Review : Samsung Level headphones. Bling or Brilliant ?

When Samsung asked us to review their line of “level” headphones we were a little skeptical. Headphones are back ! They are the high tech fashion statement – sound producing ear warmer of many hipster these days. It was only yesterday we relied exclusively on discrete form fitting ear-buds for our audio entertainment. Today it are the big over-sized headphones whose primary function seems to be to match our outfits/social-subculture and prominently display their brand logo’s on the side of our heads. The trouble here is that with all the attention going to the “looks” of your headphones, few (despite their exuberant prices) actually produce good audio. After traumatic experiences with a pair of Dr Dre headphones (They produce so much base they make a Vivaldi concert sound like Tomorrowland) we were skeptical for Samsungs products .. so we tried them on.


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The Samsung “level on” headphones.

The Samsung “level on” headphones are ‘on’ your ears. A hard plastic bridge with foldable legs make the headset feel very sturdy and decent. The leather padding both on the earmuffs and underneath the “bridge” has a soft, high quality feel to it. The phones have a 3.5mm mini-jack connector for your cable so you can interchange the cables should they break (a problem with many headphones) or should they not match the color of your underwear (it happens !)

The Level on’s are slightly heavier then your regular run of the mill headphones, but the overall distribution of the weight when you have them on makes them feel very very comfortable. The leather on the earmuffs is very soft and there is hardly any noticeable pressure on your ears when wearing the set. A great bonus is that it warms up immediately to the body temperature of your ears making the entire headset a natural extension of your body.

Enough about the ergonomics : How do they SOUND ? Well , they sound amazing ! The audio is warm, crisp and “correct” . No over-boosting of non existing low range audio. Just a clear , well represented audio spectrum being pumped into your ears. We loved them (even after wearing them for 3 hours straight we found no signs of ‘headphone fatigue” or worse “sweaty ears”.

Looks ? They are white ! Just like with Dr Dre’s people will see you wearing them from 2 blocks away. Deal with it. (But they are also available in black … so deal with that too !)

 

level-over

 The “level over” headphones.

The level OVER headphones go OVER your ears. The leather padding on the larger ‘cups” surrounds your ear and presses against your head , completely surrounding your ears and ‘isolating’ you from the rest of the world. Part of this is due to the excellent padding , the other part is because the level ‘overs’ are active noise cancelling headphones. They pick up noise from around you and send “anti noise” through the speakers so you can’t hear the noise. This means you will have to charge the headphones from time to time. Added functionality is the fact that you can use them as stand alone Bluetooth speakers so you don’t need a wire. But as a little bit of an audiophile we could not bring ourselves to use this functionality. The audio we wanted to test had to be as clear as possible so we went via the “analog wire”.

Using the “level overs” is like stepping onto the surface of the moon .. and then hitting play. The sound is warm, its everywhere, its crystal clear and there is no residual noise from around you. Samsung charges top dollar for these things but they are probably worth their price. Short of using duct tape this is the best way to drown out the noise of nagging kids and enjoying your favorite tunes. For the hefty price you might also be able to book a weekend cottage in the woods .. but when you get back from that you still don’t have any decent headphones.

Conclusion.
Audio isn’t Samsung’s core business and these baby’s are no Sennheisers … but we are very happy that the Chinese company DID focus their attention on the quality comfort and AUDIO part of these headphones. This is not fancy overpriced bling .. the Level line does what it is required to do : Produce a very good headphone experience.

Prices :
Samsung Level on : 165 USD (amazon)
Samsung Level over : 310 USD (amazon)

Samsung Level headphones (Site)

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“Whats in your bag week” Day 4 : Knightwise.

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With all these amazing guest bloggers showing us what gear they use and what is “in their geekbags” I feel a little intimidated showing you what I drag around. My “Bag” is my daily companion for the days I work onsite as an IT consultant. It is focused on portability AND the ability to facilitate my creative and commercial activities while i’m out the door.

2014-10-27 16.39.27

The Bag : I have a thing for bags. I don’t have just one :  I have several. As my wife jokes from time to time “I’m like a woman” when it comes to computer bags. Perhaps she is right .. The thing is : I don’t believe in “one bag” for every occasion. Depending on where you are going, what you need to take with you and what kind of venture you are attending … a different bag  (or even a different setup of selected gear) might be required.

So in this case i’m showing you my “Day to day – on the road” bag (and its contents). The bag I carry around is a Thule Gauntlet 13. It was orignally designed for a 13 inch Macbook pro, but as I talked about it in the INITIAL REVIEW I did for Knightwise.com, it is a bit of a “Too tight fit” for the 13 inch Macbook but perfect for the setup I use it for. The bag is more of a ‘hard-case” then a messenger bag. This makes it compact AND keeps you from “over stuffing” your bag with things you don’t need. Like an old ‘attache’ case, it offers sturdy protection but also allows just  a finite amount of stuff you can cram in it. This is both a positive and a negative thing. The bag is stylish (important) rugged (it protects my gear) organised (it has pockets and compartments) and waterproof (I tested that by aiming a garden hose toward it.) You can go for a detailed review HERE .

The laptop : I have a 15 inch Macbook Pro I use for just about everything. But I also held on to my 11 inch Macbook air that I got last year. Partly for sentimental reasons (its just a great device) but also for practical reasons : I would be terrified taking my 15 inch Macbook Pro on the road with me every day. Its too valuable for me  (and also a little bit too bulky). The Macbook Air  is also my ‘experimental machine’ to run Linux distro’s and stuff. It is encased in a clear plastic hardcase I bought on Ebay (i’m also a little bit of a case-afficionado) and on its 128Gig ssd drive I’ve dual booted Osx Mavericks and Elementary OS Linux.

Headphones : My wife bought me a pair of Philips Headphones (I don’t know the type, threw away the box) that sit snugly ON my ears (not one of those sets that goes AROUND your ears). I like them because they are still quite discrete and stylish to use on the road, yet offer good sound quality. I also carry around a pair of apple in-ear earbuds. (not in the picture). These are great for recording audio, listening to podcasts while walking outside .. and they are just plain indestructible. (I have had my pair since Christmas 2012 and they have been through the washing machine 5 times now…) What IS in the picture is a pair of el-cheapo Samsung earbuds I keep in my bag as a spare. Yeah .. triple redundant headphone/earbud setup.. i’m a geek.

Cables : Very few. A charger for the Macbook Air and a micro usb cable to charge my phone, the blue thing is one of those adapters that lets you transfer files from a usb stick TO your phone. I have no idea why I keep carrying it around since its a little redundant .. but I haven’t taken it out yet.

“Writing utensils”  : Pens : As few as possible. A highlighter, a black and a blue pen (a blue STAR WARS pen !) and a couple of small post it notes I use religiously to keep tabs on whatever paperwork i’m dragging around.  I also carry around a manila folder (the red one) for every slip of paper I need to handle. It keeps the paperwork free from creases and prevents me from losing any document/piece of important paperwork that is smaller in size then a sheet of wallpaper. I don’t carry around a notebook or one of those snobby Moleskin books. I don’t believe in paper.

Harddrive : A one terabyte Western Digital Hard drive (usb powered) for those situations where I need to carry stuff around that does not fit on the drive of my laptop. It is pre-packed with some movies, some music and some tv shows to  watch, should I get stuck on an airport or a train station. I NEVER plug this drive into a foreign computer and have thought about encrypting it too.

Usb sticks : 2 Usb sticks , one 8 gigabyte ‘Darth Vader’ one that sports a Live usb version of TAILS (the super secure privacy oriented linux distro that Snowden used) whenever I need to work on a computer that is “not trusted”. There are also some portable apps on there when I’m working on a foreign Windows machine. The other 16 gigabyte stick is just there to “sneakernet” data across.

Box of business cards : Running your own company means carrying around business cards. My super geeky wife found out that these little plastic “wallets” are perfect for doing just that.

Not in the picture.
My phone  :  I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on a daily basis, combined with a 1st generation Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The Note3 takes care of many of my entertainment and communication needs. The Note3 is also the main “connectivity device” when I’m unable to smooch off some free wifi.

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kw805 : Whats in my bag ?

We return to the podcasting routine with a show that is packed with Gadgets and clever life hacks. Its time to turn our geek bag upside down and tell you not only what is inside of it, but also HOW we use it. Tune in and learn the secret of how to become the optimal, creative, productive and entertained digital packrat without shlepping around a portable datacenter on your bag. Hone your vulcan hearing as we tell you “Whats in my Bag” (and how do we use it).

Shownotes.

  • Intro
  • My routine
  • Whats in my bag
  • Less is more.

BONUS : The behind the scene “hangout” of this shows recording.

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