Reviewed Mar 2011
Details: Entry-level earphone from bargain-bin electronics brand Sentry
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $7.98)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: N/A | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (1/5) – Single-flange (one size) and double-flange silicone tips and vinyl carrying pouch
Build Quality (1.5/5) – The housings of the HO642 are completely plastic and lack strain reliefs and nozzle filters. The plastic-sheathed cable is quite thin above the y-split but not too bad below. The nickel plating on the 3.5mm plug tends to cause audible static when the plug is disturbed. The stock tips are of decent quality and seal well; unfortunately, this results in severe driver flex – quite possibly the worst I’ve encountered
Isolation (3/5) – Quite decent with the included double-flange tips
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Slightly bothersome when worn cable-down; not bad otherwise
Comfort (3.5/5) – The shells are extremely lightweight and rounded at the front for an inoffensive fit
Sound (4/10) – In contrast to the decidedly bass-heavy sound of the similarly-priced MaiKe MK-EL5031, the signature of the HO642 foregoes bass response for balance and clarity. The bass is actually rolled-off quite noticeably at the bottom but provides adequate mid-bass punch for my tastes. Low-end control is good and the bass usually makes itself apparent only when called for. On bass-heavy tracks, the low end sounds just a touch boomy but not bloated. There is not much bass bleed but the lower midrange is slightly recessed. Nevertheless, the mids impress with clarity and detail but are quite thin and dry. With a little more fullness, the midrange would compete well with Meelec’s pricier M9 but as it stands the HO642 just doesn’t render most instruments realistically. Still, for the price, the clean and crisp mids are impressive.
Towards the top of the midrange, the HO642 gains authority, culminating in several response peaks in the lower treble. As a result, the earphones tend to sound sharp and shrill with most tracks despite narrowly missing sibilance-inducing frequencies. Depending on the track, mild harshness and sibilance are still present at times but they aren’t nearly as offensive as they would be if the treble spikes occurred a bit lower. Top-end extension is moderate. The presentation of the earphones tends towards intimacy. Soundstage width is average while the height and depth are nothing to brag about at all. Separation is mediocre, albeit helped along by the lack of muddiness at the bottom. Tonally, the HO642 leans towards ‘cold and bright’ – not excessively so, but definitely north of neutral to my ears.
Value (6/10) – At the $8 suggested retail price, the HO642 is a decent option for the budget-minded clarity lover. The biggest complaint aside from the hit-or-miss sonic flavor of the Sentrys is the driver flex, which can be quite severe with a good seal. Still, fit, comfort, microphonics, and isolation are all average on the large scale and quite impressive for an entry-level product, putting the HO642 right up there with the better earphones $8 can buy.
Pros: Surprising clarity
Cons: Terrible “carrying pouch”; heavy driver flex; aggressive and uneven treble response, sub-bass roll-off