Headphones, and indeed headsets, usually follow a design pattern with the microphone attached to the left ear-piece or, as is usually the case with SteelSeries ones, can be retracted into the ear-piece itself. However, no matter how clever the design is they are obviously a product aimed at a computer audience and so not necessarily the kind of thing you want to be seen with in public.
Judging from the insane popularity of the Beats headphones the importance of being seen in public with the right thing, coupled to the multiple colour combinations, it's clear that the on-the-ear style of headphone are making a rapid resurgence after years spent lagging behind the bud style.
All of that preamble brings us to today's review of the SteelSeries Flux.
This is a total change in design ethos, aimed squarely at the audiophiles who also want to look cool. It comes in two main colours, black and white, but has a lot of colour-changing options to ensure that you can customise it to taste.
As always with our reviews we already know how good or bad the product is by the time we come to write, and we're telling you right now to buckle up tight.
The numbers don't tell the whole story, but even so the Flux has some impressive audio response numbers and very good impedance. As with all headphones though the proof is in the comfort and the listening experience. So read on.
The flux comes in a compact package with a giant SteelSeries logo on the rear, but it's round the front that all the action happens with everything on display. The Flux comes in two variants, and we have the Luxury Edition up for review today which comes with leather ear-pads and an extra set of covers for the ear pieces.
As you would expect from a Luxury Edition there are a raft of little touches. As well as the two main cables we'll look at below, the Flux comes with stickers, documentation and a very long extension cable, should you wish to use it on your PC or somewhere where you need a lot of length.
The headset itself is amazingly light. The headband is adjustable so if you've got a wide or narrow head you can get a perfect fit, helped by the flexibility of the ear piece attachments.
The leather cups are very soft and, when coupled to the fully height and width adjustable arms ensure a snug, but comfortable fit. As well as being comfortable when on they also fold into a very compact setup which fits into the high quality bag allowing for easy transportation.
The ear cups are removable, and there is a notch that allows them to be attached again in the simplest manner you can imagine, without stretching the leather at all. One of those ultra cool touches that you might never even see is the SteelSeries "Winning is Everything" slogan on the inside of the ear-piece. After all, winning is everything.
The Flux comes with two cables. One is the dual jack with inline mic that we're used to seeing hard-wired, but due to the very nifty way the flux handles cabling is detachable. The other is for smart phones and the like, and works on both iOS and Android devices. Single button, inline microphone, right-angle jack. It's a quality cable. We'll explain why both are plugged in on the next page.
It's not all about the quality of the headphones. The Flux is all about going with the flow, and everything that can be removed can also be changed to a colour of your choice. This Luxury Edition comes with a set of piano black covers alongside the default Flux branded ones. They are held on by magnets and changing them is a moments work.
Most of us love to try things that are way out of our price range, just to see how much of a benefit there is to spending a hill of cash as opposed to something affordable. We're all striving for the eternal balance of good value, getting the best product possible for the least amount of money. Going back to our introduction for a moment we're sure we're not the only people to have popped into our local HMV or Virgin Megastore and tried out those Beats by Dre Studio headphones to see what £275 gets us in terms of audio quality. They certainly sound amazing, and anyone who's tried them we're sure will agree. However, they are also extremely expensive thanks to the famous name endorsing them and so remain in the realms of lottery winners or footballers.
So you know what a huge statement it is when we say that the SteelSeries Flux, a mere €99, are easily a match for the Beats in sound quality. They are truly incredible. The sound you get from them, regardless of source material, is the perfect blend of crystal clarity, with glassy highs and fulsome voices, with tight thumping bass. It's a heady mix and one that is rarely achieved. Not only is the sound quality extraordinary, but the volume is beyond reproach. If you're the kind of person who loves their music loud, the Flux most definitely deliver. They annihilate any other headphones even remotely in this price-range, and most of the ones that cost considerably more.
We could go on trying to fully get across the jaw-dropping quality of the Flux, but perhaps it's best to say simply that they are the loudest and best sounding headphones we've ever tested. Ever.
Sound quality alone would be enough for the Flux to get a glowing recommendation, even if they were agonising to wear. But they aren't. The design is as good as the sound. They're very light, and have so many adjustments that you're guaranteed to be comfortable for hours and hours. You could wear them solidly on a slow flight from London to Sydney and not need to rest your ears at any point. The cabling is a real highlight, amongst a product that is nothing but highlights. You can insert a cable into either earpiece and it works perfectly. So if you prefer the cable on the left or the right, it doesn't matter. In fact someone else can daisy-chain their headphones into the spare port and listen along with you. The smartphone cable works perfectly on both Android and iOS devices, with a button that can control either your phone calls or the audio, including track skipping.
We've covered sound. We've covered comfort. The Flux still has some cool tricks up its sleeve though. The cables and side panels are all swappable for the many other colours SteelSeries have available. We know how important a homogeneous colour scheme is for the cool factor, and the Flux has your back. In fact these are so good that the only slight fault we could find is that the smartphone cable doesn't have volume control options. A very tiny issue, especially as the Flux can be so damn loud that you're unlikely to ever need to turn them up even if you're drilling, but worth noting.
We can't praise them highly enough. The build quality is exceptional, the sound is as good as we've ever heard, and they are a third of the price of the ultra-popular Dre Beats. There is absolutely no reason not to rush out and purchase some immediately. The only thing we don't like is that we only received one pair and have been fighting over them ever since they arrived. If we had a diamond encrusted platinum award the SteelSeries Flux would be worthy of it, but as it is we have to give it the solidest OC3D Gold Award you're ever likely to see. Flawless.
Thanks to SteelSeries for supplying the Flux Luxury Edition for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.