SuperEQ S1 Summary
With an outstanding battery life and quality microphone, the S1 has some compelling strengths. However, the somewhat limited ANC performance and build quality concerns see the S1 falling behind competitors.
SuperEQ provides noise-canceling earbuds and ANC headphones aimed at the general consumer market. The SuperEQ S1 was released in August 2020 and, on paper, is the most impressive of their products. SuperEQ claims they offer up to 45 hours of battery life, improved microphone quality, and highly effective noise-canceling. This article is my first-hand experience reviewing the S1 and seeing how it aligns with the marketing claims.
The box contains the SuperEQ S1 headphones, a carry pouch, an airplane adapter, a USB charging cable (Micro-USB), a 1.2m aux cable, and a manual.
Build & Design
The S1 feels fairly high quality overall. The plastic around the earcups feels particularly durable and is lightly textured. The earcup padding is very firm, which, while reducing comfort to a degree, assists in creating a well-insulated fit, helping to reduce both incoming sounds from the environment and audio leaks. They have incredible passive isolation with a tight fit. Individuals with large ears or heads may find them uncomfortable as the inner earcup is somewhat narrow.
SuperEQ could have improved the headband quality. While the plastics are still reasonably durable, the padding on the headband is very thin, with a rubberized texture. There isn’t much padding to speak of, and for those with larger heads, this can result in some discomfort, especially over longer listening sessions.
The S1 is able to fold up using a folding mechanism located a couple of inches up the headband. While this feature makes the headphones more portable, there are concerns around these types of designs, which I cover in the sound quality section below.
I have some minor quibbles around the cable lengths and the feeling of the buttons. The auxiliary cable is particularly short at 1.2 meters. I’d have preferred to see a 1.5m or even 2m cable included, allowing them to be used easily at a desk when plugged into a computer. Similarly, the USB power cable is extremely short.
The first thing I noticed around the controls of the S1 was the feeling of the buttons. Despite the impressive build quality around the earcups, the buttons feel rather cheap. They are made from relatively thin plastic and have a wobble to them when pressed.
The controls are split into two sections, both on the right earcup. There is an array of three buttons, with the center button controlling the power and Bluetooth pairing. The button above it increases the volume with a single press, or skips tracks with a long press. The bottom button lowers the volume or, with a long press, skips the track backward.
Pressing the isolated button will toggle the hybrid ANC on or off.
Overall, the controls were fairly intuitive and offered sufficient control over the media. The only downside is the somewhat low-quality feeling they have when pressed.
There were some wiring issues in the left ear that caused static when turned at a certain angle. This seems to be related to a wiring problem inside the folding mechanism. This problem occurred directly out of the box.
The S1 isn’t the most detailed headphones I’ve tested. The sound isn’t by any means bad, but they lack some detail with limited dynamics. This lack of detail causes some tracks to sound stripped down and bland. This is a common occurrence with affordable headphones. The soundstage and imaging are also very limited. The S1 has a narrow sound to it.
There is a good amount of bass presence in the upper low and middle bass range, but limited width means you miss out on those deep lows that play such an instrumental role in many tracks.
Midrange representation is also good. They don’t have a particularly warm sound to them, but the midrange is fairly balanced, leaning more towards a recessed sound, with the exception of a few small frequency ranges. The elevated bass doesn’t intrude too heavily on the midrange, and they are able to retain sufficient detail in most tracks.
The treble is a little less even, and sibilance could be improved. However, compared with the likes of the EKSA AirJoys, there is a more balanced and less aggressive treble that makes the S1s less fatiguing.
These headphones perform best for genres like EDM and Hip-Hop, where bass is the driving force of the song. They also work well as an affordable gaming headphones for console gamers. There is noticeable compression that hampers the overall performance, but for the price, one can’t expect the same performance as a pair of studio headphones.
A built-in microphone works well for in-game communication or phone calls. While the recording quality is a little sharp, they sound surprisingly good compared to other headphones I’ve tested. They do particularly well at reducing environmental noise on the microphone. The following microphone test was conducted in a noisy test environment with two fans nearby contributing low-droning ambient sounds, which the microphone could compensate for.
The S1 has a hybrid active noise canceling system that utilizes passive isolation and an active frequency inversion method to cancel out environmental noise. During testing, I found that the ANC effectively canceled out consistently low drones but had difficulty canceling out voices and higher-pitched frequencies.
They were able to provide about 90% reduction of these low consistent frequencies, but even just the sound of my keyboard, which has a higher pitch, was less effectively reduced. This makes the S1 best suited for office environments to remove aircon sounds or on airplanes. However, a baby’s cries, for example, will cut through this ANC.
If you want to eliminate office chatter, I wouldn’t recommend the S1.
The built-in Lithium-ion battery is rated for up to 45 hours of playtime at 60% volume or 50 hours when using an aux connection with noise canceling active. In testing, it took close to 18 hours before I got to the 50% battery threshold without ANC active. With active noise cancelation on, the SuperEQ S1 provided just over 34 hours of playtime, an impressive feat, particularly for a budget pair of headphones.
The volume levels influence the overall battery performance during listening. The 45-hour estimate is based on a 60% volume set. This could explain why during testing, we noticed slightly lower battery life than SuperEQ specified.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that they can charge from an empty state to fully charged in between 120 and 150 minutes. This ensures minimal downtime, even if you forget to routinely recharge.
The SuperEQ S1 is a wireless headphone with optional wired support. For its wireless connectivity, it uses Bluetooth 5.0, one of the latest and most popular versions of Bluetooth codecs in current consumer electronics. It provides a reliable connection with a range of up to 10 meters. During testing, I found the connection reliable without the headphones dropping connection.
There is also the option to use these headphones wired, using a 3.5mm aux cable. The included 1.2mm cable works well if you use a phone to connect to the headphones. This cable length is ideal for plugging into controllers, handheld consoles, or supported phones. However, it is too short for desk use when plugged into a PC case. If you want to use the S1 at your desk, consider purchasing a longer aux cable separately.
Overall, the SuperEQ S1 isn’t without its merits. It has outstanding battery life, fast charging, and a relatively comfortable fit. However, the S1 feels overpriced at around $100. This is the same price as the Soundcore Q30, which has similar battery performance and better sound quality and ANC than the S1. If SuperEQ could bring the price down to $60, I think the S1 would be easier to recommend. Despite its strengths, there are concerns about how these headphones will last, particularly with the audio problems I had on one side.