It seems anything can be 3D-printed these days, but usually only for a little extra cash or time. With the new AR series, HeyGears bring 3D-printed IEMs (in-ear monitors or earbuds for those who don’t remember acronyms so well) to the rest of us. They offer the AR series for a reasonable price of $27 (black or white) and $29 (rose gold) US dollars.
What’s the point? The 3D-printing process results in a low weight, a nice fit, and a unique style. It will also allow them to easily roll out more fun new styles in the future. HeyGears says they’re printed from a medical resin imported from Germany, making them durable and allergen-free.
When I tested them, I found them extremely comfortable, with a shape that just locks in to the ear. They’re a little larger than other earbuds, but worth it as they’re also more comfortable, especially for extended listening sessions. I should note that they didn’t fit my wife’s ear well, but she hasn’t found any that do. Ever. As long as your ear size is close to the middle of the bell curve, you’ll probably love the fit. If not, your mileage may vary.
They come with 3 different sizes of soft tips, and as usual the medium fit me well. The 1.2m (4 ft) cable has in-line controls and microphone, so you can get your chat on. The cable is also a little thicker than most, helping keep them from getting tangled so easily in your pocket. It has a standard 3.5mm plug, so while you’ll need an adapter with the latest iPhones, they’ll plug right into just about any other device that has ever existed. My only complaint was that the in-line controls are a little hard to tell apart by feel.
One nice bonus is the little brush… for those of you with a little, uh, extra in the earwax department.
Sound-wise, they punch above their price range. HeyGears’ specs them at up to 125db, with a frequency response of 20Hz, to 20,000Hz…but everything claims similar numbers. So how do they actually sound? First of all, they can go loud. My midrange phone can drive them louder than I’d ever want to go, and I threw in the towel around 75%. Second, they sound clean when they go loud. You won’t hear clipping or distortion when the music gets going, and the tight fit keeps out ambient noise and ensures they thump hard. The bass is not perfectly clear, but is thumpy, how most people like it.
To be fair, any earbuds that sound noticeably clearer usually cost about twice as much. To put the sound quality in relative terms, they blow away the cheap earbuds that come with most devices, sound a little better than the nicer earbuds that come with flagship devices, but fall short of the pricey audiophile models. But I found them more comfortable than earbuds from all of those categories. If you’re looking for that last category, these aren’t for you. For anyone else looking to spend around $25-30 USD, especially to upgrade the ‘buds that came with your phone (either for comfort, audio quality, or both), the HeyGears AR will not disappoint.