Urbanears’ newest addition to their earbud lineup is the Sumpan earphones, a half-earbud/in-ear hybrid that may suit those who find regular in-ears uncomfortable. These earphones sit at the edge of your ear canal like typical earbuds but also have removable silicone eartips that channel the sound into your ear through slightly contoured nozzles. While these may be more comfortable for some folks, the rubber tips do tend to be earwax traps which can be a turnoff for others. You only receive two sets of eartips which are identical in size, so unfortunately, there is no option to customize the fit. For controlling playback, track navigation, and even activating voice commands, the single button in-line remote with microphone is easy to use and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. However, it lacks volume adjustment, so you’ll have to rely on your phone.
The Sumpan’s overall style is outspokenly minimalist with little physical flair, yet it is eye catching, coming in a number of bold color choices. What you may not notice right away are several features that make these earbuds travel and storage friendly. While lacking a case and cable cinch for organization, the back of the earpiece housings are hooked shaped to link together, so you can simply wear these around your neck when you’re not listening to them. The cable is tangle resistant as well, wrapped in a textured but smooth fabric that helps prevent noise transference from friction like fabric rubbing against the cord, and it avoids twists and kinks while remaining flexible and easy to manage. Finally, the headphone jack is part of a seamlessly built-in rubber cable tie. After rolling up the earphones, wrap the tie around the cord and push the jack through the hole on the opposite side of the tie for a quick, easy, and neat solution for storage.
Typically, earbuds have poor sound isolation and bass response because they don’t create a seal in your ear canal, but the Sumpan seems to have found a way to compensate — for the lack of bass at least — and delivers respectable performance in the lower frequencies without having to crank the volume up to hearing loss-inducing levels. Even at high volumes, the earphones managed to keep nearly all distortion at bay. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the higher frequencies languished a bit on several tracks, with the mids and upper ranges sounding distant and dull, resulting in somewhat muddy vocals.
For a $30 pair of earphones, the Sumpan performs adequately across a number of genres, and though there are more well-balanced earphones in this price range, typically you’ll have to go with a set of in-ears like the Moshi Mythro. However, if comfort and style are higher priorities, the Sumpan is certainly one of the more fetching choices to consider.
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