on-ear headphones are no-frills and basic.

For $59, you get a pair of simple closed-ear headphones that fold inwards into a rather compact package. At that price, sound quality is bound to be at best decent. True enough, while the Flex's sound quality isn't terrible, there is a noticeably muffled feel to it.

The Flex tries to compensate for its flatter sound signature by boosting the bass. This works for pop or rock tunes that rely on the lower notes to get the beat going and the heart racing.

Even so, a track like Sia's Cheap Thrills, which works well with the bass boost, still suffers from a boominess that causes it to sound flat and muffled throughout.

In general, even though vocals are relatively clear, the bassiness drowns out any detail, leading to songs sometimes sounding unnecessarily boomy.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $59

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 32mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz - 22kHz

    WEIGHT: 136g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

So while I was impressed by its punch, I was underwhelmed by the overall experience. Those seeking a balanced audio profile may want to give it a miss.

I also found that I had to listen to music at a slightly higher volume to tease out details.

Build-wise, the Flex feels like its price - it's not going to be mistaken for a premium product by any means, but it is serviceable enough for daily use.

The all-plastic construction, makes it very lightweight and portable. On the flip side, it feels a little flimsy, even though it can withstand being jostled in a backpack.

The foam padding on the headband, probably a cost-cutting measure to keep the Flex cheap, adds little to the comfort of the headphones. The leather cups, however, are surprisingly good at sealing sound in and blocking off most of the ambient noise. They are quite comfortable for extended listening or commuting.

As an entry-level product, the Flex sacrifices some level of performance and build quality to hit a lower price point. It will appeal to consumers who want something cheap, light and with a pronounced bass profile.

•Verdict: The Creative Flex is a set of affordable, entry-level headphones with decent sound quality. It is however marred by overeager bass and muffled audio reproduction.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Creative Flex is all about that bass'. Print Edition | Subscribe