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Arctic Sound E361 Review

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Reviewed Jun 2010

Details:Flagship IEM from Swedish PC components manufacturer Arctic Cooling
MSRP: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $34.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32 Ω | Sens: 105 dB | Freq: 18-26k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (4.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), hard clamshell carrying case, shirt clip, Arctic Cooling sticker, and PC headset/microphone adapter
Build Quality (3/5) The front part of the earpiece is encapsulated in an aluminum shell while the rear part, nozzle, and strain relief are plastic. Sadly, the cable is quite thin and the hard strain reliefs are unlikely to relieve any strain
Isolation (3/5) – Quite impressive for a ported dynamic-driver IEM. The angled nozzles help with insertion depth and the thick stock tips seem to isolate more than most
Microphonics (4/5) – Very low when worn cord-down and absent when worn cord-up
Comfort (4.5/5) – The ergonomic angled-nozzle design and light housings make them very comfortable for prolonged use and easy to wear cable-up or cable-down. The included silicone ear cushions are smaller than average, making the E361 quite friendly toward those with smaller ears

Sound (4.4/10) – The arbitrary 10-point ratings on the Arctic Sound website give the E361 a 9/10 rating in bass, a 10/10 in the treble, and a 9/10 for clarity. Though it is unclear what scaling factor is used for these ratings, on a universal scale the E361 clearly falls short of such lofty claims. The E361 are bass-heavy IEMs, extending quite far down when the music calls for it. The bass tends to be boomy rather than punchy and occasionally intrudes on the lower midrange. This is a small detriment for rap, pop, soft rock, and similar genres but for music that benefits from balance and control, such as instrument-heavy rock and jazz tracks, the bass bloat is bad news. On the upside, the midrange is very smooth and not at all fatiguing, though it does gloss over a good amount of detail and clarity is slightly sub-par for the price. Treble extension is impressive and the upper end is quite natural-sounding. The E361 are neither warm nor cold in tonality and have a fairly natural timbre with most instruments. The soundstage is lacking in width but has decent depth, resulting in a fairly dimensional but not overly spacious sound. Overall these are definitely a stomp-your-foot kind of earphone – they manage to be bassy and impactful without sounding contrived or artificial. There is an added bonus to the relatively high impedance and low sensitivity of the E361 – they do a great job of cutting out hiss with noise-prone sources.

Value (6/10) – Light, comfortable, and well-isolating, the E361 provides reasonable sound quality when used for music. The earphones crank out plenty of bass at the expense of clarity and overall resolution but still manage to be enjoyable nearly all of the time. Though they won’t win any awards for absolute fidelity, the E361 are easily on-par with most earphones put out by mainstream manufactures such as Sony and Skullcandy. Plus, they play nice with 128kbps mp3 files and sources that don’t normally jive with sensitive in-ear earphones. If you like your music heavy-handed and need an iPhone headset with a VOIP adapter, by all means give the iPhone versions of the E361 a second look. Purely for music, they aren’t quite up to snuff.

Pros: Headset version includes Skype adapter for use with PC, very light and comfortable, low microphonics, bass-heavy sound with impressive extension on either end
Cons: Mediocre build quality, sound lacks clarity and detail


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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