We aren’t really sure on the title. Is it “Muse The Athlete” or “Muse Athlete” – tough call. Australia week continues here at TheMacFeed and today we introduce Muse. A new company, but not a new idea: affordable, stylish and good-sounding. Sounds easy? Not so much. The Athlete is also not a new concept: earphones to use while working out. Then again, we never really get a chance to workout since we are constantly just blogging…
Out of the Box
Hey look, it’s stop motion. Hey look, it’s that awful music Daniel picks out. Anyways, like normal – what’s in our box is a tad bit different then what you will get, but Muse puts in a host of goodies in the box of The Athlete. Inside you’ll find the earphones, the assorted tips, a soft leather pouch and a Muse sticker.
It’s a tad bit unorthodox, but it’s still an earphone. The clear silicone tips are fitted onto hard white plastic with hints of metal accents. The outside features a tiny Muse logo, while the inside has he left/right identifiers. The most notable feature is the 1.2m nylon cord that ends with a nickel tip. Pictures don’t really capture the unique housing the 10mm drivers rest in, but we tried our best.
Comfort & Isolation
Call us crazy, but we would think that an earphone marketed for exercise would excel in comfort (isolation seems debatable.) Most the time when we get to this part of our review we say that it’s good, but what you get on most. This is not one of those cases. Both are quite bad. We tried as many angles as we could, but for whatever reason we were not blessed with a good fit and therefore the seal wasn’t something to rave about either. We put the blame on the unique design. We imagine the aforementioned had an effect on this as well, but we couldn’t get the headphones to stay in to save our lives, but perhaps you’ll have better luck.
We generally believe that when it comes to headphones there is a relationship between price, design and sound. When other factors like this headphone is designed for x get mixed into the equation – something suffers. When we were at CES we got to briefly sample a pair of Sennheiser’s newest addition, their athletic headphones. What we got was a fairly decent sound in addition to everything one would seemingly want in a headphone designed to be used during exercise. What we experienced with Muse’s Athlete was not the case. Perhaps we could blame it on the lack of seal, but we’d imagine the problem is deeper.
To be honest, the problems with the mids and lows make the highs unnoticeable. Sure, they had their harsh moments. At times we wondered where the highs went, but this really was the least of the problems. Still, the lack of richness was embarrassing. Instead of symbols crashing and the beautiful sounds from the strings of violins, we got music that seemed like it wanted to be elsewhere.
While we would classify them as mainly overly bland, there were times in which we were greeted by an overly artificial sound. The only saving grace for the mids is that they were relatively contained, meaning that acoustic songs didn’t sound as bad as everything else – but then again Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” isn’t exactly our top pick at the pull-up bar. As much as we would like to talk about the lack of soundstage, that’s really beyond the problem.
Purists would say that we prefer a little bit extra bass and that’s true. What we got with these was quite the opposite. Instead of the muddled sound achieved by obsessive bass at high volumes, we got zero clarity at low volumes. First and foremost we enjoy a clear bass that accurately responds – this was the exact opposite. Kanye West’s “Heartless” was a good way to describe the overall presence of bass. A rundown the list of the hip-hop charts just disgusted us more. Even now the lack of quality and depth in the bass still leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
These were bad. There is no way around it, but just about everything that could go wrong went wrong. The one saving grace might be the soft leather pouch, but we are still attempting to judge headphones based on sound… at least for the time being. The sound was not only unexciting, but lacking richness or detail – somewhat like “super mono mode.” And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, The Athlete will cost you about $45 directly from Muse.