Origem is probably a brand that you haven’t heard of in the UK, so can their HS-1 Bluetooth earphones set them apart and make them your next pair?
In the box
Firstly it’s off to a good start as the HS-1 comes with a very good selection of accessories. These include.
- A USB charging cable
- Carry pouch
- S,M,L silicone eartips
- S,M,L earfins
- S,M foam eartips
- Cable management accessory
- The documents
For their £27 price tag this is really impressive and up their with the best. All the accessories are well made and that is a great thing as these are highly affordable.
Design and Build
- IP67 rating
- Built in magnetic design feature
Continuing the good trend the styling and build of these is again far superior to what I was expecting for their cost. The Overall design is nothing revolutionary but it is modern and clean. They’ve stuck with a tried and tested around the neck style and this works well as it’s been done that often that it’s hard to get wrong.
They also come in two colour options, the sample I have is the Red variant and if that is too vibrant for you, they offer one with a more stealthy all Black finish. The Red is nicely done though and isn’t too over the top, but to be honest it’s overdone at this point and it would be refreshing to see a different colour being used for the accents.
The main housing is made from two parts with the rear most being covered in a soft smooth matte finish. This is really nice and makes them feel a bit more premium than if they were just hard plastic. The front section is accented in Red and constructed from metal. This again is a plus point for longevity of the earphones.
Round the back of the housing is some tasteful branding which also hides away a set of magnets that allows them to clip together. This is a feature that I really endorse as it makes them more secure around your neck when not in use. The downside though is that the magnets are a little weak and they do come apart pretty easily. Still it’s nice to have this feature even though it’s not the best I’ve seen implemented.
Onto the cable next and all is pretty much fine here, there is good strain relief where it’s needed and the cable isn’t overly thin or fragile feeling.
The controller that is on the HS-1 is a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side it’s well made and utilises the same matte finish that the housing uses. It also feels pretty solid too. It’s the buttons that I have a bit of an issue with. They do have one feature that is good and that is the raised section to help identify which is which, this in theory is great and if the buttons weren’t so small it would be a real helpful feature.
The buttons of course are multifunctional with the middle button being used to power on the earphones as well as acting as the play/pause, answer/reject calls and for pairing. The volume buttons also allow you to skip track and this brings me to my next issue and that is the fact the skip track feature is reversed. The volume up should skip forward whereas here it skips back. It’s by no means a deal breaker but it is odd and does take some getting used to.
The controller also houses a microphone and USB port. The mic is a pin hole style and pretty much on par with others at the price point. The USB port is covered and helps the HS-1 achieve an IP67 rating which means that they sweat proof as well as weather resistant. So if you do so happen to get caught out in the rain, these will be fine.
As a whole the style is nice and they are very well made and apart from the minor issue with the buttons, these are hard to fault at the minute.
Comfort can be a sore spot for many users, myself being one and I do find it tricky to find a set of earphones that fit just right. The HS-1 do come pretty close but there is one issue that stops them from being so. Firstly the silicone tips and they are honestly fine. They’re decently soft, pliable and didn’t cause any fatigue at all. The foam tips are again pretty good and are comfortable, plus the small size actually fits which is a rare thing for me. I have a smaller ear canal and usually foam tips never fit but these do and that is great. So if you’re like me, they should be fine. It would have been nice for them to have included a large size for those that need them, but I can’t really complain as they’re affordable earphones.
They also have angled nozzles which I do personally prefer, you may not but I find they just sit in your ear really nicely when compared to those that use a straight nozzle.
Finally to my issue and that is with the hooks/stays/fins whatever you decide to call them. They just don’t fit right. The small sized ones kept slipping out which was quite frustrating and the medium sized were just a touch too big. The medium were my preferred pick as at least they didn’t fall out but they did cause a bit of fatigue.
So the HS-1 are comfortable and I can wear them for quite significant amount of time as the fatigue caused by the fins wasn’t too unbearable. Of course your experience will be different so they could be just right.
Using the HS-1 as my daily earphones has been a good experience. Yes I did complain a little about the comfort but it was more than manageable. But for fitness these are great. If you find the right fin and tip combination they stay well planted in your ears and they don’t budge at all. So whether you go jogging, running or do some more intense work outs these are great companions to have with you. Plus the included pouch means you can safely store them away in your gym bag or a pocket and know that they’ll be okay.
The HS-1 are using Bluetooth 4.1 and I haven’t had any issues with the connection at all. It’s been solid and stable throughout my testing. I’ve been a good 10 or so metres away from my phone and I had no issues. They do degrade a little if you start throwing thicker brick walls in-between the earphones and your device but how you use the earphones there has been no problems. I did have one issue where they refused to re-pair to my phone and I had to unpair them to then re-connect them to my phone. This only happened once and since then they’ve been fine and worked well.
- x2 Lithium-ion polymer 70mAh battery
The HS-1 has a pretty impressive battery feature which is quick charging. I first came across this when testing the Skullcandy Hesh 3 and it worked great for them. The HS-1 can give you up to 3 hours of playback from a 5 minute charge. 30 minutes of charge is classed as a full charge and can give you up to 10 hours of use. This is pretty impressive as the competition takes at least double that. But does it work?
Well my testing showed that it did not. From 0% to 100% in 1 hour 5 minutes. This is twice as long as Origem claim and that was when using the Anker Powerport 5 which does support fast charging. The 10 hours of playback is also not correct. I managed to achieve 8 hours 36 minutes at 65% volume. However, no volume level is mentioned meaning the 10 hours life is possible, only if you listen to the earphones at much quieter volumes.
Still 8 hours plus is still good and about the same as other earphones at the price point. Also the 1 hour charge time is still not that bad and in fact is still pretty quick. It’s just not what was advertised.
Noise isolation and Leak
The Origem has pretty good isolation, this was made really clear on the bus when it was peak travel time. I had them on at 65% and I couldn’t hear any of my surroundings at all. The only time when I did get a bit of background noise was when the track was switching or if I lowered the volume.
Even when the music was not on the level of isolation on offer was impressive and although I could hear things around me, they were quite muted. This means that they have good natural isolation. This experience was just with the standard silicone tips and if you switch to the foam the experience is so much better as they create a much better seal.
Leak performance is again strong and with either the foam or silicone they don’t leak bad at all. Even at 65% they barely let any sound out at all. So if you often study in the library or listen to your music in other quiet places these will be fine. It’s only when someone is right next to you when they may get a slight whisper of what you’re listening to but again it’s not that bad.
Now one thing I will point out is that the Origem site states that these have noise cancelling. I don’t think that to be true and although the isolation experience is good, it’s not noise cancelling good. So I think that this should be amended.
- aptX HD
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
The HS-1 are using the newer form of aptX which is much improved over previous generations, this means that the Bluetooth streaming via earphones is much cleaner and to a higher grade. But does it actually work? Well first you’ll need a phone that is compatible with this newer variant otherwise it will be essentially the same as aptX which is still great. Here is how to check if your phone supports this newer version. www.aptx.com/hd-support
As for the sound via my LG G6 which does support the newer HD version it’s good. The delivery is smooth and the sound is nicely bodied. I’ve noticed that it’s all very forward and this can be a touch too much at times. The bass is pretty potent, has good amounts of punch and a very capable low end drop that is pretty deep. The bass is quite clean and the clarity is not bad either. It’s not too overpowering even when the bassline really gets going and it’s nicely judged.
This mid range is quite forward and full. This means that everything is up front and the minor less noticeable details are given some light. So the detail is pretty strong and quite surprising for earphones. Usually this detail is left in the recesses but here they are nicely audible. The overall tone is a little bright and can be a touch over vibrant at times. Soundstage is quite solid too and it’s not too singular in it’s direction. Usually with earphones they don’t give off a sense of space, but the HS-1 do pretty well and offer a slightly wider soundstage than I was expecting. Of course it’s not headphone levels, but it’s good.
Up at the top end of the mids towards the highs they can be a bit grating at times, I didn’t notice this too much but on occasion I did note this. It’s made worse when you push the volume and also in tracks that heavily utilise this area.
Vocals are again strong and like the mids are right at the forefront of the sound. Also like the mids the detail and clarity is strong. Tonal quality is nice too and the delivery from the vocal is good. They have power and are quite expressive. They again are on the warm side which creates a warmth to them and makes the vocals sound quite exciting.
Overall though the sound is impressive for the price and they are probably the best I’ve heard at under £30. Yes they still don’t sound perfect but the quality on offer is what you expect from earphones that cost more.
So should you make the Origem HS-1 your next pair of earphones, well if you’re after an affordable set of earbuds that are nice to look at, well made, have good battery life (if not what was promised), perform well for both noise isolation as well as leak and they sound much better than I thought I they would.
They aren’t without fault though as I did have a bit of trouble with the Bluetooth, some issues with the comfort and some in use experience was not that great. They did also provide some false information about the HS-1 having noise cancelling which is not true.
Overall though for £27 these are well worth it and I can recommend that you check these out for yourself.
Purchase some here via Amazon UK