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HAVIT® I8 Bluetooth 4.1 Portable Wireless Sports Bluetooth Headsets/Headphone for iPhone and Android (White+Blue)

Rating:
3/5,
  1. glassmonkey
    Havit I8 – Journeys with the Chinese lady in my head. She's pleasant and unobtrusive, but I find myself missing something.
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Dec 15, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Pleasant sound signature with no emphasized peaks or troughs, no harshness, no evil mid-bass hump
    Cons - Sound can be a bit veiled, slow bass, instructions in Chinese

    Acknowledgement

    Thank you, Gary Zhang of Havit, for providing this review sample. Havit provided an Amazon coupon code that made the headphones free, I just paid for shipping (£3.99). The opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by this being a review sample.

    A box and some characters

    The headphones came in a box inside a box that showed the color of the ear-tips, that little blue dot in the corner, and thanked me for my choice. You are very welcome, Havit.
    Inside the box were the headphones; “technology from the Uk.”, apparently, with some items I didn’t recognize or expect—why do I need to remove a sim card from an old-school iPhone?—and a tiny flat USB micro cable for charging the headphones. There are also some instructions, entirely in Chinese. I’m not impressed, as I’ve never used a Bluetooth headphone before. How am I supposed to turn this on, how do I pair it? If this technology is from the UK, why are all the instructions in Chinese?
     
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    The box tells me some stuff about the headphones, but it doesn’t tell me how to turn them on or pair them, I’m on my own for that. Here’s what the box tells me:
     
    Size
    27.6*21.3*10.9mm
    Chip
    CSR8635
    The data line length
    75cm (this must be talking about the cable between the shells)
    Charging mode
    USB Micro charging
    Battery capacity
    120mAh
    Support protocol
    HSP/HFP/A2DP/AVRCP
    Standby time
    About 400 hours
    Charging time
    About 2 hours


     
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    Fit and Function

    Even before charging these I wanted to fit them and form them to my ears so I’d be ready when the time came to listen. The headphones come with some nifty flexible memory wire that I was able to get a pretty good fit on my ears with. I used the medium size tips that came with the headphones. They were plenty comfortable. The concha of the headphones are quite large and stick out good bit from the ear. Excuse the beaver pelt in the picture. I come from the untamed wilds of Alaska (originally), which necessitates wearing a shoddy bum beard and unkempt hair. It’s my avenue to rugged charm and rustic street cred. I think it’s working.
     
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    Being that these headphones advertised being sport & fashion headphones on the package, I decided to put their sportiness to the test. I set a timer going and started jumping around shaking my head a little bit from side to side and doing jumping jacks (star jumps in British English). Maybe these will work for running in a straight line, but they only lasted 18 seconds in my ears in my test. You won't be doing any Jennifer Beals impressions in these headphones. I didn’t get to test how they fared against sweat and rain, but I’m not convinced that I’d use these as sport headphones.
     
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    Since the instructions are in Chinese, I didn’t test out the phone answering features of this, but I did manage to figure out how to turn it on, pair it, and turn it off. Volume up and down are fairly straightforward and are clearly marked on the lanyard remote. I kind of figured out how to pause, skip, and reverse tracks. To turn the I8 on, hold the center button. To put them in pairing mode hold that centre button even longer till you get a red and white flashing light, put your transmitter in pairing mode and wait. There is also a Chinese lady that speaks to me when I press buttons the right way—is she rewarding my perseverance? When I turn on the headphones she tells me that I should do some Taichi, I think. Her pairing dialogue has a similar rhythm to ‘ready to pair’ but it’s in Chinese. To advance track, hold the minus button, a bit counterintuitive. Holding plus button takes you back to the beginning of the track. In order to reverse tracks, I first had to pause playback (middle button) and then hold plus, but I didn’t have consistent success, so I must be doing something wrong.
     
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    I tested out time from 100% charge to 0%, with my Chinese Jiminy Cricket warning me that I was taking it too far repeatedly as I drove these closer to the precipice of their battery life. When I finally exceeded the limits of the I8 and the cricket lady feinted from the trauma with one last exclamation, 9 hours and 24 minutes had elapsed.
     
    The I8 did fine walking around my office, getting about 20 feet of range with minor issues. Volume control was responsive enough. I was able to find a good level with my DX50 attenuating volume. I had no problems pairing with any source.
     

    Diving into that I8 sound

    Before trying out the sound, I gave these puppies about 16 hours of neopolitan noise burn-in, that’s brown, white, and pink noise off of the Ayre Acoustics – Irrational but Efficacious System Enhancement Disc interspersed with digital silence from Binkster. For my listening tests I used a number of Bluetooth transmitters: my Dell Vostro, my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Avantree BTTC200X with a Monoprice 3.5mm line-out cable, and the Aukey BT-C1. The last two allow me to use Bluetooth with any source, which is awesome. I found that the quality of your transmitter and the DAC that you use really affected the sound. The laptop and Note 2 sounded like garbage, comparatively. Listening out of the DX50 was definitely the way to roll. I recommend using a good DAC to test Bluetooth. The other advantage of a good DAC is being able to stream HiDef to your Bluetooth device, which I did. I threw DSD, 24/192 and lots of CD quality FLAC at these white ear decorations.
     
    I did a lot of listening, and compared a lot of headphones to the I8. Headphones on hand were the SoundMAGIC PL30 (£19), RHA s500i (£29.99), RHA ma750 (£75), HiFiMan RE0 (~£55 many years ago), and the Ausdom M05. I tried different transmitters and settled on the Aukey BT-C1 as the easiest to use and transport with acceptable sound. The computer and Note 2 sounded crappy, and the Avantree was too bulky. I ran the Bluetooth transmitter from the line out on the DX50 and non-Bluetooth headphones out of the headphone out. I tried to keep volumes close, but didn't do formal volume matching. I listened to a wide variety of tracks with some of my standards making the rounds: 2Pac - God Bless the Dead, Rolling Stones - Beggar's Banquet (DSF Album), Schizoid Lloyd - Suicide Penguin, Queen - Jazz (24/96 Vinyl Rip Album), and Roger Waters - Amused to Death (24/96 Vinyl Rip Album).
     
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    On first mounting these in my ears with nothing playing there is a bit of static and what sounds like fuzzy pistons alternating between each ear. When music is applied these sound a bit muffled. They are warm. The bass is a bit loose, but my ears quickly accommodate. There is nothing sharp and unpleasant in the sound, there are no overemphasized regions of the frequency spectrum, no awful mid-bass hump bane of my existence, and no saccharine sweetness in the upper vocal ranges. Vocals sound natural, if a bit veiled, and guitars have some satisfying crunch. Overall, they are a pleasant listen and very functional for £15.99.
     
    Switching to the SoundMAGIC PL30, the PL30 has a wider soundstage compared to the average soundstage on the I8, and a touch of sweetness in the upper vocal range. The overall signature is richer. That sweetness doesn’t work for every vocal for me, making Mick Jagger sound a little bit off on Dear Doctor and other vintage Rolling Stones tracks. Father John Misty picks up some of that same sweetness with the PL30. I prefer male vocals on the I8.
     
    Jumping to the s500i is like having your rocket ship crash on an alien mass. The s500i is cut and muscular like a Fight Club era Brad Pitt. The bass is tighter, the sound has more punch and slam, but there is a bit of a metallic sheen to the top end. The sound is more airy and transparent, but edges more towards a cold hard sound and can sound a touch thin. The sound stage is narrower on the s500i. I like both sounds, but I find the details that emerge in the s500i sound more rewarding.
     
    The RHA ma750 is my current favourite IEM. It is vibrant without being fatiguing, it slams hard on drums and grooves on bass guitar. Vocals aren’t sweetened or cold. The sound is full without losing the details of the s500i.
     
    The RE0 is like a more balanced version of the s500i with less slam in the signature. I still really dig the RE0.
     
    The Ausdom M05 is lively, detailed, and casts a big 3d soundstage with great air and instrument separation, for $50, it is better than the I8 in every way but one. The sound can be a bit fatiguing, as there is a bit of treble emphasis.

    Conclusions

    I think that these headphones are a good value proposition for someone looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones for a reasonable price. There is a lot of competition at this price-point, and I don’t have any experience of the competitors’ value propositions. The I8 has a pleasant non-fatiguing sound, but won’t win over detail freaks, or people who go for big tight bass. The packaged instructions were not fit for the UK market, and this is something that needs to be remedied quickly. For walking around the office without your player these are great. Do pair them with a good transmitter, though, as they perform to the level of the DAC that is hooked up to them.